's Samantha Budd, the , took on some of the best in her distance at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, NC, Saturday afternoon, racing to a 7th-place finish in 2:18.75.
Budd was near the head of the pack after the first lap, but dropped back several spots, getting bumped hard in the turn, before surging at the end.
It was arguably the toughest of the four heats of the 800 Saturday, as the pack ran tightly bunched the entire race, while the others strung out over the course of the two laps around the sky-blue North Carolina A&T track.
Budd appeared to get bumped repeatedly through the course of the second 400, and one runner took a header going into the final 100 meters, complicating the race further.
"I turned to her and joked, 'You just ran the third fastest time in school history,' " head coach Mark Drummond said. Of course, the two faster times are both Budd's marks.
Despite not placing, Budd's performance was still solid, especially in light of what's been a few weeks of turmoil—she was unable to compete at the Meet of Champions last week, after a death in her family.
Drummond gave her credit for pushing hard to get back into competition, and doing so by leaping into a difficult field in a national meet.
"You still have to take pride in that," he said.