U.S. Olympic Team Trials Recap, Day 4, Part 1

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This evening is packed! We have the 5,000 men's final, the final event of the decathlon, the 1,500 meters, 400 meter rounds deux, and myriad other stuff that I have forgotten, but will remember shortly. Oh, women's steeplechase rounds and women's 5,000 meter rounds tonight, a long night at the office!
Here we go, sports fans, more athletics' propaganda that you can worship! So, open a beverage of your choice ( cold, please not any of this lukewarm mush), perhaps some veggie dip, and enjoy!

Decathlon Update

The decathlon is one of the events in the Olympics that has a rich, ancient tradition. The US has had a tremendous winning record in the decathlon, and the group of athletes contesting the dec here are no small fry. Tom Pappas, 2003 world champion, Bryan Clay, US champion and Trey Hardee, former NCAA champion are the class of the field.

I will go on the record and say that Ashton Eaton of Oregon is my pick for the first US athlete to hit 9,000 points. The kid is so raw, but so tough that he will, with some careful coaching, and good health, be our 2012 poster child.

So, back to reality.

On day 1, Bryan Clay ran 10.39 long jumped 7.39m, threw the shot 15.17m, high jumped 2.08m, and ran 48.41 for 400 meters to score 4476. Bryan had to drop out last year of Osaka with injuries, so this portends good things-Clay is healthy!

Tom Pappas, in second, ran 10.90, long jumped 7.77m, blasted the shot 17.26 m (56-7.5 for you non metric weenies), high jumped 1.96m and ran the 400 meters in 49.80 for a day one total of 4405. The big Greek American ( he was quite popular in
Athens ) is healthy after a shoulder surgery two seasons ago.

Trey Hardee ran 10.43 for 100 meters, long jumped 7.75m, threw the shot 14.07m, high jumped 2.02m and sprinted 47.99 for third overall and a one day score of 4,454.

Day two started bright and early.

Bryan Clay hurdled a fine 13.75 for 1007 points, then threw the discus 52.47m or 173-00 for 928 points, and pole vaulted 5.00 m or 16-4.75 for 910 points. for 7,321 points after eight events.

Tom Pappas hurdled 14.17 for 953 points, threw the discus 49.44m or 162-02 for 859 points, and pole vaulted 5.20m or 17 feet and 3/4 of an inch for 972 points for a eight event total of 7,189 points. Pappas is the only decathlete to clear seven feet, long jump over 26 feet and clear 17 feet in the pole vault in the same competition (2003).

Trey Hardee is holding his own. Hurdling 13.71 for 1012 points, throwing the discus 139-02 or 42.41m for 714 points, and pole vaulted 5.00m or 16 -4.75 for 910 points. Hardee's score after eight events is 7090.

Women's 400 m dash, semi finals

Mary Wineberg controlled this race, running a smart 50.57! Natasha Hastings, the former NCAA champion, ran 51.04 for second and Debbie Dunn ran 51.79 for third and Monica Hargrove took the fourth position, in 51.88, moving to the final.

Sanya Richards won this one, from the front in 50.75. In second was Dee Dee Trotter the 2007 U.S. champion. In third was Monique Henderson in 51.07 and fourth was Ebonie Floyd in 51.49.

Men's semi finals, 400 meters--Wariner relaxed, so is Merritt

In the first semi, Reggie Witherspoon ran a relaxed 44.99. Darold Williamson ran 45.16 in second, with Calvin Smith in 45.43. Lionel Larry ran 45.55 for the fourth position and was the last guy in that semi to move to the final.

In the second semi final, Mr. Wariner and Mr. Merrit were next to each other. Jeremy Wariner ran 44.66 for first, LaShawn Merritt ran 44.76 for second, David Neville went 45.03 for third, with the final position in the final is Greg Nixon, who ran 45.20 to make the final.

My picks: Wariner 43.5, Merritt 43.51, Lionel Larry 44.2. It is going to be fast, it is going to gutty and both Wariner and Merritt know that two days break will be getting them ready to roll.


Women's 800 final--"You can not win if you do not play!"

First, a windfall start as there are twelve racers in this event! Roller Derby is back!

So, one of the albums saved from my basement flood was Cellophane City by Steve Forbert, who, we in the late seventies called, little Stevie Orbit-one of his songs wasCellophane City and the line was-" You can not win if you can do not play". A wonderful song about getting involved in one's life, it is my song of songs for the women's 800 meters tonight.

