USATF Champs, Day Three Recap, June 27, by Roy Stevenson

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Just in case you forgot, here is the recap of the 2015 USATF Outdoor Champs, Day three, as done by our resident Kiwi, Roy Stevenson.

Roy Stevenson braved those stands each day to provide you the day to day updates on this fine competition! 

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Matthew Centrowitz wins the 1,500 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net


USATF Champs Day Three

Hot & Dry--97 degrees.

Attendance: 10,000


The US Champs heated up literally and figuratively, with 97 degree heat and ten men and women's track & field finals.

Here are the highlights of the day's finals.


Men's 400m Hurdles

By the third hurdle, Johnny Dutch had the lead, a pace ahead of Michael Stigler, who was making an early challenge. Stigler faded over the final 150 meters (eventually finishing 4th) as Bershawn Jackson powered through into the lead over the last 20 meters, to win in 48.29. Dutch couldn't hold off Jackson's surge, finishing second in 48.43. Kerron Clement earned the bronze and a place in the US team in a well timed race, in 48.44. 


Bershawn Jackson's fifth USATF Outdoors title equals the most wins ever in the 400H. Arky Erwin and Edwin Moses are the other 2 with 5 wins.

Said Jackson, "Last year I couldn't stay healthy and I couldn't finish my races like I wanted to. But this season I've had no major setbacks. It's been a blessing."


Men's 1500m Final

This was a seriously stacked field--possibly the best ever to line up at a US championship final. Exactly half of the field consisted of Oregon alumni and current team members (Matt Centrowitz, Andrew Wheating, Daniel Winn, Colby Alexander, Jordan McNamara, Will Geogheghan). There was also World Championship medalists & finalists (Centrowitz, Manzano), NCAA Champions (Wheating, Centrowitz), and US Champions (Centrowitz, Manzano). Their PB times ranged upwards from 3:30.90. 


And, as it turned out, this race was every bit as exciting as it promised. 


Big bearded Ben Blankenship led the first lap in 60.69, with Manzano, Pat Casey, Centrowitz, Winn, and Will Geogheghan in attendance. The second lap pace slowed, with 800m reached in 2:03.82. Then, suddenly with 600m to go Centrowitz burst out of pack, putting in a 56.68 second lap that opened the field up. 


The sprint was on. Places changed repeatedly down the back straight on the last lap, but Centrowitz unleashed his formidable kick from the 200 meter mark and simply flew away from Robby Andrews, who would finish second in 3:38.75, with a hard-kicking Manzano third in 3:38.76. Centrowitz's last lap was 52.03, and his last 800m was 1:48.71!


Blankenship took 4th in 3:38.78 and Wheating's kick for 5th in 3:39.74 almost looked like a return to his old form. Here's hoping Wheating gets his mojo back and starts cranking those 3:50 miles again. 

 

Said Centrowitz, "This is my third one and it only gets better, I wanted to win this one the most. With everything going on, I wanted to win this one for our team, Oregon Project, myself, and my family. I wanted it bad."

 

"I didn't think there would be a fast pace early on. Coming into this race, I knew I was strongest and also the fastest. That being said, if you let anything wait till the last 100, you're just giving more people a chance."


Women's 400m final

Another thrilling race that came down to last few paces! First place looked like a dead cert between Natasha Hastings and Francena McCorory as they came off the final curve well in the lead. 


Then the lactic acid kicked in and things switched to slow motion, while Allyson Felix picked up her final sprint with 80 meters left and absolutely blitzed through the last 30 meters to nail down a handy win in 50.19 over Hastings' 50.25.


Phyllis Francis came through nicely to nab the bronze in 50.67, while McCorory ended up 4th in 50.88


Said Felix, ""I didn't know I had it until after I crossed the line. Coming off the curve, I just buckled down and went for it."


Men's 400m Final

La Shawn Merritt looked strong early in this race, but faded down the home straight as David Verburg strode through down the home straight to narrowly take first place in 44.63 to Merritt's second place time of 44.66. 


A thrilled Verburg said, "It's a great feeling to beat LaShawn Merritt. I wasn't expecting it, but it feels great."

 

Merritt, who as defending world champion has an automatic place in the US team, had apparently trained through this event, "I wasn't even going to do this meet, but I decided I needed to get a feel for running rounds again. The plan was to train through this meet and try to peak in Beijing."


The women's 3,000m Steeplechase went to Emma Coburn, as your RunBlogRun experts predicted. We also predicted Garcia for 2nd, Quigley 3rd, and Higginson 4th.


Well, we got our first three right, and Higginson one below par in 5th place. Remember, we at RunBlogRun stand by our predictions when we get them right. 

 

Emma Coburn showed she is currently a whole level above the other steeplechasers in the country with an undisputed display of aggressive front running over the last three laps. To win by 8 seconds from a talented field, as she did, shows that she's going to have a great run in the world champs final. We're picking her for a medal!

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