Andrews Finished Second But Doesn’t Have The Standard, So 3rd-Place Symmonds Will Represent USA In Poland
February 23, 2014
Albuquerque, NM - The men’s 800 final at the 2014 US Indoor Championships was set up to be thrilling race and it did not disappoint. In the end, based on 2014 form, the winner was no surprise as Erik Sowinki has looked great in almost every race this indoor season and he continued that here, winning comfortably in 1:47.86, just completely controlling the race over the last 300m. Behind him there was a battle for second as Nick Symmonds had it going into the final straight, but Robby Andrews, in his trademark come-from-behind style of racing, came back from last place on the last lap to finish .04 ahead of Symmonds for runner-up honors.
But Andrews’ nipping Symmonds at the line didn’t cost Symmonds a spot on the Worlds team as Symmonds has the World Indoor qualifying while Andrews does not. Andrews has run 1:47.07 – the standard is 1:47.00 indoors.
OTC’s Tyler Mulder led the first two laps, going through 200 in 25.56 and 400 at 53.68. Michael Rutt, who came in as the US leader and has looked great this season (but not so much in yesterday’s first round as he only got in as the last time qualifier), sat in second with Sowinski in 3rd and Symmonds back in last after lap 1 and second to last after 400. With about 300m to go, Sowinski made his move for glory and and took the lead from Mulder. He was pretty much unchallenged the rest of the way. Around the same time, Symmonds started to move up from the back of the pack as Mulder tried to hold on to second.
With a lap to go, Sowinski had a small lead on Mulder and Symmonds, and Andrews meanwhile had fallen back from 4th at 400 to last with less than 200 to go. Rutt (the only one in the field besides Sowinski and Symmonds who had the Worlds qualifier) was working hard in 5th.
Going around the final turn, Sowinski was powering away and looked to have his second indoor national title wrapped up while Symmonds had moved up to second. Andrews was still in dead last going into the last 100m, but unleashed a monster kick coming out of the last turn and went wide to pass Symmonds just before the line.
Sowinski closed his last lap in 26.47 to defend his title and Andrews had the fastest last lap of the day with 26.37 to take 2nd in 1:48.44.
Quick takes, results and interviews are below.
Quick Thought #1: No one should be surprised that Erik Sowinski is your champion as he had ran great races coming into the meet and looked dominant in his first round yesterday. An under-the-weather Symmonds considered Sowinski the favorite and he clearly delivered today. We spoke with Sowinski after the race, and he said he was just thrilled to get his first USA singlet as this is the first team he’s made. He burst onto the scene last year by surprisingly setting the AR at 600m in Millrose, but kind of puttered out outdoors where he only finished 6th at USAs. Here he proved he wasn’t just a one-season-wonder.
QT#2: This was a nice race for Robby Andrews, who looked like the Andrews from a few years ago that won the 2011 NCAA Championships in 1:44.71, after already having won the NCAA indoor title as well. It was typical Andrews style racing going from last to 2nd on the last lap. However, speaking with him after the race he said that wasn’t the plan at all. Andrews talked about how he was boxed in and wasn’t thrilled with his tactics. He said, “The game plan was to win. … [Coach Gags] made a deal with me that every time I’m in last at 400 I owe him 100 bucks. That hasn’t been the game plan of late, I just didn’t quite have the room I wanted. I had tons left the last turn and wish I could have had a little more room, but that’s on me, I should have been better positioned.”
Andrews wasn’t bitter at all about Symmonds going over him. He said, “He (Symmonds) is the World silver medalist. I think he deserves to go over a little 22-year-old.”
QT#3: After the race today, Symmonds admitted that today he was just racing to make the team as he was sick and and exhausted and was “just hanging on for dear life” the entire race. He said, “I had to kind of view this as a qualification round rather than an attempt at a national title. I knew yesterday watching the way Rutt didn’t look good and Sowinski looked unbeatable that I just needed to race Rutt today and that’s what I did. It was chicken shit running and I’ll admit it, but I just had survive today to get over to Sopot.”
Symmonds said his “heart went out to Robby Andrews, who should probably be going” and said he didn’t feel good about taking his spot. He criticized USATF’s “brilliant decision making” of having US Champs at altitude where it was harder to get the standard. In USATF’s defense (and we’re not defending them on much this weekend), Andrews had a year to get the time as he could use times from last year even outdoors, but he had a horrible 2013 and hadn’t chased the time this year so was out of luck. Andrews said going into the final he was more worried about trying to win rather than going after the 1:47 standard and didn’t seem that upset not to be going to Worlds. Plus, sending a World silver medalist to Poland doesn’t hurt Team USA’s medal chances. Hopefully Symmonds gets healthy and sharpens up in these next two weeks.
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