Charles Jock
Charles Jock broke his school record time to finish third at the USA Track & Field Championships, earning a spot on the U.S. team for the world's championships in Daegu, South Korea, in August. Larry Lawson

Charles Jock uses a simple strategy for running an 800-meter race — start fast and make his competitors chase him. If they can catch up, fine.

For the 800-meter final at the USA Track & Field Championships Sunday, June 26, his strategy worked. The UC Irvine junior finished third, earning a berth on the U.S. team for the IAAF World Championships.

On the track at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., Jock led for the first 700 meters and finished a strong third with a school-record time of 1:44.67, breaking the campus mark of 1:44.75 he set at the NCAA Championships earlier this month.

“I’m still in shock,” Jock said after the race. “I looked up and saw that I got third, and I was so emotional, it’s crazy. I’m so excited. I can’t even put the emotion into words.”

Nicholas Symmonds of Oregon TC Elite, and a 2008 Olympian, won the race in 1:44.17 and Khadevis Robinson of Nike was second in 1:44.49. Those three earned the spots on the American squad for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Aug. 27-Sept. 4.

Only 21, Jock is still young for a sport in which men peak in their mid- to late-20s — Symmonds is 27 and Robinson 34, for example. He ran his first race as a sophomore in high school.

Vince O’Boyle, UCI’s track & field head coach, says Jock’s early success grows from “a brilliant desire to be the best. His potential is just being tapped, and he’s very capable of improving and going to the next level.”

Jock has excelled since he stepped onto the UCI campus. As a freshman, he finished second in the Big West championships 800-meter final, and he came back to lead the Anteaters to the 4-by-400-meter relay title, running a blistering anchor lap. He won the Big West 800-meter championship as a sophomore.

This season, as a junior, he finished second in the Big West championships and at the NCAA championships, and he consistently logged some of the fastest 800-meter times among the elite U.S. runners.

Jock’s progress positions him to realize his dream — to make the U.S. Olympic team for the 2012 Summer Games in London. But for now, Daegu and the IAAF World Championships await.

“I’ve been racing hard for the last two months,” Jock says. “I’m just going to take a break and recover for a little bit. It’s been a long season, and it’s going to be even longer now.”