June 26, 2014
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The first mid-distance/distance action of the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships took place on Thursday at Hornet Stadium with four heats each of the men’s and women’s 800 meters.
We gave you our 3 initial thoughts on the race:
Now, it’s time for lots of post-race reaction from the athletes.
We spoke to plenty of athletes after the race and have the highlights below along with each interview in full.
Chanelle Price led her heat in typical fashion and looked strong.
Price was passed by Maggie Vessey at the end, but Price was happy to be moving on to the next round. She said that she expects it to be hot in the final and that she thinks the 800 is a very open event this year, which she loves. Vessey, who sported another unique uniform, chose not to speak to the media after the race.
Ajee Wilson looked very good as expected.
Wilson said that the goal was to qualify as easily as possible and she certainly accomplished that, leading most of her heat and taking the win in 2:03.35. We asked Wilson about her thoughts on the loaded 800 field and she said the quality of the event hasn’t really factored into her thinking — she just races to win. She added with a smile that that approach has been working pretty well this year.
Wilson was also impressed by Alysia Montano’s run and delayed coming through the mixed zone so that she could watch. She said that she couldn’t understand how Montano could run out there with “another person” attached.
Brenda Martinez wasn’t in the right place for most of the race but still managed to grab the third auto spot in the tough fourth heat.
Martinez was boxed in for much of the race and struggled to find space to move up on the homestretch. Eventually, she found it and held off a hard-charging Shelby Houlihan for third. Martinez said that she was trying to be patient but that she had to work a little harder than she wanted to in the home stretch. But she added that she felt good over the last 100, and that showed once she finally found a gap.
She added that the 800 is stacked this year and that the winner will have to run a perfect race in the final. Martinez said her aim is to just be with the leaders when the racing starts.
Laura Roesler is a little tired after racing a ton this year saying she “probably has more 800s [this year] than that entire field combined.”
Talking about her training since winning NCAAs two weeks ago, Roesler said, “I don’t really know if you can even call it training” saying they’ve just been “coasting in” maintaining the fitness from NCAAs. On the difference between approaching this meet compared to NCAAs she said inicer not coming in as the favorite with as much pressure. She said she just has to stay more focused as the first round today will feel like the “NCAA final” and the semi tomorrow an “all-out” effort. Asked for an update on any post-collegiate sponsorship she said she wished she had an answer as it’s really been stressing her out. She didn’t rule out there being something finalized before the final though.
Roesler said she didn’t know what to expect from Alysia Montaño, but thought it was pretty cool and good for the sport, saying “it’s always good to have people running at USA Nationals.”
Phoebe Wright felt really flat and that they shouldn’t have let their heat go so slow.
She feels her training has been going well, but said, “I can’t get my feet under me”. She’ll be pacing the 1500 in Paris and running some European races this summer.
Lea Wallace was really disappointed with not making it through the first round of the 800, but is coming back in the 1500 tomorrow.
She said “there’s no doubt” she has really good speed so expects to do well in a championship style 1500 race.
2012 NCAA champ Charles Jock is happy to be in Eugene after changing coaches in October.
Jock got the second auto spot in heat two behind Duane Solomon in 1:47.41. Jock said that he went through an adjustment phase adapting to a different training environment with the Oregon Track Club and coach Mark Rowland but he likes the team aspect, training along guys such as Elijah Greer, Harun Abda, Tyler Mulder and Andy Wheating. Before, Jock was still in Irvine, Calif., with his college coaches at UC-Irvine. Jock will be looking to return to the form that saw take third at USAs in 2011 and make Worlds in Daegu.
2013 indoor and outdoor NCAA champion Elijah Greer said that he “didn’t feel great” today and it felt pretty tough in the heat and wind.
Greer said he knew he has to run hard in his semi tomorrow, but talking about challenging the guys like Duane Solomon in the final he said that he feels if he runs intelligent and executes well “you never know” what could happen. Asked about his new shorter hair style he said it was mainly due to the heat in Sacremento as it’s supposed to be over 100 degrees for Sunday’s final.
Cas Loxsom enters USAs “under the radar.”
Loxsom is coming off wins in the Adrian Martinez Classic on June 5 and the Portland Track Festival on June 15 and said that the two were different races — he went out hard at Martinez and sat-and-kicked in Portland — and that he felt the different race types prepared him well for USAs.
Loxsom only finished up at Penn State last fall and said that it was tough to be in State College while the Brooks Beasts were forming out in Seattle. He wasn’t fit when he started out in Seattle in January and added that because his indoor season wasn’t great (he didn’t make the final at USA Indoors) he felt that he has been under the radar outdoors. He likes how he’s been racing recently though and thinks he’s rounding into form at the right time.
Robby Andrews says that he’s “back with a vengeance” after finishing dead last in his heat at USAs last year.
Andrews ran in his typical come from behind style and left it very late, but then surge ahead to win the heat at the end making it look like he was just biding his time. He said that he executed perfectly and felt very good in the last 100 and is looking forward to testing himself against the rest of the field in the final. Asked for his strategy in the semi he had a one-word answer, “win”.
Talking about the decision to do the 800 vs the 1500 he said it was an easy call since he doesn’t have a time in the 1500, although he plans on racing some this summer. Asked if this has any implications for whether he’ll be a 1500 or 800 runner looking ahead to 2015/2016 Andrews said, “Dude, come on. We’re in a 2014 national championship. I’m an 800 runner.”
Villanova’s Sam Ellison made it through in heat three, holding off Harun Abda for the final auto spot.
Ellison went out in the heats at NCAAs two weeks ago but he closed well in the end to advance at USAs. He said that he definitely felt more pressure with the higher level of competition at NCAAs but that he didn’t change his approach at all and just tried to stay calm.
Duane Solomon said that he felt pretty comfortable winning his 800 heat despite “training through” USAs.
Solomon said his training has been going very well, but hasn’t had any rest time ahead of this meet as he just ran a hard week. Talking about how he started out the year hot, but not really progressing from there, not running as well in his recent races he said that had a lot to do with racing a lot. He said racing and traveling every weekend he couldn’t do much training and would only get one day of real training in each week. He said now he’s been improved that balance between racing and training and his “body is back”. He feels he’s on the way back to the form he was at in the beginning of the season and that the American record is still the goal this year. He thinks he was only 70% fit when he ran a world leading 1:43.88 at Mt. Sac earlier in the season and still would only consider himself at 80% now as they’re still building base and speed.
He feels some pressure coming in as the defending champ and favorite, but knows it’s a very good field so doesn’t take anything for granted.
Erik Sowinski has been racing a lot lately and didn’t feel great here.
Sowinski has been racing a lot recently in Europe as he’s realized having a good world ranking is key to getting into the bigger meets in the summer. He feels like getting in those races with top competition is key to getting a fast time so he’s put the emphasis on that and therefore is a bit tired going into USAs which is okay since it’s not a championships year.