USA Track and Field National Championships Day 4 US Men 800m Top 10 Rankings - 2009

Nick Symmonds' career-best year earns him #1 ranking over 8-time US champion Khadevis Robinson.

By LetsRun.com
December, 2009

Editor's Note: LetsRun.com's year-end rankings evaluate the best US runners in every event from 800m to marathon - easily the most interesting summary you will find anywhere in the media. As for how we came up with the rankings, we'd say in general we value top finishes at major events over time. Also, generally if we knew a certain ranking was between two people, we would stop and ask ourselves, "Whose season would we rather have?" That person ended up being ranked higher.

We are sure it's possible that there are mistakes in the rankings. If you disagree with them, please email us your suggestions or post your comments in the official U.S. 800m rankings thread here. While we spent a great deal of time on these rankings, if you can persuade us, we may make a change or two. Our diehard viewers are what have always made LetsRun.com special and we value your input.


1. Nick Symmonds • Nike • 1:43.83 (1) • 2x Reigning US Champion • Worlds #6 • Prefontaine Classic Champion • Aviva Gateshead Champion

Nick Symmonds earned a decisive LRC US 800m #1 ranking by winning the US Championships for the second straight year, running the fastest time in the US for 2009, winning the Prefontaine Classic over a top field, winning a major European 800m at Gateshead, and putting himself in contention for a World Championships medal in Berlin before finishing a close 6th in the final.

It's hard to believe that this former Division III standout at Willamette became so good so fast. Symmonds and Khadevis Robinson (LRC #2, see below) developed a close rivalry over the past two years, but the Oregon Track Club star cemented himself as the US #1 this year. He had a close finish with Robinson at the US champs (see photo below) but went on to have a career-best season in many global races. His seasonal climax came in Berlin, as he became the first American to make a World Championships 800m outdoor final since Rich Kenah (bronze) and Mark Everett (8th) in 1997.

Symmonds raced far deeper into the pro season than any other top US 800m runner, running the metric half at 14 different meets around the world, starting in Oregon in late May and ending in China and South Korea in late September. Highlights for Symmonds include aforementioned wins at Aviva Gateshead, the USA Championships and the Prefontaine Classic. Symmonds also had outstanding performances in Monaco (3rd, PR 1:43.83) and in the trials and semifinals in Berlin at the World Championships (he won both; you may remember there was a crash involving Abubaker Kaki in his semifinal).

Symmonds was upset after coming so close to winnning a medal in Berlin. He was in 2nd place behind South African Mbulaeni Mulaudzi with 100m to go but faded a bit while others had a sliver more in the tank. To Symmonds' distaste, The IAAF decided to advance two extra men to the final after a semifinal fall. After the race he told David Monti, "I'm actually very, very upset that there were 10 guys on the track. I read the rulebook, and you have to finish a semifinal to get to be in the final. Why Som [who fell and did not complete the semifinal] was in the final I'll never know. No excuses, but I blame the IAAF and USATF for that." The decision to allow 10 in the final coupled with a slow early pace led to a very physical final and Symmonds had to do his share of shoving to clear himself space.

2009 was a year of growth for Symmonds. He gained a ton of international experience and tasted a medal in Berlin before falling short. He finished the year 11th on the world standings based on time. During the year, he defeated many of the men ahead of him on the list. In terms of all-time US 800m times, Symmonds has a ways to go. The US record is held by Johnny Gray at 1:42.60 and Symmonds sits 8th, 0.01 seconds ahead of new fellow Oregonian Alan Webb. On the world all-time list, Symmonds is No. 73.

Track and Field: USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships
Photo: Nick Symmonds and Khadevis Robinson settle another close duel in front of the rapt fans at Hayward Field. Symmonds won his 2nd consecutive US 800m title.

2. Khadevis Robinson • Nike • 1:44.47 (2) • US Champs #2

4-time US Outdoor Champion Khadevis "KD" Robinson had an elite year in 2009 at the age of 33. While he was clearly second-best to Symmonds by overall performance, KD had his share of bright moments. He enjoyed wins at the USATF Indoor Championships, Kingston Invitational, Toronto Meet of Excellence and Reebok NYC meet. He finished well at the US Championships, but as the photo to the right shows, he just missed breaking the tape. He also ran under 1:46 an impressive six times, including his 1:44 which came in a low-key race in Santa Monica.

In 2008, KD just missed the Olympic team and only cracked 1:46 three times, so it's good to see him come back strong despite creeping in to his mid-30s. A model of consistency of performance and honesty with the media, KD has finished 1st or 2nd at the US Outdoor Champs an amazing eight times in eleven years (1999-2009).

3. Christian Smith • Nike • 1:46.00 (3) • US Champs #4

2008 Olympian and former NCAA champion Christian Smith had a so-so year in the 800m, but he performed well enough enough times to earn our bronze ranking in '09. He missed the USA Worlds team narrowly, losing out on third to LRC #4 Ryan Brown. The call between Smith and Brown for #3 was a difficult one to make, but we went with Smith for a few reasons.

Smith was the 3rd-fastest American in 2009 thanks to a 1:46.00 run. Additionally, he broke 1:48 nine times in 2009 compared to just five for Brown and he broke 1:47 five times to Brown's four. Additionally, Smith ran a 2:17.65 1,000m at Stockholm's DN Galan meet, a time that made him the 8th-fastest man globally at the kilometer distance in '09. That may have been his best performance of the year.

Smith's personal best at 800 of 1:44.86 still stands from 2006.

