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LetsRun.com's Recap of Day 1 Distance Heats of 2008 Olympic Trials: 800 Defending Champ Alysia Johnson Out, Khadevis Robinson Sneaks By
June 27, 2008
by: LetsRun.com

*Day 1 LetsRun Photos
*Day 1 Photorun.net Photos

*LRC Women's 10k Final:
Flanagan over Goucher but Amy Yoder-Begley Steals the Show

Lomong Says He'll Keep Running The
800 This Week Until He Runs 1:44

Men's 800 - 1st Round
Heat 1

The first round of three in the men's 800 took place today and the major storyline came from thee first heat. The story line was simple - Lopez Lomong looked great in winning the heat in 1:46.93 and defending US champ Khadevis Robinson did not look good as he finished a shocking 6th in the heat in 1:48.04. Lomong went to the front just before the 600 meter mark and it was at this point that the Robinson who was well positioned in the top three started to fade. In the end, it didn't matter as Robinson got through on time as all four time qualifiers ended up coming out of heat one - meaning that even the 8th placer in heat 1, Elliott Blount, advanced. They can all thank Jonathan Johnson as he took the first 400 out in 52.9.

Sam Burley used his patented late kick very effectively as with 80 meters to go he was out of the top 4 automatic qualifying spots but ended up finishing second in 1:47.02. Iraq war veteran Golden Coachmen did not advance.

After the race, we caught up with Lomong who indicated he's going to show up for the semi-final and keep running the 800 at this meet until he runs 1:44. "If I don't hit that time (my coach and I established), I'll keep running the 800 (at this meet)..." At first, Lomong did not want to reveal the time, but with a little coaxing he revealed it was 1:44.

Khadevis Robinson left the media area before knowing he made the final, but he refused interview requests after his subpar run.

Heat  1 Preliminaries
  1 Lopez Lomong                 Nike                   1:46.93Q
  2 Sam Burley                   Asics                  1:47.02Q
  3 Duane Solomon                U S C                  1:47.35Q
  4 Jonathan Johnson             Reebok                 1:47.36Q
  5 Brandon Shaw                 Oregon TC Elite        1:47.67q
  6 Khadevis Robinson            Nike                   1:48.04q 1:48.032
  7 Floyd Thompson               Santa Monica T C       1:48.04q 1:48.037
  8 Elliott Blount               Oregon TC Elite        1:48.08q
  9 Golden Coachman              Mississippi State      1:48.59
 10 Carlos Phillips              Florida                1:49.84

Heat 2
This showed how much the Eugene crowd loves Oregon based runners as the crowd gave a big ovation when Nick Symmonds moved up late to get the win. Symmonds was please with his performance. "I like prelims. They fit well for me as a sit and kick guy as I can just sit in the back."

Heat  2 Preliminaries
  1 Nicholas Symmonds            OTC/Nike               1:49.01Q
  2 Ryan Brown                   Asics                  1:49.20Q
  3 Jebreh Harris                Reebok                 1:49.29Q
  4 Matt Scherer                 OTC/Nike               1:49.38Q
  5 Tyler Mulder                 unattached             1:49.47
  6 Kevin Elliott                Oregon TC Elite        1:49.49
  7 Mark Wieczorek               Team XO                1:49.72
  8 Dustin Emrani                Oregon TC Elite        1:49.79
  9 Tetlo Emmen                  Asics Aggie            1:49.97
 10 Abraham Mach                 Central Michigan       1:53.92

Heat 3
We thought the Hayward Field crowd made a lot of noise when Symmonds got the win in heat two but then had to reevaluate after heat three as the crowd went nearly ballistic when the distinctive yellow Oregon jersey worn by Andrew Wheating crossed the line first in 1:47.85 as it definitely was louder. The Oregon Track Club ought to change their jerseys to yellow as the Oregon crowd is obviously trained to cheer for the Ducks.

Wheating may have gotten the win but the man who defeated Wheating at NCAAs, Jacob Hernandez, looked great and controlled the heat for much of the race.

2005 world indoor champ David Krummenacker who has struggled for most of the year managed to advance. But for every success, the nature of track and field is there must be a failure. In this case, the heart-ache belongs to Kevin Hicks. When the now 23-year old went pro after running a ridiculous 1:44.93 as a 21-year old sophomore in college in 2005, he (and Nike) certainly were likely dreaming of Olympic glory in 2008. The 23-year old was viewed by many as America's great hope in the half-lap event.

Not getting out of the first round of the Trials likely wasn't in the game-plan. A distraught Hicks didn't really want to talk to after the race. When we asked what has gone wrong, Hicks told us, "Please don't ask me that. I don't have an answer for that. I don't think I made it (to the next round) so I don't see why I should talk to the media."

