2017 USA W800, 1500 and Steeple Preview: Who Goes Home Devastated in the 800? Who Wins Simpson, Rowbury or Grace in the 15?

By LetsRun.com
June 22, 2017

The 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships will be held this week at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California, and LetsRun.com will be on-site all week providing coverage as America’s best runners, jumpers and throwers try to book their tickets to this summer’s World Championships in London. Below we preview the women’s 800, 1500 and 3,000 steeplechase.

Remember, unlike at the Olympics, if an athlete finishes in the top three at USAs but doesn’t have the World Championships standard, they have until July 23 to chase it. If they still don’t have it by then, their Worlds spot passes to the next-highest placing athlete at USAs with the standard.

Before you read the preview, make sure you enter our prediction contest. It’s free to play and the top three entries win a $100 giftcard plus the New Balance shoe of their choice thanks to our friends at Running Warehouse.

LRC $200,017 LRC Running Warehouse USATF Champs Prediction Contest is Here!

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Schedule/entries * TV/streaming information * LRC USAs coverage hub

Women’s 800: Ajee Wilson Returns To Action To Lead A Loaded Field

1st Round: Thursday Night –  8:25 pm ET 
Semis: Friday  – 11:27 pm ET 
Final: Sunday – 5:06 pm ET 

Bold = Has 2:01.00 IAAF standard

Runner Team Mark Comment
Charlene Lipsey adidas 1:58.64 Broke out indoors + has been dominant outdoors
Brenda Martinez New Balance 1:58.78 Says she’s in her best shape since WC bronze in ’13
Raevyn Rogers Oregon 1:59.10 5-time NCAA champ put on a show for the ages at NCAAs
Ajee’ Wilson adidas 1:59.44 Ran 1:58 indoors (though it no longer counts officially). Has not competed outdoor due to USADA positive.
Laura Roesler NIKE 1:59.54 #4 time in US this outdoor season; 4th at World Indoors last year
Chrishuna Williams NIKE 1:59.59 2016 Olympian hasn’t been quite as good in ’17
Alysia Montano New York Athletic Club (NYAC) 2:00.20 Pregnant – will get lots of PR
Hannah Fields Brooks 2:00.53 Former NAIA star PR’d by over 2 secs at Portland Track Festival
Emily Richards Ohio Northern 2:00.62 DIII stud PR’d by 1.72 secs on 6/10
Kendra Chambers Texas Elite Track Club 2:00.76  Texasm Alum was first person out of finals (9th) last year.
Samantha Watson Rochester Running Rebels 2:00.78 3rd-fastest high schooler ever
Cecilia Barowski HOKA NJNYTC 2:00.90  Princeton alum.
Ce’Aira Brown HOKA NJNYTC 2:01.10  
Hanna Green Virginia Tech 2:01.28 Would be a 3-time NCAA champ if not for Raevyn Rogers
Shea Collinsworth BYU 2:01.51  
Brooke Feldmeier Oregon 2:01.54  
Kenyetta Iyevbele HOKA NJNYTC 2:01.68  
Dana Mecke Brooks / Texas Elite Track Club 2:01.73  
Megan Krumpoch New Balance 2:01.75  
Olivia Baker Stanford 2:01.87  
Sadi Henderson Boise St. 2:02.33  
Baylee Mires Brooks 2:02.57  
Rachel Pocratsky Virginia Tech 2:02.67  
Rachel Weber Ohio St. 2:02.67  
Claudia Saunders Brooks 2:02.68  
Carsyn Koch Cedarville 2:02.87  
Madeline Kopp Duke 2:03.00  
Meghan Manley Central Park Track Club (CPTC) New Balance 2:03.06  
Dominique Jackson Oiselle / SRA Elite 2:03.17  
Alisha Brown Oiselle 2:03.22  
Rianna Goins UC Davis 2:03.86  

We’ll use this as a test of your track fandom. Do you remember what happened in last year’s women’s 800? 

