2011 Men's USATF 800m Recap, Reaction And Video: Nick Symmonds Makes It Four In A Row
June 26, 2011
If there was any doubt, there shouldn't be anymore. Nick Symmonds is the best 800m runner in America.
Despite this year's much-hyped final being the deepest USATF Nationals of the millennium, with 10 sub-1:46 competitors and 4 sub-1:45 competitors, Nick Symmonds won the USATF crown for the fourth straight year in impressive faction by powering away from the field the final 200m. 2011 Rome Golden Gala winner and four-time USATF outdoor champion Khadevis Robinson ran a season's best 1:44.49 but was clearly second best, while frontrunner Charles Jock of Cal-Irvine was an impressive third. NCAA champion Robby Andrews ran his first subpar race since entering the collegiate ranks and was last.
Recap, race video, analysis and post race reaction below.
Jock Goes To The Front
Charles Jock loves to lead and he took the field through the first 200 in 24.92 with Penn State's Cas Loxsom (World Junior silver medallist) in second and Tyler Mulder in third. As Jock hit 400 in 50.82, Loxsom was right behind him, then there was a gap to Mulder and a further gap to three-time defending champion Nick Symmonds, who was 10 meters back of Jock in fourth, with Khadevis Robinson lurking in fifth, and Mark Wieczorek in sixth. Robby Andrews was a further 6-7 meters back and would not close the gap the next 100m, essentially ending his chance for the win.
Symmonds and KD moved up well on the backstretch, but Jock maintained the lead through 600 meters, crossing in 1:17.94 with Symmonds in third. Just past the water jump, Symmonds moved into second and was right on Jock's shoulder heading into the homestretch. There was no denying Nick his fourth straight title, as he blasted by Jock with 80m to go and powered home the final 200 in 25.91, the fastest in the field, for the convincing win in 1:44.17. KD had the second-best last 200 (25.98) and was a strong second in a SB 1:44.49. Jock, despite the frontrunning, had the third-best final 200m (26.73) and held on for a clear-cut third in a PR 1:44.67, as Mulder got fourth. Unsponsored Mark Weiczorek moved up well for fifth, while Loxsom, who stumbled around the final bend, was sixth and his Penn State teammate Sam Borchers seventh. Robby Andrews was well out of it and cruised home last.
The first three all ran seasonal bests, but there was no doubting who was best today. Khadevis Robinson put it succinctly: "You've got to give credit where credit is due. He (Nick Symmonds) ran 1:44.1. I thought it would take what I ran to win. I ran that. He ran faster. Took my hat off. The guy ran a tough race."
Symmonds Admits To Being Nervous
Symmonds admitted to being nervous heading into nationals this year, saying, "When I got done for this one, it just felt so sweet because I was so nervous for this one." He started speedwork later this year hoping to peak later in the season for the World Championships, but the lack of speed caught up to him at Pre, where just three weeks ago he was last in 1:46.78. He was so upset with his race at Pre that afterwards he ran to another track in town 30 minutes away and did some strides. Since then, he sat down with coach Mark Rowland and focused on a few key speed workouts, including 3 quarters all out in 49.7 with 6 minutes rest. As for that workout, he said, "The Nerds out there will appreciate that one." We have no idea who he is talking about.
The added speed paid off well for Symmonds and now he says he is on the "Alfred Yego" plan in 2011. Yego was the World Champion in 2007. Symmonds wants everyone to rewatch the 2007 Prefontaine Classic 800m where it was Symmonds getting the win by more than a second over Yego. Yet when Worlds came around, Yego was the World Champion and Symmonds a non-factor. Symmonds is completely focused on Worlds and is now off to Europe to set up his European base in France. He only anticipates racing twice before Worlds, in Monaco on July 22nd and at Crystal Palace on August 5th.
