June 13, 2014
EUGENE, Ore. — Brandon McBride of Mississippi State won a thrilling 800 meters at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Friday evening at Hayward Field, barely holding off Florida’s Ryan Schnulle by .03 seconds to defend the title he won indoors. McBride, who led the NCAA coming in with a PB of 1:45.35, led the entire way and had just enough in the final meters to hold on for the win.
When we spoke to McBride after Wednesday’s prelim, he said that his plan was to run the final from the front, and though there was some wind (12 mph at the time of the race), he was true to his word, taking it out in 25 seconds for the first 200 and 51.14 seconds for the first 400. At the bell, it was McBride in first, followed by Middle Tennessee State’s Eliud Rutto, Washington’s Pac-12 champ Derrick Daigre, Arkansas’s Patrick Rono, Long Beach State’s Chris Low, Schnulle and Kentucky’s Keffri Neal in last.
The order remained the same as McBride hit 600 in 1:18, and as the runners entered the final turn, Rono moved up to second, followed closely by Schnulle. Those three gained separation on the homestretch and were three running three-wide for the line, only the tiniest of margins separating all three of them. They were all tying up trying to get to the finish line.
With 50 to go, they were joined by Neal, who had passed several runners in quick succession on the home stretch but as he got near the lead, he too started to tie up. It was anyone’s race, but as they entered the final meters, McBride and Schnulle had separated slightly from Rono and Neal. McBride barely held on, with Schnulle second and Neal moving past Rono for third.
Results and quick takes below.
|1||Brandon McBride||MSST||1:46.26||51.14 [51.14]||1:46.26 [55.12]|
|2||Ryan Schnulle||UFL||1:46.29||51.76 [51.76]||1:46.29 [54.53]|
|3||Keffri Neal||UKY||1:46.39||52.22 [52.22]||1:46.39 [54.17]|
|4||Patrick Rono||ARK||1:46.46||51.61 [51.61]||1:46.46 [54.85]|
|5||Eliud Rutto||MTSU||1:47.32||51.34 [51.34]||1:47.32 [55.98]|
|6||Luke Lefebure||STAN||1:47.64||51.89 [51.89]||1:47.64 [55.75]|
|7||Chris Low||LBST||1:48.28||51.68 [51.68]||1:48.28 [56.60]|
|8||Derrick Daigre||WASH||1:50.83||51.38 [51.38]||1:50.83 [59.46]|
|Split||Intermediate Leader||Time||Fastest Split||Time|
|400m||Brandon McBride||0:51.14||Brandon McBride||0:51.14|
|800m||Brandon McBride||1:46.26||Keffri Neal||0:54.17|
Quick Take #1: Defending an indoor title is hard.
It might seem intuitive that McBride won outdoors given his indoor 800 championship, but it’s rarely worked out that way recently. Oregon’s Elijah Greer did it last year, but before him the last man to do it was South Carolina’s Otukile Lekote in 2002.
McBride said he expected Schnulle and the other SEC guys to be there at the end, so he took it out in a pace that they were going to feel uncomfortable with. He wanted to shock their legs since he felt like he didn’t have the turnover that some of the other guys do in the last 150m.
He also talked about what it’s taken to get here as last year he struggled with anemia and a stress fracture and is thrilled to be back healthy this year. He’s been extremely consistent this year, winning NCAA indoors and almost all his races outdoors and attributed that consistency to the “grueling workouts” his coach puts him through which “make the race seem almost easy.” He said he can look smooth in races because “all the dying is done at practice.”
McBride is Canadian and is going to compete in Europe and at the Commonwealth Games this summer and try to put up a fast time.
Quick Take #2: Ryan Schnulle comes up huge for Florida.
Florida came in with three of the top 10 on the NCAA list, but only Schnulle qualified for the final. The Gators were counting on him to score big to make up for that fact, and Schnulle delivered.
He said, “In the last 100 meters, I just kept thinking this is more than me, this is for the team and I gave it my all to the line.” He said he left it all out there and couldn’t ask for more than that.
Quick Take #3: The SEC is the best 800 conference in the land.
Florida State knocked off Auburn in January to end the SEC’s seven-year run of football championships, but the conference has a new discipline on which to hang its hat: the men’s 800. SEC runners took the top four spots in the final — sophomores McBride and Schnulle and juniors Neal and Rono.
We talked to Neal after the race and he said that was happy with third since it was his first NCAA championships and he PR’d by over a second. He also said that he didn’t plan to end up in last but that he got a poor start and found himself there by accident. Finally, Neal said that competing for the SEC is good preparation for NCAAs since the top guys from the SEC will usually be at NCAAs as well.
Quick Take #3: Few may remember this race in 20 years, because it was overshadowed by the men’s 5000 later in the day, but it was a great race.
The top 4 guys were just .20 apart.
Quick Take #4: Could this be an even greater race next year?
All 8 finalists will return next year, plus 1:45 man Edward Kemboi of Iowa State, who didn’t make the final.