June 29, 2014
SACRAMENTO, Calif. –We have three thoughts on the men’s 800 final at the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships here at Hornet Stadium which was won by 2012 Olympic fourth-placer Duane Solomon in dominant fashion in 1:44.30 with Cas Loxsom second in 1:45.97. We’ve also got a ton of interviews and reaction to Charles Jock‘s fall below.
1) The fall didn’t impact the outcome of this race, Duane Solomon was winning no matter what.
Duane Solomon took this one out hard (24-low first 200, 49.77 400) and had already gapped the field along with Loxson when just before 300 meters into the race Michael Rutt inadvertently took out Jock from behind. The fall greatly impacted Robby Andrews, who was in last, as he nearly came to a stop and ran a few steps inside the rail. Ryan Martin, who was just ahead of Andrews also nearly came to a stop.
That being said, we don’t want to hear any talk about the fall costing anyone the chance to win this race. This race was already over at 300.
The two guys that pundits thought might have a shot to challenge Elijah Greer and Erik Sowinski were only impacted a little bit. They ended up moving wide into lane 3 to avoid the carnage but only lost a little momentum. But given how far back they already were, and how well Solomon ended up running, this race was already over at 300. Solomon wasn’t being caught unless he died and he didn’t die.
Solomon ran 1:44.30. Sowinski’s pb is 1:44.58, Greer’s pb is 1:45.08.
People might think the wind would make it tough for a front runner. In some ways it makes it easier if you can gap them as then all of the chasers have to run into the wind themselves.
(Screenshots of fall at bottom of this article).
2) The fall does make it hard to analyze the other performances, but Loxsom was a deserved second.
Big props to Loxsom. Everyone knew what Solomon was going to do – take it out hard. And on a windy day in Sacramento, Loxsom got into Solomon’s slipstream and let him rabbit him for almost 600. Loxsom backed off just before Solomon hit 600 in 1:16 low and was rewarded with a second place finish.
We hope Loxsom gets to race in some high quality races in Europe this summer. We also want to see what Greer can do in Europe as we thought coming in, he was the guy most likely to beat Solomon if Solomon was off his game, and Greer’s semifinal win still has us thinking that.
3) Nick Symmonds We Miss You
Nick Symmonds streak of 5 straight USATF titles ended last year when he was second. He made up for it by winning silver at Worlds. This year, Symmonds has been injured and only having one big gun in the men’s 800m (Solomon) isn’t nearly as fun.
Interviews and results below.
Duane Solomon knew something was up behind him but was just focused on hitting his splits running from the front.
Solomon came in with a plan from his coach Johnny Gray and executed it, hitting his goal split of 49-mid at 400 and coming through 600 at 1:16 (his goal was 1:15). Solomon said if it was up to him, he might have gone out a little slower so that he could kick harder at the end of the race, but he followed Gray’s instructions and was rewarded with another U.S. title.
Solomon knew something happened when Jock fell but was focused on running his own race from the front so he didn’t know what the race looked like behind him. It also showed one of the benefits of a front-running style in middle-distance races — it keeps you out of traffic and decreases your chances of going down in a race. “That’s why I stay out of the predicaments and run at the front because anything can happen in the back,” Solomon said. After seeing what happened to Jock and Morgan Uceny in the women’s 1500, might more Americans reconsider their tactics in mid-distance races going forward?
Up next for Solomon is the Diamond League meet in Monaco on July 18. Solomon said he will take a break from racing after that to build his strength before heading back out to Europe for the end of the Diamond League season, where he’d like to challenge the American record. He also added that he was training through USAs and that it was a confidence booster to run well even in the middle of a hard block of training.
Cas Loxsom said Solomon was just too fast for him but that finishing second was “one of the best moments” of his career.
Solomon’s pace up front was a little fast for Loxsom but he held off on trying to go all-out until the last 70. Loxsom didn’t think he could beat Solomon saying that “Duane is just ****** good” and that if Solomon set a fast pace then he should hang back a little so that he would be able to fend off the rest of the field in the home straight. Loxsom also said that he heard the fall and that he was glad he had gotten out well which allowed him to avoid the trouble.
Erik Sowinski was very upbeat about his third-place finish even though his race was disturbed by Jock’s fall.
