February 8, 2014
Boston, MA – What a race.
Erik Sowinski, running anchor for the USA All-Star team, just managed to hold off Michael Rutt‘s attempt to pass him on the inside to win the 4 x 800 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in 7:13.11 as both teams (Rutt was running for the NY/NJ Track Club) broke the previous world record of 7:13.94.
A battle to the line and a world record. It doesn’t get much better than that.
This race was initially billed as a two team battle for the world record between Olympic silver medalist Nick Symmonds, Brooks Beasts team, and the NY/NJ Track Club team presumably led by Robby Andrews.
After a quick 600m race last month, Olympic 4th place finisher Duane Solomon decided to extend his indoor season and enter an “All Star” team into the field and the 4 x 800 became a three-team battle.
Three Team WR Battle Becomes A Two-Team Battle On First Leg
The four team members of the Brooks Beasts team entered the track wearing the trademark matching yellow headbands of Mark Wieczorek, or “Coach” as Nick Symmonds called the Brooks Beasts’ third leg. (Wieczorek was the coach of the Gig Harbor team that won the Nike Nationals High School National Championships this year.) The team was second strongest on paper, but had Symmonds on the anchor.
Symmonds was never a factor in this one as Matt Scherer, the world’s preeminent 800m pacer, buried the Brooks team on the first leg by running an atrocious 1:54.6 split, nearly 5 full seconds behind the NY/NJ’s Kyle Merber, who split 1:49.68 and was surprisingly a full second ahead of everyone else in the field. The NY/NJ “B” team was second (1:50.72) and in third was Richard Jones and the US All-Stars.
Former Penn State star Cas Loxsom tried gallantly to get back the Brooks Beasts back in the race on leg two, as he ran the fastest split of all the second leg runners (1:47.03), but if you are five seconds down after leg one, it’s over.
On leg two, David Torrence had the second fastest second leg (1:47.46) to get the US All-Stars right on the heels of NY/NJ (Brian Gagnon 1:48.59) at the end of leg two. This was now a two-team race for the record.
Solomon Vs. Andrews On Leg 3
The All-Stars put their big gun on paper, Duane Solomon on the third leg, and he was matched up against former NCAA star Robby Andrews for NY/NJ. Solomon passed Andrews early, but Andrews held his own with Solomon on the final lap, and they handed off virtually together with Solomon (1:47.98) handing off just .11 ahead of Andrews (1:48.28).
On the anchor, the All-Stars had American record holder at 600m, Erik Sowinski, running for them while NY/NJ put its hopes in the hands of Michael Rutt.
Sowinski Vs. Rutt For All The Marbles
It was an even match-up on paper. Sowinski set an indoor PR of 1:46.84 last week in Germany while Rutt had set an indoor PR of 1:46.71 yesterday at the Valentine’s Day Invite across town in Boston. Outdoors, their PRs also are similar as well. Rutt ran 1:45.08 last year and Sowinski 1:45.21.
To get the world record, Sowinski needed to run 1:47.50. Not impossible to do, but only one runner in the field (Cas Loxsom for Brooks on the second leg 1:47.03) had split that fast so far in the race.
This one came down to the very end. Sowinski led wire-to-wire but Rutt stayed right on his heels. Entering the final straightaway, Sowinski drifted half a body length towards lane two. Rutt didn’t think he had enough energy left to go wide and believed his only chance was to stay on the rail and try to pass Sowinski on the inside of lane one. There might have not been room for Rutt to go by, but in the end no contact was made as Rutt just couldn’t quite catch Sowinski. Sowinski held Rutt off by just .11 as both men split identical 1:46.66.
Was it fast enough for the and the world record? Yes. Sowinski (7:13.11) and Rutt (7:13.22) both broke the previous record of 7:13.94, which was set by Joey Woody (now Sowinski’s coach), Karl Paranya, Rich Kenah and David Krummenacker in 2000 on this same track.
Splits, commentary and video below.
What An “A” Race!!!
Tremendous running by the anchors. World records are good, but a world record in a competitive race is even better. Erik Sowinski is coached by Joey Woody, who was on the previous World Record team. We liked the fact Sowinski flew to Germany to take on some of the world’s best earlier this year.
Erik Sowinski Talks About His Anchor:
Let’s Not Forget Michael Rutt
The world record guys rightfully got all the attention, but let’s not forget Michael Rutt. He PRed on Friday at the BU Valentine’s Invite, and then needed another PR type effort here to possibly get a world record, and he delivered. Rutt made the world indoor final two years ago, and making the US team for Worlds’ won’t be easy, but he’s starting off 2014 well.
Matt Scherer’s First 800 In 3 Years Did Not Go Well:
Matt Scherer sat with a dejected look in the mixed zone after the race. One of the world’s best pacers at 800m, he’s used to helping others run well. Today he was hoping to help his Brooks Beast team to the world record, but instead Scherer faded tremendously during the second 400 and ran 1:54.65. Definitely not what he wanted.
Scherer was not making excuses afterwards, but this was his first full 800 in a race since 2010. Scherer said he forgot mentally what it was like to race and was surprised how different it was than rabbiting. Holding people off on the turns, battling people for position, (and running the final 200) were all concepts Scherer had to try to re-learn today.
Robby Andrews Was Smiling After The Race
Andrews dropped out of the mile at the New Balance Games in Boston two weeks ago, but ran a 1:47.07 indoor PR yesterday (just missing the 1:47.00 World Indoor standard), and followed that up today by being competitive with Duane Solomon. Andrews is happy with the way things are going during his first year with the NY/NJ track club (he used to be coached by Jason Vigilante) and will race Nick Symmonds next week in a 1,000 at Millrose that is being billed as an American record attempt. Neither guy has the 800 World Championships standard but that will have to be hit at USAs.
Duane Solomon Ends Indoor Season With A World Record
Solomon became a father for the first time in December and is not going to extend his indoor season any further. A world record is a pretty good ending point.
Speaking of records, Solomon told us his goal for outdoors is to try to get the American record in the open 800. Ideally, he said he’d like to do it on American soil at the Prefontaine Classic.
Richard Jones World Record Holder
Richard Jones is the least-known of the 4 x 800 record holders but has been training with Duane Solomon since 2012. He introduces himself to LRC Nation below and talks about the race.
David Torrence World Record Holder
Torrence is known for having tremendous range from 800-5,000. Solid at whatever he does, that seems like the perfect guy to put on an all-star team when you need a good leg and Torrence delivered.
Nick Symmonds Talk AR 1,000m Attempt Next Week, His Headband, Richard Sherman And The Seahawks
We’ll talk about some of our seven-plus minutes we spent with Symmonds later this week but want to reward those of you who have read this far. Shhh, don’t tell anyone:
Let’s See This Race Again Next Year
Fans love to root for teams. The Olympics are the most popular thing in track as fans have teams to root for – Team USA, Kenya, etc. Rarely do you get that in track and field. Maybe if the club system in the US takes off, races like this will be common.