No, Ajee Wilson did not win.

Kate Grace won the 800 at USAs last year (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly) Kate Grace won the 800 at USAs last year (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

We’ll give you a hint. In our preview of the women’s 800, we told you to “prepare for chaos” and that’s exactly what happened as the final was wild

The winner of the 2016 US Olympic Trials women’s 800 was a woman who isn’t even in the race in 2017, Kate Grace. With Kate Grace’s move to the 1500, this field has a little more space which is good as the US are the best in the world as a group at the 800. Team USA probably could field two 4 x 800 teams that could beat everyone else in the world.

Ajee Wilson didn’t win last year, but when healthy and on her game, she’s America’s best 800 runner. In 2013, at age 19, she finished 5th in the world in Moscow in an American junior record time of 1:58.21. The next two years she ran 1:57. Injured mid-way through 2015, she didn’t have a great year in 2016. However, in 2017, when she’s raced, she’s been on fire. She ran the fastest 800 ever by an American indoors. 1:58.27, but that time has now been thrown out as she ate some contaminated beef.

While she hasn’t raced at all outdoors as she waited for the doping authorities to sort out her positive test, her coach says she’s in good shape and we expect her to make the team. She’ll have two races to get used to racing before getting to the final anyway.

However, it’s certainly not a guarantee as there are 4 US women this year who have already broken 2:00.00 outdoors. 

The US leader for 2017 is Brenda Martinez. She’s run 1:58.78 and says she’s in the best shape of her life since 2013 when she won a medal at Worlds. Good luck knocking her off the team. We actually think her odds of making the team are the highest of anyone in the field. 

If Martinez and Wilson both make the team, that only leaves one spot for someone else. Who would it be? Well Charlene Lipsey has been a totally different class of runner in 2017 now that she’s training with Ajee Wilson. She ran 1:58 indoors herself and has won her last three races outdoors, twice breaking 2:00. But Raevyn Rogers, the 5-time NCAA champ, has been utterly dominant all year long. Seh’s won all 10 races she’s run this year and run 1:59.10 (#2 in the US this year).

And don’t forget about Laura Roesler who ran 1:59.54 at Mt. Sace when Rogers ran 1:59.10.

LRC Prediction: This is a hard one. A total stud is going to be left off the team.

  1. Rogers 2) Wilson 3) Martinez
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Women’s 1500: Kate Graces Moves Up To Take On Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury

1st Round: Tonight (Thursday) – 9:05 pm Pacific/12:05 am ET)
Final: Saturday 5:12 pm ET 

Bold – Has IAAF standard of 4:07.50

Runner Team Mark Comment
Shannon Rowbury Nike Oregon Project 3:57.78 4th at Olympics but may run 5k at USAs instead
Jennifer Simpson New Balance 3:58.19 3-time defending champ, but was only 3rd American at Pre Classic
Amanda Eccleston Brooks 4:03.25 Barely missed Olympic spot last year; coming off SB in Rome on 6/8
Kate Grace NIKE 4:03.59 US champ/Olympic finalist in 800 in ’16; 1-1 vs. Simpson in ’17
Heather Kampf ASICS / Team USA Minnesota 4:05.31 2nd indoors in 2mile, hasn’t raced outdoors in 2017
Lauren Johnson Boston Athletic Association 4:05.88 Made team in ’15 and running well in year 1 with BAA
Shannon Osika Saucony 4:06.17 PR’d by almost 3 secs at Furman on 6/3
Sara Vaughn Brooks 4:06.64 7th at OT last year; her 4:06 on 6/10 was first PR in 5+ years
Alexa Efraimson NIKE 4:07.34 6th at the Trials last year as a 19-year-old
Emily Lipari Boston Athletic Association 4:08.29 2014 NCAA mile champ has lowered her PR almost 4 secs this spring
Katie Rainsberger Oregon 4:09.08 Frosh at Oregon – mom won the Boston Marathon
Tori Tsolis Brooks / Strava Track Club 4:10.62  
Dominique Hiltz Arkansas 4:10.80 Came .02 away from winning NCAA title in Eugene
Karisa Nelson Samford 4:10.91  
Stephanie Brown   4:11.13  
Ashley Maton   4:11.27  
Stephanie Schappert HOKA NJNYTC 4:11.31  
Eleanor Fulton Skechers Performance / High Performance West 4:11.46  
Lianne Farber New Balance 4:11.63  
Jessica Harris Notre Dame 4:11.67  
Gabriele Grunewald Brooks 4:11.86  
Dana Mecke Brooks / Texas Elite Track Club 4:11.92  
Rebecca Mehra Stanford 4:11.97  
Carsyn Koch Cedarville 4:12.19  
Megan Moye North Carolina St. 4:12.42  
Grace Barnett Clemson 4:13.62  
Madeline Alm   4:13.80  
Angel Piccirillo   4:14.11  
Katrina Coogan New Balance 4:15.78  
Kaela Edwards Oklahoma St. 4:28.75  

