NCAA 800 Finals: Favorites Deliver As Clayton Murphy Has To Fight For It; Raevyn Rogers Was Utterly Dominant

March 12, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The favorites came through in the men’s and women’s 800s today at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships as Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers won her second NCAA title in two appearances at the NCAA Championships while World Championships semifinalist Clayton Murphy of Akron won his first NCAA title.

Men’s Race

Murphy is an NCAA champion Murphy is an NCAA champion

Texas A&M’s Hector Hernandez got the men’s race started fast as expected by running a 53.07 opening 400. He was followed closely by the eventual top two finishers, Murphy and Eliud Rutto of Middle Tennessee State.

The third 200 of an 800 is often slower than the second 200, but not for Rutto as heading into the bell, he accelerated and took the lead (his 3rd lap was 26.84 versus the 26.94 he ran on lap #2). On the backstretch, it was clear it was going to be a two-person battle for the title. As Rutto headed down the backstretch, he started to gap Murphy a little bit but Murphy dug deep and his XC and mile (3:57.11 PR) strength prevailed in narrow fashion as he ran 1:46.68 to Rutto’s 1:46.81, with BYU’s Shaquille Walker, last year’s 5th placer outdoors, just edging Hernandez for the well-beaten third spot (1:47.50 to 1:47.55).

Behind them there was some contact on the final turn, which impacted some of the minor placings but had zero bearing on the front of the race.

Event 4  Men 800 Meter Run
 Two heats.  Top 3 plus next 2 fastest advance to Final.
 Two waterfall start, 2 turn stagger.  (5,3)
 Prelim: Random draw. Final: Top 3 outside, random.
  Collegiate: C 1:44.84  3/4/1989    Paul Ereng, Virginia                      
   NCAA Meet: M 1:45.33  3/10/2001   Patrick Nduwimana, Arizona                
    Facility: F 1:48.13  2/29/2016   LaForrest Church, Memphis                 
    Name                    Year School               Prelims     Finals  Points
Section  1 Finals
  1 Clayton Murphy            JR Akron                1:46.92    1:46.68F  10   
        26.185 (26.185)    53.181 (26.997)  1:20.175 (26.994)  1:46.680 (26.505)
  2 Eliud Rutto               JR Mid. Tenn. State     1:47.27    1:46.81F   8   
        26.335 (26.335)    53.265 (26.931)  1:20.096 (26.832)  1:46.802 (26.706)
  3 Shaquille Walker          JR BYU                  1:47.36    1:47.50F   6   
        25.757 (25.757)    53.295 (27.539)  1:20.644 (27.349)  1:47.493 (26.850)
  4 Hector Hernandez          SR Texas A&M            1:47.64    1:47.55F   5   
        25.867 (25.867)    53.064 (27.197)  1:20.269 (27.205)  1:47.547 (27.279)
  5 Robert Heppenstall        FR Wake Forest          1:47.91    1:49.06    4   
        26.185 (26.185)    53.666 (27.482)  1:21.004 (27.338)  1:49.053 (28.050)
  6 Carlton Orange            FR Arkansas             1:49.04    1:49.69    3   
        25.992 (25.992)    53.509 (27.517)  1:20.853 (27.344)  1:49.685 (28.833)
  7 Brannon Kidder            SR Penn State           1:47.76    1:50.29    2   
        26.076 (26.076)    53.394 (27.319)  1:20.454 (27.060)  1:50.283 (29.829)
  8 Dylan Capwell             JR Monmouth             1:47.69    1:51.21    1   
        26.022 (26.022)    53.460 (27.439)  1:20.980 (27.520)  1:51.203 (30.223)
 -- Goaner Deng               SR Minnesota            1:47.98        DNF  
        26.065 (26.065)    53.540 (27.476)  1:20.738 (27.198)

Quick Thought #1: Clayton Murphy thanks the announcer for helping him win, but we think he would have won whatever he chose to run here in Birmingham, whether it was this event or the mile.

Murphy had to work for the win Murphy had to work for the win

Murphy looked extremely good in the prelims yesterday and – given his World Championships experience – had to have been considered the favorite in today’s final. He was pretty much perfectly positioned throughout the race in the top 3, just behind the leader. But Rutto really make Murphy work for it on the last lap. Heading into the final turn, Murphy was gapped a little bit but then said he heard the announcer refer to him as the Pan Am champion and Murphy said he was reminded he was able to overcome a gap in the final meters of Pan Ams last summer and still win the race.

Murphy said he was hoping no one was coming up from behind as he moved up on Rutto since he was all-out. Given the fact that the IAAF has been inviting some 800 runners to Worlds in recent days, we asked Murphy if he’d race World Indoors if he’s offered a spot for next weekend. He said he would not. He wants to focus on doing the best he can for Akron right now.

Quick Thought #2: Eliud Rutto was content with second place today.

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Rutto said that he was happy to get second here and he thought he executed well, making the right move at the right time.

Quick Thought #3:  Shaquille Walker was very happy to come away with 3rd place after he woke up with the flu this morning.

