EXECUTING A masterful race plan with precision, Ajee’ Wilson competed with control and summoned the power she needed over the final furlong to capture her fourth outdoor 2-lap title with a list-leading 1:57.72 in her typical frontrunning fashion. Under warm & humid conditions with an overcast sky and a wet track she immediately spurted into the lead. Cutting to the rail on the backstretch, the world championship bronze medalist settled in with 4-time NCAA champion Raevyn Rogers on her shoulder a half step behind and Olivia Baker following closely in 3rd.
After an opening 200m in 26-plus, Wilson guarded her lead around the curve with 17-year-old high school phenom Athing Mu moving up as Baker slid back. The favored Wilson led the field past halfway in 57.85 as the bell lap got underway. With 300m remaining, she began to increase the tempo while Rogers matched the new tempo with young Mu pushing from behind and up-and-coming Hanna Green coming up to join the leading trio. After passing the 600 in 1:26, Mu started falling back, with Rogers working hard in 2nd and Green a close 3rd on the rail.
Pushing hard on the curve, Wilson entered the homestretch with a clear advantage as Rogers and Green battled for the silver. Green proved the stronger in the homestretch, finishing in a PR 1:58.19, as she wrested 2nd away from Rogers, who grabbed the final Doha berth as she crossed in 1:58.84, with Baker (2:00.94) 4th and the spunky Mu (2:01.17 PR) hanging on for 5th.
Wilson acknowledged the race went just as she had hoped: “My coach told me to get out and make the last race count. I wanted to get rolling and the pace started to flow.” The 25-year-old veteran was pleased with her splits, saying, “It was around 58, so it was good. And on the final 200, I was thinking, ‘Just maintain and save a little bit for the last 60.’”
Rogers learned key tidbits as well. “My game plan going in was to get a good position and be able to work my position. I went along with the pace instead of what I might have planned on doing. But I am happy with the outcome,” she said as she reflected on the last-lap fury. “Not every race goes the way you want it to go. I think I competed well enough to get the job done. That was the first time for me to be in there on the bell lap. The intensity really picked up. So I really tried to stay as composed as I could just to be able to finish.”
Mu, who solidified her hold on No. 6 on the all-time prep list, discussed what she learned racing in her first national outdoor final. “At that point, I thought I was doing pretty well. My coaches all told me to just get out and stay with them,” she said in analyzing the final backstretch. And the teenager picked up a few pointers. “I learned that I can do it and that I may have to work on the 800: going out really fast, and the last 200m of the race. For now, I’m just racing against fast people.”
USATF WOMEN’S 800 RESULTS
1. Ajee’ Wilson (adi) 1:57.72 (AL)
2. Hanna Green (OTC) 1:58.19 PR
3. Raevyn Rogers (Nik) 1:58.84
4. Olivia Baker (GardStNB) 2:00.94
5. Athing Mu (TrentTC/NJHS) 2:01.17 PR (HSL) (6, 8 HS)
6. Sammy Watson (adi) 2:01.70
7. Nia Akins (Penn) 2:04.39
… dq—Rebecca Mehra (OisLWA) [2:03.05]
I–1. Wilson 2:04.69; 2. Brenna Detra (BAA) 2:05.05; 3. Michelle Howell (UArmD) 2:05.12; 4. Skylyn Webb (unat) 2:05.20; 5. Madeline Kopp (UArmD) 2:05.48; 6. Emily Richards (HokaNJNY) 2:05.83; 7. Chrishuna Williams (Nik) 2:06.06.
II–1. Green 2:02.74; 2. Akins 2:03.34; 3. Sadi Henderson (OisLWA) 2:04.00; 4. Meghan Manley (HokaNJNY) 2:04.06; 5. Olga Kosichenko (CPTCNB) 2:04.19; 6. Stephanie Schappert (HokaNJNY) 2:08.06; 7. Annette Melcher (USAF) 2:12.05.
III–1. Ce’Aira Brown (HokaNJNY) 2:03.52; 2. Watson 2:03.69; 3. Kenyetta Iyevbele (HokaNJNY) 2:03.80; 4. Rachel Pocratsky (VaT) 2:03.99; 5. Dana Mecke (unat) 2:04.11; 6. Gabby Crank (Tx) 2:06.37; 7. Stephanie Herrick (CPTCNB) 2:06.98; 8. Kaela Edwards (adi) 2:07.67.
IV–1. Rogers 2:01.77; 2. Mu 2:01.95; 3. Baker 2:02.55; 4. Savannah Camacho-Colon (unat) 2:02.75 PR; 5. Mehra 2:02.85 PR; 6. Shea Collinsworth (Nik) 2:04.40; 7. Brooke Feldmeier (adi) 2:04.96; 8. Rachael Walters (GValSt) 2:08.39.
I–1. Wilson 2:01.02; 2. Green 2:01.37; 3. Mu 2:02.47; 4. Baker 2:03.15; 5. Detra 2:05.35; 6. Howell 2:05.85; 7. Pocratsky 2:05.96; 8. Manley 2:08.03.
II–1. Rogers 2:00.90; 2. Mehra 2:02.86; 3. Akins 2:02.90; 4. Watson 2:03.23; 5. Brown 2:03.26; 6. Iyevbele 2:03.91; 7. Henderson 2:06.09; 8. Camacho-Colon 2:06.58. ◻︎