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LetsRun.com's Preview of The 2008 US Olympic Track & Field Trials Men's 800 Final
Monday night is nirvana for distance running fans in Eugene as there will be 3 distance finals, the men's and women's 800, and the men's 5000. We give you a preview of the men's 800 final below. Men's 5k Preview here, Women's 800m Preview Here
The men's 800 final on Monday is bound to be one of the most exciting races of the Trials. In addition to the fact that the nature of the 800 leads itself to exciting finishes, this 800 final is going to be great because it features a loaded field. Its arguably the only event in the entire 2008 Trials where every member of the final has a legitimate shot of ending up in the top 3 and on the team in Beijing.
Additionally, the races features two prominent runners with big-time Oregon ties - Oregon Track Club team member Nick Symmonds and Oregon Duck sophomore Andrew Wheating. Wheating has gotten the largest ovations so far during the Trials and if either one of these guys makes a big-move, the place will go bonkers, particularly if it's Wheating.
Let's break down the field in order on how the guys on paper stack up for the final.
1) Khadevis Robinson - This guy doesn't get the props he deserves. He's won the USA title the last 3 years. The 3 years before that - he was the runner-up. In 2001, he was the 3rd. Thus to find a year where he wasn't in the top three at USAs, you have to go back to the 2000 Trials where he was fourth. In 1999, he won his first US Title.
The only knock against him is that he didn't look good in the first round here at the Trials as he advanced on time. He looked great in the semis as he won his heat. On paper, he has to be the pick to win it.
2) Nick Symmonds - The guy is a very good competitor. He's got a great rivalry going with KD. His late charging style is a very good way of insuring that you end up in the top 3. It's not the best way to win a race but it's the best way to insure a top 3 whereas KD's front running style is a bit riskier as if you crater, you might end up off the team.
His 1:45.01 puts him at #2 on the US list and he's clearly the US#2 right now. We're sure a win here in front of the hometown fans would mean a lot to him.
3) Andrew Wheating - Coming into the Trials we had him ranked #4 in our LetsRun.com US 800 Meter Rankings. Jacob Hernandez, the man who edged Wheating at NCAAs, was ranked #3 but failed to make the finals. Thus on paper, Wheating in our mind is the logical pick for the third spot.
Like Symmonds, his late charging style is a great way to get in the top three. The biggest knock against him is the fact that he's only 20 years old and only been running track for a little more than two years. Using a late charge to destroy a field of collegiates is a lot different than what he'll be asked to do on Monday. Does he have the experience to weave in and out of the field? Does he truly believe he belongs on this stage? He has a tendency to let himself get a bit too far back.
Seeing the NCAA champ Hernandez go out in the semis, made us wonder if we didn't have Wheating ranked too high in our rankings.
4) Duane Solomon - After only getting 7th at NCAAs last year, Solomon was the surprise of USAs last year as he made the worlds team with a 3rd place showing at USATFs. This year he's running better than last year as he was third at NCAAs. Heading into USAs last year, Solomon's had only run 1:47.19 and he ran a 1:45.69 to get third. This year, he's already run 1:45.71 at NCAAs. If he produces a big jump again in the final like he did last year, he might be an Olympian.
He's certainly in better form than last year as he's run 1:45 twice this year.
5) Jonathan Johnson - The 2004 Trials champ has been under the radar of late. With all of the attention going to Symmonds and KD last year, and Wheating this year, many failed to realize that Johnson actually PRd in 2007 (1:44.69) after finishing 4th at USAs. Last year, he'd only run 1:46.71 heading into the US final. This year, he's run 1:46.28. It's hard to rule him out.
6) Jebreh Harris - Harris has run 1:45 each of the last three years. He PRd (1:45.56) in his last race prior to the Trials so he's clearly in top form. He may need to PR again to make the team. The biggest knock against him is he's never been in the top three before at USAs.
7) Lopez Lomong - Many were surprised to see Lomong run the 1st round of the 800 as he's got a very good chance of making the US 1500 meter team. He's now got a good chance of making the team in the 800. Lomong looked amazing in the first round of the 800 but so-so in the semis. He promised us he'd show up with his A game in the final. He'll need it to make the team.
Lomong Says He'll Keep Running The
Since running the first round, Lomong has been saying he'd keep running the 800 until he ran 1:44. That type of effort is what he'll need on Monday.
8) Christian Smith - If you watched this guy run the 1600 anchor on the USA versus the World at the 2008 Penn Relays, you are probably shocked to see Smith in the 800 final at USAs as his 4:06.84 leg was truly atrocious and took his team from 1st to 4th. But he's gotten better with each passing week since then as his 800 seasonal best has continually come down from 1:48 to 1:47 and after the semis it's 1:46.02 (coming into the Trials he'd only run 1:47.26).
The problem is he's only run under 1:46.00 twice in his life -both times occurred in July of 2006. He'll certainly need to make it three if he is going to have any chance of making the team. We'd rate him the least likely to make it as you need to be able to run 1:44 to make this team.
1) Khadevis Robinson 2) Nick Symmonds 3) Andrew Wheating.
We only are picking Wheating because the crowd will go nuts if he gives himself a chance. Well that and the fact that he is a SICK, SICK, SICK talent. What he's doing at this stage in his career may be more impressive than what Alan Webb did in HS.
To pick a college sophomore to run well this late in the year is asking for a bit much but it will be an unreal moment if he does it.