Kylee O’Connor was the lucky journalist to cover the highlights of day four. A day with many fine events, with ecstacy, and much agony, centered around the women’s 800 meters. It is part of the story with the U.S. Olympic Trials, where athletes begin their careers, end their careers and question why that they have careers.
Wrap-up Day 4
By Kylee O’Connor
EUGENE, Oregon — The fear that every track and field runner has became a reality for 800-meter favorites Brenda Martinez and Alysia Montano on Day Four of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. With 120 meters to go in the women’s 800-meter final, a trip-up caused Montano to go down and for Martinez to lose all her momentum.
On the bright side, three meet records were broken in two events, and 12 athletes’ dreams became a reality as they qualified for Rio.
Trip-up leads to upsets in the women’s 800:
Kate Grace, the women’s 800-meter winner, came across the finish line with a stoic expression on her face. The last 150 meters explained why she wasn’t more excited. When Martinez and Montano got tangled up with 120 to go, everything changed. Grace and second-place finisher Ajee Wilson were in prime position to place. Grace finished in a personal-best time of 1 minute, 59.10, and Wilson ran a 1:59.5. Chrishuna Williams came from behind to snag the third and final spot, running a 1:59.59.
“It happened so quick,” Martinez said. “I kind of just shut my eyes like this is not happening, and it was.”
When Grace was asked about her reaction at the finish line, she said that it wasn’t what she expected. She had thought if it happened, she would start crying immediately. “And I didn’t at all. I don’t know, I think at the moment–that was my response to the reality of the situation, that like this was actually real, I was almost in shock.”
Murphy runs PR to upset Berian in men’s 800:
Although Boris Berian has been in the headlines a lot lately, it was Clayton Murphy who stole the spotlight in the men’s 800 meters. Murphy won in 1:44.76, a personal record by nearly a second. Berian was running closely behind, finishing in 1:44.92, followed by Charles Jock in 1:45.48.
After witnessing the women’s 800 fiasco minutes before their race, Berian and Jock reflected on how it affected their mindsets seeing their close friends go down.
“I’ve known Alysia for a few years now, and she’s always been kind of a big sister for me, somebody you could talk to,” Jock said. “So I felt really, really bad for her when I saw her fall and just the emotion that went through that last hundred meters. … It really lit a fire for me.”
“Seeing [Brenda] get caught up in all that, it put me down a little bit,” Berian said. “But [I had to] just focus on the race, do my thing, and then finish it up. But yeah, it was definitely sucked seeing my teammate fall like that.”
Sam Kendricks win pole vault, as expected:
The rest of the field was already out, and Kendricks hadn’t even missed a bar. He won the pole vault with a top mark of 19 feet, 4 3/4 inches and was the only pole-vaulter to clear six straight heights on the first attempt. He came close to clearing 19-8 1/4 (6.00 meters) on his first attempt, and credits that to being his best of five attempts at the coveted 6-meter mark. He attempted that height three times today and two times at the world championships last year in Beijing.
Steeple favorites easily pass through qualifying rounds:
American record holders Emma Coburn and Evan Jager made easy work of the steeplechase qualifying round. Coburn ran the fastest qualifying time of 9 minutes, 35.28 seconds, while Jager ran an easy 8:33.73 to place first in his heat and sixth overall.
Sean Fury places 11th in javelin, but will go to Rio:
Although Curtis Thompson, who set the meet record in the javelin at one point in the meet, placed second, and Riley Dolezal placed third, neither one of them had the Olympic standard. So, Sam Crouser (fourth place) and Sean Furey (11th place) get to make the trip to Rio. Cyrus Hostetler, who also had the Olympic standard, placed first with throw of 273 feet, 1 inch. That throw was a meet record, passing Thompson’s previously set meet record of 271-11. Thompson’s mark was only five inches off of the qualifying standard.
Keturah Orji leads the pack in triple jump qualifier:
Keturah Orji’s first and only jump of the day was good enough to give her the top mark going into finals. She jumped 46-6. As the current American leader in the event, she will be the favorite to win Thursday.
Lagat wins qualifying heat of 5,000 meters:
After dropping out from the 10,000-meter final on Friday, some questioned whether the 41-year-old was nearing the end of his illustrious career. In the 5,000 meters, however, Lagat came back to win his heat in a time of 13:48.36, the fifth fastest time overall. Lagat will compete in the 5,000 final on Saturday.
“What happened in the 10k was something–you know, it’s a new event for me–it was my second take, and the heat, and the pace,” Lagat said. “I thought I was ready to come back in the 5K, because I’ve been resting in the hotel and I think doing nothing–really just jogging–and I felt like I was ready coming into the stadium today.”