800 Semis: US #1 Boris Berian Goes Home, Nick and Duane Are Back Ready to Rumble, and What a Women’s Final We Have

by LetsRun.com
June 26, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. —  The 800m finals will be held at the 2015 USATF Championships on Sunday and after Friday’s semifinals all of the favorites you expected to be in the final at the start of the year will be there. That’s not to say there wasn’t one very surprising result on Friday.

Everything was going pretty much going according to form until the last 50 meters of the final heat of the night.

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Suddenly, we had a very shocking result. In the second men’s heat, 2015 US leader Boris Berian, the unheralded pro who had never broken 1:48 until this year, who came in as the favorite even though he was running in his first USA meet as a pro as he’d run 1.56 seconds faster than anyone else, went from first to fifth and failed to advance.


Something that wouldn’t have been stunning at the beginning of the year, but maybe would have been a few weeks ago, is the fact both Nick Symmonds and Duane Solomon, the two men who have combined to win the past seven U.S. titles, will be in the final on Sunday as the favorites.

On the women’s side of the ledger, the 800 final may very well be the mid-d/distance race of the championship as all of the big names moved on to the final which should be full of great drama and a very high quality field.

We recap the action for you below.

Women’s Semis

The two women’s semis were pretty much identical in the sense that the four qualifiers in each heat totally deserved to be in the final. In both heats, the top 4 at 400 were the top 4 at 600 and at 800. In both heats, they hit 400 in 58, 600 in 1:29 and 800 in 2:00.

The only difference was that in heat 1, the top two of Molly Ludlow and Brenda Martinez, who pretty much ran side by side the entire race with Ludlow slightly ahead, put a little bit of daylight on third and fourth place finishers Phoebe Wright and Dana Mecke over the final 200.

Screenshot (1186)

4 abreast

In the second heat, there were four big names – 2014 world leader Ajee Wilson, 2014 world indoor champ Chanelle Price, 5-time US champion Alysia Montano, and two-time US runner-up Maggie Vessey – and it would have been hard for the quartet to try to finish any closer together than they did in this one.  With 4 auto qualifiers in each heat, these four finished four abreast and within .09 of each other. Wilson finished fourth but you shouldn’t read anything into that as she led throughout – running just ahead of Montano from start to finish – until Wilson shut it down the last few meters.

If the final just consisted of those four, it would be full of drama as one of them is going to go home devastated on Saturday but when you add in Ludlow and Martinez, it’s going to be a must-watch event as there basically will be six people who looked great tonight battling it out for three spots.


Heat 1

Place Name Affiliation Time 200m 400m 600m 800m
1 Molly Ludlow Saucony 2:00.22 Q 28.08 [28.08] 58.42 [30.34] 1:29.15 [30.73] 2:00.22 [31.08]
2 Brenda Martinez New Balance 2:00.38 Q 28.41 [28.41] 58.68 [30.27] 1:29.26 [30.59] 2:00.38 [31.12]
3 Phoebe Wright NIKE 2:00.61 Q 28.36 [28.36] 58.81 [30.45] 1:29.54 [30.73] 2:00.61 [31.08]
4 Dana Mecke Unattached 2:00.76 Q 28.95 [28.95] 58.86 [29.91] 1:29.59 [30.74] 2:00.76 [31.17]
5 Hanna Green Virginia Tech 2:01.91 28.60 [28.60] 59.30 [30.71] 1:30.22 [30.92] 2:01.91 [31.70]
6 Kaela Edwards Oklahoma St. 2:03.69 29.19 [29.19] 59.55 [30.37] 1:31.01 [31.46] 2:03.69 [32.68]
7 Geena Lara Unattached 2:04.49 28.76 [28.76] 59.04 [30.29] 1:30.33 [31.29] 2:04.49 [34.17]
8 Charlene Lipsey adidas 2:04.91 28.22 [28.22] 58.65 [30.44] 1:29.48 [30.83] 2:04.91 [35.44]

