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Bryce Hoppel is one of Team USA’s stars to watch in the Olympic year since he’s the second-fastest American 800 meter runner indoors and the seventh-fastest American outdoors for the same distance. He’s run 1:43.23 and finished fourth at the World Championships. At the University of Kansas, he was a two-time NCAA champion and a five-time All-American. In this episode, you’ll get to know him a little bit better before he takes a swing at David Torrence’s 2:16.76 American record in the indoor 1,000 meters and then you’ll be able to see him in action at the Trials of Miles Texas Qualifier men’s 800 on Feb. 27.
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– “I think there’s a lot of sharpening and hard work that needs to be put in to be in that spot. When it comes down to it, beating Donavan means like being an Olympic gold medalist. He’s the one to beat. There’s a lot of work to put in. I don’t know. I think everything has to come together perfectly. He seems pretty consistent with his race. I feel like, not that I’m already there, but on a good day, I can put a pretty strong performance on. One of the things I feel that I’m pretty good at is the competition side of things. When I do get put up against people like that, the true competitor side comes out in me. It’s like I’m almost pushing my body beyond what it can do just because I don’t want to lose…Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what it is going to take. That’s something I’m trying to figure out.”
“That’s probably one of the things I’ll probably be salty for a while. I never got Jim’s outdoor records at Kansas. Super close but just didn’t have that extra .1. It was just so cool to go after Jim’s record since he had the collegiate record for the longest time. That was a big inspiration to be chasing after him.”
“Everything has come so quickly to me. Each new thing that came ahead was just like ‘OK, I made my first world team. Let’s go see what I can do out there.’ There were no expectations. There was nothing expected of me. Everything I did was just a new cool thing. I got out there and had fun with it. It’s an experience like no other. To make the world team was so much fun. It’s not that I felt like I belonged out there but I was trying to get used to all that stuff. I was rooming with Clayton Murphy. A couple of years back, he was a hero to me. I found myself just trying to take it all in. I feel like I still am. It was such an experience and definitely one that will propel me for the rest of my career to get to do all that sort of stuff.”
“You definitely get revamped in energy when you’re coming into the world championships. Nothing else mattered in the past. I’m ready for this now. I did find myself getting really tired through the rounds and making it through. I just remember in the second round my legs just being super heavy. I said, ‘Oh man, coach. I’m tired.’ That was the one time where I thought maybe I’m not invincible doing all of these races. We did a lot of recovery that night just trying to get ready for the final and we made it work.”
“Honestly, the medals weren’t even in my mind for that race. It was just like, ‘Holy crap. I’m coming across the line in fourth in the world.’ I see Donavan winning it and USA just got the gold in the world championships and I’m part of this race. I was just excited about that. It was an incredible moment to be there. I just remember running up to Donavan high fiving and saying, ‘Heck yeah, this is a crazy race!’ That wasn’t even on my mind. I was happy where I was. At the time, I put everything I had out there and was happy with how I performed.”
“I have visualized this. I haven’t really (specifically) thought about making the final but you’re gonna have to be in the 1:45s. With how strong we are, it’s going to take at least high 1:45s to make it into the final. Just because everyone is not going all out and you need to save a little bit for the final. But then the final, in my mind I always picture it being a battle between me and Donavan and breaking the American record. With a passion of making the Olympic team, there’s going to be something crazy that’s going to be pulled out at the Olympic Trials, especially on the new track and the atmosphere if we’re able to put it together to where there’s a crowd. I think there’s definitely going to be something crazy dropped in the final at the Olympic Trials.”
“For me personally, I just see myself progressing more and more. In my eyes, I’m just getting started. I can imagine what Donavan is thinking too. That guy probably has a lot more left in him. When we really get all these culminated together in an Olympic final, I can see if coming down.”
“Set this pace for something fast and I’m ready to go after something.”
“There’s a difference between racing smart and I’m going to go out there and hammer this race…”
“The huge thing is optimizing your energy so that you’re using it to your fullest.”
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FOLLOW @trialsofmilesracing for more information on the TEXAS QUALIFIER happening in late February. If you’re a sponsor or brand with an interest in getting involved with the meet, please feel free to contact me: [email protected]