USATF Men’s 800 — Sticking To The Script

“I kind of just went out there confident, knew the race plan and executed it perfectly,” said Bryce Hoppel. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

WITH REIGNING WORLD CHAMP Donovan Brazier running the fastest prelim but then exercising his Wild Card option to sit out the rest, Bryce Hoppel seemed like the obvious pick for a national title, and that’s exactly how it played out.

By 200m the eventual medalists were already in control, just not in the final order. As he had in the prelims and at the NCAA before that, Texas A&M’s Brandon Miller took the pace out, leading at halfway in 51.62, leading Hoppel (51.68) and Jonah Koech (51.92).

Hoppel asserted his dominance on the backstretch and Miller’s form noticeably began to falter. Koech, still needing the WC standard of 1:45.20, also swept past Miller and mounted a challenge to Hoppel.

It was close down the homestretch, but Hoppel never seemed truly threatened, winning comfortably in 1:44.60. Nonetheless, Koech’s move paid off with a 1:44.74 and a spot on the team.

Miller, on the other hand, was very much under threat. As Miller fought the lactic acid down the stretch, Rio bronze medalist Clayton Murphy was charging hard. The difference in their momentums made Murphy look like a certainty for another national team, but a final, face-plant lunge by Miller held him off. Miller’s 1:45.19 nicked him by 0.04.

Miller stayed down for a while, then looked up at the screen, saw his name, and raised his fists in triumph. A torn name bib hung from his jersey.

The exuberant 3rd-placer said, “That was the longest 10 seconds of my life lying on that ground. Just to see my name pop up and make the World team was a blessing. Just to put on the USA threads is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was 8 years old.”

Said Hoppel, “I kind of just went out there confident, knew the race plan and executed it perfectly.

“I think we’re coming back with a little bit more experience, a little bit more knowledge of how the whole process works going into Worlds. I think we’re coming on at the right time, we’re just slowly ramping it up. I’m excited to keep going faster and faster as we approach the big stage.”

On getting the standard, Koech said, “I wasn’t worried about the time, my main thing was just to win the race. Last year I missed [advancing from] the semis; this year I said the only thing I have to worry about is just to win and the rest of the stuff will come on its own.”


MEN’S 800 RESULTS

FINAL (June 26)

1. Bryce Hoppel (adi) 1:44.60 (AL)

(24.72, 26.96 [51.68], 26.38 [1:18.06], 26.54) (51.68/52.92);

2. Jonah Koech (Nik/USAr) 1:44.74 PR

(24.81, 27.11 [51.92], 26.28 [1:18.20], 26.54) (51.92/52.82);

3. Brandon Miller (TxAM) 1:45.19

(24.78, 26.84 [51.62], 26.48 [1:18.10], 27.09) (51.62/53.57);

4. Clayton Murphy (Nik) 1:45.23

(25.12, 27.12 [52.24], 26.33 [1:18.57], 26.66) (52.24/52.99);

5. Baylor Franklin (Ms) 1:45.65 PR

(25.57, 27.19 [52.76], 26.29 [1:19.05], 26.60) (52.76/52.89);

6. Isaiah Harris (BrkB) 1:45.68

(24.92, 27.20 [52.12], 26.41 [1:18.53], 27.15) (52.12/53.56);

7. Erik Sowinski (unat) 1:46.01

(25.04, 26.97 [52.01], 26.80 [1:18.81], 27.20) (52.01/54.00);

8. Brannon Kidder (BrkB) 1:46.09

(25.40, 27.09 [52.49], 26.04 [1:18.53], 27.56) (52.49/53.60).

HEATS (June 23)

I–1. Derek Holdsworth (unat) 1:47.14; 2. Sowinski 1:47.23; 3. Murphy 1:47.49; 4. Sean Dolan (Vill) 1:48.02; 5. Josh Hoey (adi) 1:48.47; 6. Jonathan Schwind (Lips) 1:48.68; 7. Colin Schultz (unat) 1:49.01; 8. Sebastian Fernandez (BYU) 1:55.34.

II–1. Donavan Brazier (NikUAC) 1:46.49;

2. Cade Flatt (KyHS) 1:46.53 (x, =4 HS);

3. Isaiah Jewett (Nik) 1:46.62; 4. Crayton Carrozza (Tx) 1:46.64; 5. Jason Gomez (IaSt) 1:47.62; 6. Christopher Conrad (Mo) 1:50.29; 7. Daniel Nixon (AtlTC) 1:53.88; 8. Luca Chatham (Tracks/TxE) 1:54.56.

III–1. Isaiah Harris (BrooksB) 1:47.10; 2. Koech 1:47.10; 3. Vincent Crisp (UArm) 1:47.18; 4. Kidder 1:47.40; 5. Charles Jones (UArm) 1:48.45; 6. Aman Thornton (Clem) 1:50.94; 7. Robert Downs (Diad) 1:53.60; 8. Kieran Taylor (Ar) 1:53.98.

IV–1. Hoppel 1:48.12; 2. Miller 1:48.18; 3. Franklin 1:48.20; 4. Clay Pender (Ga) 1:48.77; 5. Shane Streich (AtlTC) 1:49.23; 6. Christian Harrison (adi/GCTC) 1:49.51; 7. Kameron Jones (Tracksm) 1:50.19; 8. Drew Windle (unat) 1:52.14.

SEMIS (June 24)

I–1. Kidder 1:46.62; 2. Harris 1:46.72; 3. Koech 1:46.80;

4. Flatt 1:47.00 (x, 7 HS);

5. Carrozza 1:47.80; 6. Jewett 1:48.36; 7. Crisp 1:49.06;… dnc—Brazier (wild card).

II–1. Miller 1:46.20; 2. Hoppel 1:46.32; 3. Murphy 1:46.45; 4. Sowinski 1:46.76; 5. Franklin 1:46.93; 6. Holdsworth 1:47.05; 7. Dolan 1:47.25;… dnf—Gomez.

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