Rogers, Akins, Wilson and Sumner advance in 800m: USATF Championships 2023

Raevyn Rogers, Nia Akins, Ajee Wilson and Will Sumner are among the top 800m qualifiers at the USA Track and Field Championships 2023 on Day 1 on Thursday.

Will Sumner of Georgia in the men's 800m race

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

EUGENE (July 6) — In the preliminary rounds of the men’s and women’s 800m all of the favorites advanced to the semifinals at the USA Track and Field Championships 2023 here at Hayward Field in Oregon, on Day 1 on Thursday. Raevyn Rogers, Nia Akins, Ajee Wilson, and Will Sumner were all among the top qualifiers on the day.

Will Sumner Easily Advanced

On the men’s side, reigning NCAA champion Will Sumner of the University of Georgia had no trouble winning the first of four heats.  He took the lead at 200 meters, was first to 400 meters in 53.07, and held the lead to the tape and won in 1:46.49, the second-fastest time of the day. 

He took a few looks back in the homestretch, but Luciano Fiore of the Empire Elite Track Club was safely behind him and finished second in 1:46.62, a personal best.

Sumner said that after the conclusion of the NCAA season in June that he had just tried to maintain his fitness and not “do anything crazy.” He said that he felt comfortable at these championships.

“So far it’s about the same, I think,” he told reporters.  “The environment’s a little different; now I’m doing it for myself rather than my team.  Other than that, it feels pretty similar.”

Bryce Hoppel comfortably won the second heat in 1:47.87, and Isaiah Harris followed him to take second in 1:48.13.  Neither athlete appeared to be straining.

“The plan was just to get through the rounds and get to the next day,” Harris said.  “Take every race one race at a time, treat every race like a final. I wanted to get top three; got second and it felt good.  He added: “I’ve had really consistent training.  I’m excited.”

Read More: Matthew Centrowitz sneaks in 1500m final at USATF Championships 2023

Olympians Clayton Murphy (1:46.36) and Isaiah Jewett (1:46.55) won the third and fourth heats, respectively, and Murphy posted the fastest time of the day.  He stayed behind early leader Abe Alvarado, then pulled away from the field easily in the final 200 meters.

Raevyn Rogers at the USA Track and Field Championships 2022
Raevyn Rogers at the USA Track and Field Championships 2022. PHOTO Randy Miyazaki

“Yeah, it was nice to kind of get a good session in there and blow out the pipes, whatever you want to call it,” Murphy said in the mixed zone.

“Yeah, I was positioned well, was able to wait, open up there and for sure save a couple of gears.  But, damn, is it hot.  I think that’s like the biggest thing.  No matter how fast a runner, no matter how fit you are, hot is hot.”

Nia Akins Leads Women’s 800m Qualifiers

In the women’s 800m heats at the USA Track and Field Championships 2023, Nia Akins was the fastest qualifier, winning heat three by over one and a half seconds in a snappy 1:59.09. Two collegians, Stanford’s Juliette Whittaker (2:00.74) and Louisiana State’s Michaela Rose (2:00.79), finished second and third and also advanced to the semi-finals.  

“I’ve been feeling really good so I’m excited by that,” said Rose.

Raevyn Rogers won the first heat in 2:00.08, the second-fastest time of the day, off of a fast first 400 meters by Sammy Watson (57.98).

Read more: Akins, Rogers, Ajee Wilson advanced in 800m at USA Championships

Rogers led Roisin Willis and Ajee’ Wilson down the homestretch to get the win.  Watson, who faded in the last 50 meters, held on to finish fifth and managed to advance on time in 2:01.71.

“I don’t take the 800 lightly,” said Rogers after a reporter suggested that she looked relaxed in her approach to today’s heat.  

“You know, you can’t.  Nowadays and every year, it gets faster and faster.  So, I feel like if you try to go in it safe you’ll find yourself coming up short.  Willis (2:00.23) and Wilson (2:00.32) also advanced in second and third place, respectively.

Sage Hurta-Klecker won the second heat comfortably in 2:01.48, but was a little nervous to watch her husband Joe Klecker race the 10,000m later in tonight’s program.

“I’m not a big fan of watching the 10-K,” said Hurta-Klecker, tongue-in-cheek.  “I love the 10-K.  You know, it’s a long race to be nervous for.”

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USA Track and Field reported that 5,311 ticketed spectators watched today’s action. The USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships 2023 continue Friday with only two distance events on the program, the semi-finals of the men’s and women’s 800m.

Click here for all the live results.

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