Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 NCAA Men's Indoor 800 Meters Preview

This edition of the Wood Report is the beginning of a top 10 ranking system that will be updated weekly after different meets are run. This is a ranking of how I feel the National Championship would play out if run today. It is not a ranking of the fastest times, but who would win head-to-head. Keep checking back the next couple of days for the rest of the previews for the Mile, 3K, 5K, and DMR. 
Greer is entering his senior season as a five time All-American and the third fastest 800m runner in Oregon history (that's saying something). This indoor season he comes in as the top returner from the 800m outdoor final in 2012 after finishing 3rd in 1:46.05. The last time Greer ran an 800m indoors competitively was in 2011 where he did not make it out of the prelims and ran a dismal 1:54.48. To counter that, the same year outdoors he ran 1:45.06 (his PR) and was the Pac-10 Champ and finished 3rd in the 800m final at nationals. Greer also has the opportunity of running with solid training partners for 800m (i.e. Boru Guyota and Russell Hornsby).  After a redshirt season indoors in 2012 and another solid 2012 outdoor season, Greer is poised to get his first national championship in 2013.

Kemboi, a redshirt Junior, is one of the few athletes in this list to have run 1:46 in back to back seasons. He owns the school record in the 800m for his PR of 1:46.06. He also might be one of the most consistent 800m runners in the country and is definitely the must underrated 800m guy in the country. Indoor 2012 Kemboi redshirted, but still ran the NCAA Qualifer unattached and won in 1:46.64. Outdoor in 2012 saw Kemboi winning the Big 12 800m in 1:46.65 and also placing 5th in the 1500m in 3:46.64, showing some nice range and strength. He is already the national leader in the 800m this season for his 1:52.42 win at the Holiday Preview, and do not be surprised to see him stay at the top of the national leaderboard for the majority of the 2013 indoor season. 

After running 1:46 twice in 2012 during the indoor season and outdoor season, senior Harun Abda is back this 2013 indoor season and looks to be one of the favorites as we enter indoor. Along with teammate David Pachuta, Abda had run the two fastest times of the year indoor with a nice 1:46.97 at the Bill Bergan Invite. Unfortunately, indoors, he only ran the 800m one more time, and that was at the National meet where he ran 1:49 and did not qualify for the finals. Outdoors, he looked fit enough to make the final in the 800m at nationals, but a tough heat made it so his 1:46.65 (second fastest time in school history) was not good enough to move on. If Abda can peak better and stay healthy, with his speed and tested ability, he has a legitimate shot to test some of the big guns up front in the 800m at the national meet.

Cas Loxsom’s PR of 1:45.31 (also a Penn State record) makes him one of the most dangerous runners in the country in the 800m. Loxsom set that PR in 2011 outdoors, but hasn’t run faster than 1:46.81 since. Regardless of his lack of big improvements over the last couple of seasons, he still has some unreal ability and speed, which makes him one of the favorites in every race he runs. In 2012 outdoors, Loxsom got stuck in the heat that even 1:46-mid did not get you into the final, and therefore was not able to improve upon his poor showing at indoor nationals earlier that year where he ran 1:54. The good news for Cas is that he gets to train now with two of the best middle-distance guys in the country in West and Creese and all things considered is one of the favorites in the 800m for this 2013 indoor season.

Penn State received a nice gift as Ricky West decided to transfer from Missouri to Penn State to join with Casimir Loxsom and Robby Creese as some of the top middle-distance runners in the country (that potential DMR is scary). West really came out of nowhere during the 2012 Indoor season as he redshirted all of 2011 and never had run faster than 1:50 his first year at Missouri.  After running 1:52.21 at Bill Bergan in 2012 (same meet Abda ran 1:46.97), the next race West ran he posted a very solid 1:48.84 at the Texas A&M Invite. He went on to win the Big 12 Indoor 800m Championship, but struggled into the National Indoor 800m final and finished in 8th place indoors. West continued his momentum in the outdoor season where he ran three straight 1:46 800s and finished 6th in the outdoor 800m final. Taking all that into account, it is hard to see another 800m runner with the type of national championship experience he has, including his ever-improving 800m times.

