NCAA Men’s 800 — Sumner’s Blazing Finish

800 champ Will Sumner lowered his PR twice in the meet skipping over the 1:45s. (MIKE SCOTT)

WITH SPRINTER’S SPEED which no other entrant could match Will Sumner came to Austin with a plan. He had finished 7th in the Indoor 800 and he didn’t want that again. He knew that 3 of the finalists in Austin had beaten him at Albuquerque.

The Georgia frosh — who had reduced his PR by 0.2 to 1:46.00 in his semi — was near the front through the first 250m of the final and heard the bell at 53.12. Indoor champ Yusuf Bizimana of Texas (53.20) had fought his way through the pack and was on Sumner’s heels as Penn State frosh Handal Roban edged past Oklahoma State’s Mehdi Yanouri into 3rd with 400 to go.

“I wasn’t surprised at the modest pace,” Sumner said, “so that’s why I went to the lead.”

He could dig down now and take advantage of his 45.78 speed. Down the final backstretch, he revved up the pace. The favored Bizimana tried to match, but neither the indoor champ nor anybody else could.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work on my finish,” Sumner explained the obvious. “I knew that if I did everything right, winning might happen.”

He continued to increase his lead down the home stretch, crossing the line 10-plus meters in front of the Texas junior to best him 1:44.26–1:45.74. The time made the winner the fastest American of the year and also No. 5 on the all-time collegiate list.

In cutting a whopping 1.74 from his personal best Sumner had the fastest second half in 51.14. Bizimana, who closed in 52.54 also PRed. Likewise for Roban’s 1:45.95 as he held off Wisconsin’s Abdullahi Hassan (1:46.30) for the bronze.

The biggest homestretch finish was by Virginia junior Conor Murphy, who was in last as he entered the final straight and picked off 4 to take 5th in 1:46.43 (PR) outleaning Yanouri (1:46.50 PR).

“It’s one thing to plan a strategy,” said Sumner, the first frosh winner since Emmanuel Korir in ’17. “To be able to actually do it is another thing.”


FINAL (June 09)

1. ***Will Sumner (Ga) 1:44.26 PR (AL, CL) (5, 5 C; 2, 2 NCAA)


2. *Yusuf Bizimana’ (Tx-GB) 1:45.74 PR (53.20/52.54);

3. ***Handal Roban’ (PennSt-StV) 1:45.95 NR (53.46/52.49);

4. *Abdullahi Hassan’ (Wi-Can) 1:46.30 (53.38/52.92);

5. *Conor Murphy (Va) 1:46.43 PR (53.97/52.46);

6. *Mehdi Yanouri (OkSt) 1:46.50 PR (53.31/53.19);

7. **Aidan McCarthy (SLO) 1:46.78 (53.83/52.95);

8. Tiarnan Crorken’ (Ms-GB) 1:46.81 (53.55/53.26);

9. *Crayton Carrozza (Tx) 1:47.23 (53.68/53.55).

SEMIS (June 07)

I–1. Sumner 1:46.00 PR; 2. Carrozza 1:47.73; 3. Crorken’ 1:47.93; 4. Murphy 1:48.00; 5. *AJ Green (Ks) 1:49.32; 6. **Sam Whitmarsh (TxAM) 1:50.12;… dnf—*Tarees Rhoden (Clem);… dq[lane]—**Sam Ellis (Wa).

II–1. Bizimana’ 1:48.02; 2. Yanouri 1:48.28; 3. Navasky Anderson’ (MsSt-Jam) 1:48.79; 4. ***Nicholas Plant (VaT) 1:49.17; 5. *Kash Powell’ (LBSt-Aus) 1:49.48; 6. Jacob Rodin (NDSt) 1:49.79; 7. *Sean Dolan (Vill) 1:50.45; 8. **Ahmed Kadri’ (EnKy-Tun) 1:55.22.

III–1. McCarthy 1:47.60; 2. Roban’ 1:47.66; 3. Hassan’ 1:48.02; 4. **Dugion Blackman’ (Hamp-Jam) 1:48.65; 5. Christopher Conrad (Mo) 1:49.19; 6. **Matthew Erickson’ (Or-Can) 1:49.42; 7. *Olivier Desmeules’ (PennSt-Can) 1:52.56; 8. Baylor Franklin (Ms) 2:06.61. ◻︎