Olympic Trials Men’s 800 — Clayton Murphy Back In Form

A 1:43.17 gave resurgent Clayton Murphy the yearly world lead in the 800. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

MAYBE CLAYTON MURPHY knew he was ready. Maybe Donavan Brazier knew that he wasn’t. The fans, however, not privy to any insider knowledge, were stunned by a 2-lap race in which the Rio bronze medalist regained his form in the world’s fastest time while the world champion finished an emotional last.

The heats didn’t give much away. Brazier won his in 1:45.00, the fastest first round in meet history. Murphy took 2nd in his, 1:47.84 behind USC’s Isaiah Jewett (1:47.83).

A day later the semis offered nothing telling. In the first, Murphy crossed in 1:46.26, Brazier a step later in 1:46.57. The next featured Bryce Hoppel cruising to a 1:46.00 ahead of Isaiah Harris (1:46.16) and Jewett (1:46.18).

In Monday’s final, Jewett took to the front-running that had won him the NCAA title on the same track 10 days earlier. He hit the 200 in 25.25 with Hoppel on his shoulder, Brazier and Harris a step back and Murphy in 5th.

On the homestretch, Brazier found himself 4th and drove to reel in Jewett, who had built a 5m lead ahead of Hoppel. The leader hit the bell in a brisk 50.60, with Brazier at 51.00, and Murphy (51.67) still back in 5th.

Yet Jewett refused to be caught. At 500, he had stretched his lead to 6–7m, and AR holder Brazier had no response. It was Murphy who tore apart the East straight, passing Harris, then Hoppel. “I ran super aggressive down the backstretch and made sure that I was in position with 150 to go,” he said.

With 200 left, Jewett (1:15.66), Brazier (1:16.58), Murphy (1:16.65) and Hoppel (1:16.66) were tightly bunched. While Murphy chased Jewett around the final curve, Brazier slipped back, clearly finished once he hit the straight. Never faltering, Murphy caught Jewett with 40 left and streaked across in 1:43.17.

“I had no idea what was behind me,” said the 26-year-old Akron alum. “I was trying to do the good old ‘look up at the video board’ thing. I looked up once or twice and I realized if I kept looking up I would fall on my face as heavy as my legs were the last 50m. The lactic acid was head-spinning so I pushed all the way through to the line.”

Jewett held on to finish 2nd in a PR 1:43.85, and Hoppel held off Harris, 1:44.14–1:44.58. Brazier crossed a dejected 8th at 1:47.88.

“I can’t complain one bit,” said the winner. “It was one tough last 6 months, and especially the last 8 days have been extremely, extremely tough… I’ve been dinged up. I got here and just ran on pure toughness.”

He revealed that last Thursday he had a hamstring strain and had only run about 13M since then: “It’s been ‘Let’s get to the line and see what happens,’ every day.”

Brazier could only speculate on what happened: “think I might have made a move too early, trying to get into better position… I paid the price the last 200.”

He hinted at minor injuries: “I’ve had some things bugging me. There’s things that champions overcome, and I couldn’t overcome them. The things that were bugging me were things that I should be able to push through and nothing that can make excuses for this race.

“I’ll come back from this,” he promised.

Said Murphy, “It’s disappointing not to have Donavan but we’re sporting a pretty damn tough team.”

MEN’S 800 RESULTS

(June 21)

1. Clayton Murphy (Nik) 1:43.17 (WL, AL) (x, 13 A)

(25.61, 26.06 [51.67], 24.98 [1:16.65], 26.52) (51.67/51.50);

2. Isaiah Jewett (USC) 1:43.85 PR

(25.25, 25.35 [50.60], 25.06 [1:15.66], 28.19) (50.60/53.25);

3. Bryce Hoppel (adi) 1:44.14

(25.33, 25.90 [51.23], 25.43 [1:16.66], 27.48) (51.23/52.91;

4. Isaiah Harris (USC) 1:44.58

(25.37, 26.09 [51.46], 25.52 [1:16.98], 27.60) (51.46/53.12);

5. Brannon Kidder (BrkB) 1:45.08

(25.90, 26.27 [52.17], 25.70 [1:17.87], 27.21) (52.17/52.91);

6. Samuel Voelz (NDam) 1:45.54 PR

(25.92, 26.18 [52.10], 26.18 [1:18.28], 27.26) (52.10/53.44);

7. Daniel Nixon (IaSt) 1:45.56 PR

(25.71, 26.30 [52.01], 25.68 [1:17.69], 27.87) (52.01/53.55);

8. Donavan Brazier (Nik) 1:47.88

(25.50, 25.50 [51.00], 25.58 [1:16.58], 31.30) (51.00/56.88)

HEATS (June 18)

I–1. Abraham Alvarado (AtlTC) 1:48.35; 2. Hoppel 1:48.38; 3. Shane Streich (Lips) 1:48.49; 4. Voelz 1:48.49; 5. Joseph White (unat) 1:48.57; 6. Kameron Jones (Clem) 1:48.86; 7. Mitchell Black (CraftGRP) 1:49.61; 8. Matthew Payamps (Gtn) 1:52.83.

II–1. Brazier 1:45.00; 2. Kidder 1:45.06 PR; 3. Harris 1:45.25; 4. Erik Sowinski (unat) 1:45.47; 5. Nixon 1:46.15 PR; 6. Samuel Ellison (unat) 1:48.67; 7. Eric Brown (Aub) 1:49.68; 8. Paris Simmons (unat) 1:53.00.

III–1. Michael Rhoads (USAF) 1:48.64; 2. Sean Dolan (Vill) 1:48.68; 3. Brandon Miller (TxAM) 1:48.75; 4. Drew Piazza (NBal) 1:48.88; 5. Vincent Crisp (UArm) 1:49.36; 6. Luca Chatham (TracksmTxEl) 1:49.83; 7. Josh Hoey (adi) 1:50.54; 8. Jason Gomez (IaSt) 1:55.73.

IV–1. Jewett 1:47.83; 2. Murphy 1:47.84; 3. Jonah Koech (USAr) 1:47.92; 4. Drew Windle (BrkB) 1:48.41; 5. Derek Holdsworth (Tracksm) 1:49.10; 6. Crayton Carrozza (Tx) 1:50.04; 7. Roshon Roomes (IaSt) 1:50.55; 8. Robert Downs (Diad) 1:53.50.

SEMIS (June 19)

I–1. Murphy 1:46.26; 2. Brazier 1:46.57; 3. Kidder 1:46.97; 4. Koech 1:47.03; 5. Dolan 1:47.16; 6. Sowinski 1:47.45; 7. Miller 1:47.65; 8. Windle 1:51.65.

II–1. Hoppel 1:46.00; 2. Harris 1:46.16; 3. Jewett 1:46.18; 4. Nixon 1:46.21; 5. Voelz 1:46.39 PR; 6. Streich 1:46.92; 7. Rhoads 1:47.39; 8. Alvarado 1:47.46.

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