2012 USA Indoors, Day 2: Ashton Easton, by Elliott Denman, note by Larry Eder

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Eaton_AshtonLJ-USout11.JPGAshton Eaton, 2011 USA Outdoors, photo by PhotoRun.net

One person noted on twitter that it was surprising that a decathlete could win an open event. Most decathletes are world class in one to three events! It should not be a surprise to a more than casual observer!

Some tremendous performances on Sunday, strong crowd and even an American record were overshadowed by what is being termed a fiasco over the announcement, that there was no logo rules in effect in the US Indoor champs. RBR was told today that even presidents of involved footwear brands saw the note, watched the TV and were calling their representatives on the and wondering what was going on?

We seem to not be able to do anything but shoot ourselves in the foot over such last minute decisions. Perhaps it was considered by USATF as a way to control the athletes' frustrations. Instead it has opened a hailstorm of concern from sponsors. Stay tuned.

Here is Elliott Denman's comments on the meet for Day 2.

By ELLIOTT DENMAN

   ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Naturally-naturally-naturally, Ashton Eaton was overshadowed Sunday.

   By the likes of Trell Kimmons, Aries Merritt, Leo Manzano, Brad Walker and Reese Hoffa on the men's side of the concluding session of the USA Indoor Nationals, the final trial for the USA team headed to the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, March 9-11.

   And by such leading ladies as Chaunte Howard Lowe,  Sanya Richards-Ross, Tianna Madison, Kristi Castlin, Jill Camarena-Williams and Jennifer Simpson.

  Before 2,480 witnesses, and a national TV audience (tape delay), Kimmons (6.45 60), Castlin (7.84 60 hurdles) and Richards-Ross (50.71) all ran to 2012 world list-leading triumphs.  Madison (at 7.02) was a world-leader, too, but merely matched her own 7.02 of two weeks ago.

  Lowe flew to an American indoor record 6-7 ½ HJ; Walker elevated to a 19-2 ¾ PV, and bravely but unsuccessfully attacked an AR 6 meters/ 19-8 ¼.

  Camarena-Williams and Hoffa led the "occupy" movement of the Convention Center shot put zone; unlike their outside counterparts on Wall Street and beyond, they made believers of all in their presence. First, she unloaded a 64-2 ¼ winner in round four of the women's event; then he delivered a golden 71-4 ½ bombshell in round five of the men's competition.

  Team USA is loaded with shot talent. Left in the champions' slipstream were the likes of Michelle Carter, Ryan Whiting, Christian Cantwell and Adam Nelson.

  The men's 60 hurdles was a bizarre affair. Dexter Faulk, who'd run a world-leading 7.40 in the Saturday prelims, carelessly let himself get DQd out of the Sunday final.  They let him run it anyway, but all he got was an "FS" listing, for false start, in final results. So Merritt won it in 7.43.

  The men's 1,500 final was the slow-paced but ultra-competitive racing highlight of the day. As the final-lap bell rung, this one was a three-man battle.

  Galen Rupp made first big move and stayed ahead until Matthew Centrowitz surged ahead around the final bend.  But it was Manzano who took it all in 3:48.05, swinging wide to lane three and outkick young Centro (3:48:15) and Rupp (3:48.44.)

  After taking the women's 3000-meter title Saturday, Simpson roared back Sunday to claim the 1,500 in 4:15.04, thus emerging as meet's only double wnner.

  And this brings us back to Ashton Eaton.

   Will Claye had hoped to notch a Nationals double, too, after his sizzling 57-10 ¼ triple jump win Saturday. He was guessed to be a long jump cinch Sunday, too.

   Right? No, wrong.

  Nothing in this sport is ever determined by guesswork. And when Claye fouled four of his six attempts, the handwriting was on the Convention Center wall.

  Eaton, the Oregon grad deca-star, took the lead with an opening-round 25-8; saw Claye jump ahead with a round-two 26-3 ¾; then grabbed the lead to stay with his third-round PR span of 26-5 ½.

  With Claye fouling out of rounds 4, 5 and 6, the suspense was over.

  And Eaton was installed - with even greater emphasis - as an emerging superstar of Team USA,  not just at Istanbul, but the  London Olympic Games, too.

  Multi-event marvels aren't supposed to win individual events at Nationals. Accepted belief is that they're gifted in 10 different directions, but rarely gifted enough to win any of them outright at this level.  Jackie Joyner-Kersee continues to rank as a multi-exception.

     At 24, Eaton keeps opening eyes, keeping on the upswing in all that he does.

  ''Just where, which events, are you improving the most?" he was asked.

   "Can't tell you that," he responded.

   "Because I'm improving in all of them."

   At a tender two dozen years old, he's already the world record-holder in the seven-event event heptathlon. It came with his 6,568 score in a meet at Tallinn, Estonia, 54 weeks ago.

  He'll compete in the invitation-only heptathlon at the Indoor Worlds in Istanbul, and look for him to raise his own world "hep" record to the 6,700-something range in Turkey.

   The outdoor "dec" closes with the 1, 500 meters, the indoor "hep" with the 1,000 meters.

   These are the events traditional multi-men detest. They often treat them with  slo-mo disdain.

   Not Eaton.

   With a recent 1:52 clocking in the 800, he knows he can floor it in the event the others usually fail.

   While the rest of the world continues to make advances on long-held American track and field dominance, the decathlon looms as the London event where the USA can easily go 1-2-3.

  There's Trey Hardee, 28, the 2009 and 2011 world champion. There's Bryan Clay, 32, the reigning Olympic champion (and 2004 silver medalist) who only needs to stay healthy to make the history books as the first Olympian ever to win three deca-medals.

 Neither Hardee or Clay competed in Albuquerque.  There's a fine line between working into super shape, and working out of the picture and onto the injury list.

  The world deca-record of 9,026 points has been the property of the Czech Republic's remarkable Roman Seberle since 2001.

   Will Eaton reach even further into the 9,000s sometime this Olympic year? Will Hardee? Will Clay?

  Deca-fanatics can only rub their hands in glee at such possibilities.

   Eaton wasn't willing to play this numbers game in Albuquerque.

   Two of his favorite words are "stay tuned."


For full results on day 2, click here: USA Indoors, Day 2

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