Previewing the Women's 800 meters, by Alex Mills

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Wilson_Ajee-Pre15.jpg
Ajee Wilson, photo by PhotoRun.net

Here is our preview on the women's 800 meters, by one of our favorite Britons, Alex Mills. 

I may be British in every sense of the word, but this year's US champs really have got me super excited. After travelling from the east to the west of the country and back again earlier this summer, visiting both the Prefontaine Classic and the Adidas Grand Prix, as well as learning lots from an internship super agent, Paul Doyle, I now feel in a far better position to hold judgement on all things USATF.


With that in mind I have decided to post a few thoughts on some of the races ahead of this weekend's national champs at Hayward Field.


I start off my predictions with a look at the women's 800m. This is an event that has attracted attention throughout 2015 due to the depth of the US performances, particularly at both Eugene and New York, where a combined five American athletes went sub-two during the two meets. 


With twelve US runners having run faster than the qualifying standard and a further 11 also going sub-2:02 this season, the field for this weekend's race will perhaps be even more stacked than the Kenyan trials. 


Even with a number of those 23 athletes not racing, within the list of 32 confirmed starting athletes that are competing you have almost everything; world championship medalists, Diamond League race winners, seasoned pro's, Olympians and up coming college stars. 


Below I give my analysis on each of the main contenders for the two lap classic which kicks off with the heats on Thursday, including placing predictions.


Ajee' Wilson  adidas SB:1:57.67


Wilson is the one to beat in Eugene and the real star player within a fantastic field. While the other languish around 2 minutes or just below, the 2014 world leader already lays one stride ahead of that as shown by both her 1:57.67 at Pre and her more recent 1:58.83 in NY. 


If any of her rivals were to fail to make the team for Beijing 2015 it would be at most a slight surprise, for Wilson it would be a near catastrophe.


Prediction: 1st


800m Head to Head records:

*N/A : They have never raced


VS ML 7:2 2015: 3:0

VS BM 7:8 2015: 3:0

VS CP  7:0 2015: 3:0

VS MV 3:2 2015 1:0

VS PW 5:2 2015 1:0

VS CL 5:0 2015 2:0

VS LT 4:0 2015 1:0

VS LW 1:0 2015: 0:0

VS CS 1:0 2015: 0:0

VS HG N/A

VS DM 1:0 2015: 1:0

VS AM 2:6 2015: 2:0

VS GL 3:1 2015: 0:0

VS ED  N/A

VS MF  N/A

VS SL  1:0 2015: 0:0

VS CW N/A



Brenda Martinez New Balance SB:1:59.06 for 


Like Wilson, Martinez was impressive on her last visit to Eugene, running 1:59.06 for a clear third at Pre, but since then she has been less successful. 


Although her 2:00.33 in New York was far from awful, she did lose out to both Molly Ludlow and Chanelle Price on that occasion. 


She's only raced four times this season so it's hard to tell whether the 2013 world bronze medallist is in the shape to get to a second successive championships, however she's still a good shout for the top three.


Prediction: 4th


800m Head to Head records:


*N/A : They have never raced


VS AW 8:7 2015: 0:3

VS ML 1:8 2015: 1:1

VS CP 4:1 2015: 2:1

VS MV 6:5 2015 1:0

VS PW 2:5 2015 1:0

VS CL 4:0 2015 2:0

VS LT 6:2 2015: 1:0

VS LW 3:0 2015 1:0

VS CS N/A

VS HG N/A

VS DM N/A

VS AM 5:6 2015: 2:0

VS GL 5:7 2015: 1:0

VS ED N/A

VS MF 1:0 2015: 1:0

VS SL 2:0 2015: 1:0

VS CW N/A



Molly Ludlow Saucony SB:1:59.81


Ludlow has hardly been the most lucky when it comes to major championship trials, most memorably when she missed out on becoming an Olympian by inches in 2012. Nevertheless, since making the podium at the 2014 US Champs she has looked pretty great on the track, especially in 2015, where she has been arguably the second most consistent American in the event.


Two sub-two minute times in a week to follow up becoming a world record holder at the world relays in the Bahamas, suggest this might be the time for Molly to make the team.  


Prediction: 2nd


800m Head to Head records: 


VS AW 2:7 2015: 0:3

VS BM 8:1 2015: 1:1

VS CP 4:3  2015: 1:1

VS MV 7:8 2015: 1:0

VS PW 5:10 2015: 0:1 * Ludlow's record VS Wright is 5:1 since 2011 VS CL

VS CL 5:2 2015: 2:0

VS LT 10:3 2015: 1:0

VS LW 1:0 2015: 0:0

VS CS N/A

VS HG N/A

VS DM 2:0 2015: 1:0

VS AM 1:6 2015: 1:0

VS GL  4:7 2015: 0:0 *Haven't raced since 2012

VS ED  N/A

VS MF N/A

VS SL  1:0 2015: 0:0

VS CW N/A



Chanelle Price Nike SB:1:59.47


A world indoor champion and now part of a world record winning 4*800m team at the 2015 world relays, life has been going pretty sweet for Price since the last world outdoor championships.


