800 Semifinals 2014 USA Nationals: Chanelle Price Scratches, Ajee Wilson Impresses, And So Does Laura Roesler

by: LetsRun.com
June 27, 2014

SACRAMENTO, CA — The US is the best women’s 800 nation in the world and Sunday’s women’s 800 final at the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships should be a great one. Unfortunately, World indoor champion Chanelle Price will not be in the final as she scratched from her semi-final tonight.

Price released the following statement on Instagram, “Coming to USAs was a risk I decided to take because I’m a warrior, and I love to compete. However, after careful consideration, I will not be competing in the semi-finals tonight. I have to take care of my body and make sure I’m ready to roll for the remainder of the season. This sucks. But it’s for the best. It’s all a part of God’s plan. Thank you for all of your prayers and support.”

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Price would have had her hands full as all  the other favorites advanced including World Championship bronze medallist Brenda Martinez and World Championship finalist and World Junior Champ Ajee Wilson, who looked super impressive winning semi #2.

In heat #1, it was not Martinez or Maggie Vessey who was most impressive, but indoor and outdoor NCAA champion Laura Roesler or Oregon who cruised the final 100m and asserted herself as a contender in the final. Brief heat recaps below with post-race interviews.

Heat 1: Roesler Impresses, What about Maggie’s Outfit?

With a decent wind blowing in the the homestretch, no one wanted to take the lead and it went out in a slow 30 seconds. The next 200m was into the wind and slowed even further as Charlene Lipsey led a tight group at the bell in 63.59.

Laura Roesler Takes It

The Final Straight

On the backstretch Lipsey went hard and opened up a little distance on the field before the contenders started their drive for home. Off the final turn, Lipsey still led but she was dealing with Martinez on her outside and outside of Martinez was Vessey. Lipsey drifted wide into lane 2 and that opened things up for Laura Roesler who was perfectly poised behind Lipsey. Roesler took full advantage and had no trouble dispatching the field the final 100m getting the comfortable win in 2:02.37, nearly a half second ahead of Martinez in 2:02.86. Vessey was .09 back in 3rd in 2:02.95 and Lipsey held on for fourth as the top four qualifiers for the final were clear in this one.

A fast 58.57 final lap for Roesler who put up a big negative split for the win.

Maggie Vessey had no problem qualifying in a black and white outfit that only draped one shoulder. NBC Sports Announcer Craig Masback did not like it, but we bet many of you did.

Yesterday Roesler said that she was tired. Today after the race, she said she felt even more tired  and that she will try to rest as much as possible tomorrow ahead of Sunday’s final.

Roesler has raced a lot in 2014 — 22 times, in fact, since January 1. Between the 800 and the 4×400, Roesler ran on all four days at the NCAA championships and she’ll have to run three out of four days here at USAs. Still, she looked VERY good in the final 100 when she blitzed world championship bronze medalist Brenda Martinez.

Roesler told us after that race that it was tough for her at the start but once she realized she was almost done, it became easier and she kicked it in.

Roesler said that winning a heat that included 1:57 runners in Martinez and Vessey didn’t give her any extra confidence as they were all just trying to grab one of the four spots to the final (that may have been true watching this one, we dont think anyone could have beaten her over the final 100 if they had gone all out). She hasn’t given any thoughts to her tactics in the final yet and seems to have been taking everything one step at a time this season.

Brenda Martinez: “Everyone is good enough to be on the podium. The girls are going to give me hell and I’m going to give them hell back.”

She said the semis are always stressful especially here where it was just top 4 with no time qualifiers so she was really happy to have it over with.

Quick Take: We don’t care what Roesler feels like – racing wise, on the track, she looked like a potential winner. Can Roesler Win the Final?
Roesler’s pr is only 2:00.23, from last year’s USATF final where she was 5th. A 2:00.23 runner should not win nationals in the best 800m country in the world, so Roesler will need a pr in the final to be a factor for the win, but she looked very good today.

Bear in mind, Roesler has tremendous 400m speed so a slow first lap like this suits her perfectly. If Ajee Wilson takes out the final at a quicker pace Roesler will have a tougher time of it, but she’s definitely someone to watch on Sunday.

Semifinal #1

Place Athlete Time 400m 800m
1 Laura Roesler
2:02.37 Q 1:03.81Rnk: 4 2:02.37
Rnk: 1   ↑ 3
2 Brenda Martinez
New Balance
2:02.86 Q 1:03.64Rnk: 2 2:02.86
Rnk: 2   
3 Maggie Vessey
2:02.95 Q 1:03.74Rnk: 3 2:02.95
Rnk: 3   
4 Charlene Lipsey
2:03.22 Q 1:03.59Rnk: 1 2:03.22
Rnk: 4   ↓ 3
5 Shannon Leinert
Nike / Oregon TC Elite
2:03.70 1:03.98Rnk: 8 2:03.70
Rnk: 5   ↑ 3
6 Lauren Wallace
2:04.93 1:03.97Rnk: 7 2:04.93
Rnk: 6   ↑ 1
7 Christina Rodgers
Spirit of Oregon Foot Racing S
2:06.75 1:03.86Rnk: 5 2:06.75
Rnk: 7   ↓ 2
8 Rosalie Waller
2:08.19 1:03.88Rnk: 6 2:08.19
Rnk: 8   ↓ 2
Ajee Wilson Ahead of Molly Beckwith

Ajee Wilson Ahead of Molly Beckwith

Heat 2: Ajee Wilson Crushes It

Ajee Wilson is a talent – world junior champion two years ago, 6th in the world last year as a 19 year old, the reigning US indoor champion – and Friday she looked tremendous.

Wilson took this out in 28 point and was with Molly Beckwith at the bell in 60.07. The final lap was all Wilson once she turned it on the final straight. She cruised to the win in 2:00.93 ahead of Molly Beckwith in 2:01.69 as Latavia Thomas was third and NCAA 1500 champ Shelby Houlihan was the final qualifier comfortably in 2:02.55.

Wilson looked great and ran like she was better than everyone else in the field which she is.

Quick Take: Don’t Forget How Young Wilson Is

Do you think Roesler has a lot of upside because she’s young and just a college senior? Wilson is 2 years and 5 months younger than Roesler and already 6th in the world. Ajee’s future if very bright.

Ajee Wilson Said She Felt Great And Ran Within Herself

Wilson powered away the last 100m saying her coach was there at the top of the turn and yelled for her to kick it in so she just “followed directions”. Talking about planning for this race with her coach she said that Chanelle Price pulling out definitely affected her strategy saying, “Whenever Chanelle’s in a race you kind of know what to expect and she wasn’t in there so I was like ‘I don’t really know what’s going to happen.’ She said they planned for either scenario, whether someone else took it out or she ended up in the lead herself.

Shelby Houlihan got the final spot in heat 2 and was happy with her performance.

Houlihan has some incredible range. She won the 1500 and 5000 at Pac-12s last month, dominated the field to win the 1500 at NCAAs two weeks ago and now finds herself in the 800 final at USAs.

She said that she ran the 800 at USAs with an eye on improving her speed and she’s certainly accomplished that, running the two fastest times of her life the last two days. She said she’ll run a 1500 in Canada after USAs where she’ll try to break 4:10.

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