Heat 2

Place Name Affiliation Time 200m 400m 600m 800m
1 Chanelle Price NIKE 2:00.05 Q 27.13 [27.13] 58.37 [31.24] 1:29.82 [31.46] 2:00.05 [30.23]
2 Maggie Vessey Unattached 2:00.05 Q 27.60 [27.60] 58.52 [30.92] 1:29.73 [31.21] 2:00.05 [30.33]
3 Alysia Montano ASICS / N Y A C 2:00.11 Q 27.00 [27.00] 58.24 [31.25] 1:29.62 [31.39] 2:00.11 [30.50]
4 Ajee’ Wilson adidas 2:00.14 Q 26.94 [26.94] 58.21 [31.28] 1:29.64 [31.43] 2:00.14 [30.51]
5 Lauren Wallace Oiselle / S R A 2:00.48 27.97 [27.97] 58.56 [30.59] 1:29.99 [31.44] 2:00.48 [30.49]
6 Mckayla Fricker Unattached 2:00.81 28.12 [28.12] 58.87 [30.76] 1:30.27 [31.40] 2:00.81 [30.55]
7 LaTavia Thomas N J N Y T C 2:02.41 27.51 [27.51] 58.72 [31.22] 1:30.03 [31.31] 2:02.41 [32.38]
8 Kenyetta Iyevbele Unattached 2:02.43 28.36 [28.36] 59.26 [30.90] 1:30.70 [31.44] 2:02.43 [31.73]

Quick Take #1: We’ve been eagerly awaiting the women’s 800 final all year but with the way the top two in the first heat and top four in the second heat ran tonight, we are even more excited.

Wilson (#2), Martinez (#4), Price (#8) and Ludlow (#10) are four of the 10 fastest women in the world already this year. Vessey and Montano have both run 1:57 in the past. Something has to give. Heck, throw in Phoebe Wright who also advanced today. Wright, who ran 1:58.22 in 2010, hasn’t broken 2:00 since 2012 but she’s got a great shot at it in the final.

QT #2 Alysia Montano Still Breastfeeding But Into the Final

Last year, 8 months pregnant, Alysia Montano made headlines by running the 800 preliminaries. She’s now a proud mom, who still is breastfeeding and she’ll be in the finals after a season’s best 2:00.11 for the 5-time US champ.

Quick Take: Dana Mecke likely won’t contend for a top three showing in the final but she’s improved a ton.

There will be one unsponsored runner in the final and it’s Mecke. The former UTSA runner finished up her eligibility in 2012 at UT San Antonio with a 2:07.44 pb. Yes, 2:07.44. On Sunday, she’ll be running in the USA final. Kudos to her.

She improved to 2:04.43 in 2013, 2:02.85 in 2014 and had run 2:01.49 this year before today’s 2:00.76.

Quick Take #3: Lauren Wallace has had a great year as well.

Oiselle’s Lauren Wallace was fifth in heat 2 in 2:00.48. Normally a 5th place finisher in a semi is upset but Wallace should be proud as it was her third pb of the year. She came into the year with a 2:02.16, then lowered it to 2:01.46 at Pre and then 2:01.13 at the St. Louis Festival of Miles and today ran 2:00.48. She’s improved by 1.68 this year. If she could take that much off next year, she’d be one of the best in the world.

More Interviews: Chanelle Price * Molly Ludlow

Men’s Semis: Duane and Nick Ready to Rumble

There certainly was a sense of deja vu after men’s heat one as it was played out exactly like the two women’s semis that were run just behind it. There were four qualifying spots on the line and just as was the case in the women’s semis, the top four at 400 never moved out of the top four once during the final lap. The men had even less movement than the women’s as here, the top four at 200 were still the top four at 400, 600 and 800. Duane Solomon took the lead early and was followed closely throughout by Casimir LoxsomMichael Rutt and Erik Sowinski.The only drama came in the last 30 meters when Solomon shut things down and made a few spectators nervous as fifth-placer Jesse Jorgsensen, the Pac-12 champ for Washington State, who was running unattached, got within .20 of Solomon at the line. It wasn’t really a scare but if you’re coaching Solomon you’d probably want him to not shut it down quite that much.

Duane almost slowed up too much

Duane almost slowed up too much

100 to go in heat 2

100 to go in heat 2

The final heat of the day was the only 800 heat where we actually saw a lot of changing of positions. In this one, the top 7 were tightly bunched coming off the final turn. 1:43 man Berian, who had never been under 1:48 until this year, had been leading throughout with NCAA 5th-placer Shaquille Walker of BYU just behind him throughout. Having watched the other heats, when Walker came by Berian we just assumed he was shutting it down as early leaders Ajee Wilson and Duane Solomon had in their heats. But then NCAA third-placer Clayton Murphy of Akron came by and then Nick Symmonds, who started the final 100 in 5th. Suddenly, there was only one spot left and Berian was clearly moving backwards. Then right before the finish line, it was disaster for Berian as Ryan Martin, who was 7th entering the final 100, nipped him for the final spot in the final.

