Ajee' Wilson Wins U.S. 800 Title Over Charlene Lipsey And Brenda Martinez

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Sacramento, Calif. -- Training partners Ajee' Wilson and Charlene Lipsey went one-two in the women's 800 meter final as Brenda Martinez made the world team in third place. Wilson won in 1:57, a ridiculous performance off of a 59-second first lap. Oregon junior Raevyn Rogers was a well-beaten fourth.

RESULTS:
1:57.78 Ajee' Wilson
1:58.01 Charlene Lipsey
1:58.46 Brenda Martinez
2:00.18 Raevyn Rogers
2:00.58 Chrishuna Williams
2:00.99 Sammy Watson
2:01.10 Laura Roesler
2:01.74 Emily Richards

The top four women were the top four for the entire race, even through the relatively slow 59.66 first lap led by Wilson. They separated themselves from the rest of the group with around 200 meters to go, and there was genuine drama as to which of the four would be left out. Wilson and Lipsey opened a tiny lead over Martinez and Rogers, with Martinez on the rail. Wilson and Lipsey powered away in the last hundred meters; Rogers died with 80 meters or so to go while Martinez hung on. In the end, the difference between third and fourth (1.72 seconds) was bigger than the difference between fourth and last (1.56 seconds).

The three women we're sending to London are clearly the class of American 800 meter running. All three ran faster today than anyone else in the field ever has.

It will be tough to break up the Caster Semenya-Margaret Wambui-Francine Niyonsaba triumvirate at worlds. But that was a ridiculous display of fitness from Wilson today. Not only did she run 1:57--a world-class time under any circumstances--she did so by splitting 59.6, 58.1. She may be ready to run 1:56. The American record is 1:56.40 and Wilson and Lipsey's coach, Derek Thompson, has said that Wilson will be targeting the American record in Monaco. Only Semenya and Wambui have run faster this year than Wilson did today.

Wilson put any questions about her fitness to bed this weekend. She had missed most of the outdoor season while her camp worked through the process of appealing a positive test for an anabolic agent. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency eventually concluded that Wilson's test result was due to tainted beef, and her only punishment was losing the indoor American record she set at the meet where she tested positive.

Drama aside, Wilson making this team was no surprise. The 23-year-old may be the most talented American 800 meter runner ever--she has the U.S. junior record by over a second. She was third, first, third, and second at the last four U.S. championships heading into this one; the only women who beat her at USAs in that period are Kate Grace (1500 runner now), Alysia Montano (pregnant now), and Martinez (made the team today.)

Aside from last year's fall-marred final, Wilson and Martinez have had a lock on the 800 at this meet. This is the third time in the last four USAs that both finished in the top three. It has been an absolute breakout year for Charlene Lipsey, who switched to Wilson's group under coach Derek Thompson and has seen it pay off.

Before this year, Lipsey had never broke two minutes; this year, she ran 1:58.64 indoors and 1:58.01 today. She is one of the best 800 meter runners not just in America but in the world now.

Martinez's bet on her preferred event paid off. She has a 4:00.91 PR and beat Jenny Simpson, Kate Grace, and Shannon Rowbury at Prefontaine. She's still the U.S. leader in the event, and the 1500 meters probably would have represented an easier road to London. But in what she has said is her last year focusing on the event, she made the most of it. Martinez has a worlds medal in the 800 from way back in 2013, but has said that she's in her best shape since then. We're sending a hell of a team to London.

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The recent announcements of program cuts to men's cross country at Akron and men's track at Central Michigan have resurfaced a feeling of uncertainty for the future of NCAA cross country and track. Here is a breakdown of where our sport currently stands within the NCAA system.

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