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Ford Palmer - By ELLIOTT DENMAN(Jun 29 2014, 08:54 AM)
 

News

 

Ajee’ Wilson wins 800 national championship

Published by
Armory Track News   on Jun 30 2014, 02:37 PM

By Jack Pfeifer and Dave Hunter

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Ajee’ Wilson won the first national championship of her young career, running 1:58.70 to win the USATF 800 on a hot afternoon here on Sunday. For Wilson, the 20-year-old New Jersey native who turned professional out of high school, it was the 2nd-fastest time of her career, second only to the 1:58.21 she ran in finishing 6th in the World Championships last summer in Moscow. She was 3rd at last year’s nationals.

Wilson took the lead on the backstretch of the second lap, with Oregon’s Laura Roesler on her shoulder.  “I wasn’t sure how the race would go,” the new champion revealed.  “The past two rounds I got to lead.  My coach told me to be prepared: if someone’s leading, just tuck in behind; and if no one wants to take it, just run to your rhythm and run to your pace.”  The brisk pace didn’t faze the American junior record holder.   “Coming through the first 400, I think we hit 57.  And I’m like, ‘don’t think about that, just go; you’ve got the strength, you’ve got the endurance for it.’  I just tuned out the time and decided to just keep moving.” Wilson pulled away from there as Roesler, the NCAA champion, ran the first sub-2:00 of her life, 1:59.04.  The New York native and LSU graduate Charlene Lipsey finished 6th (2:01.02).  “I got pushed and trampled a couple of times.  I’m kind of upset about that.  But you can’t do nothing about it,” stated the Blackbird middle-distance star.”  Hoping to place higher, Lipsey was nonetheless pleased with her personal best performance.  “It’s a small PR, but I’ll take it.”  LaTavia Thomas of the New Jersey/New York Track Club finished 8th (2:02.46).

Mary Cain, the New York teenager, finished 2nd in the 1,500 for the second year in a row, this time losing to Jenny Simpson, who won the national title in that event for the first time, even though she is a past world champion. “It felt really good.  I was hoping to not be leading as much,” Cain explained.  “I was just trying to gauge off Jenny.  I was trying to save it for the last 200, 100.  I think I gave her a little too much of a gap.”   Simpson led most of the way, winning from the front in 4:04.96, with Cain 2nd in 4:06.34.  “It felt really good, though,” Cain declared.  “It gave me a lot of confidence to run a 4:06 and still feel I had a good bit left.”  Stephanie Charnigo, of the NJ/NYTC, finished 8th, in 4:12.66. Morgan Uceny, the Cornell graduate, fell midway through the race, the third time she has done so in a major 1,500, and finished last. 

Duane Solomon had a rare wire-to-wire win in the men’s 800, running 1:44.30. Only Cas Loxsom, the Penn State grad, could stay close, holding on for 2nd in 1:45.97.  “We decided to go out with Solomon and then back it off a little bit going into 600 to make sure I wasn’t through too fast, unable to close and hold on,” Loxsom explained. “The last 50 meters, I didn’t feel anyone.  It was a really good feeling – so cool.  I think I can run 1:44 pretty soon.”  Behind Solomon and Loxsom, tangles occurred.  On the second turn of the race, Charles Jock fell, forcing Robby Andrews into the infield to get around him. “When Jock went down – I am so mad right now – I stepped off onto the infield,” a disconsolate Andrews explained.  “Then I realized I was about to pass a runner that was still on the track, but if I cut back in, I would be DQ’d.  So I had to stop, wait for him to get in front of me and then get back on the track.  I am so disappointed right now.”  From there, out of the race, Andrews, of the NJ/NYTC, ran it in, finishing 6th in 1:57. His clubmate Michael Rutt played a role in the backstretch disaster.  “At 250 in, Charles was right on my inside and his back kick came up and hit my left arm as I was coming through,” Rutt outlined.  “It must have thrown off his leg carriage a little bit and he went down.”  Rutt went through the finish review ringer: originally placed 5th, later disqualified, and then ultimately restored to the fifth position.  “I am definitely in better shape than I showed this weekend,” the former Connecticut athlete declared.

With the temperature in the middle 90s, Evan Jager repeated as the men’s steeplechase champion, running 8:18.83, as Donn Cabral – who did not make himself available to the media – finished 3rd (8:20.04).  New Jerseyan Craig Forys, running for the New York AC, was 6th (8:37.06).  “I thought I was ready for the heat, training in Greenville, South Carolina,” noted the new professional who also runs for Furman Elite.  “I’ve felt like my ‘A’ game has not been here for a week or two.  This is my first time through a season with Coach [Robert] Gary.  I am just learning more and more about what it takes to make a team.” 

The Rutgers jumper Corey Crawford, NCAA runnerup indoors, finished 5th in the long jump at 25-10 ¼. The event was won by Jeffery Henderson, who jumped a wind-aided 27’11½, but a lawful lifetime best of  27’8”.  “I feel really good,” exclaimed the new champion.  “My previous jump was longer than the final wind-aided one, but I scratched by a toenail.”  Henderson blocked out his competitors and concentrated on his own performance.  “I just focused on myself and didn’t worry about nobody else.  It just all came together.”  The victor – whose previous PR was 27’ 4” – is not coy about how he views his potential.  “I can jump 29 feet,” the new champion proclaims.  “I jumped 27’11½” without touching the board.  I am capable of doing it.” 


Final graphs:

Now that another USA Senior Championships is in the books, the summer track scene moves to two places – to Europe on the circuit for the pros, and north to Eugene, Ore., for the Juniors. The Junior championships are next weekend, when the national team for the World Juniors Championships will be selected. Those will be held a month from now, also in Eugene, the first time the meet has been held in the United States. 

That meet is open to athletes who remain teenagers throughout this calendar year, meaning qualified college freshmen along with the leading high school athletes from throughout the country.

Cain, for example, recently announced her intention to compete in the 3,000 meters, where she would meet the top young Kenyan and Ethiopian runners, among others, at the Worlds.

ArmoryTrack.com will be on-site next week trackside from Hayward Field with daily reports.  

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