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LetsRun.com's Recap Of 800 & 1500 Prelims At Day 1 Of The 2009 USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Eugene, OR
by: LetsRun.com
June 25, 2009

More LRC Day 1: *Begley Shocks Flanagan
*Rupp Caps Perfect Day For Salazar
800 & 1,500 Round 1 Recaps

Women's 800 - Vessey Almost Causes Us To Have A Coronary

The story of the 800s for us was the unreal second heat.

Heat 1
2008 Olympic Trials champ Hazel Clark took the field through 200 in 29.6 and 400 in 59.81. At 400, 2007 NCAA runner-up Katie Waits was in 2nd about 3 meters back. Just after 600, Waits fell back to 3rd or 4th and looked like she might be going out the back door, but she ended up rallying in the homestretch to finish in 3rd. NCAA 3rd-placer Lativia Thomas got 2nd as Clark got the win in 2:04.39. Lap-by-lap splits are here.
 1 Hazel Clark                  Nike                   2:04.39Q [2:04.388]
  2 Latavia Thomas               L S U                  2:04.58Q           
  3 Katie Waits                  Reebok                 2:04.76Q           
  4 Angee Henry                  Team Nebr/Brks         2:05.02Q           
  5 Dominique Jackson            North Carolina         2:05.41q           
  6 Katie Palmer                 Brigham Young          2:06.25            
  7 Colleen Newhart              Fleet Feet/Nike        2:06.46            
  8 Becky Horn                   unattached             2:08.80            
  9 Ty Davis                     Team Indiana/Brk       2:11.55        

Heat 2
This heat was AMAZING.

Maggie Vessey Post Race Comments

The field went through 200 in 30.37 and hit 61.94 at the bell. At this point, we turned to the guy next to us and asked which one is Maggie Vessey (the winner of the Pre Classic 800), as we weren't really paying attention since, after all, it's just the first round. He said, "Oh, that girl in last about 15 meters back."

Yes it's true, Vessey was way off the back, running in last. We asked the guy sitting next to us 5 times if she'd fallen. He said, "No, that's the way she always runs." We knew she liked to come from behind but why would you let the field gap you by over 10 meters? Just running with the field in last is one thing, but getting gapped by 10-plus meters? That is insanse.

At 600, Vessey was still way back, but in the end, she made up a ton of ground and automatically advanced to the semis.

Afterwards, we caught up with Vessey and asked her if she was ever a bit nervous being that far back (the answer was yes) and asked about her new threads, as she was sporting some sweet New Balance gear. Apparently, they picked her up after the Pre Classic win. Lap-by-lap splits are here.

 1 Geena Gall                   Michigan               2:04.92Q           
  2 Maggie Vessey                unattached             2:05.44Q           
  3 Molly Beckwith               Indiana                2:05.88Q           
  4 Heather Dorniden             Minnesota              2:05.97Q           
  5 Chantee McBride              unattached             2:05.98            
  6 Trisa Nickoley               unattached             2:06.22            
  7 Nikeya Green                 Reebok                 2:07.13            
  8 Ashley Puga                  unattached             2:09.70    
Heat 3
2007 NCAA and USA champ Alysia Johnson got the win as 7 of 9 advanced. Lap-by-lap splits are here.
 1 Alysia Johnson               Nike                   2:04.39Q [2:04.383]
  2 Sara Vaughn                  adidas                 2:04.60Q           
  3 Phoebe Wright                Tennessee              2:04.66Q           
  4 Laura Hermanson              North Dakota State     2:04.68Q           
  5 Brenda Martinez              Cal Riverside          2:04.78q           
  6 Morgan Uceny                 Reebok                 2:05.24q           
  7 Aja Jackson                  Charlotte              2:05.59q           
  8 Jesse Carlin                 Nike                   2:06.90            
  9 Nicole Cook                  Reebok                 2:08.20  

Bernard Lagat

Men's 800 - Wheating DNS As The Idiotic IAAF Rule Lets Us See Lagat For 1:48.59

The big news in the 800 was that Andrew Wheating's calf injury at NCAAs must have been more serious than most thought as he was a DNS in heat 3.

All of the big names advanced to the semis. The real performance of the day was Golden Coachman advancing in heat 2 with one shoe for the last lap. The Iraq veteran is literally Army tough.