While she is not quite the same force to be reckoned with outdoors as she is indoors, Price is still capable of running very fast in the summer, as shown by her fine run at the New York Diamond League. Where she finished third in a new personal best of 1:59.47 to beat all of her American rivals bar Wilson.


Things have not always gone plane sailing this season though. With a few under-par performances against those same compatriots, as shown by her weak head-to-head records below. All of which make the current US number three far from a certainty to get to Beijing.

Prediction: 6th


800m Head to Head records:


VS AW 0:7 2015: 0:3

VS BM 1:4 2015: 1:2

VS ML 3:4  2015: 1:1

VS MV 1:6  2015: 0:1

VS PW 4:11 2015: 1:1

VS CL  7:2  2015: 1:0

VS LT   2:5 2015: 1:1

VS LW 1:0 2015: 0:0

VS CS N/A

VS HG N/A

VS DM N/A

VS AM 1:4 2015: 1:1

VS GL 2:5 2015: 0:1

VS ED N/A

VS MF N/A

VS SL  3:1 2015: 0:0

VS CW N/A 




Maggie Vessey Unattached SB:2:00.07


Vessey is a one of the biggest characters in the world of middle distance running. Not only does she have the looks and the style of a glamorous star but sometimes she has the talent to match it too. Hence why she is a world championship finalist.


This year the 33 year-old has impressed on the big occasions, securing wins at 

 the Prefontaine Classic, the Hoka One One Distance Classic, Stanford Invitational and the world relays. 


However she hasn't really tested herself against any of the other top five athletes in the country and on the occasion she did, at Drake Relays, she only finished 7th.


Nonetheless, if she can stay composed and build on the experience of her victories, then Vessey will be as good a bet as any to make the top-three.


Prediction: 5th


800m Head to Head records:


VS AW 2:3 2015: 0:1

VS BM 5:6 2015: 0:1

VS CP 6:1 2015: 1:0

VS ML 7:8 2015: 0:1

VS PW 9:8 2015: 1:1

VS CL 5:0 2015: 2:0

VS LT 10:3 2015: 2:0

VS LW 4:0 2015: 2:0

VS CS N/A

VS HG N/A

VS DM 1:0 2015: 1:0

VS AM 8:16 2015: 0:1

VS GL 7:7 2015: 0:0

VS ED 1:0 2015: 0:0

VS MF 1:0 2015: 1:0

VS SL  5:0 2015: 1:0

VS CW N/A



Claudia Saunders Stanford SB: 2:00.63


In the absence of new NCAA champion Raevyn Rogers, Saunders will lead the collegic challenge at Hayward Field, in what should be the biggest weekend of her career.


Her time this year places her within the top-ten nationally even before the big name absentees are removed from the list. Although a podium finish seems a long shot, a place in the final certainly shouldn't.


Prediction: 8th or semi-final


No head to head as only really raced on college scene.


Phoebe Wright Nike 2:00.79


Her twitter header reads Stop Phe, a play on words from the famous slogan worn by Steve Prefontaine whilst competing for University of Oregon at Hayward Field. Whilst she has hardly been unstoppable in quite the same way as the great athlete, this season has definitely been filled with more positives than negatives for Wright.


She's still not quite at the level she was between 2010-12 but Wright is at least challenging the best athletes in her country consistently.


Already this year the 27 year-old has finished second in the national 800m at Prefontaine and 3rd at Drake. So she strikes me as the type of runner who could surprise a few this weekend. 


She is one of the most popular athletes on the tour due to her brilliant personality, a big social media presence and some rather successful rabbeting skills. 


Should she qualify for Beijing 2015, I'm sure it'd make a lot of people happy.


Prediction: 3rd


800m Head to Head records:


VS AW 2:5 2015: 1:0

VS BM 5:2 2015: 0:1

VS CP 11:4  2015: 1:1

VS MV 8:9 2015: 1:1

VS ML 10:5 2015: 1:0

VS CL 2:2 2015: 1:0

VS LT 11:9 2015: 2:1

VS LW 1:0 2015: 1:0

VS CS N/A

VS HG N/A

VS DM 3:0 2015: 1:0

VS AM 6:8 2015: 1:0

VS GL 5:13 2015: 0:1

VS ED N/A

VS MF N/A

VS SL  3:3 2015: 0:0

VS CW N/A



Charlene Lipsey adidas SB: 2:00.60


Fresh from setting a new personal best of 2:00.60 at the New York Diamond League, Lipsey has a big chance of at least matching her sixth place finish at last year's national champs.