Results and quick takes appear below.

Quick Take #1: It took four years, but Cas Loxsom is finally a 1:44 man

Loxsom hadn’t PR’d since running 1:45.28 in Canada the summer after his sophomore year at Penn State, but he got the monkey off his back with a 1:44.92 in heat 1 tonight to lead all qualifiers into Sunday’s final. He said he saw a 1:44 was possible as he neared the finish line so picked it up slightly to get under 1:45. When he saw the time, he put his arms out in celebration.

1:44 baby for Loxsom

1:44 baby for Loxsom

“It’s exciting to do something I’ve never done before,” Loxsom said.

We asked him what he thinks it will take to make the team to Beijing.

“Probably sub-1:45. In the 1:44 range. So it’s definitely easier to go in with that as a reasonable expectation after this.”

Loxsom’s Brooks Beasts teammate Nick Symmonds also had great things to say about Loxsom.

“He’s just got ungodly speed, it’s insane,” Symmonds said. “He could step on that track right now and give you a 33-second 300. I’m not joking. I’ve trained with maybe 100 different training partners over my last 10 years. I’ve never met anyone with the speed that Cas Loxsom has.”

Quick Take #2: Boris Berian is “pretty disappointed, but it’s just another race”

Berian, the U.S. leader with his 1:43.84 at the adidas Grand Prix, wasn’t too down on himself after finishing fading down the homestretch to miss out on the final by .09 of a second. Armchair quarterbacks will have their explanations for Berian’s failure, but it’s hard to pinpoint a reason for why he fell short today. Berian didn’t make any tactical mistakes; he likes running from the front and did that at a sensible pace.

“I don’t even know [what went wrong],” Berian said. “Maybe nerves? I didn’t feel 100% the last 100, everything else felt good though.”

As the only guy who’d broken 1:45 this year, maybe he should have gone out faster, but that would likely have only made his last 100 even slower. The mark of a truly great runner is consistency, especially at championships, and while Berian had been consistent until today, it only takes one bad race to miss the Worlds team.

It’s been a whirlwind two months for Berian, who went from an unsponsored 1:48 runner to a 1:43 guy favored to win a national title to going out in the semifinals at USAs. Now it’s off to Europe, where he’s looking to run one more PR and gain some experience.

Quick Take: Nick Symmonds and Duane Solomon Turn Heads with Post-Race Comments

Nick and Duane are the royalty of US 800m running and both had struggled coming into this meet, but both appear to be in form, and both have a great deal of respect for one another. They turned heads with their post-race comments in different ways.

Nick Symmonds: Ready to Rumble vs Duane and “I’ve got to say right now, everything I see, I owe Salazar an apology unless some better evidence comes out”

Nick Symmonds, always one of the best interviews in the sport because he says what he believes, had some insightful comments on the Nike Oregon Project investigation after making the 800m final.

The strongest line from the straight shooter Nick that will get a lot of attentions was “I’ve got to say right now, everything I see, I owe Salazar an apology unless some better evidence comes out.” And he called Salazar’s rebuttal one of the “finest rebuttals” he’s ever seen.

He then went on to commend the Gouchers and Steve Magness for speaking out about what they saw and said how this entire investigation was good for the sport.

“I don’t know who is right, we haven’t seen all the evidence I don’t think yet, but I know this process is great for this sport,” Symmonds said.

And he thanked LRC for asking the tough question and also said, “I respect LetsRun for always asking the tough questions.”

Full interview below.  Nick talked about Cas Loxom’s “ungodly speed” and said,  “If you want to be a contender for a medal at worlds, you can’t peak here, that’s the reality. The veterans, the guys like Duane and I, who are pretty much in this to win medals, we have to make the team on our “B” game. I was able to do that in my 20s. I don’t know if I can do that at 31.”

He also said, “I’ve made every team I’ve tried out for, I sure as hell don’t want to break that streak Sunday.”

More of Nick’s quotes and discussion of his comments here.

Duane Solomon Ready to Go World Record Pace at 600 in Final

The first 800m Duane Solomon finished this year was yesterday in the prelims. Today he looked good in 800 #2 of the year, and he indicated he’s got more to come in the final, saying that he could possibly go out at world record pace.

