2016 Olympic Trials Begin With Chaos – Donavan Brazier and Duane Solomon Bomb Out in 1st Round of Men’s 800

by LetsRun.com
July 1, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — The 2016 US Olympic Track and Field trials got underway in shocking fashion today in the very first event on the track – the men’s 800 first round. If we had told you yesterday morning, that within 25 minutes of the track action beginning that 2012 Olympians Nick Symmonds and Duane Solomon as well as NCAA record holder Donavan Brazier would all be out of the competition before the semifinals you wouldn’t have believed us, but that’s what has happened.

Symmonds scratched yesterday due to injury and then Solomon and Brazier, noted front runners, bombed out after running tactical first laps. Both Solomon and Brazier led as they like to do but the pace was just slow as Solomon hit 400 and 600 in 54.23 and 1:22.25 and Brazier hit those marks in 1:54.05 and 1:22.25.

Solomon and Brazier were the only big casualties as everyone else seeded in the top 9 based on 2016 seasonal best time was an auto qualifier for the semifinals.

Duane Solomon in Round 1 Duane Solomon in Round 1

HEAT 1: Solomon Bombs Out

Only 7 started, as lane three was conspicuously empty, since defending Olympic Trials champion Nick Symmonds was a scratch.  Because Symmonds chose to wait until yesterday to announce that his injury of the last few months would keep him out, it was too late to fill the field with another athlete.

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Once the race began, Duane Solomon took the lead at 200 in 26.2, a mere half a step in front of Charles Jock.  Approaching 400, Solomon extended his lead to a full stride, hitting one lap in 54.22, looking well within himself.  Approaching 600, Joseph White moved up aggressively on the inside to pass Jock and move into second with Solomon still comfortably in front.

But the final 125 meters suddenly got VERY interesting.  Solomon, a clear 5 meters in front, soon started to see his lead dwindle. Three guys all tightly bunched were coming and in the final 20 Solomon started to think about the next round and coast in instead of driving to the finish. After the race, Solomon said he wasn’t aware how fast the others were closing behind him. In the end, he was caught at the line by Drew Windle, who took first in 1:48.66, and two others – with White in second and Jock in third, with Jock and Solomon both crossing in 1:48.71.

Solomon would have to wait on the remaining heats to see if his time would advance and he was officially eliminated when Craig Engels finished 4th in heat #3.

Solomon didn’t realize the other guys behind him were closing past. “It’s a dumb mistake on my part. Very stupid to do it at the Trials.”

Solomon said afterwards that he was trying to conserve energy for the final but was caught by surprise how fast the other guys in his heat were closing. By the time he figured out, he had been passed and was in bad position and couldn’t make up the gap, falling an agonizing seven thousandths short of Charles Jock, the final auto qualifier. He accepted responsibility, calling it a dumb mistake — which it was for a guy who was fourth at the last Olympics and was running in his 12th U.S. outdoor championship.

Charles Jock Feels Fresh

Charles Jock said he felt really good in his first race since May 20th. Jock was dealing with a hamstring injury which forced him to pull out of the races he had planned ahead of the Trials. He said that might have worked out for the best though as he feels really fresh and ready for three rounds while everyone else has been racing a lot.


Drew Windle

Brooks / BROOKS Beasts TC

1:48.66Q 7

Joseph White


1:48.68Q 6

Charles Jock

Nike OTC

1:48.71Q 1

Duane Solomon


1:48.71 8

Christian Harrison


1:48.95 4

Jesse Garn


1:49.16 5

Holland Sherrer

Ole Miss

1:49.48 2

Nick Symmonds

Brooks / BROOKS Beasts TC

Boris Berian in New Balance Gear for First Time Boris Berian in New Balance Gear for First Time

HEAT 2: Berian Cruises

Competing for the first time as a New Balance athlete, Boris Berian shot to the front at 200 in 25.01 with Erik Sowinski in close pursuit; after the surprises in the slow first heat, there would be no messing around in this race.  The duo were well clear of the pack at 400, crossing in 51.24.  As the front-runners hit 600, Brandon Kidder made a big move to separate from the chase pack and regain contact as Berian hit 600 in 1:18.76.

Berian, unlike Solomon, maintained his lead throughout and crossed the finish line comfortably in 1:46.03; Sowinski not far back in 1:46.17 and Kidder grabbing the third automatic qualifier in 1:46.22

With two heats to go, Solomon has been bumped down to the fourth time and his chances for advancing to the semi-finals looking slim.  Interestingly, Solomon’s final 200 in heat 1 was faster than Berian’s close in heat 2, but the first lap was a lot slower.

Boris Berian feels that a weight has been lifted from his shoulders

Berian, who now becomes the favorite after Brazier’s shocking elimination, said that after Nike dropped its lawsuit against him, he felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

“I didn’t know how much it was really bothering me until the dropped it,” Berian said. “I relaxed… I was definitely annoyed every single day but just kept training.”

As in heat 1, Berian was leading until the home straight when the runners behind him began to catch up. Unlike Solomon, he responded in time as Berian had been monitoring the video board at the end of the home stretch and once he saw he had company, picked it up.

Erik Sowinski: “Anything can happen [in the 800].”

Sowinsk’s Olympic odds are A LOT greater than they were, say, 36 hours ago. The world indoor bronze medallist now longer has to deal with Symmonds, Brazier and Solomon.