The former LSU all-American would be a good outside bet to make it to Beijing.


Prediction: 7th


800m Head to Head records:


VS AW 0:5 2015: 0:2

VS BM 0:4 2015: 0:2

VS CP 2:7  2015: 0:1

VS MV 0:5 2015: 0:2

VS PW 2:2 2015: 0:1

VS ML 2:5 2015: 0:2

VS LT  5:7 2015: 2:0

VS LW 2:0 2015: 0:0

VS CS N/A

VS HG N/A

VS DM 1:1 2015: 1:1

VS AM N/A

VS GL 1:2 2015: 0:0

VS ED N/A

VS MF N/A

VS SL  1:0

VS CW N/A



LaTavia Thomas New Jersey New York Track Club SB: 2:00.99


Her personal best time 1:59.67 may now be four years old but Thomas is still hitting low two minute times regularly. 


Although their are better athletes in the field, I think she would be disappointed not to at least make the final as she did in 2014.


Prediction: Semi-finals or 8th place


800m Head to Head records:


VS AW 0:4 2015: 0:1

VS BM 2:6 2015: 0:1

VS CP 5:2  2015: 1:1

VS MV 3:10 2015: 0:2

VS PW 9:11 2015: 1:2

VS CL 7:5 2015: 0:2

VS ML 3:10 2015: 0:1

VS LW 1:1 2015: 1:1

VS CS N/A

VS HG N/A

VS DM 0:1 2015 0:1

VS AM 2:7 2015 0:1

VS GL 1:15 2015 0:1

VS ED 1:0 2015: 0:0

VS MF 0:1 2015: 0:1

VS SL 4:1 2015: 1:0

VS CW N/A



Lauren Wallace Oiselle / SRA Elite SB:2:01.13


She shocked almost everyone to win the US indoor 1000m title ahead of some big name athletes in March, so can she do the same outdoors?


With an improved PB that lies just outside 2:01.00, Wallace is one of the biggest improvers of 2015 and a contender to make the final in Eugene.


Unlikely to make the worlds team, but definitely one to look out for.


Prediction: semi-finals


800m Head to Head records:


VS AW 0:1 2015: 0:0

VS BM 0:3 2015: 0:1

VS CP 0:1  2015: 0:0

VS MV 0:4 2015: 0:2

VS PW 0:1 2015: 0:1

VS CL 2:2 2015: 2:0

VS LT 1:1 2015: 1:1

VS ML 0:1 2015: 0:0

VS CS 3:0 2015: 0:0

VS HG N/A

VS DM 1:0 2015: 1:0

VS AM 1:0 2015: 0:0

VS GL 0:0

VS ED N/A

VS MF 1:0 2015: 1:0

VS SL  2:3 2015: 1:1

VS CW N/A




Alysia Montano ASICS / New York Athletic Club (NYAC) SB: 2:01.78


Montano's return to the track so soon after her pregnancy may not have been a big surprise after her headline grabbing appearance at the 2014 USA's whilst  34 weeks pregnant, but her initial achievements were. 


By becoming the US indoor 600m champion the famous front runner brought herself back into the national middle distance limelight. However things have not gone quite so well so far outdoors, particularly at Prefontaine where she finished dead last in the international 800m.


She may have five-national title in the event but surely a top-three finish this year would be a bigger story than any of her title wins in the past, such is the degree that she looks to be up against it this year.


For me Montano's champs could go either way.


Prediction: semi-finals


800m Head to Head records:


VS AW 6:2 2015: 0:2

VS BM 6:5 2015: 0:2

VS CP 4:1  2015: 1:1

VS MV 16:8 2015: 1:0

VS PW 8:6 2015 0:1 

VS CL N/A

VS LT 7:2 2015 1:0

VS LW 0:1 2015 0:0

VS CS N/A

VS HG N/A

VS DM N/A

VS ML  6:1 2015: 0:1

VS GL  14:4 2015: 0:0

VS ED  1:0 2015: 0:0

VS MF  N/A

VS SL  3:0 2015: 0:0

VS CW N/A


Geena Lara Unattached SB: 2:01.87



The London 2012 Olympian hasn't been able to recapture the form that saw her do so well that year in recent seasons, however even her name among the list of athletes is sure to make the other runners more conscious of the standard they are up against.


Prediction: semi-finals

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