“In the final it’s going to go out more aggressive than that. I think I’m going to take it to a place where the only person who has been there is Nick,” he said. Later when asked what that place was he said, “Coach Gray calls it the Twilight Zone. I’m going to go under 50 seconds the first lap and probably be under world record pace at the 600.”

Duane explained his tactics, “It’s just a way you can break the field. If they try and go with me they are going to break down….If I tie up at that pace I’m not going to tie up a lot. I’ve done a 700 going world record pace, not tying up at all.”

When asked if that meant he had something special for the final he said, “I’ve got something special.” Duane struggled this year with a problem with a nerve behind his calf, but said he never lost his base and it was “easy to get the speed back.” Sunday’s final should be a great one.

Heat 1 results

Place Name Affiliation Time 200m 400m 600m 800m
1 Casimir Loxsom Brooks 1:44.92 Q 24.49 [24.49] 50.46 [25.97] 1:16.92 [26.47] 1:44.92 [28.01]
2 Erik Sowinski NIKE 1:45.30 Q 24.67 [24.67] 50.57 [25.91] 1:17.13 [26.56] 1:45.30 [28.17]
3 Michael Rutt Hoka / N J N Y 1:45.47 Q 24.77 [24.77] 50.68 [25.92] 1:17.29 [26.62] 1:45.47 [28.18]
4 Duane Solomon Jr Saucony 1:45.56 Q 24.29 [24.29] 50.27 [25.99] 1:16.69 [26.42] 1:45.56 [28.88]
5 Jesse Jorgensen Unattached 1:45.76 24.90 [24.90] 50.97 [26.07] 1:18.02 [27.05] 1:45.76 [27.75]
6 Julian Parker L S U 1:47.52 25.24 [25.24] 50.83 [25.59] 1:17.46 [26.64] 1:47.52 [30.07]
7 Brannon Kidder Penn St. 1:48.26 25.46 [25.46] 51.64 [26.18] 1:18.55 [26.92] 1:48.26 [29.72]
8 Christopher Low Long Beach St 1:52.01 24.95 [24.95] 51.27 [26.33] 1:20.33 [29.07] 1:52.01 [31.68]
Split Intermediate Leader Time Fastest Split Time
200m Duane Solomon Jr 0:24.29 Duane Solomon Jr 0:24.29
400m Duane Solomon Jr 0:50.27 Julian Parker 0:25.59
600m Duane Solomon Jr 1:16.69 Duane Solomon Jr 0:26.42
800m Casimir Loxsom 1:44.92 Jesse Jorgensen 0:27.75

Heat 2

Place Name Affiliation Time 200m 400m 600m 800m
1 Shaquille Walker B Y U 1:45.58 Q 24.55 [24.55] 50.96 [26.41] 1:17.96 [27.01] 1:45.58 [27.63]
2 Clayton Murphy Akron 1:45.78 Q 24.87 [24.87] 51.56 [26.70] 1:18.47 [26.91] 1:45.78 [27.31]
3 Nicholas Symmonds BROOKS Beasts 1:45.95 Q 25.40 [25.40] 51.79 [26.39] 1:18.32 [26.54] 1:45.95 [27.64]
4 Ryan Martin ASICS 1:46.19 Q 24.76 [24.76] 51.31 [26.56] 1:18.35 [27.04] 1:46.19 [27.85]
5 Boris Berian NIKE 1:46.28 24.43 [24.43] 50.72 [26.30] 1:17.78 [27.07] 1:46.28 [28.51]
6 Harun Abda Nike / Nike OTCE 1:47.05 24.65 [24.65] 51.09 [26.45] 1:18.07 [26.99] 1:47.05 [28.98]
7 Mark Wieczorek Brooks 1:47.16 25.01 [25.01] 51.46 [26.45] 1:18.15 [26.70] 1:47.16 [29.01]
8 Joe Abbott Unattached 1:48.46 25.16 [25.16] 52.04 [26.88] 1:19.94 [27.91] 1:48.46 [28.52]
Split Intermediate Leader Time Fastest Split Time
200m Boris Berian 0:24.43 Boris Berian 0:24.43
400m Boris Berian 0:50.72 Boris Berian 0:26.30
600m Boris Berian 1:17.78 Nicholas Symmonds 0:26.54
800m Shaquille Walker 1:45.58 Clayton Murphy 0:27.31

Women’s Screenshots From NBCSN Broadcast (click for larger image)

Men’s Screenshots From NBCSN Broadcast (click for larger image)

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