Women’s 800 Prelims: Favorites Advance as Laura Roesler Goes Home

By LetsRun.com
July 1, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — There weren’t many surprises in the women’s 800 prelims on day one of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field. Laura Roesler, 2nd at USAs in 2014 and 4th at World Indoors, was the biggest name to go home as the other top women — six-time U.S. champ Alysia Montaño, U.S. leader Ajee Wilson, 2013 Worlds bronze medallist Brenda Martinez — all advanced to Saturday’s semis.

Heat recaps, results and interviews below. The top two in each heat plus the next six fastest times advanced to the semis, which begin at 2:43 p.m. ET on Saturday.

All results

Heat 1
Alysia Montaño surprised no one in taking the lead at 200 (27.72) and extended it in hitting 400 in a brisk 57.72. Molly Ludlow followed in second, passing one lap in 58.11.

With Montaño seemingly set to lead wire to wire, Charlene Lipsey shook things up and took the lead at 600 and all of a sudden Montaño seemed to be boxed.

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But with 100 to go, it was Ludlow taking the lead to win in 2:00.30 and Montaño moving out of trouble, then looking over her shoulder as she pulled away from Kendra Chambers and Lipsey. Montaño would comfortably finish second in 2:00.56. Chambers moved up to finish third in 2:01.07 with Lipsey a solid fourth in 2:01.33.

Molly Ludlow: “I am so sick of getting fourth place”

Ludlow said that she tries to stay near the front in prelims in case of a fall in front of her and looked great in advancing today, calling 2:00 “just another day in the office.” She also said that after taking fourth at the Trials four years ago and fourth at USAs last year, she really believes she can finish in the top three on Monday. On this form, her chances are looking good.

1 Molly LudlowSaucony 2:00.30 Q 7
2 Alysia MontanoASICS / NYAC 2:00.56 Q 5
3 Kendra ChambersTexas Elite TC 2:01.07 q 2
4 Charlene Lipseyadidas 2:01.33 q 4
5 Erin DonohueUnattached 2:02.93 1
6 LaTavia ThomasUnattached 2:05.10 8
7 Ceaira BrownUnattached 2:06.78 6
8 Shannon LeinertBrooks / Speed Factory Athl 2:13.80 3

Heat 2

Chanelle Price moved to her comfort zone by hitting 200 in the lead at 28.76. She extended her lead at 400, crossing in 59.51, but Brenda Martinez had moved into second and began closing down the gap.

Hitting 600, Martinez challenged Price on the outside, with Price attempting to hold her off on the Bowerman Curve. But Martinez was too strong in taking the win, with Price second and Phoebe Wright right behind in third.  

Brenda Martinez: Semenya should compete in Rio

Martinez, who looked good in winning her heat, said she feels confident in her fitness at the moment, pointing to her 4:03 1500 at the Pre Classic as a sign of her strength. Martinez believes that strength will give her an advantage over the rounds, pointing out that she doesn’t think anyone else in the field can run 4:03 right now.

But Martinez’ more interested comments came when we asked her about Caster Semenya’s domination of the event right now. Martinez was clear in her belief that Semenya should be able to compete in Rio this summer.

“I don’t think anyone should be denied,” Martinez said. “It’s just not fair, that’s not what our sport’s about. Yeah, she’s different, but that’s not her fault. I like her, I respect her, I do want to race her.”

With that said, Martinez admitted that Semenya has an advantage but that racing her would also give Martinez the opportunity to run a fast time.

“I like Caster she’s been so nice to me. She does have an advantage … I think she should compete but it’s kind of a slap to the face if she’s gonna double and kind of smack us around.”

Martinez also added that she thinks the IAAF will pressure Semenya to lower her testosterone levels next year — though as it stands, Semenya isn’t required to do anything due to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling last summer.

Phoebe Wright: “It’s amazing to me that 70 people care about how fast I run around the track twice.”

Wright says that she thought if she held off her kick until the end she’d have a chance for top two, but “the caliber of these ladies is just so good.” However, she wasn’t too worried about advancing to the next round knowing that “a lot of people would have to PR” for her not to get in on her time.

Wright is a student at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy and joked that with doubling up on school and training/racing she’s “almost failing all her classes.” Asked if she considered taking a hiatus to focus on the Trials she said, “Yes, but I can’t postpone my life much longer and I do better with other things going on.”

Before the Trials, Wright sold “Stop Phe” T-shirts through her blogging website and she sold 70 of them. She said this gave her emotional strength explaining, “It’s amazing to me that 70 people care about how fast I run around the track twice. So that’s what I’m thinking about on the start line. People care, I matter. Most people have a job where people don’t care.”

1 Brenda MartinezNew Balance 2:00.85 Q 6
2 Chanelle PriceNike 2:01.13 Q 5
3 Phoebe WrightNike 2:01.35 q 4
4 Baylee MiresBrooks / BROOKS Beasts TC 2:02.57 2
5 Hanna GreenVirginia Tech 2:02.85 1
6 Dominique JacksonOiselle / SRA Elite 2:03.99 3
7 Shea CollinsworthBYU 2:06.65 7v

Heat 3

Ajee Wilson rocketed to the front at 100 meters but things slowed a bit by 200 in 28.90 as the pack began to bunch back together. Wilson still had the lead at 400, but things were continuing to slow and she crossed one lap in 61.97.

