Preview of Men’s 800 Meter Race at 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships

What a Field – Even Olympic Finalists Nick Symmonds and Duane Solomon Have Reason To Be A Tiny Bit Nervous

June 18, 2013

We’ve always thought the 800 is one of the best events in track and field. It doesn’t require a rabbit for fast times, it almost always features a close finish and it’s a race you can run from the front or from behind with similar success.

While the 800 is almost always entertaining, the 800 at the USA Champs which start Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa , is going to be extra enjoyable this year as there are a slew of talented guys in the US right now. The competition for the three spots on the US team for the 2013 Moscow World Track and Field Championships is going to be intense.

Article continues below player

Take a look at the leading entrants:

Leading Entrants For 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Men’s 800 Based on 2013 Seasonal Best Time
2013 SB/2012 SB (if better)/Name

1 1:44.79/1:44.75 Tyler Mulder
2 1:44.85 Brandon Johnson
3 1:44.91/1:42.82 Duane Solomon
4 1:45.01 Charles Jock
5 1:45.08 Michael Rutt
6 1:45.36 Mark Wieczorek
7 1:45.40/1:42.95 Nick Symmonds
8 1:45.80 Joe Abbott
9 1:46.05/1:45.90 Erik Sowinski
10 1:46.20/1:45.40 Elijah Greer
11 1:46.77/1:46.12/1:25.38 in 2010 Casimir Loxsom
12 1:46.87/1:44.90 Ryan Martin
Wild-Card: 1:47.13/1:45.06  Robby Andrews

Only three of these 13 men will be make it to Moscow.

How can we narrow it down to a more manageable number?

We decided to group the guys into various categories: the favorite, the #2 pick, #3 and #4, #5-7, and #8-12, plus our wild-card.

The favorite

Last year, Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds both ran 1:42 in the Olympic final that left them just short of the medals in arguably the greatest 800m ever run. By the end of the year, Solomon was better than Symmonds, as he first stunned Symmonds in Monaco by becoming the 5th fastest American ever at 1:43.44. Then Solomon showed it was no fluke by doing it again in the Olympic final where he ran 1:42.82, nearly making his coach, American record holder Johnny Gray look like a genius as Gray had guaranteed in mid-July Solomon would win an Olympic medal if he made the final.

Solomon was ‘only’ fifth fourth in London but his 1:42.82 time was the fastest 5th place run in track and field history. Never before had a man run that fast and not medalled.

So our favorite for the 2013 USA Outdoor track and field championships clearly is:

Nick Symmonds.

Symmonds is the favorite for two few very simple reasons.

1) He’s won the last five USA championships in a row.
2) Except for the two losses at the end of the year, he’s never lost to Duane Solomon, compiling an 8-2 career record including a defeat of Solomon at the Pre Classic earlier this month.

Based on his past consistency and high level of success, Symmonds is definitely the favorite and the one guy we view as a virtual lock for the 2013 Moscow team because even if he doesn’t win, it’s hard to see him not finishing top three, but stranger things certainly have happened. Remember, Symmonds only has the 7th fastest time of all the Americans this year.

Symmonds’ coach Marc Rowland had a great quote expressing this sentiment in the Eugene Register-Guard, “Nick’s always in contention. His confidence is fine, but he can’t afford to be complacent. He has to tune in. It’s a thick field.”

Tears of joy last year for Duane Solomon

The #2 Pick

Solomon is a strong second pick, but not a lock for the team. Remember, as good as he was last year at the end of the year, his 1:44.65 at the Trials was his PB at the time. And it’s possible to run 1:44.65 and not make the team this year.

The plusses for Solomon are he has run faster than he did last year prior to the Trials (1:44.91 versus 1:45.66) and given his 1:42 pb, he’s got a lot of reason’s to be feeling good about his chances. However, he’s got to bring his ‘A’ game to make the team as there are a lot of other worthy challengers.

The #3 and #4 Picks – Tyler Mulder and Elijah Greer

Solomon’s seasonal best time of 1:44.91 is only the third fastest on the year in the US.

The US leader for 2012 is Tyler Mulder. The fifth placer at the Trials last year couldn’t find a lane at Pre but has done well when given the opportunity to race as he was second in the ‘B’ race in Doha and then he crushed everyone in Portland last week when he ran the US leading 1:44.79. He can’t be discounted.

