Ajee Wilson the Real Deal, Laura Roesler Earns Some $$$, and Brenda Martinez “Struggles”: Thee Quick Thoughts on Women’s 800m at 2014 USATF Nationals

by: LetsRun.com
June 29, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Ca — We give you our three quick thoughts on the women’s 800 final at the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships here at Hornet Stadium. Molly Beckwith set a blistering early pace taking the field through 200 in 28-low and 400 in 57.75  with Brenda Martinez, Ajee Wilson and Laura Roesler trailing. At 500 Martinez made a move and briefly held the lead, but it was short lived as Wilson took over and was followed by Roesler as they went through 600 in 1:28-mid. In the end it was Wilson surging away from Roesler to win in 1:58.70 to Roesler’s 1:59.04 as Beckwith faded a bit before coming back hard in the final meters to finish a close third (1:59.35). Maggie Vessey just nipped fourth from Martinez as they finished in 2:00.17 and 2:00.18.

Ajee Wilson Too Good for Laura Roesler Ajee Wilson Too Good for Laura Roesler

QT #1: Ajee’ Wilson Is Really, Really Good

Ajee’ Wilson runs like such a pro, it’s easy to forget she just turned 20 and has a very, very  bright future. The former World Junior champ deservedly won her first USA outdoor title in dominant fashion.

We talk about the bright prospects of Laura Roesler below, but let’s not forget Ajee is only 20 and 2 year and 5 months younger than Roesler.

The most impressive thing with Ajee is: a)  for each of the last three years she has gotten consistently better as the season goes on and b) she’s run her best when it matters most.

Last year, Ajee’s two best times: 1:59.55 to make the Worlds team and then 1:58.21 at Worlds to finish sixth.

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Two years ago, Ajee’s best time: 2:00.91 to win World Junior gold.

US mid-fans have been frustrated by seeing their mid-d stars not get their peak rights (think Alan Webb) or be up and down week to week (think Leo Manzano). Wilson ran great at Worlds last year and has been on fire nearly all year long this year (Yes, the one bad race she’s run this year did come at World Indoors):

Ajee Wilson in 2014

2:01.81i   PB    1st    Millrose    New York NY    15 Feb
2:05.29Ai   1h1    USAs    Albuquerque NM    22 Feb
2:00.43Ai WL PB (3)    1    USAs    Albuquerque NM    23 Feb
2:02.90i   4h2    Worlds    Sopot    7 Mar
2:04.70   SB    1    Howell    Princeton NJ    5 Apr
2:03.81   SB    1    Ellis    Princeton NJ    18 Apr
2:00.18   SB    3    GGala    Roma    5 Jun
1:59.68   SB    2    Bislett    Oslo    11 Jun
2:03.35   1h2    NC    Sacramento CA    26 Jun
2:00.93   1s2    NC    Sacramento CA    27 Jun
1:58.70   SB (3)    1    NC    Sacramento CA    29 Jun

Laura Roesler Laura Roesler

QT #2: Get the check-book out. The 2014 USAs were definitely worth a lot financially of Laura Roesler.

Given the fact she was a two-time individually champion for the Nike sponsored University of Oregon, there is no doubt that Laura Roesler was going to be getting a pro contract, but USAs definitely increased the size of it. Crushing world championship medallist Brenda Martinez and more importantly breaking 2:00 for the first time could only have helped her financially.

One other thing about Roesler, we know she told us all week she felt tired. Well often at the end of the season, an athlete is tired but if all they back off their workouts, they often can PR big.

When LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson started coaching at Cornell, he thought to himself, “Man these mid-d racers sure end up racing a lot.” A veteran coach told him, “Yes, but trust me, you want to be getting to roughly race #25 when it matters most. That’s when the run best.”

Guess how many races Roesler ran collegiately in 2014 counting relays? 25.

#28 here today was her best of the season.

3. The US is VERY Good at 800m: Brenda Martinez 3rd in the World, 5th at USAs

Brenda Martinez won the bronze medal at Worlds last year at 800m, and then started off this year in fine form on the track with a 1:59.91 in her first 800m and then anchoring the USA to 4×800 gold at World Relays. Brenda has been flat and inconsistent recently, although she did run 1:59.24 three weeks ago to win in Hengelo.

Brenda ran 2:00.18 here and that only got her fifth. There is no room for error in the women’s 800 right now. This race was as good as any Diamond League 800 in the world. Don’t believe us? If Brenda had run 2:00.18 in Oslo or Rome, the two Diamond League meets with women’s 800m so far this year, she would have finished 4th and 3rd respectively.

