The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Trials Day 4 – Half Way to London

Jun 26th, 2012
8:11 am PDT

Nick SymmondsHeading into the midway break, Monday was the first really "quiet" day of the Trials. But then, how do you compete for headlines with Eaton’s WR, Dead Heat Gate, and the returns of Justin Gatlin & Tyson Gay? After all that excitement Monday was rather tame.

With most of the London berths in the day’s field event finals already decided based on limited numbers of individuals with "A" standards, the"drama" for the day was produced by the two 800 finals.

Alysia Montano took the guess work out of who would win the women’s race as she went immediately to the front; opened up a sizeable lead; and cruised home to the win in 1:59.08. Behind her was a rush reminiscent of the California gold rush with four women fighting their way up the home stretch in search of two golden tickets to London! The winners of that battle were Geena Gall (1:59.24) and Alice Schmidt (1:59.46). Schmidt having gone out early behind Montano, giving up some ground on the second backstretch then coming back in the final 200. Gall simply moving up on the second lap, then kicking like a champ in the homestretch.

Molly Beckwith (1:59.68), who was the best American earlier in the season looked to be on her way to London as she was in good position coming off the final turn and kicked well, but stumbled in the closing meters as Gall went by on the outside and Schmidt on the inside. And there among the kickers was Phoebe Wright (1:59.72) who was totally out of character kicking after trying to press the early pace with the leaders. But the fast 55 second first lap still left her back and forced to try to kick it home.

That Montano took it out that fast seems to underscore that she seems very confident in her abilities heading to London. I hope so because she’s going to have to improve on her PR 1:57.34 to have a shot at the podium with the likes of Jelimo, Magiso, Jepkosgei, Savinova and Semenya likely to be waiting. This will be one of the toughest medals to earn in London.

Speaking of confident, that’s exactly how Nick Symmonds looked in the home stretch of the men’s 800 as he came home strongly in 1:43.92. Nice to see an American running 1:43 because it may take at least that much to get into the final in London. I must admit I keep looking for someone to come along and run like Johnny Gray, or Mark Everett and take over this event – but Symmonds keeps turning them back. He doesn’t look like he should be our best, but he keeps proving to be, and as he said in his post race interview, hopefully with a little sharpening he can go 1:43 low in London.

Behind Symmonds, Khadevis Robinson (1:44.64) and Duane Solomon (1:44.65) got the other two spots to the Games. Though their times were nearly identical they came in different fashions. Solomon went out and tried to keep pace with lap leader Charles Jock who went flying by the bell in 49.86. Jock faded badly after 600, however while Solomon kept working – even trying to stay with Symmonds as he went flying up the stretch.

In contrast, Robinson played his usual wait and kick game, closing strong and nipping Solomon at the line. At the end of the day I think this will be our strongest 800 team since Johnny Gray and Mark Everett led us in the 90′s. I hope they prove me right.

So that’s how we head into the break. I think now I’ll go back and re-watch the meet (of course I’ve been taping it) and see what I may have missed the first time around. Time to start looking ahead to London and what our prospects will be at the Games. As well as the European AND Jamaican Championships which get going this week. It’s going to be another big week in the sport.

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4 Responses to “Trials Day 4 – Half Way to London”

  1. Waynebo says:

    Charles Jock is a talented runner, but if he’s gonna have success on the pro level he’s gonna need to embrace a different race pattern – at least for a few years. He must run in a way which saves some “fight” for the second lap. Unlike the NCAA, he isn’t gonna break these guys with a 49. He better try 50-high to 51-low or get used to 8th place.

    If Symmonds doesn’t run at least 1:43 in London I will be deeply disapponted. He also must modify his pattern a bit to be successful because he isn’t gonna make up 50 meters over the final 200 on the runners he will see in London. Those guys have strong kicks too. He must stay in contact or he’ll be looking at 7th or 8th. Not to mention, Gray’s AR has been on the books since 1985! Isn’t it time somebody at least sniffed it? Come on!!

    • CHill says:

      I like Jock’s heart and race pattern .. That’s the only way to get the AR or eventually compete with Rudisha .. But he is going to have to get stronger to make it work ..

      I sure hope Symmonds puts it together .. I don’t like his race pattern – he leaves way too much ground to make up .. Works here at home, not so well globally .. But if he can go 1:43 low I think he has a shot ..

  2. Nick says:

    CHill, fantastic OT so far. I saw Dan OB and asked him how many more points does AE score with good weather? On a perfect day, sky’s the limit: how often does a guy set 2 Dec event WRs in one day? And back to back (100/LJ)!
    Is Alysia running the best strategy? I’ve seen her do 55/63 several times now. What ever happened to Dave Wottle’s plan of dead even pace? Nice to unload in the last 200 while everyone else ties up.
    I’m working meet ops at the finish line (yellow hats). If you get a chance, pls holler at the security folks near the chute; I’d like to say hi.

    • CHill says:

      This has been a great meet .. As long as Ashton gets it done in the field I seriously think he can hit 9100 .. He’s much better in the hurdles and 400 than he performed in Eugene .. And he can get better in the jav and disc .. So there are more points out there for him ..

      I would like to see what Montano could do with better balance .. But I don’t think she will change .. I think that’s the way to fast times, I’m just not convinced at this point that she is strong enough .. But she doesn’t seem to have kicker’s speed either, so it may be best for her ..

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