Matt Centrowitz Named Director of Cross Country and Track and Field

The two-time Olympian and legendary track and field coach and athlete returns to Manhattan College.

Marianne Reilly, Matt Centrowitz and Brennan O'DonnellTwo-time Olympian Matt Centrowitz was officially introduced as the director of Manhattan College cross country and track and field on Wednesday, August 22 at The Armory in Washington Heights. In this role, Centrowitz will be responsible for leading the overall organization and direction of the program.

"The director role is the next step in positioning our track and field and cross country teams as one cohesive program, consolidating our power to achieve success across disciplines," said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marianne Reilly '82. "We are so fortunate that Matt will serve in this role, not only defining the position, but also sharing his incomparable expertise."
No stranger to college coaching, Centrowitz led American University's cross country and track and field programs from 1999 to 2017, mentoring 11 NCAA All-American runners and earning Patriot League Coach of the Year honors nine times in 18 years. During his tenure, American's men's cross country team won six-straight league championships, while his student-athletes won 89 individual or relay championships in Patriot League cross country and track competitions.

In 2017, Centrowitz stepped away from American to have a bigger role in the training of his son, Olympic middle-distance runner Matthew Centrowitz who won gold in the 1,500-meter race at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.

"We are delighted to be able to bring in someone of Coach Centrowitz's stature as our director of cross country and track and field," said Richard Satterlee, Ph.D., Manhattan's vice president for student life. "The position is one that seeks to elevate a program that has a historic legacy of excellence at Manhattan."

Back Where He Started

With this new position, Centrowitz returns to his New York City roots. Originally from the Bronx, he attended Power Memorial High School, and, in 1973, set the still-standing New York state record in the mile (4:02.7).

He started his collegiate career at Manhattan College before transferring to the University of Oregon, where he made his first U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500-meter race in 1976. Centrowitz made the team a second time in 1980, and later set the national 5,000-meters record (13:12) in 1982. He is a four-time national champion in the 5,000-meters.

"Supporters of Jaspers track and field and cross country are excited and energized by the news of Matt Centrowitz coming to Riverdale," said Dan Sullivan '71, former head coach of the program. "Matt's experience, ability and love for the sport will be the synergizing elements to further the resurgence of our programs, and to coordinate the work of our fine coaches to bring us into the regional and national spotlights in all three seasons."

Centrowitz joins a track and field staff with longstanding and enduring ties to Manhattan College. Head track and field coach Dan Mecca, who recently completed a stint as an assistant coach for Team USA at the U20 World Championships in Finland, has led the Jaspers to 61 MAAC championships, 39 Metropolitan championships and two IC4A Championships in his 25 years in Riverdale. Associate head coach Joe Ryan '81 has spent the past 27 years as a member of the track and field coaching staff, winning seven MAAC championships and three Metropolitan outdoor championships as head coach of the women's program in the early 1990s.

At Manhattan, Centrowitz will reunite with cross country head coach Kerri Gallagher, who served as his assistant coach at American from 2011 to 2015. Gallagher, who last year led the women's team to its first Metropolitan Championship in more than 30 years, and the men to a second place team finish at the MAAC Championships, trained under Centrowitz as part of the New Balance Pacers Track Club, as well.

Centrowitz's return will also be a reunion for him and assistant cross country coach John Lovett. The long-time friends and former teammates attended high school together, with Lovett moving on to the Manhattan track and field team, winning the NCAA indoor track and field championship in 1973.

"It is great to have Matt back home to his roots in Riverdale," said Kathy Coughlin, a member of the 1986 women's cross country team that was inducted into the Manhattan Hall of Fame in 2011 for winning the program's first MAAC championship. "He will bring an energy, focus and enthusiasm to the already strong efforts of Kerri, Dan, Joe and John to continue the great strides made recently in the Manhattan track program. He knows how to mold champions and winners, and that is what we expect from Jasper athletes in the future."

By MC Staff