Update: We love Mulder’s attitude. The guy who was 4th, 4th and 5th the last three years told he’s not shooting for 3rd this year. He wants to win. “I’m not thinking about anything but winning. Winning is my No. 1 goal. That has to be the only thing to shoot for. From there, it’s making the world team. This is my coming out year. It’s time for me to step up,” said Mulder.

A guy we like a little bit more than Mulder is 2013 NCAA indoor and NCAA outdoor champ Elijah Greer. The former Oregon Duck has been on fire all year long and we really like to go with the guys who are in form and on top of the collegiate racing scene. While critics say collegians race too often, all we know is that in recent history two other former Oregon Ducks have gone on to amazing things immediately after their last seasons in a Duck uniform. Anyone remember what Matt Centrowitz did in 2011 or Andrew Wheating did in 2010?

Hint, one won a world championship medal and the other PRd at 800/1500 (1:44.56/3:30.90).

Greer has been enjoying a year like that. He hasn’t lost a race since losing his indoor opener on February 8th, he’s run 1:45.06 in the past, he’s got big-time experience (ran a few DL meets last summer) and has proven he can handle the rounds as he became the first American in 14 years (Derrick Peterson 1999) to win NCAA indoor and outdoor crowns in the same year.

He’s our third choice but we put him and Mulder in the same category.

Lots Of Other Guys That Can’t Be Ignored

Right now, reading this, we know there are some 800 pros, friends of those pros, or fans of those pros, wondering, “But what about ***insert name***. I can’t believe LetsRun doesn’t think ***insert name*** going to make it.”

Yes, there are a lot of others legitimate contenders for Moscow. Rather than tell you all about them, how about we mention there name and tell you why we don’t think there chances are as good as the four guys mentioned above?

The #5-7 Picks

Eric Sowsinski – As good as Sowinski has been so far this year (US indoor 600 record, US indoor 800 title, just .02 behind Duane Solomon at Mt. Sac), his pb is still 1:45.90. We expect that to go way down in Iowa but his slow PB is the only reason we don’t have him listed above. One could argue that Sowinski should be in the  Greer/Mulder category.

Brandon who?

Brandon Johnson – Johnson’s a great story as the former 400 hurdler is the US #2 in 2013 after his surprising win at the 2013 USATF Oxy meet, but he doesn’t have a proven track record of making it through rounds of the 800.  However, he followed his 1:44.79 win at Oxy with a 1:45.71 win in Spain so he’s a REAL threat.

Cas Loxsom – The Penn State senior was not quite as good as Greer at NCAA indoors or outdoors. Anyone remember 2010 when Loxsom rebounded from NCAA disappointment and turned the table on Robby Andrews at both US juniors and world juniors? That could happen this year.

Studly Guys, But All We Can Say Is Good Luck (#8-12)

Charles Jock – The 2012 NCAA champion has been maddeningly inconsistent all year. Here are his open 800 times for the year – 1:48.26, 1:45.01, 1:46.33, 1:47.51.

Michael Rutt – Nice PR of 1:45.08 at Oxy but there he lost to Johnson and Jock and in New York he would have lost to Sowinski had Sowinski not fallen.

Joe Abbott – Former Washington St. runner comes in red-hot as he’s PRd in his last two races (1:46.59 and 1:45.80) but it’s hard to fathom a guy who had a 1:46.84 pb on May 15th would make the team.

Mark Wieczorek – 7th placer at US Trials last year has been running well – 1:45s in his last two races – but he’s lost to two and three Americans not named Symmonds or Solomon in each of them.

Ryan Martin – 4th placer at last year’s Trials hasn’t run faster than 1:46.87 this year.

The Wild-Card – Robby Andrews

Based on his form this year, Andrews doesn’t deserve mention in our preview as he’s been running awful recently.

After a decent indoor campaign, where Andrews came up just short of beating Sowinski at USAs, Andrews opened up with a low-key 800 win at Princeton in 1:48.18 in April. He’s raced the 800 twice since and gotten slower each time. A 1:48.57 (in bad weather) in New York in May and then a 1:49.74 in Toronto in June.

Andrews is just 22 and was a two-time NCAA champion with a 1:44.71 pb at the age of 20. The second of those NCAA titles came outdoors in Des Moines so maybe the fond memories will rejuvenate him.