Heat 1
An interesting heat featuring multi-time US Champion Khadevis Robinson and 1,500/5k world champ Bernard Lagat, who was running a rare 800 to satisfy the rule that he show up at these championships. As a double world champ, Lagat has an automatic spot in Berlin in the 1,500 and/or 5k as long as he showed up at USAs and did something.

KD took it out as he does, passing through 400 in 54.08. At this point, he was followed closely by UConn's Michael Rutt, who redshirted outdoors this year to focus on academics and, 3-4 meters back, Lagat was in 3rd. On the backstretch, Rutt made a move to pass KD, but KD accelerated to keep the lead. He clearly wanted to lead wire-to-wire. He passed 600 in 1:20.9 with Lagat still 3-5 meters back. Lagat tried to make a move up coming off the homestretch but the position of the top 3 stayed the same. Michael Rutt, you can tell your grandkids you beat Lagat.

 1 Khadevis Robinson            Nike                   1:48.07Q [1:48.062]
  2 Michael Rutt                 Connecticut            1:48.24Q           
  3 Bernard Lagat                Nike                   1:48.59Q           
  4 Mark Wieczorek               Oregon TC Elite        1:49.17            
  5 Matt Scherer                 Oregon TC Elite        1:49.27            
  6 Anthony Luna                 Metropolitan State     1:49.59            
  7 Christopher Bilbrew          Arkansas               1:49.69            
  8 Duane Solomon                unattached             1:49.85            
  9 David Krummenacker           unattached             1:50.44            
 10 Cory Primm                   U C L A                1:53.43    

Christian Smith

Heat 2
Christian Smith's successful 2009 continued as he looked great in winning heat 2. He told us after the race he's fitter than he's ever been. He said he had a minor setback with his Achilles after the Toronto Festival of Excellence Meet two weeks ago but that things were better now and his last workout went great. He said assuming his Achilles doesn't blow up overnight, he'll be ready to go.

1 Christian Smith              Nike                   1:47.84Q           
  2 Dustin Emrani                Pride Products         1:48.22Q           
  3 Jeffrey Fisher               Santa Monica T C       1:48.47Q           
  4 Gered Burns                  N Y A C                1:48.75q           
  5 Brandon Shaw                 Oregon TC Elite        1:49.04            
  6 Tetlo Emmen                  unattached             1:49.19            
  7 Brian Gagnon                 Connecticut            1:49.21            
  8 Michael Carmody              unattached             1:49.28            
  9 Jason Collett                Kansas State           1:55.29    

Heat 3

LRC future star (the guy looks like a 1:43-4 talent for sure) and NCAA runner-up Tevan Everett, who has really only seriously been training for the 800 this year at the collegaite level, proved that he's a real talent once again, although he ran like a rookie. He had the lead, gave it up at 600, moved wide at 650, and got the win in the end. The guy probably ran close to 820 meters, as he was stopping and starting and moving all over the place. We've never seen a guy who can literally stop and start so often in an 800. Coachman got clipped in the first lap and then gave up on his shoe with about 400 to go but still advanced automatically as Kevin Hicks failed to qualify.

1 Tevan Everett                unattached             1:49.15Q           
  2 Jonathan Johnson             Reebok                 1:49.36Q           
  3 Golden Coachman              U.S. Army              1:49.44Q           
  4 Kevin Hicks                  Oregon TC Elite        1:49.72            
  5 Carlos Phillips              Florida                1:50.13            
  6 Raphael Asafo-agyei          unattached             1:50.65            
  7 Marcus Mayes                 unattached             1:51.11            
  8 Steve Ludwig                 Wisconsin              1:51.15            
 -- Andrew Wheating              Oregon                     DNS                    

Heat 4

No big surprises here.

1 Nicholas Symmonds            Oregon TC Elite        1:48.07Q [1:48.064]
  2 Ryan Brown                   Asics                  1:48.17Q [1:48.167]
  3 Tyler Mulder                 Northern Iowa          1:48.17Q [1:48.170]
  4 Karjuan Williams             unattached             1:48.29q           
  5 Sean Tully                   unattached             1:48.44q           
  6 Andrew Dawson                unattached             1:48.85q           
  7 Alex McClary                 Arkansas               1:49.30            
  8 Kenneth Jesensky             unattached             1:49.71            
  9 Mason McHenry                Arizona State          1:52.74  

Women's 1,500 - Willard Shows Up As Hasay Falters

Heat 1
The big news here was that Anna Willard started this heat. It certainly looks like she's going to try the the 1,500/steeple double here.