Wilson continued to dictate from the front and at 600, Wilson held off a challenge from Olivia Baker and looked incredibly strong in closing in 29.35 to win in 2:03.31; Baker placed second in 2:03.68. High schooler Sammy Watson took an impressive third in 2:04.12; her time, however, would not be enough to advance.

Maggie Vessey saw her Olympic dreams end with a seventh place 2:07.60.

Sammy Watson: “I’m just so happy to be here … it’s crazy.”

16-year-old high schooler Sammy Watson was just really excited to be here competing at the Olympic Trials saying, “I’m just so happy to be here. Even if I didn’t make it through to the next round. It’s just crazy.” Watson, who just finished her junior year, ran a 2:02.91 to win the USATF Junior Championships last week and said the experience here racing against the professional competition would serve her well when she represents the USA in Poland later this summer at the World Under-20 Championships.

Asked about the potential of eventually turning professional rather than competing in the NCAA she seemed to hesitate a second before saying that it’s something she’d talked about with her coach and mother before, but she’s “not sure.”

1 Ajee Wilsonadidas 2:03.31 Q 4
2 Olivia BakerStanford 2:03.68 Q 1
3 Samantha WatsonUnattached 2:04.12 3
4 Raquel LambdinUnattached 2:04.14 6
5 Carsyn KochCedarville 2:05.57 5
6 Bethany PraskaUnattached 2:05.79 7
7 Maggie VesseyUnattached 2:07.60 2

Heat 4

Chrishuna Williams had the lead at 200 (29.3) and 400 (61.27) but Laura Roesler was right on her shoulder, ready to pounce at any point. Dartmouth alum Megan Krumpoch and Princeton alum Cecilia Barowski were in third and fourth.

Roesler had the lead at 600 but Oklahoma State’s Kaela Edwards moved past her with 75 to go. But the race was far from over. Williams bounced back for first in 2:03.19 with Barwoski second in 2:03.29. Edwards in 2:03.31 edged out Roesler in 2:03.55, as both would have to wait to see if they would advance.  With one heat to to, Roesler held the final qualifying spot on time but would get bumped and miss out on the semis.

1 Chrishuna WilliamsNike 2:03.18 Q 1
2 Cecilia BarowskiPrinceton 2:03.29 Q 8
3 Kaela EdwardsOklahoma St. 2:03.31 4
4 Laura RoeslerNike 2:03.55 2
5 Kenyetta IyevbeleUnattached 2:04.98 3
6 Megan KrumpochNew Balance 2:05.35 7
7 Abby FarleyBull City TC 2:10.35 6
8 Annette MelcherU.S. Air Force 2:15.91 5

Chrishuna Williams does all her running on the track

Williams, who was the first American to break 2:00 this year and is still tied for second on the 2016 U.S. list, has broken out this year (her best before this year was 2:01.61 from 2015; prior to that she was primarily a 400 runner). Williams, who still trains with Arkansas coach Chris Johnson in Fayetteville, most definitely approaches the 800 from the speed end of things. She said she doesn’t tally weekly mileage and doesn’t do easy runs — she does all of her training on the track.

Laura Roesler just couldn’t close quickly enough

Roesler expected the race to be competitive and said she wouldn’t change anything tactically, she just wasn’t closing as quickly as the others in the field. Roesler hadn’t raced that well recently but felt like she was in good shape coming into this as she’d been doing some hard training in that stretch. But it wasn’t enough: Roesler will be going home. Her reaction when she heard the news (she was told moments after we stopped recording): “Bummer!”

1 Chrishuna WilliamsNike 2:03.18 Q 1
2 Cecilia BarowskiPrinceton 2:03.29 Q 8
3 Kaela EdwardsOklahoma St. 2:03.31 4
4 Laura RoeslerNike 2:03.55 2
5 Kenyetta IyevbeleUnattached 2:04.98 3
6 Megan KrumpochNew Balance 2:05.35 7
7 Abby FarleyBull City TC 2:10.35 6
8 Annette MelcherU.S. Air Force 2:15.91 5

Heat 5

Olicia Williams had the lead at 28.62 at 200. By 400, McKayla Fricker had moved to the front, hitting the bell in 59.09. Williams was in second and Duke’s Anima Banks in third. As the lead pack hit 500, Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers was patiently waiting in fourth with Kate Grace right behind in fifth.

Rogers made a move to overtake Fricker with 150 to but was unable to take the lead. Passing half the field in the final 100, Grace moved all the way to first in 2:01.36. Fricker followed in 2:01.53 and Rogers was third in 2:01.67, easily enough to advance on time. 2012 Olympian Geena Gall failed to advance in in 2:03.74.  

Kate Grace said her training has been more geared toward the 800 recently 

Raevyn Rogers said her first Olympic Trials race was hard

Rogers, who has dominated the NCAA of late, isn’t used to running against women close to her level of ability and said that today’s race was tough. But she’s advancing, and that’s what matters.

1 Kate Grace
2:01.36 Q 3
2 Mckayla Fricker
2:01.53 Q 2
3 Raevyn Rogers
2:01.67 q 6
4 Olicia Williams
2:02.22 q 7
5 Anima Banks
2:02.39 q 4
6 Geena Gall
2:03.74 5
7 Dana Mecke
Texas Elite TC
2:04.60 8
8 Lauren Wallace
2:05.52 1


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