Mary Cain, 17, earns spot on national team with second-place run in 1,500

DES MOINES, Iowa — Ashton Eaton claimed the national decathlon crown, and Matthew Centrowitz and Treniere Moser won U.S. 1,500-meter titles Saturday at the U.S. track and field championships.

Eaton, the former University of Oregon star from Bend and 2012 Olympic champion, totaled 8,291 points despite playing it cozy because of concerns about his left hamstring.

Gunnar Nixon, the first-day leader from the University of Arkansas, was second with 8,198.

“It was a good two days," said Eaton, the world record-holder and Oregon Track Club Elite competitor who needed a top-three finish to qualify for this year's world championships. "It was good to do another multi because it’s been since the Games. I feel pretty good about that.

"Today, it was very much a day of protection.”

Former Duck Centrowitz, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Leonel Manzano and Lake Oswego's Lopez Lomong came in 1-2-3 in the men's 1,500. Their times: 3:45.17, 3:45.35 and 3:45.69.

Oregon's Mac Fleet was fifth in 3:46.06. Andrew Wheating, another ex-Duck, labored into 12th (last) place at 4:01.55.

“Last year, I made this team, ran 3:35 in the final. Felt good, just barely lost to Leo," Centrowitz said. "I look at this year, everything was great, stronger, I’m thinking to myself like what do I have anything to be nervous about? I’m in great shape. In my head I said, ‘Dominate the final’ and that’s what I set out to do, I didn’t really glance back. Definitely wanted to make a statement heading to worlds. I’m in great shape, definitely looking forward to improving on my bronze medal.”

Lomong said he has been battling a hamstring that he pulled 10 days earlier.

"I ran the best I could," he said. "Before the bell lap, I pulled my hamstring a little bit and struggled. I am blessed to be in the top three.”

In the women's 1,500, it was Moser, 17-year-old Mary Cain and the University of Florida's Cory McGee finishing 1-2-3 on a hot and humid day.

Moser, now a four-time national champ and a member of the Nike Oregon Project, clocked 4:28.62. Cain, who is being coached by Alberto Salazar of the Nike Oregon Project, finished in 4:28.76, and McGee came in at 4:29.70.

“I’m on cloud nine," Moser said. "I’m 31 years old and I’m keeping up with a 17-year-old. I never thought I would have the energy go do that. I’m just so happy with where I’m at and what the future holds for me.

"I was taking it year to year, but now I’m starting to look long term and maybe to Rio (for the 2016 Summer Olympics). It’s just such a great feeling. At this point all I can say is, never give up.”

Moser said she got "ugly" in the final 100 meters.

“As soon as I knew I was going to make the team, I wanted to win," she said. "I’ve won three of these, and it’s been a long time. I just wanted a fourth one. I’ve always wanted a fourth one. This fourth title means the world to me.

"Alberto told me to get ugly for the last 100, and I did that. Alberto says I’m a pretty runner, and he said, ‘I need you to get ugly. You need to dig as deep as you can to finish,’ and that’s what got me to number one today.”

Cain was thrilled to earn a chance to represent the U.S. at the world meet in Moscow in August.

She said Salazar told her before the 1,500 final: "Treniere is an amazing athlete, and if you go with her, you’re on this team."

Added Cain: "She got me at the line, but that’s no problem. I have, hopefully, many more years to try again.”

Also on Saturday:

In the 14-women steeplechase, Alexi Pappas was eighth, Julia Webb ninth, Bridget Franek 12th, Kimber Mattox 13th and Carrie Dimoff 14th.

In the women's 200, UO product English Gardner — who had won the 100 — elected not to start.

The five-day meet concludes Sunday at Drake Stadium.

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