Sunday, June 24, 2007 was the last day of the AT&T Outdoor. The women's pole vault, the 200 meter races, and especially the men's 1,500 meters showed what is great about our sport! Competition!
When I arrived on Sunday morning, the rain came, and the blue rain coat, courtesy of AT&T ( and Lisa Coniglio of PhotoRun) sure came in handy. The rain was pounding, yet the officials allowed the vault warm up, until a women nearly missed the pit. This event was going to be very competitive, and weather, as usual, was playing a part.
The men's 3000 meter steeplechase woke us up. Daniel Lincoln, American record holder and king of the steeplechase, was in position from the beginning, with Joshua McAdams on his shoulder. Steve Slattery dropped out in the first kilometer, and after leading not only the US with the best time, but also this event's trials, we were notably surprised. It looked like he took a bad landing in the water pit, but we are not sure.
The race continued, with McAdams, LIncoln, Anthony Familgetti, Aron Aguayo in pursuit. Lincoln looked good, but a bit tentative. Anthony Familgetti, who had won most of what he had raced this spring, looked tough. But it was the steeplechase, and Fam was short on races, and this was, I believe the first race for LIncoln all season.
With 600 meters to go, the race heated up. Josh McAdams went by Lincoln and Daniel seemed to give him a look and took the lead again. Familgetti, Aguayo, and Thomas Brooks of the Oregon Track club were in pursuit, with Familgetti looking ready to pounce.
But, with 300 to go, it was Josh McAdams who held to his race plan. Taking a lead just before the last water jump, McAdams pushed away from Lincoln and went to to win his first championship in 8:24.46. Lincoln held second tentatively, as Aron Aguayo, Thomas Brooks and Anthony Familgeti pounced after the water jump. Lincoln continued to fall back, as first Aguayo, then Brooks, then Familgetti passed him. LIncoln ended up in fifth. Aron Aguayo held on for second, with Thomas Brooks in third and Anthony Familgetti in fourth.
It was a race of surprises, a race where reputation matters not, but what is in the legs and the soul with 100 meters to go. Josh McAdams, Araon Aguayo, and Thomas Brooks just wanted it more than the other guys.
Speaking of wanting it more, Khadevius Robinson took the field through the 400 meters in 51.26 and never looked back. Nick Symmonds was too far back to make a real challenge as Khadevius did not look back and raced to a 1:44.34! Symmonds took second in 1:45.17 and Duane Solomon of USC took third in 1:45.69! Robinson looked great and charged down the final straight as the crowd, who had been cajoled by Johnny Gray, jumped and clapped the 800 meter field on!
The women's pole vault was anti climactic. First, remember, one must make the team and Jenn Stucyznski made the team, taking first, clearing 14-7.25 or 4.55m. Nicole McKewen took second, at same height, but with more misses.
Then it got weird. Lacy Jansen, Jillian Schwartz and Chelsea Johnson all cleared 4.35m, and there was a jump off for third place. Jansen won the jump off.
The men's high hurdles was a tough race, as Terrance Trammell won in 13.08, with
Dominique Arnold taking second in 13.17 and David Oliver in 13.18. Ryan Wilson, who had been running so well this season, did not finish, and Allen Johnson, ran 13.60, taking last in the race. Johnson, the Olympic and World multi medalist at the hurdles and the professor of the 110m hurdles, had a rough time of it this year.
And now we get down to the final three races of the day, the 200s and the men's 1,500 meters.
The men's 1,500 meters lived up to all of its hype. Lagat was there, after his superb 5,000 meter win. So was Gabe Jennings, second last year, Chris Lukesic, fourth last year, NCAA 2nd placer Leonel Manzano, third last year, Rob Myers, always a threat, and Alan Webb, who had caught Lagat at the Reebok GP, but then had a bad Nike Prefontaine meet over two miles.
The race went out at a strong pace, 57.56, with Webb in the lead. Webb and Lagat took them through 1:56.23, with Lagat taking the fore, Webb on his shoulder, Manzano, Lukesic and Andrew McClary. Jennings was out of it by this time and the race was down to this crowd.
The 1,100 meters was hit in 2:39.4, with Webb, Lagat, Lukesic, Manzano, McClary all there. Lagat looked good. With 300 to go, Alan Webb went back into action and started to push, push, push. Lagat held him off until the end of the last turn, when Webb moved on the outside, Lagat could not respond. With 80 to go, Chris Lukesic looked poised to take the whole race, but stopped there, and a hard flying Leonel Manzano made his move, taking him from sixth to second as Webb continued his shocking race! Lukesic was not able to get by Bernard Lagat, who could not hold off Manzano or Webb.
Webb's last lap of 55.3 gave him a world leading 3:34.82, with Manzano at 3:35.29 in second, Lagat at 3:35.55 in third and Lukesic at 3:36.85 in fourth. Lukesic had run for the win and dropped to fourth. Lagat had gone for the win and finished third. Manzano had shot for the stars, and improved on his third from last year, and Alan Webb, showing the promise and the new running guts he has shown this season, took first the old fashioned way: he earned every inch in this tightly contested 1,500 meter race.
What is also great about this group, Bernard Lagat, Alan Webb, Leonel Manzano, Chris Lukesic is that they race often and will have some superb races this summer. Watch for some fireworks over 1,500 meters in Paris on July 5!
The womens' 200 meters was a race pitting a recovering Sanya Richards and a fit Allyson Felix. The race was close as Richards charged around the turn, determined to make the team at 200 meters, after her 400 meter loss. Allyson Felix unwound around the turn, came off the turn behind, and willed herself into first, running a fine 22.34, with Richards in 22.45 and Torri Edwards in third. Felix is fit and running both the 200 meters and the 100 meters, with Edwards. And Sanya is on the team at 200 meters and should see some action over the 4 x 400 meter relay.
The men's 200 meters. Wallace Spearmon and Tyson Gay, training parterns, teammates and class acts. The race got out and Tyson came off the turn in the lead, pushing and pushing, all the way to the tape, running a spectacular 19.61! The second fastest time ever! As the crowd gasped, Wallace Spearmon, full of running, took second in 19.89. Rodney Martin was third in 20.10 and Jeremy Wariner was fourth in 20.35. Shawn Crawford was not a factor in this race.
The crowd, cleared out as Tyson was showing the world that he is the fastest man at 100 and 200 meters, and Alan Webb was showing the world a new side of his racing! A great end to five days of fine track and field. Five days and nights of great competition, huge suprises, and many new stars. USA Track & Field is taking a tough team to Osaka!
Watch for my comments on Thursday and Friday of this week!