NCAA Women’s 800 — Negative Split A Positive For Fray

A last lap faster than her first was Jazmine Fray’s recipe for success. (ERROL ANDERSON/THE SPORTING IMAGE)

IT WAS NO SHOCK when the first lap ended with Jazmine Fray in the lead, just as she had been in her four previous NCAA finals, although none of them had led to victory. This one was different, as she ran a controlled 60.87 (compared with, say, her 58.21 at the ’18 Indoor). The Texas A&M senior, who had turned 22 the day of the semis, followed her game plan and finished in 2:01.31 for the win and a yearly list leader. Her negative-split second 400 was 60.44.

But the victory didn’t come easily. “I’ve run so many races and learned that mistakes can happen,” she said, “so I wanted to be in control here.” And she was. She went out quickly, but not overly fast. On the first lap, Boise State’s Kristie Schoffield and UNLV’s Avi’ Tal Wilson-Perteete were on her heels. At the bell, Penn’s Nia Akins, whose PR 2:02.88 semi was the fastest qualifier, had moved into Fray’s wake. UNLV’s W-P was still close and 7-time national JC champ Susan Ejore of Oregon was also lurking.

The order didn’t change a lot during the second backstretch. But off the curve, it was clear that some challenges were looming. After that relatively slow opening, Fray was ready. She upped the ante with a burst. Then Akins tried a couple of forays in lane 3—to no avail. W-P moved to the inside but couldn’t gain any ground. Fray prevailed: 2:01.31 to Akins’ 2:01.67. “I could feel Akins come up on me,” said Fray, “but I didn’t panic. I didn’t let it be stressful.” Wilson-Perteete (2:02.20) narrowly held 3rd, leaning to the outside and into Ejore (2:02.26). Monmouth’s Allie Wilson (2:02.56 PR) finished faster than Schoffield (2:03.86).

Akins, Penn’s first scorer ever, was happy: “My strategy was OK. Last 200 in 29. Feels pretty good to get two PRs. My confidence is growing—to fight with someone the entire race.” Indoor champ Danae Rivers of Penn State, the favorite, didn’t make it out of the semis.


NCAA WOMEN’S 800 RESULTS

FINAL

(June 08)

1. Jazmine Fray’ (TxAM) 2:01.31 (CL)

(60.89/60.42) (finish 29.6);

2. *Nia Akins (Penn) 2:01.67 PR (AmCL)

(61.11/60.56) (29.8);

3. **Avi’ Tal Wilson-Perteete (UNLV) 2:02.20

(61.23/60.97) (30.3);

4. Susan Ejore’ (Or) 2:02.26 PR

(60.95/61.31) (30.3);

5. Allie Wilson (Monm) 2:02.56 PR

(61.16/61.40);

6. **Kristie Schoffield (Boise) 2:03.86

(61.05//62.81);

7. Ersula Farrow (LSU) 2:04.80

(61.44/63.36);

8. *Anna Camp (BYU) 2:05.93

(61.30/64.63).

SEMIS

(June 06)

I–1. Akins 2:02.88 PR; 2. Wilson 2:03.12 PR; 3. Camp 2:03.65 PR; 4. *Martha Bissah’ (Norf) 2:04.12; 5. *Samantha Huerta (CSF) 2:04.90; 6. *Kelsey Harris (In) 2:08.48; 7. **Kayla Johnson (Mia) 2:12.17.

II–1. Wilson-Perteete’ 2:03.44; 2. Farrow 2:03.81 PR; 3. Susan Aneno’ (Ct) 2:04.30; 4. *Danae Rivers (PennSt) 2:04.56; 5. ***Gabrielle Wilkinson (Fl) 2:05.04; 6. Rebecca Croft’ (Cal) 2:05.57; 7. Alon Lewis (MsSt) 2:12.08; 8. Abike Egbeniyi’ (MTn) 2:41.62.

III–1. Fray’ 2:03.08; 2. Ejore’ 2:03.43; 3. Schoffield 2:03.53; 4. **Lauren Ellsworth (BYU) 2:04.52; 5. Sadi Henderson (USF) 2:04.56; 6. Erinn Stenman-Fahey’ (IaSt) 2:05.11 PR; 7. *Amber Tanner (Ga) 2:05.57; 8. **Aaliyah Miller (Bay) 2:06.30.◻︎