Walker revealed that he woke up this morning with the flu and has been “throwing up all day.” He knew he wouldn’t be 100% for the final so his plan changed from trying to lead the field through a 51-low first 400 and go for the win to trying to finish as high as he could. He didn’t necessarily plan on going to the front, but when he found himself in the lead, he said he purposely let it slow a bit (53.19 first 400) as he knew with his illness he wouldn’t have the strength for a super-fast race.

Quick Thought #4:  Last year’s outdoor runner-up Brannon Kidder didn’t have a great day.

At NCAA outdoors last year, Penn State’s Brannon Kidder actually beat Murphy as Kidder was second and Murphy third. Today, Kidder was just seventh. On the final turn, there was some contact and Kidder lost ground but didn’t dwell on that after the race as he was already out of contention by that point. Even with top seeds like Brazier and Arroyo failing to make the final, the depth of the men’s 800 this year was staggering. Kidder, who nearly won the NYRR Millrose 800 this year over Duane Solomon, only had the 5th best seasonal time of the finalists today.

Women’s Race

Rogers, who had run more than 2.5 seconds (2.51 seconds to be exact) faster than anyone else in the field this year, was utterly dominant over the final lap. She hit the accelerator as she got the bell and never looked back. Her final lap split of 29.41 was the best of the night by 1.24 seconds as she won in 2:04.68.

Virginia Tech’s Hanna Green, who was running just ahead of Rogers for virtually the entire first three laps, ended up a much-deserved second in 2:05.90, an improvement on the third place she achieved outdoors last year.

Results, quick-take analysis and post-race interviews appear below.

Event 20  Women 800 Meter Run
 Two heats.  Top 3 plus next 2 fastest advance to Final.
 Two waterfall start, 2 turn stagger.  (5,3)
 Prelim: Random draw. Final: Top 3 outside, random.
  Collegiate: C 2:00.75  2/27/2005   Nicole Cook, Tennessee                    
   NCAA Meet: M 2:01.64  3/14/2015   Natoya Goule, Clemson                     
    Facility: F 2:06.32  1/7/2015    Morgan Schuetz, LSU                       
    Name                    Year School               Prelims     Finals  Points
Section  1 Finals
  1 Raevyn Rogers             SO Oregon               2:03.13    2:04.68F  10   
        29.522 (29.522)  1:02.034 (32.512)  1:35.276 (33.242)  2:04.676 (29.401)
  2 Hanna Green               JR Virginia Tech        2:04.54    2:05.90F   8   
        29.568 (29.568)  1:01.934 (32.366)  1:35.253 (33.320)  2:05.898 (30.645)
  3 Olivia Baker              SO Stanford             2:04.73    2:06.08F   6   
        29.798 (29.798)  1:02.544 (32.746)  1:35.521 (32.977)  2:06.079 (30.559)
  4 Savannah Camacho          JR Okla State           2:04.50    2:06.47    5   
        29.768 (29.768)  1:02.182 (32.415)  1:35.462 (33.280)  2:06.469 (31.008)
  5 Shea Collinsworth         JR BYU                  2:04.38    2:06.57    4   
        29.687 (29.687)  1:02.436 (32.750)  1:35.733 (33.297)  2:06.566 (30.833)
  6 Cecilia Barowski          SR Princeton            2:04.44    2:06.81    3   
        29.481 (29.481)  1:02.332 (32.852)  1:35.594 (33.262)  2:06.804 (31.210)
  7 Ce'aira Brown             SR Hampton              2:04.72    2:06.87    2   
        29.603 (29.603)  1:02.135 (32.532)  1:35.398 (33.264)  2:06.866 (31.468)
  8 Anima Banks               SR Duke                 2:04.67    2:15.09    1   
        29.864 (29.864)  1:02.294 (32.430)  1:35.318 (33.025)  2:15.086 (39.768)

Quick Thought #1: Rogers is totally unchallenged in this event right now.

We weren’t able to catch up with Rogers after the race because she was getting ready for the 4 x 400 (where she split 51.41 on the anchor to help give Oregon the points they needed to secure the team title) but she is way better than everyone right now both on paper and in reality right now. She’s a monster talent. This is our favorite Rogers stat, which we came up with at NCAA outdoors last year.

Raevyn Rogers 800m Progression
2:13.12 at age 11
2:06.90 at age 12
2:05.50 at age 15
2:03.32 at age 16
1:59.71 at age 18
Ajee Wilson Progression
2:11.43 at age 14
2:07.08 at age 15
2:04.18 at age 16
2:02.64 at age 17
2:00.91 at age 18
1:58.21 at age 19
1:57.67 at age 20

Quick Thought #2: Hanna Green is focused on running much faster – hopefully sub-2:00 outdoors.

We have a brief interview with Green which you can see below.

Off camera, Green, who has a 2:01.17 PR, said it was a challenging fall for her as she had a torn plantar fascia and missed the last two XC meets of the season. She hopes to run faster outdoors than indoors (her seasonal best of 2:04.15 came in her season opener on February 5). Today’s showing was her best at an NCAA (she was 5th last year indoors, 3rd outdoors).

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