This was Sowinski’s first 800 in six weeks so he said it was just about “getting the legs going through the gears again.” Sowinski said he’s really strong right now and while it was a bit faster than he expected, running 1:46-flat felt easy. He was a bit worried when Berian started to slow down in the final 100m so he moved to his shoulder so he didn’t get boxed in and said he knew he had enough left in the tank to jockey around for position as needed.

Talking about all the fast younger runners in the men’s 800 right now, Sowinski rightly pointed out that “anything can happen”, mentioning Solomon going out in the first heat and adding, “We’ll see what happens in the next two heats.” Sowinski said he’s been training for a fast race and thinks his strength will set him up to be there with 100m to go and then “We’ll see what happens.”


Boris Berian


1:46.03Q 2

Erik Sowinski


1:46.17Q 5

Brannon Kidder


1:46.22Q 4

Edose Ibadin


1:46.31q 7

Abraham Alvarado

Cal St. Stanislaus

1:47.17q 6

Nick Hartle


1:47.83q 8

Jesse Jorgensen


1:49.91 1

Mark Wieczorek




NCAA 3rd placer Shaquille Walker had the lead at 200 (25.71) and 400 (52.66).

Things remain unchanged through 550 and then the real racing began although the jostling and maneuvering at 600 did nothing to break up the pack.

Penn State’s true frosh Isaiah Harris closed best over the final 100 to win the heat in 1:47.60 and defeat Nittany Lion alum Casimir Loxsom, who was who was second in 1:47.76, the same time as third place Walker.  With Ole Miss’s Craig Engels fourth in 1:47.77, Solomon was officially eliminated.

Isaiah Harris keeps setting and accomplishing new goals

We asked the true frosh from Penn State what his goal was at the the start of the season. He replied it was to make NCAAs and then once he did that it was to be All-American. Similarly, he said once he got here he wanted to advance to the semis but now he’s not satisfied and wants to make the final.


Isaiah Harris

Penn St.

1:47.60Q 5

Casimir Loxsom

Brooks / BROOKS Beasts TC

1:47.76Q 6

Shaquille Walker


1:47.76Q 3

Craig Engels

Ole Miss

1:47.77q 4

Christian Sanders

La Salle

1:47.95 7

Chris Low


1:47.96 8

James Gilreath

Team Green Running

1:48.67 1

Ryan Martin


1:59.38 2


Brazier on a better day at Hayward Brazier on a better day at Hayward

Heat four was billed as a battle of a pair of 2016 NCAA Champions – Donavan Brazier and Clayton Murphy –  both of whom starred at last month’s NCAA champs here at Hayward and then decided to forgo their remaining NCAA eligibility and signed pro contracts with Nike. nd the two young stars took to the track for what promised to be the first of many battles as post-collegiates.

Brazier was quick to the lead in his first race as a pro, hitting 200 in 26.20.  Murphy was content to bide his time, but as Brazier hit 400 in a slow 54.05, Murphy began moving up on the to outside.

1:21.07 at 600 for Brazier meant that the real racing was only beginning and the slow pace seemed to imply that only the top three would advance.  Stunningly, Brazier was not up to the task.  He surged to the NCAA win in the final 100 here a month ago…but the Hayward magic did not repeat itself.  Murphy looked composed in winning in 1:47.61, Brandon Johnson second in 1;47.62, Harun Abda was third in 1:47.88.  But the big story was Brazier fading to fourth in 1:48.13…a time too slow to advance.

Donavan Brazier: “I’m tired man. I’ve had a long season.”

Brazier, the U.S. leader going in, didn’t overcomplicate things in his post-race interview. He admitted that he should have gone out two seconds faster than his 54.05 first lap and that he felt tired at the end of the race, which he said could be the product of a long season.

As for his decision to turn professional now, well, it’s looking like a smart one. Brazier knew that, both physically and financially, it was the right time to turn professional.

“I wasn’t going to be more valuable, especially now after this,” Brazier said.

That’s for sure — a 1:43 guy who could be a potential Olympic finalist is a lot more valuable than a 1:43 guy who didn’t even make the semifinals at the Olympic Trials.

Let’s learn from earlier this year and not panic about Brazier, however. Obviously, this is a bad result. But he will have many more opportunities and, in time, will learn how to structure his training in a way that he’s rounding into form for a meet like this rather than feeling tired. Every pro has setbacks — the path from NCAA champ to Olympic finalist usually lasts more than two months. Brazier 19 years old and ran 1:43 three weeks ago. That talent iasn’t going anywhere.

Update: According to a report by FloTrack, Brazier’s agent Mark Wetmore filed a protest to try and advance him to the semi-final. Wetmore claimed that Brazier’s foot was stepped on in the first 200m which loosened his shoe and became more of a problem in the final 150m. USATF denied the protest.

Clayton Murphy acknowledged that he had “prelim legs” but said it was a good day at the office as he made it to the next round

Murphy said he often doesn’t feel great in the rounds but the key is to advance and get better with each round.


Clayton Murphy


1:47.61Q 7

Brandon Johnson


1:47.62Q 5

Harun Abda


1:47.88Q 2

Donavan Brazier


1:48.13 3

Julian Parker

Louisiana Athletics Program

1:48.38 1

Dusty Solis


1:48.71 6

Mike Rutt

Hoka One One / NJ-NY TC

1:49.25 8

Goaner Deng


1:49.61 4

Talk about today’s action on our world famous fan forum / messageboard. MB: Official 2016 Olympic Trials Day 1 Live Discussion Thread 

*Duane Solomon….DUMB!!!
*Murphy >>> Brazier

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