Hazel Clark took the race from the gun, hitting the 200 meters in 26.6 and 400 meters in 56.89. Alice Schmidt was on her shoulder, with Nicole Teter and Kameisha Bennet on Teter's shoulder. Hitting the 600 meters in 1:29, Clark held the lead, with Alice Schmidt holding on for dear life. And hold on both of them did, as Hazel Clark took the kick out of the kickers and ran a fabulous 1:59.82 for a brilliant win! Alice Schmidt held onto second in 2:00.46. Kameisha Bennett went by Nicole Teter with fifty meters to go, and took third in 2:01.20 and Nicole Teter held on for fourth in 2:01.30!

The team for Beijing will be Hazel Clark, Alice Schmidt and Nicole Teter, as Kamiesha Bennett has not made the Olympic A standard.

Men's 800 meters-Oregon Uber Alles--Nick Symmonds wins, Anthony Wheating, Christian Smith gets A standard and position three! Robinson not as lucky as Hazel Clark.

Khadevis Robinson takes the men through the 200 meters in 24.1 with the entire field right on his back. Symmonds and Wheating were at the back of the pack. Robinson continued to pour it on, hitting the 400 meters in 50.33. As the field passed five hundred meters, Nick Symmonds was rolling, as was Oregon rock star Andrew Wheating. Jonathan Johnson, who had followed Robinson through lap one, began to fade big time. Lopez Lomong, who had stayed out of trouble in fourth place, was in there, as was Duane Solomon.

At six hundred meters, Christian Smith made this patented inside move. " I knew it was close, I had no clue, but I knew that if I did not go for it, I would regret it." Smith came tearing through the inside, in a bit of a box. Nick Symmonds made his move at 200 meters, and by 150 meters was unwinding, and he sprinted to the lead and just busted the field open, keeping the lead through the finish in a fine 1:44.10, his personal best!

As Symmonds made his move, Andrew Wheating, the Duck with the big smile and the amazingly naive notion that one just keeps passing people until there is no one left on the tack. Well, Mr. Wheating has a very smart racing tactic, as he passed everyone but
Mr. Symmonds, taking second in a fine 1:45.03, adding an Olympic berth to his NCAA runner up position and a personal best!

Third place was up for grabs. Khadevis was digging and Christian Smith was coming from the inside. Step by step, all slows down as Khadevis and Christian duke it out for third place, Christian starts to falter, Khadevis Robinson begins to falter, as both fell and leaped at the finish line. By this time in a race, the racer is just reacting, it comes down to whose neurons are reacting better, who has reinforced the neuromuscular loop a bit better-plus a bit of luck.

In the end, Christian Smith will join Symmonds and Wheating on the Olympic team. Smith, who trains with Symmonds, took third in 1:45.47 to Khadevis Robinson's 1:45.53. Smith's time also got him under the Olympic A standard.

Nick Symmonds showed true growth. Going from staying off the back and not being able to react, as he did in Valencia at the World Indoor Champs, to this race, where as he told the crowd afterwards, " I knew I had one chance and I made my move with 200 meters to go. It is great to make the team with my best friend (Christian Smith). "

Khadevis Robinson ran a brave race, he just, near the end of the race, moved wide enough to let Christian Smith get through and that was the difference between making the team and not making the team.

The crowd reaction when Symmonds went by was loud, but when Wheating moved through the crowd with fifty to go was thunderous! And as Symmonds and Wheating crossed, no one could tell what was happening with Robinson and Smith--this was a true Olympic Trials race!

Lopez Lomong took fifth in 1:45.58, Duane Solomon ran sixth in 1:45.78, and Jebreh Harris ran seventh in 1:46.21. Jonathan Johnson took eighth in 1:48.11.

Men's Decathlon--Bryan Clay scores 8832!

So, gentle readers, the dec as we know is ten events. And you need to be pretty good at nine and suck at the 1,500 meters.

Remember, nine events. Bryan Clay knows that, and he pops the javelin 231-05 or 70.55 m for you metric lovers, for 898 points.

Trey Hardee knows that, so he pops a 208-11 or 63.69m for 794 points, to move into second place.

Tom Pappas, in his first realy healthy decathlon in years, throws an adequate 194-08 or 59.34, giving him 728 points and third place.

