Andrews wants to keep focused on running strong


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By Tim Morris

Robby Andrews’ motto for this year is “less is more.”

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The nationally-ranked 1,500-meter runner from Manalapan wasn’t referring to his training. He was talking about his focus.

As one of the favorites to make the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team this year, Andrews is doing his best to focus on the here and now and not the potential “what ifs” down the road.

“The less I think about [the Olympics] the better,” he said during a press conference for the Armory Track Invitational in New York City that was held Feb. 5-6.

The 800-meter race at the invitational was part of his buildup for the U.S. Olympic Trials, where a top-three finish will send the Manalapan High School graduate to his first Olympics.

Andrews got his buildup off to a great start by winning the invitational race in 1:48.43.

For the Armory Track Invitational, Andrews was back at one of his favorite tracks. The 200-meter banked Armory track is where he won the high school national championship at 800 meters and set national indoor records for the 800 and 1,000 meters.

“Any time you run at the Armory, it’s a great day,” he said.

He added to those memories Feb. 6.

Andrews, who now lives in Princeton and is a volunteer coach at Princeton University, will be back at the Armory Feb. 20 to compete in the most prestigious indoor meet in the country: the famed New York Road Runner Millrose Games. This year is the 109th running of the Games and Andrews, who runs professionally for Adidas, will compete in Millrose’s signature event, the Wanamaker Mile.

It’s a dream come true for Andrews, who grew up watching Bernard Legat, who won the Wanamaker a record nine times, and draws inspiration from him.

Millrose has been good to Andrews as well. He won the Boys High School Mile his senior year at Manalapan. It would be quite an accomplishment to add the Wanamaker Mile to that win. He’ll compete against a loaded field that includes Olympic 1,500 medalist Nick Willis from New Zealand and America’s top-ranked 1,500 runner Matt Centrowitz.

The indoor racing is about preparing for the Olympic Trials coming up July 1-10 in Eugene, Oregon, at historic Haywood Field.

Last year was a breakout year for Andrews — the finest of his young professional career. He won his first national title (indoor 1,000) and anchored Team USA to the gold medal in the 4×800 relay at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas. There was that second-place finish in the 1,500 at the outdoor nationals and his trip to the World Championships, where he made the 1,500 finals finishing 11th. He finished the year ranked No. 2 in the country behind Centrowitz.

“It was a very positive year, to say the least,” Andrews said. “Everything came together. I want to keep the ball rolling and have another big year.”

To do that, he’s going to stick with what works: the program he and his coach, Jason Vigilante, have come up with.

“I’m going to follow the same path and stay as consistent as I can,” he said.

Andrew noted that coaching has been incredibly important to him over the years, starting with his father, Bob Andrews, in high school. He and Vigilante have a very strong relationship as coach-runner. Andrews believes in the program they’ve developed and it has helped get him to the pinnacle of the sport.

Early in his career, Andrews was more of an 800-meter runner. He won both his NCAA titles (indoor and outdoor) at the University of Virginia at that distance. However, all that was the prelude to becoming a miler. He said there was no real difference between the two races because “they all hurt the same.”

Still, the 1,500 is his preference.

“I love running the 1,500,” he said. “I enjoy the chess game of it and the tight finishes.”

That plays to Andrews’ greatest strength — his explosive closing spring — which is something that has been on display since he ran in high school. He used it last summer to thrust his way from the back of the pack to second place in the final 200 meters at the national championships to secure a berth on the USA’s World Track and Field Team that went to Beijing, China.

Although the Worlds were a great learning experience for Andrews, he noted that there is no comparison between the Olympics and the World Championships.

In this Olympic year, Andrews explained, the goal is a top-three finish in Eugene.

“Nothing else matters,” he said.

A few victories along the way to the Trials would never hurt.

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