Sowinski was right behind Jock when he fell and had to go out to lane 3 to avoid the carnage, which he said threw off his rhythm. He said he felt that gave the Solomon and Loxsom a big advantage and that he didn’t think there was any coming back once Jock went down. Sowinski said that his plan was to get out right behind Solomon, but the race went out so quickly that he wasn’t able to do that.
Sowinski said that it was hard to be too disappointed since this was the highest he’d ever finished at USAs outdoors and that going forward he’d like to get back to running 1:44 as he did at Mt. SAC in April.
Elijah Greer said being used to cool Oregon weather the heat really hurt him today, although he admitted training “hasn’t been that awesome” anyway.
Mike Rutt said the contact between him and Charles Jock was “incidental” and didn’t think there should be any DQ.
Rutt said that Jock has a big kickback and his right foot had contact with Rutt’s left arm. He didn’t think it was Jock’s fault, but not his own either as he wasn’t cutting in and didn’t clip his heels with his feet at all. UPDATE: According to this tweet by Race Results Weekly’s David Monti, Rutt was initially disqualified but protested and was later reinstated.
He said after the fall he couldn’t mentally regroup, had been gapped significantly by Solomon and Loxsom and was trying to run down the homestretch into the wind by himself, admitting that isn’t something he’s good at. He said it’s frustrating because he’s in a lot better shape than what he showed, but that “it’s part of racing.”
Something to look forward to: Rutt says there is going to be a 4×800 during World Juniors in Eugene with NJ*NY TC taking on OTC and Brooks Beasts. Rematch from indoors … should be good.
Note: If you want an awkward few seconds, go to 1:30 into the interview as a journalist lectures Rutt about not knowing what Hoka One One means. In Rutt’s defense, do New Balance athletes know why the company is called New Balance? Doubtful. And we spent a quick 5-minutes on the Hoka One One website and couldn’t find anything on the name. This article says it means “fly over the earth”.
Robby Andrews was extremely frustrated after being the last place finisher.
Andrews come from way back strategy is often exciting to watch, but in a situation like this being at the back of that pile up was the last place you wanted to be. He said he was “so mad right now” as he thought he was ready to get second place at least.
Andrews called himself “an idiot” and stepped onto the inside of the rail to avoid Jock after he fell, but that he realized he was going to pass a runner on the inside which would get him DQd, so he stopped and waited for the runner to pass before stepping back onto the track and continuing and was way out of it at that point.
The specific rule in this scenario is Rule 164 in the USATF rulebook which states that a runner should be disqualified if he or she gains a material advantage by stepping on the inside of the track. USATF’s definition of a material advantage is the following: “Material advantage includes improving position by any means, including exiting from a ‘boxed’ position in the race by having stepped or run inside the inside edge of the track.” There is no exception for avoiding a fallen runner, but there probably should be.
Props to Andrews for having the awareness to think of avoiding a DQ situation in the heat of the moment when someone went down in front of him. Andrews may also want to be aware of another rule that gives the referee the authority to re-hold the race in exceptional circumstances. Here’s the rule in full:
Rule 163.4 Regardless of whether there has been a disqualification, the Referee, in exceptional circumstances, shall also have the authority to advance a competitor seriously affected by jostling or obstruction or to order the race to be re-held if it is just and reasonable to do so.
Since the meet is over now and Andrews was in last when Jock went down, we put the odds of a re-race at about 1 in 1,000. But it’s something to be aware of going forward as there’s often a lot of contact in tactical middle distance races.
Charles Jock said he got clipped from behind but didn’t know it was Rutt and didn’t know how.
Jock said it was very disappointing because he felt good and though the was in good shape coming in. Jock has struggled since winning NCAAs in 2012 as he made the final at USAs in 2012 and 2013, but was last both times. Here he is technically last again as he DNFd. He would have liked to get up and finish, but really hit his hip and scraped his shoulder in the fall. He wasn’t sure what the rest of the season had in store for him as he still needed to talk to his coach, but hopes to get in some fast times.
Rnk: 1 ↔
Brooks / BROOKS Beasts TC
Rnk: 2 ↔
Rnk: 3 ↔
Nike / Oregon TC Elite
Rnk: 4 ↑ 1
Rnk: 6 ↔
Rnk: 7 ↔
Hoka One One / New Jersey New
Rnk: 5 ↓ 1