4. Ryan Brown • Asics • 1:46.17 (5) • US Champs #3

Former NCAA champion Ryan Brown, 25, has now run 1:46 each of the past 4 years. This year he had a breakthrough of sorts in that he set a PR in 2009 (1:46.17) and also made the US World Championship team at 800m thanks to his 3rd-place showing in Eugene at the national championships. Brown also PRed in the 1,000m, running 2:21 in Karlstad, Sweden before the World Championships. The University of Washington alum failed to advance from the first of three rounds of the men's 800m in Berlin. Brown is in the photo above behind KD and Nick Symmonds.

Track and Field: 115th Penn Relays
Photo: Texas' Jacob Hernandez brings the baton home ahead of Georgetown's Liam Boylan-Pett to win the 2009 Penn Relays 4 x 800m Championship of America.

5. Andrew Wheating • University Of Oregon • 1:46.21 (7) • NCAA Champion

After making the Olympic team in 2008, Vermonter Andrew Wheating returned in 2009 and ran the 7th-best time of any American in 1:46.21 and won a thrilling NCAA Outdoor Championship 800m in a lean over LRC #7 Tevan Everett of Texas (see photo below). He also was the runner-up indoors at NCAAs.

After racing track in '08 through the end of August, then running cross-country, indoors and outdoors for Oregon, Wheating got a calf injury towards the end of outdoor and missed the post-NCAA meets.

6. Tevan Everett • University Of Texas • 1:46.27 (8) • US Champs #5 • NCAA Runner-Up

Track and Field: NCAA Championships

Oregon's Andrew Wheating surges past Texas' Tevan Everett to win the 2009 NCAA 800m title by 0.06, 1:46.21 to 1:46.27.

Late in the NCAA outdoor season, teammate Jacob Hernandez was lost to injury, but Everett shone in his absence. Everett almost stole the NCAA Outdoor 800m title with his blistering front-running tactics. He ran 1:46.27 (#8 US for 2009) but was outleaned by a hard-charging Andrew Wheating. Everett went on to finish an impressive 5th at the USA Outdoor Championships.

7. Jacob Hernandez • University Of Texas • 1:47.58 • NCAA Indoor Champion

Hernandez sustained an injury during the outdoor NCAA season and, as a result, many people seem to have forgotten all about him. It should not be forgotten that indoors, he crushed US Olympian and LRC #5 Andrew Wheating by .50 to win the NCAA indoor title. Others beaten at NCAA indoors included LRC #6 Tevan Everett, LRC #10 Mike Rutt and LRC Honorable Mention Tyler Mulder.

He also beat Wheating for the 2008 NCAA outdoor title. We were tempted to put Hernandez at #5 ahead of Wheating and Everett because of the indoor trouncing, but realize he missed the important half of the year.

8. Karjuan Williams • adidas • 1:46.06 (4) • US Champs #7

Williams is the 4th-fastest American of 2009. It was a breakout year for the young mid-distance runner, as he ran under his previous lifetime best a staggering 8 times in the 800m. His best of 1:46.06 was 2 seconds better than his previous lifetime best. Williams made the US Championships final and finished 7th.

1:46.06 is pretty fast, but we'd rather have an NCAA title like Hernandez, so we put him behind Hernandez.

9. Leo Manzano • Nike • 1:46.20 (6)

Manzano, a mile/1,500 specialist, lowered his 800m personal best over 3 seconds in 2009 (1:49.26 to 1:46.20). He only ran the 800m in one legitimate race but ran an impressive 1:46.20 (6th best American for '09). He ran one major 1,000m and ran 2:19.73, good for 17th in the world. For comparison, his 1,500m best from 2009 only puts him 18th on the world list.

10. Mike Rutt • University Of Connecticut • 1:46.47 (10) • NCAA Indoor #4

Rutt led a strong UConn 800m group during the indoor season and finished 4th behind a trio of top 800m runners at the Indoor NCAA Champs. His best of 1:46.47 put him 10th on the US list in 2009 and he finished 6th at USATF outdoors.

Honorable Mention - Tyler Mulder • University Of Northern Iowa (UNI) • 1:46.80 (t-16) • 8th USA Champs

Former NCAA champion Tyler Mulder finished 3rd at both NCAA 800m finals in 2009 and finished 8th in the USA Championship final.

2009 USATF Nationals Results Below:

Finals                                                          
1 Nicholas Symmonds Oregon TC Elite 1:45.86
2 Khadevis Robinson Nike 1:45.97
3 Ryan Brown Asics 1:46.67
4 Christian Smith Nike 1:46.92
5 Tevan Everett Texas 1:47.06
6 Michael Rutt Connecticut 1:47.57
7 Karjuan Williams unattached 1:47.87
8 Tyler Mulder Northern Iowa 1:47.98

Watch The Exciting USATF 800m Final

Official LRC 2009 USA Men's 800 Ranking Thread Discuss our rankings.

More 2009 LRC 800m Men's Coverage:
NCAA Indoors: *LRC Coverage: Hernandez Over Wheating Recap, results, interview, last lap video.
NCAA Outdoors: *Wheating Edges Everett Recap, results, interview.
USA Outdoors: *LetsRun.com Recap Of 2009 USATF 800m Final Results, video of race and recap.
Worlds: *LRC Absolutely Wild 800m Semis See Favorites Kiprop, Kaki And Ismail Fail To Advance
Worlds Final: *LRC Malaudzi Completes South African Sweep Of 800m Races

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