(We said we’d only have three points, but Molly Beckwith ran very well 1:59.35 but it only got her third).

Post Race Interviews:

Ajee Wilson has been working on coming through 400 at a fast pace and still being able to move, so she wasn’t troubled by the quick opening lap.

“Coming through the first 400, I think we were 57 (Wilson was 58.02; leader Molly Beckwith was 57.75) and I’m like ‘Okay, don’t think about that, just go. You’ve got the strength, you’ve got the endurance for it.’”

Up next for Wilson is a training block back home before a trip to Europe to race in the Diamond League meets in Glasgow (July 12) and Monaco (July 18). She said she might go over for some of the later races in August but school starts up then (Wilson attends Temple University in Philadelphia) so she’ll have to work something out with her teachers.

Off-camera, we asked Wilson if she had any insight as to why Chanelle Price scratched ahead of the semis but she said she wasn’t quite sure and only knew what Price had posted on Twitter about it.

Laura Roesler was happy with second and is looking forward to a summer of races in Europe without any pressure.

Roesler faced a lot of pressure before NCAAs at Hayward Field since she was heavily favored to win the 800 on her home track. Now that NCAAs are over and Roesler got the other monkey off her back — breaking 2:00 for the first time with a 1:59.04 to get second at USAs — she’s looking forward to heading to Europe with no expectations. She said she just wants to get used to the professional lifestyle, stick her nose in some fast races and see what happens.

Roesler has signed with an agent but is still working on her professional contract so she raced in Oregon colors for the last time at USAs. She said she was happy to do it and that it was nice considering she has the rest of her life to race in other uniforms.

We’ll also give a shout-out to Riley Masters (seventh in the men’s 1500 yesterday), who told us last night that Roesler would run 1:59.0 and win. Masters was right about the time but missed Roesler’s place by one spot.

Molly Beckwith was very happy with her race saying she got a season’s best, Roesler got a PR and Wilson ran 1:58 so it was “a great race to be in”.

Beckwith said coming in her race plan was to try and “take away the kick of all the kickers” as she felt most of the field had better closing speed. The first lap was 57.75 and she said, “I think if I would have gone out in 60 or 62, it would have ended up a disaster for me.” She said she knew she could run an even 60-60, but that if she was going to get beat, she wanted to get beat running fast.

Once she got to 600m she started to doubt her ability to close after setting such a fast pace so “fell asleep for about 50m”, but then got to 700 and thought, “Dude, I got this right now”, and got her goal of top three. Looking forward she thinks she has a lot of “room to grow” in the 800, but thinks she could run a fast 1500 and it could potentially be in her future. She may try one in Europe next week.

Brenda Martinez said she just didn’t have it today.

Martinez knew there was a target on her back after her bronze medal at Worlds last year but that she just didn’t have it in the last 100 today. She said there wasn’t much else to it and said she still feels fit and will be ready for the summer.

“I tried staying in it mentally. I felt good. With 200, I was like, ‘Start going.’ I was in the front with Molly. I was trying to press on her. There was girls just letting us do the work and they just went around us. They just had more.”

Discuss this race in our messageboard:
*Did Brenda Martinez look less toned than normal
*Laura Roesler Welcome to the Sub 2:00 Club
*How badly would Ajee Wilson have dominated Cain if Cain hand’t DUCKED the USATF 800?

Results and splits:

Place Athlete Time 400m 800m
1 Ajee’ Wilson
1:58.70 58.02Rnk: 3 1:58.70
Rnk: 1   ↑ 2
2 Laura Roesler
1:59.04 58.42Rnk: 5 1:59.04
Rnk: 2   ↑ 3
3 Molly Beckwith
1:59.35 57.75Rnk: 1 1:59.35
Rnk: 3   ↓ 2
4 Maggie Vessey
2:00.17 59.00Rnk: 8 2:00.17
Rnk: 4   ↑ 4
5 Brenda Martinez
New Balance
2:00.18 57.85Rnk: 2 2:00.18
Rnk: 5   ↓ 3
6 Charlene Lipsey
2:01.02 58.64Rnk: 6 2:01.02
Rnk: 6   
7 Shelby Houlihan
Arizona St.
2:01.12 58.79Rnk: 7 2:01.12
Rnk: 7   
8 LaTavia Thomas
2:02.46 58.20Rnk: 4 2:02.46
Rnk: 8   ↓ 4


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