The race began with a tight pack that was led by Willard. Willard looked comfortable leading the pack through 400 in 67.85. About 600 in, Christin Wurth-Thomas made a move that shot her into first place. Sarah Bowman of the University of Tennessee went with Wurth-Thomas and Willard dropped back to the middle of the chase pack. Nobody went with Willard exccept for Bowman, as Willard was content to stay with the pack since the top 3 in each heat and the next six fastest would qualify.

Wurth-Thomas and Bowman passed through 800 in 2:16.2 with the strung out chase pack that included Willard about 10 meters back. Wurth-Thomas continued leading through the bell lap with Bowman on her shoulder in 3:05.07. They passed the 1,200 mark in 3:21.3. With 100 to go, Willard moved up to the front of the chase pack and began to catch the leaders. Wurth-Thomas won the heat in 4:11.84, Bowman second in 4:12.24, Willard in third at 4:13.3.

In the end, the next three, including multi-time US champ Treniere Clement, would advance on time.

Heat  1 Preliminaries                                           
  1 Christin Wurth               Nike                   4:11.84Q
  2 Sarah Bowman                 Tennessee              4:12.24Q
  3 Anna Willard                 Nike                   4:13.31Q
  4 Heidi Dahl                   East Tenn St           4:14.00q
  5 Treniere Clement             Nike                   4:14.05q
  6 Lauren Hagans                unattached             4:15.57q
  7 Kellyn Johnson               unattached             4:16.71 
  8 Katherine Follett            Washington             4:17.70 
  9 Renee Metivier Baille        Nike                   4:18.39 
 10 Lisa Senakiewich             Michigan State         4:19.34 
 11 Jessica Pixler               Seattle Pacific        4:21.31 
 12 Amanda LoPiccolo             Syracuse Charger       4:24.08 
 13 Natalie Picchetti            unattached             4:30.57 
 -- Susan Hendrick               N Y A C                    DNS   

Heat 2
The second heat of the women's 1,500 featured the soon-to- be Oregon duck Jordan Hasay and 2008 Olympians Erin Donahue and Shannon Rowbury. When Hasay was announced to the crowd, the darling of last year's Olympic Trials got a huge ovation.

Donahue took the lead from the beginning, bringing the tightly-grouped pack through the 400 in 69.61 with Amy Mortimer on her shoulder, Rowbury hanging in the middle of the pack and Hasay also in the pack. The 800 was passed in 2:21.15 with Donahue in the lead, Mortimer on her shoulder and Lauren Centrowitz having moved into the third position. At this point, Hasay remained in the middle of the tight pack. The leaders went through the bell lap in 3:13.31 - 8 seconds slower than the first heat - and 1,200 in 3:29.17, with Donahue still in the lead. With 200 to go, Rowbury began her kick and moved into the lead, which is where she remained, winning the heat in 4:15.19. Without a doubt, she was the class of this heat. Donahue got second in 4:15.63 and Centrowitz grabbed the third auto spot in 4:16.05.

Rowbury's last lap was 61.74. The big change in pace didn't suit Hasay well at all. Hasay, who is known to have problems with sudden changes in pace, finished last in the heat in 4:19.61 after a 65.94 last lap.

Lap-by-lap splits for both heats of the 1,500 are here.

 1 Shannon Rowbury              Nike                   4:15.19Q
  2 Erin Donohue                 Nike                   4:15.63Q
  3 Lauren Centrowitz            Stanford               4:16.05Q
  4 Amy Mortimer                 Reebok                 4:16.18q
  5 Margaret Infeld              Georgetown             4:16.37q
  6 Molly Lehman                 Duke                   4:16.54q
  7 Frances Koons                Villanova              4:17.04 
  8 Mary Jayne Reeves            unattached             4:17.37 
  9 Alex Kosinski                Oregon                 4:18.87 
 10 Jordan Hasay                 San Luis D C           4:19.61    

Men's 1,500 - One Favorite Falters As Webb Barely Survives (Thank You USATF)

The story here was USATF's embarrassing decision to allow 51 guys to toe the line in 4 heats when there are only two rounds (well, that and the fact that both German Fernandez and Andrew Wheating didn't toe the starting line. Wheating is out of the meet. We'll see if Fernandez runs later). You simply can't get from 51 to 12 in a fair and equitable way. It's like playing Russian roulette, as all 1,500m guys think they have great kicks.

