Where Your Dreams Become Reality
LetsRun.com's Preview of The 2008 US Olympic Track & Field Trials Women'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 5,000. We give you a preview of the women's 800 final below. Men's 5k Preview here, Men's 800m Preview Here
A controversial series of events during and after the womens 800 semifinals has created a most unusual situation for the final: a field of 12 elite middle-distance runners trying to compete over 800 meters for three coveted spots on the U.S. Olympic team. Some of these athletes probably havent seen a 12-person 800 field since high school and it will be interesting to see how USATF decides to put them on the starting line. Whether a bad decision or an unfair one (and were certain that conspiracy theorists will continue to discuss this for weeks to come), the field is set and the only thing for certain is that there will be a great deal of uncertainty. Will 12 people make for a slower, tactical race or will the potential for another series of falls lead to an unusually hard early tempo as the favorites attempt to get out of trouble? Hazel Clark, Alice Schmidt, Katie Waits and Nicole Teter have all run under the Olympic A standard of 2:00.00. Will anyone else manage to break two minutes and finish in the top three to earn a trip to Beijing?
In order of their lane assignments, here is a brief run-down on each competitor:
Laura Hermanson. The fourth place finisher in semifinal
one (where four runners fell), Hermanson has dropped three seconds from
her PR this year (and 8 seconds since 2006). Hermanson just finished
her junior season at North Dakota State.
Kameisha Bennett. The fourth place finisher at the 2004
Olympic Trials, Bennett represented the U.S. at the 2005 World Championships
after a second place finish at USATFs that year. One of the victims
of the now-infamous semifinal one melee, Bennett advanced to the final
on appeal but looked great in winning her first round-heat wire-to-wire. This is her first USATF final since 2005, however, and it will
be interesting to see how she responds to her third 800 since Friday.
Bennett has a lifetime best of 1:59.99 and has a seasonal best of 2:02.94.
Becky Horn. A review of the first semifinal video seems
to show that Horn was the first person to fall and she probably had
the most legitimate basis for an appeal. The third placer at this years NCAA Championships, Horn just finished her senior year
at Western Michigan, where she was a three-time All-American.
Lane4: Nicole Teter. A 2004 Olympian and the 2004 Olympic Trials runner-up, Teter was the first runner added to the final on appeal who had fallen in her semifinal heat. Teter made a valiant effort to get back into the race after hitting the ground. She placed second in her first round heat to Bennett. Teter has had a mixed record since making the Olympic team and has only broken the two minute barrier in the 800 once since then. The most recent was in 2007 which is in the window to count as an Olympic A qualifier for the Beijing Olympics, but her best this year is 2:01.73, nearly four seconds off of her PR.
Geena Gall. The 2008 NCAA Champion, Gall has had a terrific
season and this is not her first USATF final, as she placed sixth last
year. She is one of three Mike McGuire-coached athletes in the
final and has a personal best of 2:02.24. One of four collegiate
runners in the final, Gall will be contesting her 19th 800 of the 2008
track season. She has won 10 of those races and her lowest finish
Lane6: Morgan Uceny. A 2007 Cornell grad and a four-time All-American for the Big Red, Uceny is one of the greatest middle distance runners in Ivy League history. Uceny placed fourth at the USATF meet in 2007 and was third at the indoor USAs this past March. She closed strongly to win the second semifinal in 2:02.10, the fastest time of the day. Her PR is 2:01.75, but she must go sub-2:00 to go to Beijing.
Nikeya Green. Green ran 2:03.90 to place third in the first
semifinal on Saturday, managing to stay on her feet as others fell.
This is the Wake Forest grads third straight outdoor national final
after placing 7th in 2006 and 8th in 2007. She boasts a PR of
2:02.19. Coached by Scott Raczko (Alan Webb's coach), she won the indoor national
title at 800 in 2007.
Alice Schmidt. Schmidt has looked great in the first two
rounds, moving up impressively in round one despite getting a slow start
and leading wire-to-wire in the semifinal. Her decision to take
the lead in the semis proved smart as a big pile-up happened in her
wake at 250 meters. She remain unaffected and won uncontested.
Schmidt has been in the top three at the U.S. championships the past
three years: 3rd in 2005 to earn a spot on the World Championships
team, 2nd in 2006 and 3rd in 2007 to earn another World Championships
bid. She set her PR of 1:58.75 last year and looks to be one of
the women to beat on Monday evening.
Maggie Vessey. Vessey finished one spot behind Schmidt in semifinal
one on Saturday, running 2:03.81. She was second at the 2005 NCAAs
for Cal Poly and was 7th at the USATFs that year. She set her
PR of 2:02.72 at Hayward Field earlier this June.
Lane 10: Hazel Clark. A two-time Olympian, Clark finished 7th at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and is a favorite to earn a spot on the U.S. team again. Also a three-time World Championships competitor, Clark has won two of the past three U.S. outdoor 800 titles and three overall in her career. The only woman to beat her in the past three U.S. national finals is Alysia Johnson, who did not advance past the first round at this years Trials. She holds the best PR in the field at 1:57.99 but has not run under 1:59 since 2005. After leading much of her semifinal heat, she finished in second to Uceny on Saturday.
Katie Waits. Waits, who ran as Katie Erdman at Michigan
before getting married last summer, had a late start to her 2008 season
due to injury but has been coming on strong. She already owns
an Olympic A standard by virtue of her 2nd place showing at the
2007 NCAAs, where she ran her PR of 1:59.35. Her best time this
season is 2:02.38 but she has progressed steadily since opening up in
Latavia Thomas. Thomas has great 400 speed and was on LSUs
2007 NCAA Champion 4X400 relay team. She just finished up her
sophomore year for the Tigers, where she finished second at the NCAAs
to Gall. She has run 53.17 for 400 and PRed earlier this season
at 2:03.22 in the 800. A victim of the pile-up in semifinal one
on Saturday, Thomas finished second in her first round heat on Friday.
After a busy collegiate season, this will be Thomas sixteenth 800
of the 2008 track season.
Schmidt and Clark seem to be heavy favorites for the top two spots but given the size of the field and recent races, anything goes for the third spot. Heres what we think:
More Previews: Men's 5k Preview here: Lagat versus the Field, Men's 800m Preview Here