Heat  3 Preliminaries
  1 Andrew Wheating              Oregon                 1:47.85Q
  2 Christian Smith              OTC/Nike               1:47.97Q
  3 Jacob Hernandez              Texas                  1:48.01Q
  4 David Krummenacker           adidas                 1:48.39Q
  5 Kevin Hicks                  OTC/Nike               1:48.51
  6 Neville Miller               New York A C           1:48.52
  7 Trent Riter                  unattached             1:49.13
  8 James Hatch                  unattached             1:49.35
  9 Jon Rankin                   Nike                   1:49.63
 10 Tim Harris                   Miami                  1:49.65

Alysia Johnson Out

Women's 800 - 1st Round: Alysia Johnson Out
Talk about a shocker. The chief development in the first round of the women’s 800 was the inability of 2007 USA and 2007 NCAA champion Alysia Johnson to qualify for Saturday’s semi-finals. Johnson didn't start the 2nd round of NCAAs a few weeks ago as a supposed precaution. Today's shocking showing by her shows something seriously must be amiss as many viewed her as a lock for the team.

The other major development was that while many expected a high schooler to make a bid for the 800 final, they pre-race attention was on the wrong girl as HS record holder Chanelle Price didn't advance but the precocious 16-year old Laura Roesler of North Dakota fit the bill and ended up being the darling of the media tent.

Heat 1
In what held up as one of the most competitive heats of the day, many-time national champion Hazel Clark came through 400 in 61.1 and led wire-to-wire with Latavia Thomas and Cornell alum Morgan Uceny moving well in the last 100 to finish in the top three to qualify with ease for the semi-finals. But it was high schooler Laura Roesler of North Dakota (who has a PR of 2:03.08) who had the crowd on its feet, as she moved up to Uceny’s shoulder in the last lap and held strong for fourth place down the final straightaway. Said Clark, “My coach had told me not to pull ahead, but I’m comfortable in the front. I took off really under control and I’m feeling good for tomorrow.”

  1 Hazel Clark                  Nike                   2:03.65Q
  2 Latavia Thomas               L S U                  2:03.90Q
  3 Morgan Uceny                 Reebok                 2:03.91Q
  4 Laura Roesler                Team NoDak             2:04.03Q
  5 Brenda Martinez              Cal-Riverside          2:04.11q
  6 Heather Dorniden             Minnesota              2:04.66q
  7 Laura Hermanson              North Dakota State     2:04.89q
  8 Victoria Martinez            unattached             2:05.65
  9 Krishna Curry                U C L A                2:05.91
 10 Nichole Jones                Baylor                 2:07.18

Heat 2
Chanelle Price
of Easton, PA has been one of the most dominant prep stars in recent years and made the final at the USATF meet last year in the 800 as a high school junior. Now a senior, she prepared for this meet with a solid showing at the Prefontaine Classic and is no rookie to Hayward Field. But with Katie Waits (nee Erdman) setting a brisk pace through the 400 in 59.7, Price was unable to hold on as both a hard-charging Schmidt (who admitted to getting out too slow) and Waits looked very, very strong and cruised the final 50 meters as their spots in the final were assured.

Price encountered a decent amount of contact in the race (for some reason USATF didn't run 4 heats in the men's or women's races. As a result, they ran the races with a waterfall start instead of out of lanes. Hell in our minds, it would have been better to have a few athletes randomly share lines), but she didn't make any excuses after the race.

 1 Alice Schmidt                adidas                 2:03.58Q
  2 Katie Waits                  Reebok                 2:03.73Q
  3 Maggie Vessey                unattached             2:04.00Q
  4 Nikeya Green                 Reebok                 2:04.87Q
  5 Becky Horn                   Western Michigan       2:05.10q
  6 Chanelle Price               United Stars           2:05.93
  7 Carlee Clark-Platt           unattached             2:05.99
  8 Sherron Rhetta               South Bay/Nike         2:07.29
  9 Christina Rodgers            unattached             2:07.82
 -- Sasha Spencer                Nike                       DNF

Heat 3:
With the past two NCAA champions in the field, along with Olympian Nicole Teter
this looked to be a competitive first round trial. Alysia Johnson, a recent Cal grad now representing Nike, looked within herself through 600 meters but then shockingly struggled home as Teter and 2008 NCAA champion Geena Gall closed the gap on a front-running Kameisha Bennett, who led wire-to-wire with splits of 28.8, 60.6 and 1:32.9. Johnson didn't advance. She laid on the track afterwards on the ground and was taken for medical care. (San Francisco Chronicle Article on her here).

Overall Analysis: Hazel Clark and Kameisha Bennett looked very strong in leading wire-to-wire while Alice Schmidt and Katie Waits raced with real purpose on Friday as well. Look for a pair of fast races on Saturday as there will be no easy spots in this final. With Alysia Johnson's stunning departure, there is an extra Olympic spot to battle for.

