2015 USATF Day Two (June 26) Recap, by Roy Stevenson


A compelling day of track and field on Friday, June 26, 2015. The weather, hot and blustery gave no respite for fan or athlete. 

The 100 meter races were full of fast rounds and finished with some new faces and some veterans as well. 

Roy Stevenson captures all of the action for you, round by round, with his first hand view of the national championships. 

His observations are hard one; as there was no cooling air in the media area either under the tent nor in the stands. 

Day Two: USATF Championships

Eugene, Oregon

By Roy Stevenson

Very hot & dry.

9,000 attendance

Day two, Friday, was even hotter than Day one, with temperatures hitting 96 degrees, making things sticky for the athletes and spectators alike. Nevertheless, the competitions raged fiercely as the athletes staked their claims to the USA team for the upcoming world champs in Beijing. 

Women's 1500m semis

Heat 1

High School prodigy, Mary Cain, was the early leader followed by Stephanie Brown. This was a tough heat and longtime rivals Shannon Rowbury and Morgan Uceny sat back in the early stages to see what would eventuate. 

It turned out to be a very tactical race due to the slow early pace, (first lap 70 seconds) so the field was still bunched with 2 laps to go. Approaching the bell, Brown was the leader, followed closely by Rowbury, Rebecca Addison, and Cain. 

The time was slow at the bell, 3:19. Uceny moved up on the outside to third. Passing the 1200m mark in 3:34.40 it was Brown, Cain, and Uceny and they continued in this order along the back straight. Then Rowbury kicked strongly off curve to win in 4:18.89, followed by Cain (4:19.26), and a fast closing Shelby Houlihan who grabbed third at the tape in 4:19.51. Morgan Uceny did not qualify in 4:21.2.

Heat 2

The pace was quicker in heat 2, with the 1st lap in 67.12. Heather Kampf led the field. 

With 2 laps to go

A lead group of 5 had broken away from the next pack of 5. At the bell, reached in 3:21.73, it was Kampf, Jennifer Simpson, Treniere Moser, and Cory McGee. 

Simpson hammered the last lap in 62.94 to win from Moser in 4:08.55 to 4:08.70, and fast finishing Kerri Gallagher third in 4:08.7. These three all qualified for the final. "I think that what is being asked of me here is exactly what's asked of me at every championships: qualify and get into the final, and then try and win and be top three."

Heat 3

Rebecca Tracy was the early leader in the final prelim, from Melissa Salerno and Gabriele Grunewald. The first lap was 71.5.

With 2 laps left it was Tracy, Salerno, Grunewald, and Alexa Efraimson, who had moved steadily up the field. At the bell (3:12) Grunewald led from Efraimson, Lauren Johnson, and Sarah Brown. 

Down the home straight Johnson held off Grunewald, 4:13.68 to 4:13.79. Sarah Brown was third in 4:14.52.

This will be an exciting final, to be held on Sunday afternoon. 

Men's 3000m Steeplechase Semifinals

Heat 1

When top ranked mile ace Evan Jager took the lead in the 3rd lap it almost looked like he was bored with the slow early pace. Stanley Kebenei trailed in 2nd, with Travis Mahoney in 3rd

By the 4th lap, Jager had spread the field out over 25 meters, and Matt Cleaver moved up into 4th.  In lap 5, it was an unchallenged Jager from Kebenei, and Craig Forys had moved up into 4th. The field had spread out over 50 meters.

With 2 laps to go Jager had 5 yards on Kebenei, and Forys, with Tabor Stevens in 5th, and Cleaver in 6th place. These six were all spaced 5 meters apart. 

In the final lap Kebenei made a half-hearted attempt to close the gap on Jager, closing to within 2 meters. However, Jager always looked like he had plenty in reserve and crossed the line first in 8:40.13. He appeared to be using this semi as a ¾ effort training run--looking comfortable all the way.

Kebenei cruised along the home straight into second place, happy to qualify for Sunday's final, followed by Cleaver in third (8:42.12) and Forys in 4th (8:42.13). 

A modest Jager said of his competition, "You can't count a guy like Don (Cabral) out. I don't think it's a lock by any stretch of the imagination. I feel like I should win, but you never know what's going to happen". 

Heat 2

Journeymen Don Cabral and Dan Huling did the pacemaking in the first half, with Cory Leslie putting in a cameo appearance. With four laps to go, the field was spread over 15 meters, with Cabral, Huling Donnie Cowart, and Leslie in the running.

With three laps left, things heated up when Huling took the lead and decisively picked up pace from Cabral, Leslie, Andrew Bayer, and Darren Fahey, who had worked his way through. 

With 500m to go, coming out of the waterjump, a group of five was spread over 10 meters: Huling, Cabral, Bayer, Leslie, and Fahey. 

Cabral prevailed in 8:36.80 with Huling second in 8:38.39, Bayer 3rd in 8:38.68, and Fahey 4th in 8:39.04. Said Cabral afterwards, "It was comfortable--everything I wanted. I got to win my heat and get some confidence. I got a little bit of faster practice over the hurdles."

The final will be interesting. Cabral and Huling have to take the sting out of Jager's legs, but he's also the fastest miler in the field, which leaves them in a real quandary. 

Womens 100m Dash Final

What a field of fast ladies! They were practically all lined up across the track at the 50-meter mark, with less than a meter from first to last. Tori Bowie changed gears and surged ahead over the last 30 meters to win in a legal 10.81 from 2014 University of Oregon graduate English Gardner (10.86), and Jasmine Todd 3rd (10.92). 

Oregon NCAA 2015 star Jenna Prandini finished a creditable 6th in 10.96, ahead of one Carmelita Jeter. 

"I still feel like I'm dreaming. I worked hard to be where I'm at today and I came here today and trusted my abilities and it worked out pretty well", said Tori Bowie. 

Men's 100m Dash Final

It took the male sprinters 40 meters to sort themselves out. Tyson Gay pulled out all the stops to soundly defeat Trayvon Bromell, 9.87 to 9.96. Bromell, second at the NCAAs two weeks ago has well and truly announced his arrival with two silver medals.

Commenting about his warm Hayward Field welcome, Gay said, "It was great. I'm human and I make mistakes. It's about getting the opportunity again and be able to come around and do this. It means the world to me, and may family and my fans". 

Men's 800m Semi-finals

Imagine running a 1:45.76 in a semi final and running the sixth fastest of the day, but still not making the final? 

That's what happened to Jesse Jorgensen in the first heat of the men's 800m semi-final. The first four in each semi would advance to the final. Although Jorgensen's time was the 6th fastest of the day, he was shut out by slower times from Clayton Murphy (1:45.78), Nick Symmonds (1:45.95) and Ryan Martin (1:46.19). They finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the second, and slowest semi.  

Our predictions for Solomon, Symmonds, and Sowinski (who finished second in the first heat in 1:45.30) still hold. Solomon is talking openly about a world record attempt in the final. "I'm going to go out in under 50 (for the first 400) and be on world record pace for the first 600. If they let me get to 700 meters by myself, they're not catching me". 

Symmonds' reply; "If he wants to do the work, I'll come find him in the final 100 meters". Great stuff!

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