With two of the top 4 women from the Olympics last year in Jenny Simpson (3rd) and Shannon Rowbury (4th), this is yet another good event for the US.

Since USAs are starting later today and we are running out of time to get all of our previews up, we won’t over complicate this. These three people will make the team –

Simpson, Rowbury and Kate Grace.

Simpson and Rowbury are clearly known commodities. Yes, Simpson isn’t running as well in 2017 as she was in 2016 as last year heading into USAs she’d run 4:01.57 and this year she’s run just 4:04.16 but it’s not like anyone not named Grace, Simpson or Rowbury is under 4:05.00. Here is the 2017 US list for 1500.

1) 4:03.15 Brenda Martinez – running 800.
2) 4:03.59 Kate Grace
3) 4:04.16 Jenny Simpson
4) 4:04.61 Shannon Rowbury
5) 4:05.88 Lauren Johnson

And the perception was – well at least at LetsRun.com headquarters – was that Rowbury wasn’t running as well in 2017 as she was in 2016 but the fact is she’s actually run faster in 2017 before USAs than she did last year (4:04.61 vs 4:04.65). Maybe we just became a little down on Rowbury as her odds of an international medal have taken a big hit now that a younger and more talented runner, Sifan Hassan, has joined her training group.

Kate Grace – the 28-year old Yale grad who ran 1:58.28 last year and made the Olympic final at 800 – surprised some by moving to the 1500 this year. However, Kate has run faster than anyone in the field this year at 1500 and this team is actually easier for her to make than the 800 where the US is even more loaded.  Plus with hyperandrogenism (Semenya, Wambui and Niyonsaba) dominating the 800, her medal chances are better in the 1500 than the 800. 

“The podium is closed, or seemingly, I should say, closed at the global level (in the 800). We could do another interview or a symposium on the intricacies of that,” said Grace’s coach Drew Wartenburg of the NorCal Distance Project. “I think the fact that it’s a more open podium in the 15 at the global level is something that she took into consideration for sure. But history has borne out, the last couple cycles, the best American in the 15 can be on the podium. Kate by no means has any right to that, but there’s some promise that if I can win my national meet, I can medal in this country. Any woman should be thinking that. We are relevant on the 1500 stage as a nation and I think that’s exciting.”

The fact that the 1500 is a new challenge for Grace this year – and maybe through 2020 – was also appealing according to Wartenburg.

“For her, it was to some degree that idea or notion that there was proficiency or potential proficiency in that event. Also the challenge of moving up, but the realization that she may be better-suited to that distance if not for now, then for this Olympic cycle,” said Wartenburg.

Our only question is who wins this race. 

LRC Prediction: 1) Simpson 2) Grace 3) Rowbury

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PS. Much of the tv coverage will likely go to Gabriele Grunewald who is inspiring us all by competing as she battles a grim cancer diagnosis.

