NCAA Men’s 800 — Hoppel Had The Inside Track

Taking advantage of lane 1 in the homestretch, Bryce Hoppel claimed his second national title of the year. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

THE MEN’S 800 showcased a last-lap battle between Nos. 1 & 2 on our formchart, Kansas junior Bryce Hoppel of Kansas and Devin Dixon of Texas A&M. Cooper Williams of Indiana had rushed to the front at the start, only to cede the lead to Dixon as they entered the homestretch for the first time. Dixon’s fast-paced tactics took the field through 400 in 50.00 with Hoppel (50.20) tucked in behind at the bell. The pair of juniors created separation from the field on the backstretch and list leader Dixon enjoyed a 2m lead over his Jayhawk rival, this year’s Indoor champion, with 200 to go.

But then: a critical moment. With 140m remaining, Dixon inexplicably drifted away from the curb. His inattentiveness was just enough to allow an alert Hoppel to drive by on the inside for the lead. He sailed on for a 1:44.41 win that moved him to No. 5 on the all-time collegiate list. His previous PR was a 1:45.26 to lead the qualifying round. The stunned Dixon, unable to summon a surge of his own, crossed 2nd at 1:44.84. A valiant late-race rush lifted Iowa State junior Festus Lagat to a PR 1:45.05, the fastest 3rd in meet history.

“Of course, I’m always going for a PR,” said the 21-year-old Hoppel, who anticipated a quick opening tempo. “I knew it was going to be fast.” He was not flustered at Dixon’s slight lead with a half lap to go. “I knew I had him within range,” he explained. “That’s how I planned to do the race: keep him right there in front of me and wait for the last stretch.” But he wasn’t expecting an inside opening as the race approached the final curve. “It actually was a present. I knew he was going to do something to try and hold me off. I saw it opening up and I thought I had a chance to get through.” Asked about the ingredients needed to produce his ’19 undefeated streak—now at 10 meets in the 800—the Midland, Texas native offered, “You just have to have a little bit of confidence.”

Dixon was disconsolate. “I let him get on the inside. I tried to up the tempo the way I was supposed to. I went out in 50–51. I don’t know. What can you say?” asked the runner-up, who revealed that he was uncertain just where Hoppel was. “I shouldn’t have let that happen. I thought he was on my outside so I was just running on the outside of lane 1.”



(June 07)

1. *Bryce Hoppel (Ks) 1:44.41 PR (CL) (5, 5 C; 3, 3 AmC; 2, 2 NCAA)


2. *Devin Dixon (TxAM) 1:44.84 (9, 9 NCAA)


3. *Festus Lagat’ (IaSt) 1:45.05 PR


4. *Carlton Orange (TxAM) 1:46.40 PR


5. *Cooper Williams (In) 1:46.45


6. *Michael Rhoads (AF) 1:46.58 PR


7. Jonah Koech’ (TxT) 1:47.28


8. Vincent Crisp (TxT) 1:47.48


(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: 3)


(June 05)

I–1. Hoppel 1:45.26 PR (51.06/54.20); 2. Dixon 1:45.67 (50.92/54.75); 3. Orange 1:46.87 PR (51.18/55.69); 4. Crisp 1:47.46 (51.41/56.05); 5. Otis Jones (SC) 1:49.57; 6. *Leon Atkins (Buf) 1:49.64; 7. Alek Sauer (Col) 1:51.42; 8. **Miles Owens (WM) 1:54.73.

II–1. Koech’ 1:47.86; 2. Rhoads 1:47.90=); 3. **Bashir Mosavel-Lo (VaT) 1:49.00; 4. Avery Bartlett (GaT) 1:49.31; 5. *Sean Torpy (M/O) 1:50.48; 6. George Espino (SnUt) 1:51.14; 7. Myles Marshall (Harv) 1:58.55; 8. *Roshon Roomes (IaSt) 2:01.82.

III–1. Lagat’ 1:47.54 =; 2. Williams 1:47.76=; 3. *Isaiah Jewett (USC) 1:47.80 (52.41/55.39); 4. Dejon Devroe (MsSt) 1:48.06; 5. Erik Martinsson’ (UTA) 1:48.35; 6. **John Rivera (Ms) 1:49.03; 7. Luca Chatham (UTSA) 1:50.60; 8. *Abbas Abbkar (Sav) 1:51.88.◻︎