Not sure if this setup was worse than last year's disaster or not. Last year, USATF capriciously limited the field size to 30 and there were three rounds. Thus, they ran 3 heats of 10 to eliminate 6 people. In heat 3, everyone advanced. Last year, the races were a waste of the athletes' and fans' time. This year, the heats certainly were a must-see but for the wrong reason. Since people train a lifetime to make meets like this, we like seeing the larger fields, but they need to have 3 rounds. If you are only going to have two rounds, go from at most 36 to 12.

Combine the two years' formats and you have it perfect. Three rounds and 48 entrants. Go from 48 to 24 to 12. In the 800, go from 32 to 16 to 8.

Since there were four heats, it was top 2 and next 4 best times. All of the time qualifiers came from the last heat as ex-CU Buff Stephen Pifer did what he is known for - rabbit the field out. As a result, guys like Darren Brown, who had a seasonal best of 3:41.78 this year and closed in 1:58.35 to run 3:41.60, advanced to the final, whereas someone like Rob Myers, who had a 3:36.66 seasonal best and closed in in 1:55.57 and ran 3:42.35 in heat 1, didn't advance.

Also not advancing from heat 1 was Liam Boylan-Pett. The guy closed in 1:54.75 - 3.6 seconds faster than Brown - and ran just .25 slower overall than Brown (3:41.85) but didn't advance. In that same heat, Garrett Heath closed in 1:55.09 and ran 3:41.83 and also didn't advance.

Nothing against Brown. He stepped it up at USAs, set a PR and moved on, which is what you want an athlete to do. But please don't try to tell us what he did was a better performance than what any of the top 6 runners in the first heat did, as it wasn't. They brought it just as much as Brown. They were just screwed by USATF's decision to let 51 people into a 2-round 1,500. Ridiculous.

The 1,500 is not a race where the time often means much of anything in a championship and USATF needs to recognize that fact and set it up so the advancement formulas reflect it.

Heat 1
As we said above, this heat was the perfect example of how much a travesty the setup by USATF was. NCAA runner-up Garrett Heath of Stanford led the field through 400 in 59.84 and 800 in 2:01.75. Everyone closed hard from there but only the top two ended up advancing.

Myers was in great position all race but he just didn't have much left in the tank the last 150. The class of the field was Arkansas' Dorian Ulrey, who looked great the last 150 and pulled away to get a surprising victory. Virginia's Andrew Jesien, who didn't make the finals at NCAAs this year, stayed out of trouble and kicked at the right time and was the shock 2nd qualifier.

Lap-by-lap splits are here.

1 Dorian Ulrey                 Arkansas               3:41.42Q           
  2 Andrew Jesien                Virginia               3:41.78Q           
  3 Garrett Heath                Stanford               3:41.83  [3:41.828]
  4 Liam Boylan-Pett             Georgetown             3:41.85            
  5 Rob Myers                    Reebok                 3:42.35            
  6 Mark Matusak                 California             3:43.29            
  7 John Jefferson               Oregon TC Elite        3:44.28            
  8 Ian Cronin                   unattached             3:45.02            
  9 Cory Nanni                   Duke                   3:46.07            
 10 Patrick Sovacool             Miami/Ohio             3:50.30            
 11 Korey Edwards                unattached             3:50.54            
 -- Michael Coe                  California                 DNF   

Heat 2

These guys were jogging early on (they went through 800 in 2:03.49). After that, Lopez Lomong looked like a million bucks and easily won the heat with former world championship team member Chris Lukezic a clear 2nd-best.

The weird thing about this race was how easily Lopez Lomong won it. He closed the last 800 in 1:55.30 with a 56.58 last 400 and ran 3:44.62 to win by almost a full second. Compare that to Myers in the heat before, who closed in a very simlar 1:55.57 and ran more than two seconds faster (3:42.35) and was only 5th in his heat.

Thank you, USATF.

Lap-by-lap splits are here.

