19 for 19: Bryce Hoppel Remains Perfect and Wins 2019 NCAA Men’s 800-Meter Title

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By LetsRun.com’s 
June 7, 2019

AUSTIN, Tex. — The magical 2019 collegiate track campaign for Kansas junior Bryce Hoppel concluded in undefeated fashion tonight at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships as Hoppel used an inside pass on the final turn to grab the lead and power home to win men’s 800-meter title in a personal-best time of 1:44:41. Texas A&M junior Devin Dixon was second in 1:44.84. Thanks to Dixon, who took the first lap out in 50.00, four of the eight men in the field set a PB.

For the year, counting prelims, Hoppel is now a perfect 19 for 19 in individual races in 2019 with two NCAA titles in the mix. He is the first Kansas Jayhawk to ever win an NCAA 800 title indoors or out.

Watch the final 100 below:

Results

1 Bryce HOPPEL JR Kansas 1:44.41 PB FR
2 Devin DIXON JR Texas A&M 1:44.84
3 Festus LAGAT JR Iowa State 1:45.05 PB
4 Carlton ORANGE JR Texas A&M 1:46.40 PB
5 Cooper WILLIAMS JR Indiana 1:46.45 SB
6 Michael RHOADS JR Air Force 1:46.58 PB
7 Jonah KOECH SR Texas Tech 1:47.28
8 Vincent CRISP SR Texas Tech 1:47.48

Quick Take: What a year for Hoppel

What can we say? 19 for 19. That’s what we call perfection.

Generally, we don’t like when people are labelled “winners” in track and field because the fittest person normally wins, but the 800 is a unique event where tactics often play a big role. The “winner”’ label certainly applies to Hoppel as during his senior year of high school, during which he won the Texas 6A state tile and ran 1:49.58, he also was undefeated on the year at 800.

Given what he accomplished in 2019, this might have been the last collegiate race for Hoppel, who is now the 5th fastest collegian in history. If that’s the case, it will be the fourth straight year that an NCAA 800 man has gone pro early.

In 2016, Donavan Brazier went pro after setting a collegiate record of 1:43.55 to win the outdoor crown. In 2017, Emmanuel Korir went pro after running 1:43.73 and winning the indoor and outdoor crowns. Last year, Michael Saruni went pro after winning the indoor crown and setting a collegiate record of 1:43.25 outdoors, as did Isaiah Harris after he won the outdoor crown.

(Editor’s note: Anyone know what’s up with Harris? He hasn’t raced all year long – email us if you know)

In case you are asking yourself when is the last time a collegiate 800-meter man went undefeated on the year during the collegiate season in individual races, we have the answer. Emmanuel Korir did it in 2017. He was undefeated all season until he got to Worlds, where he was eliminated after finishing 4th in his semifinal.

Quick Take: Devin Dixon did exactly what he needed to — until the final turn

Dixon has admitted to struggling mentally in his previous NCAA appearances, but through 600 meters tonight, he had done everything right. He had forced a fast pace, coming through 400 meters in 50.00, and that allowed him to run 1:44.84, a time that will win most NCAA finals.

But Dixon inexcusably let Hoppel pass on the inside on the final turn, allowing Hoppel to streak away for the win. Hoppel likely would have won anyway, but Dixon was mad with himself after the race for making what he deemed a “rookie mistake.”

“I shouldn’t have let it happen,” Dixon said.

Dixon did manage to redeem himself later in the meet, splitting 44.12 in the 4×400 to anchor Texas A&M to victory in that race.

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