Athletics News

Bryce Hoppel Points Toward Summer Races

Bryce Hoppel Points Toward Summer Races

Hoppel scored a solid win by 0.73 in his fourth 800 meet of the year at Track Night NYC as he eases into the season. (JOHN NEPOLITAN)

AS THE ’23 SEASON RAMPS UP, Bryce Hoppel is looking to pace himself. That by no stretch means the halfmiler who claimed the last three USATF 800 titles — ’22 indoors & out plus a repeat undercover win in February — plans to slow his roll around the track.

Hoppel and Michael Whittlesey, his college coach who still guides him, are more determined than ever to outdo his ’19 World Champs 4th-place finish. That auspicious performance came back when Hoppel was a Kansas junior who had also raced to NCAA titles in and out during a long season.

You see, Hoppel is a consummate competitor. Even in the lost-for-many pandemic season of ’20 he kept the accelerator down and came away with a shining 1:43.23 PR at the Monaco DL that August. That race was the fastest 800 of the year, as Brazier’s 1:43.15 prevailed.

Hoppel smiled as he rushed into the homestraight and left Canadian Marco Arop 0.91 behind in 3rd. The time moved Hoppel to No. 7 on the all-time U.S. list. As of this writing, only three men worldwide have run faster since. Arop, one might note, earned the World Champs bronze medal in Eugene last summer.

Hoppel, a ’22 bronze medalist himself at the World Indoor, knows on the right day he can run with anybody in the world. Competition lifts his spirits. Even away from the track.

“I’m a really big recreational sports guy,” the 25-year-old Texas native says. “I grew up around a baseball stadium and my dad is a general manager for a minor league baseball team, the Midland RockHounds. They’re the double-A team for the Oakland A’s so I grew up around that. Loved baseball, loved soccer. I played football; wasn’t the biggest fan. I loved basketball. And so anytime that I can get, when I still have the energy, I love to get my friends together, go play racquetball, go play spikeball. Anything that I can get my hands on of any competitiveness is what I love to do.”

Thus when he talks about pacing himself this season, Hoppel only means he is spreading his efforts out carefully seeking to ensure he’ll be at his sharpest for the momentous races this summer.

In his three previous pro seasons (counting the anomalous ’20 year), Hoppel explains, “I think I’ve definitely learned a lot. One thing that’s been tough is to pace it out. I mean, it makes it a really long season when you come into that…

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