 1 Lopez Lomong                 Nike                   3:44.62Q           
  2 Christopher Lukezic          Reebok                 3:45.60Q           
  3 Russell Brown                Oregon TC Elite        3:46.27            
  4 Austin Abbott                unattached             3:46.82            
  5 Benjamin True                unattached             3:46.96            
  6 Macklin Chaffee              unattached             3:47.21            
  7 Jonathan Pierce              unattached             3:48.04            
  8 Derek Scott                  Team Indiana/Brk       3:48.75            
  9 Emory Gibbs                  unattached             3:48.87            
 10 David Juiliano               New Balance Boston     3:49.43            
 11 Daniel Castle                unattached             3:50.78            
 12 Tommy Schmitz                Wisconsin Runner       3:53.37            
 13 Erik Van Ingen               Binghamton             3:53.73   

Heat 3

Wheating and Fernandez were no-shows at the starting line; otherwise, this might have been one of the all-time epic prelim heats.

Alan Webb led this race through 800 in a pedestrian 2:04.03 before David Torrence shot to the lead at 900 and got the ball rolling. Torrence hit the bell in 2:47.55 and was followed closely by Webb and OTrials 4th placer Will Leer. Over the last 150, Leer was clearly the best guy in this race, as he accelerated by Webb with about 150 to go. Webb did a good job of coming on late in the last 50 and really digging deep to edge Torrence by .05 - 3:42.35 to 3:42.40.

It was a real battle and pretty exciting. Webb's last 400 was 54.54 and last 800 was 1:53.51, although they didn't really rock until 600 to go.

It's a good thing Webb dug deep and found that extra .05 or he would have been joining Rob Myers on the sideline as a non-qualifier, as Torrence didn't get in on time.

We announced this race live on runnerspace.com and were pretty excited by the finish but now are a bit shocked to realize it's somewhat weird to be excited about Webb barely making it to the final of USAs.

Lap-by-lap splits are here.

1 William Leer                 Oregon TC Elite        3:42.18Q           
  2 Alan Webb                    Nike                   3:42.35Q           
  3 David Torrence               unattached             3:42.40            
  4 Matthew Elliott              unattached             3:44.65            
  5 Steve Sherer                 N Y A C                3:44.94            
  6 Andy McClary                 Arkansas               3:45.18            
  7 Alex Tatu                    Ragged Mountain        3:45.90            
  8 Adam Perkins                 unattached             3:47.01            
  9 Chad Hall                    Cal Riverside          3:50.80            
 10 Brian Graybill               Missouri               3:50.87            
 -- Andrew Wheating              Oregon                     DNS            
 -- German Fernandez             Oklahoma State             DNS

Heat 4

Not much to say about this heat other than finally someone manned up and went for the time qualifiers. Everyone in this heat ought to buy Stephen Pifer a drink or dinner or something, as he made sure six guys made the final instead of just two, as he rabbitted this thing out perfectly.

Pifer took the field through 400 in 58.31 and 800 and 1:56.96. It would be hard to pay a rabbit to produce better splits than that. Very even, pretty fast, but not too fast.

Pifer hit 1,100 in 2:41.81 and was followed closedly by Leonel Manzano. Manzano cruised the final lap in 57.93 to be the only guy to break 3:40 for the day.

Lap-by-lap splits are here.

  1 Leonel Manzano               Nike                   3:39.91Q           
  2 Stephen Pifer                Oregon TC Elite        3:40.83Q           
  3 Jeff See                     Ohio State             3:40.95q           
  4 Craig Miller                 unattached             3:41.10q           
  5 Jordan McNamara              Oregon                 3:41.15q           
  6 Darren Brown                 unattached             3:41.60q           
  7 Aucencio Martinez            Boulder R C            3:41.83  [3:41.829]
  8 John Bolas                   unattached             3:42.44            
  9 Daniel Strackeljahn          unattached             3:47.55            
 10 Michael Wickman              Chico State            3:49.62            
 11 Tim Cornell                  Missouri               3:51.25            
 12 Scott Smith                  Cal Santa Barbara      3:55.53            
 -- Gabriel Jennings             unattached                 DNF            

More LRC Day 1: *Begley Shocks Flanagan
*Rupp Caps Perfect Day For Salazar
800 & 1,500 Round 1 Recaps

Day 1 Race Video

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