Flashback Friday: Sylvain's Late Surge Takes 2019 Open 800m

The 800m race at the 2019 CIAC Open brought redemption for Pierre Sylvain. During the indoor season the Xavier senior had been one of the top favorites in the 600m after a 3rd place finish and PR of 1:22.68 behind winner Malcolm Going of Danbury and Darius Kipyego of St. Raphael Academy RI. A small preemptive movement at the indoor Open got Sylvain the DQ as Going breezed to the 600m win and went on to hold off Kipyego at the New England championship.

The outdoor 2019 season had its ups and downs for Sylvain in the 800m during May, but he posted a strong 1:54.98 at the Canterbury Dream Invitational to edge out Stonington junior Rhys Hammond. In the Class L meet at the end of the month, Sylvain got beat by Hall senior Miller Anderson by .12 as he timed 1:56.71.

At the Open, Sylvain lined up against Anderson and Hammond again, but top seed was Tolland's Stephen Sutton who was undefeated in the 800m through the Class M championship where he beat Hammond soundly, and Sutton owned the best time of 1:54.52 from a win at the Greater Hartford Invite.

At the gun, Sylvain established good position on the inside and rode it around for a short lead over Hammond at the halfway point. Sutton meanwhile was sitting about two seconds back in the last position tie for 10th place. In the middle of the backstretch of the last lap, Hammond made his move and opened a two-step lead over Sylvain while Sutton began a furious charge from way back. Hammond kept the lead through the final turn and appeared set to speed away for the win as Sutton clawed his way into 5th. Sylvain kicked into a higher gear and caught Hammond with 20 meters to go. At the finish, Sylvain was a step ahead of Hammond, but Sutton blasted up on the outside with a huge lean at the line that put the outcome in doubt.

Sylvain got the win at 1:54.62, Sutton was 2nd at 1:54.67, and Hammond 3rd at 1:54.69, with Anderson a little further back in 4th at 1:55.38. And hopefully we learned for good that holding an interview at the finish with the winner is not such a great idea, at least in the minds of the officials who are trying to keep the meet running.

It was a good day for Sylvain's Xavier team, as Falcon senior Robbie Cozean beat out Manchester freshman Aidan Puffer in the 3200m and finished 2nd to Hall's Trey Cormier in the 1600m.

Catching up on the 800m's top 4, Sylvain went on to run for Northeastern, Sutton has gone under 1:50 for UConn, Hammond won the 2020 indoor Open 1000m and now runs for Cornell, and Anderson runs for Villanova.