2017 USATF Outdoor Championship: 800 meters preview

By bridge

June 21, 2017


There have been two stars in the event in 2017 thus far.

Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy has continued his hot streak with a win in the 1000 meters indoors, an early season 1:43.60 in the 800 meters and a 3:51.99 in the mile. He only disappointment, in what seems like probably since high school, was not breaking the 1000m American Record. An early exit from the trials last year hasn’t deterred Donavan Brazier. An early 1:44.63 shows he’s ready to run with the best in the country. How he runs the rounds should be interesting. Olympians Boris Berian and Charles Jock don’t look to be factors this year as Berian isn’t listed in entries, and appears to be hurt or recovering from injury. Jock hasn’t returned to the 1:45.48 form that earned him a spot on the Rio team; but then again, he came out of nowhere in 2016. So don’t count him out.

Star/Favorite to watch

Murphy should be a senior in college right now, instead he’s got a presumably bit contract with Nike and looks nearly unbeatable on American soil. Brazier could test him, but he’s in his own league right now.

Dark horse pick

The U.S. is very deep right now in the 800 with 14 guys that have run 1:45.99 or better. Most of these are in the 1:45 range, but you’d have to think someone like Isaiah Harris, who has world-class sprint speed and is a hard closer, may be the breakout star of the 2016 World Trials.

Fun fact/Stat

Nick Symmonds, who has won this event many times, thought he was done after missing the mark at the Portland Track Festival this week, was relieved to find out a fan had scoured the USATF rule book and found that due to his silver medal at the 2013 World Championship, he has automatic entry. One last shot at making it. A great endcap to an excellent, and outspoken career. Bravo, Nick!

Predictions of who makes the team

Murphy is too dominant to not see him in a U.S. uniform in London. Brazier got his rookie woes out of the way at the Olympic Trials and has fared well among American competition in 2017. Harris may find a way to sneak onto this team.


After a triumphant 2016, Kate Grace is moving up and giving the 1500 meters a go, which opens up a spot that she likely would have re-gained. We haven’t heard much from Ajee’ Wilson lately and it’s because she appears to have figuring her situation with USADA out. She tested positive for a banned substance as a result of possibly tainted meat eaten before the Millrose Games She won the 600 meters indoors and ran the American record for the indoor 800 meters* (Loses this record due to the USADA ruling, no suspension). If she’s healthy, watch out.

A newcomer to the event, Chrishuna Williams, hasn’t improved upon her 1:59.59 that she ran at the Trials but did run 2:00.41 in April. Will she return to that form? It will take that and more to make this team. Charlene Lipsey has emerged as the next great talent in the event. A win in the 1000 meters indoors, followed up with 1:58.64 this Spring, as well as some strong 1500’s should give her the confidence to compete for a spot in London. Finally, Brenda Martinez is looking strong in what she says is her last year in the 800 meters. A 1:58.78 at the USATF Distance Classic shows she’s ready to party.

Star/Favorite to watch

If she’s healthy, it’s hard not to like Ajee’ Wilson, but Brenda Martinez looks to be in top form right now. After disappointment in 2016 at the 800 meters, she’ll look to go out on top.

Dark horse pick

We haven’t heard much out of Laura Roesler since her impressive career at Oregon. She’s been good, she’s been bad, she’s been hurt. She appears to be coming along right now, and that should make her competitors take notice.

Fun fact/Stat

With the National Championship on the line, Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers delivered an anchor split of 49.77 in the 4x400m, winning the Ducks the race, and the title. That kind of speed will come in handy in Sacramento.

Predictions of who makes the team

Martinez should stay clear of any stumbling in the final 200 meters and she will be a factor. Rogers has been on a roll that we don’t think she needs Hayward Magic to make the team. When Ajee Wilson was on the Citius Mag Podcast in the winter, she noted how well she’s done working with Lipsey and so we think she joins her in London as well.