Welcome to our Wednesday RunFan Rankings. This week we go Vegas style and give you the odds on each American distance runner’s shot at a medal. These are tough because we are fans of all these folks and would love to see medals for Team USA across the board but we’ll try to channel our inner Bobby DeNiro in Casino and nail these things as best we can. Who would you put your money on?
Duane Solomon (800)- This is just simple math folks. When you finish 4th in the Olympics and the three people that beat you have to pull out of the following year’s World Championships you can pretty much count on being a heavy favorite to win a medal. The real question might be which one?
Nick Symmonds (800)- See above. Symmonds was fifth last year and has looked every bit as good as he did last summer if not better. At 29, he’s in the absolute prime of his career and he has tons of Major Championship experience. If this were really Vegas and you wanted a winning ticket we’d suggest betting on Symmonds. He won’t pay well but at least you get to go back up to the counter!
Jenny Simpson (1500)- She’s the defending World Champion and she looks way better in 2013 than she did when she won in 2011. The trouble is she still has four women in front of her on the World List. So while we’d put her odds at 5-1 we think you could really win some bank here because all of the times ahead of hers came from early May and early June. Simpson looked fantastic on July 19th and clearly knows how to handle rounds and how to win.
Brenda Martinez (800)- Martinez owns three of the fastest 11 times in the World this year at 800 meters. She’s coming off a convincing win at the London Diamond League Meeting and she’s arguably the strongest athlete of any of the contenders in Moscow.
Alysia Montano (800)- Montano is the third-fastest woman over 2 laps this year and she proved she can handle the big stage, having finished fifth at last year’s Olympics. Truthfully, both Martinez and Montano would be at more like 7-2 if it weren’t for the fact that they may cancel each other out, meaning one will get a medal and one won’t. So where do you put your money?
Galen Rupp (10k)- Here is another great value bet. We can’t put him higher just because regardless of the fact that he took home an Olympic Silver Medal in 2012, he will still have to face four Ethiopians, three Kenyans and some guy named Mo Farah. This is what odds making is all about and history tells us it’s very hard, nearly impossible, to break the East African stranglehold in this event. We’d still throw a few bones on Rupp at 8-1 though.
Shalane Flanagan (10k)- Odds makers tend to like people who’ve been there before. That’s certainly the case with Flanagan who took home Bronze in the 2008 Olympics at this distance. If she’s in PR shape (30:22) then she could possibly repeat that performance and grab third in Moscow as well. The trouble is that seems to be the only available medal with Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba on the line.
Brandon Johnson (800)- The third American entrant in the men’s 800 is awfully good and shouldn’t be discounted. The former 400 hurdler is the 6th-fastest performer in 2013 and showed he can run a 1:43 at the end of three rounds with his 1:43.97 in Des Moines. If he does that in Moscow it could very well produce a medal.
Bernard Lagat (5k)- Could this be the best value bet on the board? The wiley veteran knows how to run in Championship style races and if the favorites let this thing stay slow long enough then Lagat will have a real chance. Of course if it goes fast it appears the 15th fastest performer this year would be a bit of a long shot.
Leo Manzano (1500)- Leo is the Olympic Silver Medalist so he certainly has a shot to do it again and at 15-1 we think he’d be a good play but we wouldn’t bet the farm on it. One thing that people don’t often talk about from last year’s final is how Makhloufi’s furious kick for home from 300 out drug out many of the race favorites and caused them to tie up coming home. That allowed Manzano, whose last 100 is among the very best in the World, to come storming by on the homestretch. Will circumstances play to his favor again? We’ll see.
Evan Jager (Steeplechase)- Like Rupp in the 10k, Jager is in an event that history tells us will be dominated by East Africans, specifically in the case of the steeple, the Kenyans. There will be four in this race and they are all faster on paper than Jager. The good news is that after that there is only one person with a superior time in 2013 to Jager’s 8:06 and that’s Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad. So you’re telling me there’s a chance….?
Matt Centrowitz (1500)- This is a tough one because a few months ago he may have been at 10-1 or so. The trouble is he hasn’t looked very good in Europe this summer and that’s not a good sign. At 20-1, and in bad form, he’s a gamble but might be worth a shot.
Lopez Lomong (1500)- Here’s the thing. If we see the Lopez Lomong that we saw way back in NYC at the Armory beating Centro at Millrose, or a few weeks later running 13:07 for the American record, then look out World. If we see the Lomong that appears to be dealing with a hamstring injury that’s not allowing him to go quite full tilt then it’s not going to happen. You can’t win a medal unless you’re at 100%. Let’s just hope he is.
Galen Rupp (5k)- Rupp being so low here has a lot to do with the fact that he wasn’t a factor at the Olympics after doubling back from the 10k a year ago. However, we wouldn’t count him out as there were rumblings that he wasn’t feeling his best that day due to an illness. Plus, coming back from an Olympic medal has to be a letdown. If he’s on his “A”game, and Alberto’s peaked him, well he could be dangerous.
Shannon Rowbury (5k)- Again, if you’re making odds you have to look at the numbers. Rowbury is a 1500 meter specialist (though she has a World Class 3,000m PR) with a 5k best that is some 37 seconds behind this year’s World leader, Tirunesh Dibaba. However, World Championships don’t get won in 14:23. The 2011 race went 14:55 and if that happens again Rowbury could be a real threat.
Mary Cain (1500)- #Cainsanity is for real. She has a monster kick and often times that’s what it’s all about at the World Championships. She was a well beaten her last time out in London but was finishing strong and admitted to being a bit overwhelmed by the crowd. Perhaps that experience will better prepare her for Moscow.
Dathan Ritzenhein (10k)- Ritz is in as good of track shape as he’s been in a long time. That still makes him a big-time long shot, especially considering how unlikely it is that he would be able to top either of his Nike Oregon Project teammates, Mo Farah or Galen Rupp. Still, he’s got a World Half Marathon Bronze before so as odds makers we have to show him some respect.
Deena Kastor (Marathon)- When you have an Olympic Bronze, wins at Chicago and London and a 2:19 on your resume’ we don’t count you out. This is the fan and not the odds maker in us talking but we just have a good feeling about Deena in Moscow. In our Vegas fantasy we’d lay some cash down here for sure.
Ajee’ Wilson (800)- The 800 is such a tight event and Wilson has the talent to possibly make the final. If she does then anything can happen.
Chris Derrick (10k)
Ryan Hill (5k), Dan Huling (Steeplechase), Molly Huddle (5k), Treniere Moser (1500)
Kim Conley (5k)
Jordan Hasay (10k), Amy Hastings (10k)
Cory McGee (1500)
Nicole Bush (Steepleschase), Ashley Higginson (Steeplechase), Shalaya Kipp (Steeplechase), DeSean Turner (Steeplechase), Dot McMahon (Marathon), Jeannette Faber (Marathon), Jeffrey Eggleston (Marathon), Carlos Trujillo (Marathon), Daniel Tapia (Marathon)