Alysia Montano Goes Wire-To-Wire In 800 At 2011 USATF Champs

June 26, 2011
*Video And Results Below

With the resurgence of US women's middle distance running, someone very good would be left off the three member 800m team for the World Championships. The field featured six sub-2:00 runners, including Worlds and/or Olympic team members Alice Schmidt, Geena Gall, Alysia Montano and Maggie Vessey (who boasts a 1:57.84 personal best),  plus 2010 NCAA champion Phoebe Wright and 2010 NCAA runner-up Molly Beckwith.

 Montano, the 2010 US champ with the best PR in the field at 1:57.34, was the favorite, and by the end of the race she would show the Hayward Field crowd why.

 Montano Goes To The Front

It was no surprise that the front-running Montano had the lead, splitting 27.45 at 200, the surprise instead was how fast she went out. As they approached the first 400, Montano had two steps on Schmidt, who had a five-meter lead on Wright. The 400 split of 56.07 was super-fast and only Schmidt tried to stay close but to no avail, as there was a gap between her and Montano and then between Schmidt and the rest of the field. With 250 to go, Wright and Gall began a charge to try and cut down Montano's lead. With 200 to go (1:26.92) Schmidt had cut into the lead but was still 2 meters back with the late-closing Vessey in fifth at 600.

Montano had saved something for the final 100m as she began to pull away from Schmidt once again. Vessey was third entering the homestretch and she had her strong late charge as usual. However, this time it was not good enough, as Montano impressively went wire-to-wire to win in 1:58.33, more than a half second (10 feet) ahead of Vessey. Phoebe Wright was coming on strong and tried to pass Schmidt on the inside. Although Schmidt appeared to be fading, she had just enough to hold on for third, by .04, to make her fourth U.S. team (to go along with the 2005 and 2007 World Championships and 2008 Olympics), as five women broke 2:00 and the first six all set seasonal bests.

Post-Race Reaction
Montano's run was impressive. Despite the killer first 400m, she saved just enough in reserve to power home the last 100m (she still had the third fastest final 200m in the field). Afterwards, she said she had no idea what her 400m split was since she was focused on running her own race. She said, "The 8(00) is a fearless event ... and you have to believe in your training ... and yourself ... I was going to take it out hard and everyone else is going to have to catch me." Up next for her is the Paris Diamond League on July 8th and then she wants to lower her 400m PR after that (52.00).

Maggie Vessey said there were a couple of times she felt she couldn't keep the pace but kept thinking to herself, "Korea, Korea, Korea." She said she has been working on having a race plan and not relaxing too much the second 200m. She credited her coach and mental coach for her success.

And Alice Schmidt is glad to be back at a world class level and believes there can be 3 Americans in the final in Daegu.

Quick Take #1: The veterans came through. Montano, Vessey, and Schmidt are the most credentialed and showed it.

Quick Take #2: Can anyone (most likely Montano) get Jearl Miles Clark's American record of 1:56.40?

Quick Take #3: Alice Schmidt has come a long way back. After missing outdoors in 2009, she returned last year and did not go under 2:03 after the summer rolled around.

Quick Take #4: Erica Moore has come a long way in this event in a year. Prior to this year, the former 400m hurdler's PR was 2:04.94 indoors.

Quick Take #5: Should Anna Pierce have been in this event? Wait, you say, Pierce ran the 1,500 at the US Champs here (and didn't make the team) and made the Worlds in two events in 2009, the 1,500 and the steeplechase, so the steeplechase must be her second-best event. How quickly we forget our history. Pierce was UNDEFEATED in the 800 in 2009 and ranked #2 IN THE WORLD by Track and Field News. Someone will have to tell us the last time a female from the US ranked #2 in the world in a distance event. Yet she has not tried to focus on the 800 ever as a pro. Her PR is 1:58.80. She ran 2:00.19 at Pre this year yet has not run a good 1,500 yet this year.

1 Alysia Montano Nike 1:58.33
2 Maggie Vessey New Balance 1:58.86
3 Alice Schmidt unattached 1:59.21
4 Phoebe Wright Nike 1:59.25
5 Geena Gall Oregon TC Elite 1:59.76
6 Erica Moore unattached 2:00.17
7 Molly Beckwith Saucony 2:00.93
8 Christine Schmaltz North Dakota State 2:01.17


Full 2011 USATF 800m Video From NBC

Alysia Montano On Winning Her 3rd USATF Title Wire-To-Wire
"I was going to take it out hard and everyone else is going to have to catch me."

Maggie Vessey On Making Worlds And Dealing With The Pressure


Alice Schmidt After Making Worlds

Geena Gall After Matching Her PR But Coming Up Short

Men's 800m:
LRC Men's 800m: Nick Symmonds Makes it Four in a Row
Women's 800m: LRC Women's 800m: Alysia Goes Wire to Wire
Women's Steeplechase: LRC Emma Coburn Wins, Stephanie Garcia Falls, and Hey Delilah Goes to Korea

Saturday USATF Coverage
Men's 1500m: LRC Matt Centrowitz Jr Pulls Away from Bernard Lagat
Women's 1500m: LRC The Thrill Victory (Morgan Uceny) and Agony of Defeat (Christin Wurth Thomas)
Men's Steeple: LRC Billy Nelson's Return to Oregon is Successful

Friday: USATF Coverage
Men' 5000m: LRC Men's 5,000m: Bernard Lagat's 3:57.80 Close Wins A Thriller Over Chris Solinsky And Galen Rupp
Women's 5000m: LRC Women's 5,000m: Molly Huddle Impresses, Hastings And Bizzarri Continue The Mammoth Mojo
800m Semis: LRC All the Favorites Advance And KD Asks For Some Energy From His Fans In The Final
*Ashton Eaton Sets PR With Decathlon Win, Olympic Gold Medallist Bryan Clay Falls In 110 Hurdles And Doesn't Finish The Meet
*Walter Dix Just Outleans Justin Gatlin To Win US Champs 100 
*SI's Tim Layden Takes a Look at Justin Gatlin's Situation
*Post Race Interviews

Complete Thursday USATF Coverage: *10k Photos
Men's 10k: LRC Men's 10,000m: Galen Rupp Closes Out Matt Tegenkamp With 1:52.5 Final 800m
Women's 10k: LRC Women's 10,000m: Shalane Flanagan Goes Wire to Wire Over Kara Goucher and Field
1500m Round 1 and Men's Steeple Round1: LRC Thursday's 1500m Heats: 2011 US Leader Russell Brown Bows Out
800M Round 1: LRC: 800m Round 1 Goes According to Form


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