By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
EUGENE (07-Jul) — Olympic bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers and World Indoor champion Ajee’ Wilson advanced to the final of the women’s 800m at the 2023 Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon here on Friday night.
After an exciting contest in the men’s semifinals, the women ran next, and in the first heat the Atlanta Track Club’s Olivia Baker made an aggressive move right from the gun and spurted to a three-meter lead by 200 meters, and split 400 meters in a snappy 58.8 seconds.
The top contenders –Nia Akins, Raevyn Rogers and Ajee’ Wilson– were not thrown off of their game plans and stayed calm in the pack, letting Baker run in front. Although Baker still had the lead at 600 meters, she soon faded and would finish last. Akins, Rogers and Wilson strode smoothly to the finish and captured the three automatic qualifying spots.
Rogers, the Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist, looked relaxed as she discussed how she would get ready for Sunday’s final.
“I’m just going to practice being present, living in the moment,” Rogers said. “Like I said, enjoying all of today, living in the present and nothing about tomorrow until today’s over.”
In the second heat, NCAA champion Michaela Rose of Louisiana State University was the race’s only leader. She pushed to the front right from the gun and held that position to the tape in 2:00.39. The 20 year-old talked about how her faith was so important to her success this season.
“Confidence only comes from God,” Rose told reporters. “I can’t do it myself, I wouldn’t find it. There have been times I’ve died and just to know I have the strength now it’s all from God. I give all glory to Him.”
Behind Rose there was a pitched battle for the remaining qualifying spots. Kaela Edwards, in one of her best races in years, had a strong final 100 meters to get second in 2:00.62.
Stanford’s Juliette Whittaker was in third place through the final 10 meters, but fell to the track out of exhaustion and ended up last.
Charlene Lipsey and Sage Hurta-Klecker battled right to the line –Lipsey on the outside and Hurta-Klecker in the center– passing the fallen Whittaker to finish third and fourth, respectively, separated by only 1/100th of a second Both women qualified: Lipsey by place and Hurta-Klecker by time.
Edwards was elated.
“It felt really good,” said Edwards who didn’t even compete in these championships in 2022 and didn’t get out of the prelims at the Olympic Trials in 2021.
“I haven’t really had that all season, really all year. I’ve just been running on tired legs a lot. So, it feels good just to pop and be able to react, just feel strong and compete really well.”
PHOTO: The finish of heat 2 of the women’s 800m semi-finals at the Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships where Michaela Rose (right) got the win and Stanford’s Juliette Whittaker fell just before the line (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
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Distance action at the 2023 Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships will continue here tomorrow at Hayward Field with the finals of the men’s and women’s 1500m and 3000m steeplechase. USA Track & Field reported that tonight’s attendance was 5,782 ticketed spectators.
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