USATF Women’s 800 — Mu Staves Off A Challenge

Veteran Ajee’ Wilson gave youngster Athing Mu all she could handle. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

FEW FAVORITES CAME IN with stronger prospects than Olympic champion Athing Mu, who just turned 20 earlier this month. The American Record holder and yearly world leader looked to be in fine form winning her Friday semi in 1:57.55. That effort dragged Sage Hurta (1:58.30) and Olivia Baker (1:58.46) to PRs, with Allie Wilson hitting 1:58.50 in 4th.

In the final, Mu stuck to her usual script by going to the front immediately. She led at 200 in 27.21, with Olivia Baker (27.37) holding onto the inside line right behind her and Ajee’ Wilson (27.48) on the outside. They passed halfway in 57.25, with Allie Wilson in 4th. Local favorite Raevyn Rogers ran 6th, at 57.99 still very much in the chase.

Yet for experienced Mu watchers, this race looked a bit different. When the young phenom hit 600 in 1:27.91 she still had close company—5 pursuers within a half-second. That final turn is where she often surges ahead in a move that looks frighteningly easy. However, this time when she accelerated, she lost nobody. She couldn’t open up a gap. In fact, 4-time U.S. outdoor champ Ajee’ Wilson moved faster through the turn, hitting the straight and challenging for the crown.

The two battled to the roar of an enthusiastic crowd, with Wilson, the World Indoor champ, moving ahead with 20 to go. Mu clawed her way back, prevailing by inches as they both leaned at the line. She beat Wilson by just 0.07 as she clocked 1:57.16 to the veteran’s 1:57.23.

Behind them, Rogers surged from 6th to grab the final team spot with her 1:57.96. Allie Wilson took 4th in 1:58.35, ahead of Baker’s 1:58.63. All the finishers broke 2:00.

Of the closest finish she’s had since her high school days—her unbeaten streak now is at 9 finals stretching over 2 seasons — Mu said, “It was a race. I kept on running, kept on fighting. I wanted to win; I’m super happy with that and I’m glad that I still had it in my legs to come back and run.”

“I was prepared,” said runner-up Wilson. “I knew where I wanted to be. I think I got a little bit too excited, the last phase, and I went a little too early, but I’m happy with the race. I’m glad where my fitness is.”

Looking ahead, Mu pointed to her Tokyo win in saying, “I would love to be a world champ again. I mean, I’m just going to take it day by day, race by race. I’m going to put in some work this next couple of weeks. I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to run fast and I’m ready to be a world champ again.”


WOMEN’S 800 RESULTS

FINAL (June 26)

1. Athing Mu (Nik) 1:57.16 (27.21, 30.04 [57.25], 30.66 [1:27.91], 29.25) (57.25/59.91);

2. Ajee’ Wilson (adi) 1:57.23 (27.48, 30.24 [57.72], 30.46 [1:28.18], 29.05) (57.72/59.51);

3. Raevyn Rogers (NikUAC) 1:57.96 (27.79, 30.20 [57.99], 30.36 [1:28.35], 29.61) (57.99/59.97);

4. Allie Wilson (AtlTC) 1:58.35 (27.56, 30.20 [57.76], 30.46 [1:28.22], 30.13) (57.76/60.59);

5. Olivia Baker (AtlTC) 1:58.63 (27.37, 29.94 [57.31], 30.75 [1:28.06], 30.57) (57.31/61.32);

6. Brooke Feldmeier (adi) 1:59.08 PR (28.05, 30.00 [58.05], 30.42 [1:28.47], 30.61) (58.05/61.03);

7. Sage Hurta (OnAC) 1:59.43 (27.56, 30.20 [57.76], 30.45 [1:28.21], 31.22) (57.76/61.67);

8. Kristie Schoffield (Boise) 1:59.80 PR (28.35, 29.79 [58.14], 30.44 [1:28.58], 31.22) (58.14/61.66).

HEATS (June 23)

I–1. Mu 2:01.24; 2. Nia Akins (BrkB) 2:01.40; 3. Feldmeier 2:01.45 PR; 4. Hanna Green (NOTC) 2:01.80; 5. Laurie Barton (BrooksB) 2:02.92; 6. Lauren Barnes (BYU) 2:04.23; 7. Skylyn Webb (Sauc) 2:04.44; 8. Anna Connor (TracksCasc) 2:12.96.

II–1. Hurta 2:00.86; 2. Rogers 2:01.10; 3. Sabrina Southerland (NOTC) 2:01.28; 4. Anna Camp-Bennett (adi) 2:02.34; 5. Esther Seeland (MessU) 2:03.05; 6. Danae Rivers (UArm) 2:03.38; 7. McKenna Keegan (Vill) 2:03.91; 8. Sarah Hendrick (KennSt) 2:04.20.

III–1. Wilson 2:00.37; 2. Baker 2:01.34; 3. Charlene Lipsey (Tracksm) 2:01.39; 4. Angel Piccirillo (OTC) 2:02.77; 5. Avi’ Tal Wilson-Perteete (TxAM) 2:03.01; 6. Kendra Chambers (Ois) 2:03.85; 7. Sadi Henderson (AtlTC) 2:05.22; 8. Aaliyah Miller (Bay) 2:06.27.

IV–1. Wilson 2:01.95; 2. Schoffield 2:02.22; 3. Sammy Watson (adi) 2:02.47; 4. Emily Richards (Tracksm) 2:02.70; 5. Brenna Detra (unat) 2:02.83; 6. Michaela Meyer (Nik) 2:03.83; 7. Gabrielle Wilkinson (Fl) 2:05.73; 8. Rachel Gearing (PennSt) 2:05.83.

SEMIS (June 24)

I–1. Wilson 2:00.81; 2. Rogers 2:01.15; 3. Schoffield 2:01.43; 4. Akins 2:01.90; 5. Lipsey 2:02.09; 6. Richards 2:02.69; 7. Piccirillo 2:03.70;… dq—Green.

II–1. Mu 1:57.55; 2. Hurta 1:58.30 PR; 3. Baker 1:58.46 PR; 4. Wilson 1:58.50; 5. Feldmeier 1:59.44 PR; 6. Southerland 1:59.70; 7. Watson 2:00.90; 8. Camp-Bennett 2:02.31.

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