Just two days after Carlos Villarreal won Pan American 1500m gold after missing the NCAA final in June, a similar moment of redemption happened for another NCAA star on Saturday as Mississippi State’s Marco Arop won men’s 800m gold in Lima, Peru, in a 1:44.25 PB.
Marco Arop has a very particular set of skills that makes him a nightmare for 800m runners in Lima, Peru pic.twitter.com/44CVRJlb5P— FloTrack (@FloTrack) August 10, 2019
The 20-year-old Canadian failed to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships out of the East Preliminary round back in May, but he was better than ever in the Peruvian capital today as he kicked past Puerto Rico’s Wesley Vazquez in the final 100m while lowering his personal best by a full second.
Vazquez took the silver medal in 1:44.48.
While one NCAA star was having a career day, another collegiate standout from this past season, two-time NCAA champion Bryce Hoppel, surprisingly was off his game on Saturday.
The 21-year-old, who went undefeated in the collegiate season and finished third two weeks ago at the 2019 U.S. Outdoor Championships, could only manage fourth place in 1:47.48. The former Kansas runner was in position to unleash his kick and challenge for the lead in the last lap, but he faded in the final 200m and ultimately finished more than two seconds behind bronze medal winner Ryan Sanchez of Puerto Rico (1:45.19).
Before today, Hoppel had not finished outside of the top three in a race all season. Fortunately, he still has a month and a half to get reset for the World Championships in Doha.
Arop finished second behind Hoppel back in March at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Vazquez took the pace out honest through 400m in 49.74 and the Puerto Rican national record holder held the lead all the way to 700 meters. But he couldn’t shake Arop and the burden of pace-setting much of the race likely cost him the gold.
Like Hoppel, Arop's season will continue in Doha as he took second at the Canadian Championships two weeks back. His time today secured his Olympic standard for 2020 and broke both the Pan American Games and Mississippi State records.