Andrews’ kick does the trick at national championships

first_imgBy TIM MORRIS Staff Writer Robby Andrews’ running career has been one of electrifying kicks at the end of races.He has used them to win national championships at the high school, college and professional levels.On June 20 at the USA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, which served as the trials for the United States team that will compete at the World Track and Field Championships in Beijing, China, Aug. 22-30, he produced the most memorable and important dash to the finish line of his career.With 200 meters to go, the former Manalapan High School great summoned that remarkable kick to surge from back-of-the-pack to second place in the 1,500-meter final to put him on the U.S. team that will go to Beijing. The top three finishers who have met the world-qualifying standard move on.“They just took off, and I tried to stay as calm as I could,” Andrews said after the race in an interview on letsrun.com. “Honestly, I thought with 200 to go I missed the boat. My dad (Bob Andrews) was at the 150, and he’s yelling, ‘Don’t wait,’ and I’m like it’s not over yet. And I just went for it.”As he charged toward the finish line from ninth place at warp speed, veteran Leonel Manzano and Ben Blankenship were still in front of him. Matt Centrowitz, who had broken open the raceth his move with 600 meters to go, was out front headed to the win (3:37.25).Andrews caught Manzano and Blankenship just before the line, out-leaning them to take second place in 3:38.75, followed by Manzano (3:38.76) and Blankenship (3:38.78).Andrews’ final 400 meters was 52.13, which was more than a second quicker than either Manzano or Blankenship.As he roared toward the finish line, Andrews said he wasn’t sure he’d catch either one of them.“I didn’t know I had it until the line,” he said. “This is my first world team, and I couldn’t be happier. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Races like this make all the sacrifices worth it.”The success also justified Andrews’ decision to run the 1,500 rather than the 800, which has been his better distance over the years.Andrews, who runs for Adidas, still has some work to do to get to Beijing. Even though the second-place finish puts him on the USA team, he still has to run a world championships qualifying time, 3:36.20, to secure his spot on the team. He has until the beginning of Aug. 9 to do it. With a personal best of 3:34.78 (3:57.15 for the mile), the qualifying time is well within his reach.It’s been quite a year already for the ex- Braves great. In the winter, he captured his first USATF national championship in the 1,000 meters with another strong finishing kick. In May, he anchored the USA’s 4×800- relay team to the gold medal at the World Relay Championships in the Bahamas.Two other nationally ranked athletes from the Freehold area made their respective finals at the national championships in the steeplechase: former Colts Neck High School greats Ashley Higginson and Craig Forys.Higginson, who runs for Saucony and is a member of the New Jersey-New York Track Club, was fifth in the women’s 3K steeplechase (9:35.55). The ex-Princeton University All-American looked to make her second national team. She competed for Team USA at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.There may be a silver lining for Higginson. With the fifth-place finish, she could be named to the U.S. team that will compete in the Pan-American Games in Toronto, Canada, July 20-26.Forys finished ninth in the men’s steeplechase (9:34.40). The former All-American at the University of Michigan runs for the New York Athletic Club.All three standouts will gear up for next year’s Olympic Trials back in Eugene July 1-10, 2016.last_img

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