More: NY Times:Chemotherapy, Then USAs For Gabriele Grunewald  
*The Sacramento Bee: From chemotherapy to starting line, Gabe Grunewald faces nation’s best in race unlike any other 

Women’s Steeplechase: Emma Coburn Headlines

1st Round: Thursday 11:13 pm ET
Saturday 5:25 pm ET

Bold = Has IAAF Standard of 9:42.00

Name Affiliation Mark Declaration
Emma Coburn New Balance 9:07.96 Olympic bronze medalist has dominated the US since 2011. Just missed her own AR at Pre.
Courtney Frerichs NIKE / Bowerman Track Club 9:19.09 2016 Olympic Trials runner-up. Set a PB for 5th place at Pre.
Stephanie Garcia New Balance 9:19.48 5th at the Trials last year; runner-up in 2015 to make Worlds.
Colleen Quigley NIKE / Bowerman Track Club 9:20.00 3rd at the 2016 Trials and 8th in Rio. Has only raced once outdoors (12th at the Doha DL).
Megan Rolland Oiselle 9:35.31 7th at the Trials; 9:48 and 9:47 in her two steeples this year.
Marie Lawrence Oiselle 9:39.32 Set her PB while finishing 10th at Pre.
Marisa Howard Oiselle 9:40.40 9:37 PB from 2015. 2nd to Marie Lawrence in her lone steeple this year
Emily Oren Oiselle 9:40.65 Big 10-second PB last week to make USAs.
Alexina Wilson Oiselle 9:40.90 PRed by 9-seconds last month to qualify for USAs.
Katie Landwehr   9:41.22  
Jessica Kamilos Saucony 9:41.88  
Sarah Pease rabbit 9:43.33  
Tori Gerlach Penn St. 9:46.76 3rd at NCAAs.
Jamie Cheever Oiselle / Team USA Minnesota 9:47.70  
Hope Schmelzle Northern Ill. 9:50.51  
Collier Lawrence Oiselle 9:51.13  
Caroline Austin   9:51.38  
Breanna Colbenson   9:56.83  
Kira Garry   9:58.18  
Emily Myers Nevada 10:00.38  
Paige Kouba Saucony / Cambridge-Boston Track Club 10:01.71  
Emily de La Bruyere Pacers Running//GRC New Balance 10:02.00  
Rebeka Stowe   10:06.42  
Rachel Schilkowsky rabbit / NE Distance 10:09.60  
Erika Barr SRA Elite 10:13.01  

Compared to the 800 and 1500, the steeple isn’t nearly as deep for the US. Here is the 2017 US list

1. 9:07.96 Emma Coburn  
2. 9:19.09 Courtney Frerichs 
3. 9:25.04 Stephanie Garcia 
4. 9:33.13 Colleen Quigley 
5. 9:39.32 Mel Lawrence 

Coburn, the US record holder and Olympic bronze medallist, is a lock for both the team and victory. The other two Olympians last year were Bowerman Track Club teammates Frerichs and Quigley. Since Frerichs has broken 9:20 this year, we think she’s on the team as well.

Thus the question really is, “Who gets the third spot – Garcia or Quigley?”

We got to go with Garcia. Not only has Garcia run faster, she also has beaten Quigely head to head in Doha (9:30 to 9:33) and there are a lot of question marks about Quigley as she’s only raced once outdoors all year.

That being said, Quigley should not be discounted. She is tough and a ferocious competitor. Last year, there were even more questions about her heading into USAs. USAs represented her first steeple of the year and she made the team.

LRC Prediction: 1) Coburn 2) Frerichs 3) Garcia

Talk about the 800, 1500 and steeple in our fan forum: 2017 USAs W800,15 and steeple: Who wins Simpson, Rowbury or Grace? Who goes home devastated in the 800?

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