Duane Solomon Goes Wire to Wire to Run World Leading 1:43.27 and Stop Nick Symmonds Streak of US Titles at Five

By Chris Lotsbom & David Monti, RRW With Letsrun.com Analysis added at the end.
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

DES MOINES, IOWA (23-Jun) — In a race that harkened back to the glory days of American 800-meter running, Olympian Duane Solomon smoked the track here at Drake Stadium in a world-leading 1:43.27, winning his first outdoor national title on the final day of competition at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.  His was the fastest winning time at these championships since his coach Johnny Gray ran 1:42.80 in 1992, and Solomon broke Nick Symmonds’s streak of national titles at five.

“I felt really good coming into today, so I knew I could do it,” said an elated Solomon. “I knew that in order to make the team I needed to bring my “A” game. If I came with anything less than my “B” game I felt I wouldn’t make the team.”

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Solomon, who won the USA indoor title in both 2011 and 2012, shot to the lead from the gun, clipping through 400 meters in 50.10 with a visible gap on the field.  Pumping his arms furiously with his trademark upright style, his lead was never seriously threatened.

“I’m just happy to get the win,” the former USC Trojan continued. “This is my first one and I beat a really really tough field. I’m just excited.”

Duane Solomon Stops Symmonds (Click for Photo Gallery)

Symmonds, who appeared to be in trouble at the bell when he was in last place, began his long sprint for home about 300 meters from the finish. Sliding out to lane-two, he quickly moved into fourth place in the middle of the backstretch and was making up ground on the leaders.  He later said that he was a little nervous that he may have started his move too late.

“Normally, I like to move up one or two spots on the homestretch,” Symmonds explained.  “I just couldn’t move when I wanted to move today.  That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Coming out of the final bend, Symmonds passed Brandon Johnson –who would hold on for third– and his Oregon Track Club teammate Tyler Mulder to take second.  Symmonds looked relieved that he had made it up to second place.

“I feel like I made some real big tactical errors and still ran 1:43.7 in only my second 800m final of the year,” Symmonds said.  “I’m pretty happy with where I’m at.”

Symmonds official time was 1:43.70 to Johnson’s 1:43.97.  The race invited comparisons to the 1992 USA Olympic Trials in New Orleans where three men also broke 1:44: Gray, 1:42.80; Mark Everett, 1:43.67 and José Parilla 1:43.97.  Fourth place George Kersh ran 1:44-flat.

Quick Takes by LRC:
QT#1: Symmonds Streak of US Titles Comes to an End Nick Symmonds had won a very impressive 5 straight US titles. That streak came to an end today despite a very solid run by Symmonds. Symmonds made no excuses, “Duane beat me fair and square. That being said, there is a lot of relief that comes with the streak being over. As long as I was winning 800 titles, I was going to keep doing it. I would have kept running the ‘8’ until 2020 if I had the streak alive.” With the tactical way Symmonds ran, it would have been hard for him to run much faster than he did today. 1:43.7 usually wins the US Championship, but not today.

QT#2: Symmonds Want to Double in 2016 Symmonds said his plan is to double in the  800 and 1500 at the 2016 Trials. If he kept winning the 800, he might have to put off the double as preserving the streak would have been his priority. As for the 1500, Symmonds said his coach Mark Rowland thinks he coaches that event the best. Symmonds urged the Monaco meet director to let him in the 1500, so he can run a fast 1500m this year. Ultimately for the 1500m, Symmonds needs to increase his mileage 10% and lose 5 5lbs. Symmonds interview was one of the better ones so if you’re going to watch something we recommend it:

QT#3: Duane Solomon Is the Real Deal Solomon ran 1:42 for 4th last year at the Olympics, so clearly he has the tools. This year Solomon has to deal with heightened expectations and he delivered. He went wire to wire to win in a world leading time. We know of one other guy in the World for sure who can do that right now, David Rudisha. Duane Solomon: the David Rudisha of American distance running.

“I felt really good coming into today, so I knew I could do it. I knew, in order to make the team, I needed to be on my ‘A’ game. If I came with anything less, if I brought my ‘B’ game, I probably wouldn’t make the team,” Solomon said.

Solomon’s win here made us appreciate Symmonds’ streak even more. Winning this event through 2017 to match Symmonds streak would be ridiculous.

QT#4: Johnny Gray Can Still Run The American record holder at 800m, Johnny Gray, who is also Solomon’s coach, was spotted running across the track to congratulate Solomon after the race. He seemed more excited than Solomon. Solomon channeled his Johnny Gray saying, “He (Johnny) said (before the race) ‘Take it to the Gray zone,’ and I think that’s what I did today. I ran a very good time today.”

Brandon Johnson

QT#5: Brandon Johnson Delivers
Just a couple months ago Brandon Johnson was a struggling former hurdler trying to adapt to the 800. Now he’s running 1:43 after 2 rounds and on the US Worlds team.

“If you would have told me I was going to run an 800 two years ago I would have told you you’re crazy,” said Johnson.

QT#6: Three Medal Prospects in Moscow? Solomon said something that would have been unthinkable last year: “The guys on the team, I think we have a really good chance of medaling in Moscow.” Solomon and Symmonds are both medal prospects and with Johnson in the mix, the US will have as strong an 800 team as anyone.

QT#6: Erik Sowinski PRs but Comes Up Short  For the second straight race Erik Sowinski PRd. It wasn’t close to good enough today for the former Iowa BuckHawkeye, but his first year as a pro has been a good one. He wanted more for his Iowa fans today as he said, “I’m disappointed, wanted to give the crowd a little better show than that, but it was a PR two days in a row”.

Place Athlete Time          
1 Duane Solomon Jr
2 Nicholas Symmonds
Nike / Oregon TC Elite
3 Brandon Johnson
4 Elijah Greer
5 Tyler Mulder
Nike / Oregon TC Elite
6 Erik Sowinski
7 Michael Rutt
New Jersey New York Track Club
8 Charles Jock
Elijah Greer 4th
Tyler Mulder 5th 

USATF Sunday: (2013 USATF Photo Gallery)
Mens 800Duane Solomon Goes Wire-To-Wire To Run World-Leading 1:43.27 To Stop Nick Symmonds’ Streak Of US Titles At Five 
Women’s 800: Alysia Montano Wins Her 5th Straight National Title, Holding Off A Fast-Closing Brenda Martinez 
Men’s 5,000: Bernard Lagat Outkicks Galen Rupp To Win The Men’s 1,500m 5,000m
Women’s 5,000: Jenny Simpson Gets The Win In Her First 5k In Two Years Over American Record Holder Molly Huddle, As Rowbury Guts It Out for 3rd
Steeple Evan Jager And Dan Huling Go 1-2 In Steeple For Team Schumacher
Men: Tyson Gay’s World-Leading 19.74 Caps Final Day As Aries Merritt Makes Hurdles Team
Kimberly Duncan Upsets Allyson Felix In 200m At USAs 

Sunday Photo Gallery

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