So, it all comes down to the 1,500 meters. Decathletes hate this event. In their hearts they wish it was nine events, but alas, five minutes of hell is okay.

So, nineteen decathletes start the 1,500 meters, with Mr. Clay, Mr. Hardee and Mr. Pappas are fighting for medals, sixteen other decathletes are fighting for every point,
a personal best and the respect of finishing two days of athletic battles.

Mat Clark of Northern Iowa ran 4:12.60, for 863 points, a total of 7270 and seventeenth place.

Trey Hardee, who had worked very hard for two days, ran his best 1,500 meters, 4:44.79, for 650 points and 8,534 total points, giving him the silver. " I am at peace this year. It took a lot of work and alot of prayer, but I am very happy."

Tom Pappas was just behind him, running 4:54.08, for 594 points, holding on to third place in 8,511-23 points separate Pappas and Hardee. Pappas becomes the first US decathlete to make three decathlon teams. " This is the first time in several years that I have been healthy. I am so grateful to make the team."

Running 4:50.97, for 613 points, and scoring a personal best of 8832, the best score by an American in sixteen years, was Bryan Clay, healthy and leading a team who should bring back two medals from Beijing! " First, I would like to thank the crowd. This is the best crowd I have seen in any meet in the US. I think that we will bring back a couple of medals back from Beijing. This is the best team we ahve run in a long while."


Men's 5,000 meter final

The five thousand meters is a classic distance, 12. 5 laps on a 400 meter track. How important was this race to the crowd? One guy in front of me said, " Why would anyone come today who was not staying for the 5,000 meters? " This was as two of his friends left to avoid the crowds.

In a race that played into the hands of Bernard Lagat, but which tactic would not play into Lagat's hand-the guy is that good.

Brent Vaughn took the race through 400 meters in 64, then the 800 meters in 2:09 hitting the first kilometer in 2:41.8. Vaughn kept the lead through the 1200 in 3:16, when the crowd caught him. Vaughn kept the lead through the 1,600 meters in 4:19.

In the pack were Matt Tegankamp in about sixth, Chris Solinsky in fifth, Bolata Asmeron, Ian Dobson,and Robert Curtis. After the mile, Adam Goucher took the lead, leading through the 2 kilometers in 5:26.5 and hitting two miles in 8:52. Goucher could not move the pace faster and his chances of getting an A standard, and of making the team, Adam Goucher gave up his Olympic dream and did not finish.

Bolata Asmeron, running for the Oregon TC, took over and lead through 4 kilometers, when Chris Solinsky took over.

Solinsky ran the fastest lap of the race, between 4k and 4,400 in 58.8. Solinsky then dropped another lap in 58 flat-1:56.8 ! With two hundred meters to go, Bernard Lagat had the lead, and Chris Solinsky was right behind him, Bolata Asmeron stubbled with Matt Tegankamp, who was about to go down, with Ian Dobson and Bobbie Curtis in tow.

This race was going to come down to the stretch. As Lagat took off, Tegankamp began to roll abit and went past Solinsky, then Asmeron. Solinsky started to falter with one hundred meters to go, as Asmeron went by Solinsky.

Ian Dobson, the 2005 NCAA champion, a man who has had a couple of tough years, starting sprinting like crazy coming off the turn. First he passed Solinsky, the Asmeron.

Bernard Lagat won, going away in 13;27.41. Matt Tegankamp held on for second in 13:29.68. Ian Dobson ran the best race of his life, as happens, and moved into third position on the Olympic team. Bolata Asmeron, who ran his best race in years, held onto fourth in 13:31.24. An exhausted Chris Solinsky, a year out of college, made this race, and came oh so close to making the team, but collapsed after the finish, taking fifth in 13:32.17. Bobbie Curtis took sixth in 13:35.00, with the NCAA champions in the past three years in fifth and sixth.

In the end, how does one beat the best middle distance racer in the world? Lagat is Fermin Cacho, with better flexibility. Matt Tegenkamp continued to solidfy his hold on US stardom. Ian Dobson shows, in this one, the Miles of Trials and Trials of Miles theorem and Bolata Asmeron, Chris Solinsky and Bobbie Curtis show how optimistic we can be about the future of American distance running.

I have seen the future of our sport tonight and it is good!

Signing off for tonight. Will write on the women's 5,000 heats and other info tomorrow.

Have a great evening!

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