Charles Jock and UC Irvine coach Vince O'Boyle (O'Boyle got emotional when talking about Jock's personal story) were obviously pleased with Jock going to Worlds. Jock said in the future he may try racing a different strategy, but both he and O'Boyle said that Jock likes to run from the front, so they went with that strategy even against this star-studded field.
Mulder was left to look for answers and wonder about what races he can get into in Europe. NCAA phenom Robby Andrews clearly didn't have it today and couldn't remember the last time he ran such a poor race, but was still smiling when talking about racing America's best.
Quick Take #1: Four in a row in the 800 is super-impressive, especially with Khadevis Robinson maintaining such a high standard of excellence.
Quick Take #2: Age trumped youth. Nick and Khadevis were two of the guys in the field who hadn't broken 1:45 this year. Yet their experience trumped everything else. As KD said, "Nick hadn't run 1:44 and won. I hadn't run 1:44 and I got second ..." There is a reason they've won the last 7 USATF titles between them.
Quick Take #3: Robby Andrews' magic finally ran out. Coming from behind can work almost magically well in the 800, but it's not magic. You have to be close enough to the front for it to happen. Andrews put himself too far back the first lap. At NCAAs on a faster pace, he was 1.29 seconds behind first at 400. Here he was 2.21 seconds behind. That extra .92 behind is an extra 7 meters to make up, which is not going to happen versus this field. No wonder he didn't seem invested in the race in the second half. He wasn't used to being in a race at that stage and not having a chance of winning.
Quick Take #4: Props to unsponsored (and without a coach) Mark Wieczorek for running a 1:46.00 PR. Click here to read a nice profile by David Monti on Mark.
200m Splits Here
Nick Symmonds On His 4th-Straight USATF Title
Khadevis Robinson On Making Another Worlds Team
UC Irvine's Charles Jock On Making Worlds
UC Irvine Coach Vince O'Boyle Gets Emotional When Talking About Jock
Robby Andrews After Coming Up Short For The First Time In A Long Time
Tyler Mulder Will Have To Come Up With New Summer Plans
Men's 800m: LRC Men's 800m: Nick Symmonds Makes it Four in a Row
Women's 800m: LRC Women's 800m: Alysia Goes Wire to Wire
Women's Steeplechase: LRC Emma Coburn Wins, Stephanie Garcia Falls, and Hey Delilah Goes to Korea
Saturday USATF Coverage
Men's 1500m: LRC Matt Centrowitz Jr Pulls Away from Bernard Lagat
Women's 1500m: LRC The Thrill Victory (Morgan Uceny) and Agony of Defeat (Christin Wurth Thomas)
Men's Steeple: LRC Billy Nelson's Return to Oregon is Successful
Friday: USATF Coverage
Men' 5000m: LRC Men's 5,000m: Bernard Lagat's 3:57.80 Close Wins A Thriller Over Chris Solinsky And Galen Rupp
Women's 5000m: LRC Women's 5,000m: Molly Huddle Impresses, Hastings And Bizzarri Continue The Mammoth Mojo
800m Semis: LRC All the Favorites Advance And KD Asks For Some Energy From His Fans In The Final
*Ashton Eaton Sets PR With Decathlon Win, Olympic Gold Medallist Bryan Clay Falls In 110 Hurdles And Doesn't Finish The Meet
*Walter Dix Just Outleans Justin Gatlin To Win US Champs 100
*SI's Tim Layden Takes a Look at Justin Gatlin's Situation
*Post Race Interviews
Complete Thursday USATF Coverage: *10k Photos
Men's 10k: LRC Men's 10,000m: Galen Rupp Closes Out Matt Tegenkamp With 1:52.5 Final 800m
Women's 10k: LRC Women's 10,000m: Shalane Flanagan Goes Wire to Wire Over Kara Goucher and Field
1500m Round 1 and Men's Steeple Round1: LRC Thursday's 1500m Heats: 2011 US Leader Russell Brown Bows Out
800M Round 1: LRC: 800m Round 1 Goes According to Form