ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico--It wasn't the way Nick Symmonds (left/photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport) wanted to get his spot to Poland, but he will take it.
The seven time US national champion and member of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts finished third in the 800 meters Sunday at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center, behind winner Eric Sowinski and the hard charging Robby Andrews.
Symmonds, who was fighting a cold during the meet, sat back for the first half of the race, then made a charge with 300 meters to go.
Sowinski made a move and actually gapped the field, giving him a clear path to the victory in 1:47.86.
Symmonds at the same time charged to try and close the gap and found himself in second entering the final straightaway, only to be passed by Andrews in the last few meters, as he took second in 1:48.44 to Symmonds' 1:48.48.
However, Andrews does not hold a qualifying time to go to Sopot for the world championships in two weeks of 1:47.00 indoors or 1:44.00 outdoors, so Symmonds will get the second spot on Team USA.
Afterwards, Symmonds said, “I was just so tired coming in. I had a flu, a cold for the last few days. I was on the start list and saw that only three guys had the standard, so I was trying to hope that it was a race between me and (Michael) Rutt (who finished sixth in 1:49.14) for that second spot. I’m glad I’ll be going. It will give me two weeks time to get healthy finally.”
Symmonds' Beasts teammate Mark Wieczorek was fifth in 1:49.03.
Courtesy of usatf.tv and media partner RunnerSpace.com, here is video of the 800 meter final:
In other action, University Place resident Andrea Geubelle finished second in the triple jump with a mark of 44-9 3/4 (13.66m), but will not go to Poland, as she doesn't hold the standard.
Washington State University alum Blessing Ufodiama was fourth with a jump of 44-1 3/4 (13.44m).
In the women's 800, Nike sponsored runner Phoebe Wright, who trains with the Beasts, finished fifth in 2:05.60.
In the women's 1500, Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts finished fifth in 4:16.24, while Bellingham native Becca Friday was seventh in 4:18.70.
The men's 1500 saw the Beasts' Garrett Heath finish third in 3:43.97, while teammate Riley Masters finished 15th in 3:56.31.
Former UW vaulter Sarah (Pappas) Sheppard failed to make a bar in the women's pole vault.
NOTES: The USA Indoor Track & Field championships will go down as one of the more memorable national undercover meets in a long while, but unfortunately for the wrong reason.
Starting with the initial placing of Brooks Beasts' Riley Masters into the B section of the 1500 before the meet, all the way up to the disqualification of Gabriele Grunewald from the women's 3000 on Saturday for obstructing Jordan Hasay, it's been, to put it mildly, a few steps short of a complete "operation in which multiple things have gone wrong".
According to the USATF release, written by Jill Geer, the organization's chief communications officer, "During the women’s 3,000-meter final contested Saturday evening, a meet official raised a yellow flag, indicating a possible field-of-play infraction by a runner. A review of the official’s report by the Women’s Running Head Referee and subsequently by the Jury of Appeal led to a ruling of no infraction. The Jury of Appeal then reviewed additional video evidence and reversed their initial ruling, disqualifying Gabriele Grunewald for a field-of-play infraction impeding Jordan Hasay. Protests and appeals were filed by representatives of athletes during the process. In accordance with USATF Competition Rules 111 and 119, the Jury of Appeal is a three-person panel appointed by the USATF Games Committee. Protests and appeals are governed by USATF Competition Rule 146. The decisions of the Jury of Appeal are final."
As of right now, Grunewald, who was first across the line in 9:23.15, is disqualified, with runner-up Shannon Rowbury of the Nike Oregon Project declared the winner in 9:25.49.
Runner-up Sara Vaughn (9:26.46) does not own a qualifying standard of 9:02 indoors, or 8:38 or 15:00 for 5000 outdoors, so Hasay, who competes for the Nike Oregon Project, gets the second spot to Sopot for now, as she owns the standard.
According to Grunewald's agent Paul Doyle of Doyle Management, he's contacted the US Olympic Committee to take her case to arbitration before the world championships.
“The solution would be for the USATF to admit that their process was flawed and that the original ruling (from the Jury of Appeal) should stand,” he said to Runner's World.
In a sign of solidarity supporting Grunewald, several runners, including Brooks Beasts' Katie Mackey held hands after the women's 1500 finals as they walked off the track.
“Athletes taking action is what is going to make a change,” Mackey said. “At some level, the USATF may view it as interchangeable parts. But I know this weekend a fire has been lit. We don’t want people to think it’s swept under the rug and that there isn’t fairness in our governing body. The question is how to get that happening. This weekend really impacted me, and I think other athletes feel the same.”
In the men's 3000 that was won by Washington State grad and reigning world champ Bernard Lagat, Andrew Bumbalough of Team Schumacher which trains on the Nike campus in Beaverton, was disqualified for allegedly pacing teammates Ryan Hill and Lopez Lomong, leading to a confrontation in the athletes' area between Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar, and Jerry Schumacher.
Naturally, the bad guys in all of this are USA Track & Field for not having any transparency in the appeals process, along with Nike, Alberto Salazar, and the Nike Oregon Project for allegedly putting the squeeze on USA Track & Field officials after the original Jury of Appeals decision to not DQ Grunewald went down Saturday night.
What's going to come out of all this? Hard to say, but nobody looks good after this.