By RikkiLynn Shields, Asst. Editor
Kerri Gallagher, Manhattan College’s new cross country head coach has a long list of achievements and experiences.
A professional runner herself, Gallagher came close to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics. Had she qualified, she would have been there with her coach’s, Matthew Centrowitz Sr., son, Matthew Centrowitz Jr., who won the Olympic gold medal in the 1500 meters.
Gallagher is coached by Centrowitz Sr., who attended Manhattan College for a year before transferring to the University of Oregon, where he led his team to the 1977 NCAA Cross Country Championship win and eventually ended up breaking Steve Prefontaine’s 1500m school record.
Gallagher was an assistant under Centrowitz Sr. at American University, where she also trained under him.
“My coach Matt Centrowitz is probably one of the best in the country and is really great at developing athletes, and teaching you not just how to be a better runner, but also what it takes to really learn the sport and understand it,” Gallagher said. “I think I was learning to coach more than I was training to be a better runner but they both happened kind of at the same time. It was a great experience for me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Centrowitz Sr. recently had the opportunity to watch his son, Centrowitz Jr., win the same race he lost in 1976. Centrowitz Jr. came in first place for the United States in the 1500m in the Olympics, leading the entire race and coming in at 3:50.24.
“I was elated,” Centrowitz Jr. said in an email. “A part of me was in disbelief.”
Centrowitz Jr. described training for the Olympics as tough, and said the moment he stepped up to the starting line, he felt a lot of nerves.
“It is the moment you train your whole life for,” Centrowitz Jr. said.
After winning the gold for the United States, Centrowitz Jr. couldn’t help but smile after seeing his dad’s reaction.
“My dad’s reaction was like a kid opening presents on Christmas morning. It was awesome,” he said. “My family has been incredible! It has been with their great support that I have been able to achieve all that I have achieved.”
Centrowitz Jr. said that since his dad began working with Gallagher in 2011 when she joined the staff at American University, he has had nothing but good things to say.
“My dad always says that Kerri is very enjoyable to work with,” Centrowitz Jr. said. “She is very coachable, tough and dedicated. I think Kerri will do a great job at Manhattan. Using her experience from working with my dad and her own experiences as a world-class runner, I believe she will have a huge impact on the Manhattan program.”