Two weeks ago after the Oslo Diamond League I asked the question, what’s easier… to make the US women’s hurdles team or to fly to the moon?
Now here in Eugene we will get some sort of the answer, as the US trials come to Hayward Field for the first time since 2012.
This year the main goal for all of the 19 sub-13 second hurdlers in the field will be to make the national team for the world championships in Beijing. A competition where they would join reigning champion Brianna Rollins and could easily become part of a historic US 1-4.
With that in mind both the pressure and the excitement have been cranked up a notch higher for the event.
Two years ago we saw three new faces make their first world championship team in the event (Queen Harrison ran at Daegu 2011 in the 400m) and once again this seems like a real possibility.
Although I’m sure a number of the old guard will have something to say about that.
Jasmin Stowers Nike SB:12.35
Few will feel as much pressure as Stowers this weekend, but then again neither will they have as much reason to be confident. Having smashed her way through to 7th on the all-time lists with that amazing 12.35 in Doha last month, the 23 year-old is definitely the favourite for the win, especially having recovered from the mishaps of Birmingham and Rome to win again in Oslo.
The only thing going against her is that she’s never been in this position before.
Although I think she will qualify for Beijing, the nerves may be enough to stop her from winning the race.
Kendra Harrison Kentucky SB: 12.50
We’ve seen it so many times before, the unheralded college athlete comes into her first professional competition runs fearlessly and shocks the established athletes to gain their breakthrough, Ã la Brianna Rollins in 2013.
While Harrison’s college form hasn’t been quite on the same level as the world champions’ was, she is still the world number two and a bug contender here in Eugene.
Having already won her targeted NCAA gold, she can relax and hope for the best. Which in turn could be great.
Sharika Nelvis adidas SB:12.52
In the shadows of Stowers is another first year pro making big strides on the Diamond League tour.
Since smashing her personal best by finishing 2nd in that awesome race in Doha, Nelvis has continued to improve. Bettering her lifetime best once more as she took her first Diamond League victory in Rome.
With another DL win in New York, the 2014 NCAA champion, is arguably the most in-form athlete in the field and definitely strong contender to make the top three.
Dawn Harper Nike SB:12.58
Harper is in a league of her own when it comes to experience and medals as US athlete. Particularly within this field. Not only does she hold Olympic and world medals, but she is a top class racer who knows when to peak.
On so many occasions she has come up trumps when the media has focused their attention somewhere else.
In 2014 with Queen Harrison bang in form she clawed both the US title and the Diamond League trophy away from her rival, can she do the same to Stowers and Nelvis?
You bet she can.
Brianna Rollins Nike SB:12.63
The world champion will be the coolest athlete in the house when the action gets underway on Friday. While everyone else has had to peak for this weekend’s competition she has been able to keep her focus on defending her title at Beijing 2015.
That being said, after a disappointing 2014 where she finished only 5th at the US champs, Rollins she will surely be hoping to do well this weekend in order to gain back some of the confidence she showed in 2013.
Queen Harrison ASICS SB:12.71
Last year was a big year for Harrison; after finishing 6th at the worlds in 2013, her performances seemed to take a huge stride forward as did her consistency.
Three big wins in the Diamond League and second successive runner-up spot at the US champs, showed how much confidence she had gained from becoming a regular in the big European races.
Things haven’t been quite as smooth in 2015, but she’s still shown signs that on her day she can mix it with the best and for that reason you definitely shouldn’t count her out.
Lolo Jones ASICS SB:12.93
Based on her season’s best, Jones shouldn’t even be considered as a contender to make the final this weekend, let alone the podium, but as she’s shown before, times mean very little when it comes to the real thing.
In a recent interview she listed the example of London 2012, where she came from nowhere to grab the third Olympic spot as her inspiration for succeeding in 2015.
Despite having only been out of a wheelchair for a month and a half, Jones has raced four times in recent weeks, finishing in the top four each time.
Although her times haven’t been quick, she is at least getting back to some level of sharpness. So with two more rounds of competition in her legs by Saturday’s final, anything could feasibly happen.
Nevertheless, it’ll take a lot for the face of American track and field to compete at her first world championships in eight years.