800 Women's Interviews

Alice Schmidt (1:51)

High Schooler Laura Roesler

Nicole Teter

Morgan Uceny on the Waterfall Start

Men's 5k
Semifinal #1
If one looked at just the results of this heat, they'd see that all of the big names like Bernard Lagat, Jonathon Riley, Adam Goucher, Matt Tegenkamp advanced as expected and they'd miss really what happened. After an opening mile of 4:28.8, the pace slowed down greatly as 3200 was hit in 9:12.9. Zap Fitness's Tom Morgan, who had led the first mile, went again to the lead with a mile to go and really threw down. He opened up a 20-meter lead pretty quickly as from 3600 to 4800 he ran three straight 62s. Unfortunately, the studs behind him swallowed him up with just over 200 to go and it was agonizing to see him lose the final auto qualifying spot in the last 10 meters as Josh Rohatinsky who has no intention of running the 10k final passed him near the line.

The good news is Morgan's time got him into the final as a time qualifier. Additionally, we learned today that if you don't declare for the final, you're auto spot will be given to someone else - at least that's what Galen Rupp told us after he qualified in heat 2 (see below).

The other thing to note in this heat is that it appears that Brent Vaughn, who pushed Lagat earlier in the year at Stanford and ran 13:18, is cooked as he only ran 14:06.90 and barely made the final. Of course, in 2000, another former Colorado Buffalo Adam Goucher was the final time qualifier and he went out and won the final. Don't expect history to repeat itself.

Heat  1 Preliminaries
  1 Matt Tegenkamp               Nike                  13:54.62Q
  2 Jonathon Riley               Nike                  13:54.69Q
  3 Bernard Lagat                Nike                  13:54.93Q
  4 Stephen Pifer                Colorado              13:55.10Q
  5 Adam Goucher                 Nike                  13:56.25Q
  6 Josh Rohatinsky              Nike                  13:56.94Q
  7 Thomas Morgan                ZAP Fitness          13:57.28q
  8 Matthew Gabrielson           Reebok                14:00.92q
  9 Ryan Vail                    unattached            14:05.26q
 10 Brent Vaughn                 Nike                  14:06.90q
 11 Hassan Mead                  unattached            14:07.44
 12 Andrew Carlson               T USA Minn/N Bal      14:13.78

Semifnal #2
The results will show that this heat was 'won' by Galen Rupp. But winning a prelim where the top 6 automatically qualify by coming off the final turn in 5th and then kicking it in may have made some of the old-timers cringe. Heck it likely made some of his fellow competitors cringe.

But on the plus side, the hometown crowd certainly liked seeing a yellow Oregon duck jersey finish first. Plus Rupp is young and we're sure it was clear that the move to the front really helped energize him for the 10k final (afterwards, Rupp said there is a chance he'll run the 5k final). We'll let the celebration police and his fellow competitors decide if the extension of the right index finger up in a #1 position was a bit much for a prelim win, as was the two handed exultation past the finish line (Solinsky said he "chuckled" when he saw Rupp's celebration) .

On a serious note, this heat showed how good distance running and the 5k have gotten in the US. The first heat may have had the bigger names as it included world champ Bernard Lagat and world #4 Matt Tegenkamp, but this heat was full of talent and includes a ton of guys who might make it to Beijing including the last two NCAA champs in Bobby Curtis and Chris Solinsky who both advanced. Former NCAA runner-up Ian Dobson also looked strong and advanced.

Zap Fitness's Kyle King got the final qualifying his spot. He gave it his all to do so and ended up in a wheelchair after collapsing on the track.

NCAA 5k champ Curtis indicate he switched from his original plan of running the 1500m here, because he realized his chance of making the Olympics is much greater in the 5k than the 1500.

Heat  2 Preliminaries
  1 Galen Rupp                   unattached            13:59.14Q
  2 Chris Solinsky               Nike                  13:59.65Q
  3 Robert Curtis                Reebok                14:00.00Q
  4 Bolota Asmerom               Oregon TC Elite       14:00.48Q
  5 Ian Dobson                   adidas                14:01.42Q
  6 Kyle King                    ZAP Fitness           14:04.82Q
  7 Ryan Bak                     Oregon TC Elite       14:07.42
  8 Anthony Gallo                Run Flagstaff Mz      14:12.54
  9 James Strang                 Arkansas              14:12.68
 10 Ryan Kirkpatrick             Reebok                14:29.66
 11 Rod Koborsi                  Reebok                14:30.41
 -- Patrick Tarpy                Reebok                     DNF

Galen Rupp On Winning His Heat

Chris Solinsky on His Heat and Rupp Celebrating

Bobby Curtis on Choosing the 5k over the 1500


*Day 1 LetsRun Photos
*Day 1 Photorun.net Photos

*LRC Women's 10k Final:
Flanagan over Goucher but Amy Yoder-Begley Steals the Show

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