We know one thing – we aren’t writing a talent like this off. A big-time talent like this often comes out of nowhere when still young. Anyone remember the 2000 Trials when Adam Goucher only advanced to the 5000 final on time in the heats but then made the Olympics in the final?

If Andrews somehow makes it to the final, watch the hell out. This kid can kick and he’s a competitor. He was fifth in the US 1,500 Trials last year.

Quick Take #1: What an event. Is there an other event in the US where there really are 13 guys who have this type of chance of making the team? We say no. Email us if we are wrong.

QT #2: Someone at USATF whether an employee or volunteer, needs to be relieved of their duties. The acceptance decisions each year often lack logic. We don’t know who is in charge this year, but changes need to be made even if it is not an Olympic Trials.

You can see the full list of accepted entries below but it looks like USATF accepted 28 people, instead of 32. We guess that’s better than accepting 30 as they have in years past as at least there will be the same number of people in each heat (7) but 4 x 8 lanes of the track = 32. They should let in 32 people to the 800 each year. End of story.

And we’re all with them having some discretion. If we are USATF, we 100% accept Curtis Beach the decathlete who wanted to run the 800. He’s a media darling. Let him run. We also would take American record holder Alan Webb in the 1,500. As a past champion, you can always play the Masters in golf. As an American record holder, Webb should be allowed to run the USAs.

Men 800m – Men
Name Affiliation Mark Status Declaration
Duane Solomon Jr Saucony 1:42.82 qualified declared
Nicholas Symmonds Nike / Oregon TC Elite 1:42.95 qualified declared
Tyler Mulder Nike / Oregon TC Elite 1:44.75 qualified declared
Brandon Johnson 1:44.85 qualified declared
Ryan Martin Asics 1:44.90 qualified declared
Charles Jock Nike 1:45.01 qualified declared
Michael Rutt New Jersey New York Track Club 1:45.08 qualified declared
Mark Wieczorek Brooks 1:45.36 qualified declared
Elijah Greer University of Oregon 1:45.40 qualified declared
Joe Abbott 1:45.80 qualified declared
Erik Sowinski Nike 1:46.05 qualified declared
Brian Gagnon New Jersey New York Track Club 1:46.77 qualified declared
Casimir Loxsom The Pennsylvania State University 1:46.77 qualified declared
Robby Andrews adidas 1:47.13 qualified declared
Nicholas Guarino Syracuse Chargers Track Club, Inc. 1:47.13 qualified declared
Richard Jones 1:47.20 qualified declared
Brannon Kidder The Pennsylvania State University 1:47.23 qualified declared
Lance Roller Jr 1:47.27 qualified declared
Joshua Guarino Syracuse Chargers Track Club, Inc. 1:47.35 qualified declared
James Gilreath Adidas Team Green Running 1:47.38 qualified declared
Sharif Webb 1:47.50 qualified declared
Travis Burkstrand University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 1:47.56 accepted declared
Mark Husted 1:47.56 accepted declared
Dey Dey 1:47.58 accepted declared
Harun Abda University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 1:47.60 accepted declared
Sean Obinwa University of Florida 1:47.66 accepted declared
Luke Pawlaczyk Brooks / Running Institute Elite 1:47.68 accepted declared
Christopher Bilbrew Adidas Team Green Running 1:47.96 accepted declared
Drew Windle Ashland University 1:48.04 provisional not accepted
Selasi Lumax Garden State Track Club 1:48.07 provisional not accepted
William Ledder Georgetown University 1:48.14 provisional not accepted
Russell Dinkins III Princeton University 1:48.24 provisional not accepted
Lucas Manring Kansas City Smoke 1:48.43 provisional not accepted
Curtis Beach Duke University 1:47.75 not qualified not accepted
Brandon Lasater Georgia Institute of Technology 1:48.34 provisional scratched
Andrew Wheating Nike / Oregon TC Elite 1:46.33 qualified
Alexander Monsivaiz University of California, Los Angeles 1:49.20 not qualified

More:  *Men’s 800 Meter Final: David Rudisha Becomes A Legend By Winning Gold With A World Record In A Truly Historic 800
*Nick Symmonds Wins Second Straight US Olympic Trials 800 In Style
*Duane Solomon Is Now The 5th Fastest American Ever At 1:43.44
*American 800 meter record holder Johnny Gray on Duane Solomon: “I guarantee you he’ll medal if he gets to the finals”