Junior Sean Obinwa came onto the scene during outdoor of 2012 as a top-tier 800m competitor where he posted a nice 1:48.44 and 1:47.73 in back to back meets after running no faster than 1:50 the previous year. The Texas A&M Challenge was good to him, as it was for many of the 800m runners in the field as Obinwa ran 1:47 one more time to lock up a national championship berth.  After making the final at the indoor national championship meet in 2012, Obinwa ran out of gas, finishing in 7th place. He redshirted outdoor track in 2012.  Obinwa is one of the top returners in the country looking towards the 2013 indoor track season.

The reigning Big East 800m Outdoor Track Champion and Pennsylvania product is back for his Junior Indoor season after an outstanding 2012 outdoor season and a solid and improved 2012 indoor. Before the indoor season of 2012, Ellison had not run faster than 1:51.22 and obviously was not even in the picture as an elite 800m runner. A nice indoor season in 2012 where he broke 1:50 led up to an incredible improvement during outdoor in 2012 where he ran a PR of 1:47.62, won the Big East 800m, and made the final at the National Championships for 800m, finishing in 8th place.  If Ellison can maintain his momentum from outdoor to the 2013 indoor season, he remains one of the up and coming 800m runners in the country and could be a possible dark horse at indoor nats.

8. Ryan Waite- BYU
Ever since Waite ran his 1:46.83 at the West Regional outdoors in 2010, he has been on the radar as one of the budding stars in the country at 800m. Since then Waite has consistently made the national meet indoors and outdoors, but has struggled to get back to the form he had in 2010. Since 2010, Waite has run 1:48 or 1:49 9 times.  Waite’s strength seems to be coming around after a solid 2012 outdoor, and the fact he finished well at the West regional outdoors to qualify for the national meet. Now a senior, if Waite can find his 2010 form, Waite is a solid championship race runner, and should be among the names of 800m runners that can challenge for the national title.

Travis Burkstrand comes into the 2013 Indoor season as the number 8 returner in the 800m. Burkstrand has solid PRs of 1:48.16 indoors and 1:48.65 outdoors. He was also able to be a solid contributor to the Minnesota Cross Country team (something not very many 800m runners are able to do, or want to do for that matter), which will help his strength at the end of races because of his solid base he is sure to have. Also, he gets to train with one of the country’s best in Harun Abda. With these factors, and with his national championship experience, look for Burkstrand to improve upon his 1:48.16 PR and to make the Indoor national meet during this, his final season as a Gopher.

Eichberger enters his senior season as a Wildcat as possibly one of the most consistent 800m runners for the past three seasons. Eichberger (who by the way has a Mexican passport), has made the NCAA Regional meet in the 800m for the past 3 seasons and has run 1:48 on numerous occasions. He was able to run at the National Championships Outdoor in 2012 after a PR at the West Regional, running 1:47.64. Eichberger has the ability to train with some of the best in the world, and showed some nice progress in the 2012 Outdoor season, which makes him one of the top 10 800m runners returning in the country for the 2013 Indoor season.

Others considered and to watch for are: Declan Murray (Loyola-Ill), Patrick Schoenball (Baylor-not on team roster), Kyle Thompson (Texas), Anthony Lieghio (Arkansas)


  1. Love the photos and the reports. Makes me interested in the indoor 800 this year.

  2. Look out for Declan Murray from loyola in Chicago. Already ran 117 in the 600 in December. Indoor 2nd team all American. Barely missed making outdoor nats. Guy is the real deal

  3. Don't go to sleep on Brandon McBride, a frosh from Canada at Mississippi State who sports 46.25 and 1:46.07 credentials.

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  5. BTW, Drew Windle from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio (DII) just ran a 1:48.04 at the GLIAC conference championships. He's pretty much been under 1:50 all year and is only a sophomore. He has 47.30 400 speed. Look out.