Symmonds Wins Fourth National 800m Title

Nick Symmonds won his fourth national title in the 800 meters on Sunday. Photo:

Montano takes women’s race; Coburn wins women’s steeplechase.

Written by: David Monti
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

EUGENE, Oregon — In what was his toughest USA Outdoor Championships final ever, Nick Symmonds found the closing speed he needed to beat longtime rival Khadevis Robinson and collegiate star Charles Jock and win his fourth consecutive national 800m title on Sunday. Symmonds’ race closed the middle and long distance program of this four-day championships at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.

“I got done with this one and it just felt so sweet because I’ve felt so nervous for this one,” said Symmonds after the race, looking relieved. “Obviously, this is the deepest the field’s been in a long time; I think they had nine “A” standards. So, to win in a field like this is just phenomenal.”

Jock, the NCAA runner-up from the University of California at Irvine bolted to the lead from the gun, and led the field through 400 meters in an honest 50.82. Jock was followed closely by Penn State’s Casimir Loxsom, Oregon Track Club Elite’s Tyler Mulder, Symmonds, and four-time national 800m champion Khadevis Robinson. The 6-foot, 4-inch Jock said that running from the front was his best strategy for victory.

“I did it the best way I knew how; taking it out hard and hoping that nobody catches me at the end,” Jock explained.

Jock was still in front at 600 meters, and his stride looked smooth. Loxsom remained in contention, but Symmonds had moved into third and Robinson into fourth. Loxsom began to fall back through the final curve, but Jock was still going full-tilt at the front. The race was playing out just as Symmonds had hoped.

“My only race strategy was to be on the leader’s shoulder with 100 to go,” Symmonds told reporters. “I caught up to Jock, and just flipped it that last hundred. To be honest, with 50 meters to go I thought maybe I’d flipped it a little too soon.  I could feel my body tying up.  But, I just tried to get my hips forward and just try to get across that line.  It wasn’t until I crossed the line that I knew I won it.”

Symmonds got to the tape in 1:44.17, a time which was only 7/100ths slower than his epic 2008 Olympic Trials victory, and the second-fastest of his four wins. Behind him, Robinson would also drive past Jock to claim second in  1:44.49. Robinson complimented Symmonds on his race.

“You’ve got to give credit where credit is due,” Robinson said. “He ran 1:44.1. I thought it would take what I ran to win. I ran that; he ran faster.  Took my hats off. The guy ran a tough race.”

Jock crossed next 1:44.67, a personal best. A college junior, he may have been the most thrilled of all about making the national team.

“It hasn’t hit me yet–I’m still in shock,” he said. “When I crossed that finish line I was like, wait a minute. I didn’t see anybody else pass me and I saw my name in third. The emotion, it was just crazy.”

NCAA champion Robby Andrews finished last, bewildered that he had nothing left in his legs after what he said were relatively easy preliminary races. His coach, Jason Vigilante, was nonetheless very pleased with his star athlete’s performance.

“He’s a 20 year-old in a field with some great kids,” said Vigilante. “I told him you’ve got nothing to hang your head about.”

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