Leonel Manzano wins 1,500-meter national title

FROM STAFF REPORTS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Middle-distance runner Leonel Manzano won the 2014 U.S. men’s 1,500-meter outdoor national championship June 28.

Manzano, a 2004 graduate of Marble Falls High School and former Granite Shoals resident, clocked in at 3 minutes 38.63 seconds for his second U.S. outdoor crown as a professional and fifth overall, when including indoor titles.

The former Texas Longhorn and Olympic silver medalist beat second-place finisher Pat Casey by 0.31 seconds, finishing the final lap in 52.64 seconds. Longtime rival Lopez Lomong was third.

When the gun sounded to start the race, Garrett Heath went to the front, and Manzano was content to be in the middle at about fifth. The first 400 meters was completed in 58.43 seconds.

With 300 meters remaining, Manzano decided to go wide to avoid being boxed in for third.

The final 120 meters was about guts.

Casey, Manzano and Lomong battled down the straightaway. And then Manzano’s kick — what runners call their top gear — took over.

He ran past Casey to cross the finish line first.

The former Mustang adds this title to winning the International Mile at the Prefontaine Classic in 3:52.41 in May.

In nine USA Track and Field meets, he now has nine top-three finishes.

jfierro@thepicayune.com