Here is the review of the performances of athletes related to the Golden State of California, by Mark Winitz. This is Mark’s article on Day 8.
Californians Advance in Rounds on
Day 8 of U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials
By Mark Winitz
Occasional rain showers punctuated the eighth day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on Friday, July 8 at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field as Californians advanced to finals and semifinals. One notable exception to the advancers was Dawn Harper-Nelson (Marina Del Rey, Calif./Nike), the gold medalist in the women’s 100 meter hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and silver medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Harper-Nelson turned in the ninth fastest time in the women’s semifinals in 13.01, missing a chance to advance to the finals by just one place and 1/100th of a second in back of the next fastest qualifier. Later in the day, Brianna Rollins (Miami, Fla./Nike) won the the 100m hurdles final in 12.34 seconds.
“I’ve been blessed with a very consistent career,” a distraught Harper Nelson said after her semi-finals race. “I’ve seen this happen to others. But, point-oh-one? (of a second – Editor) Really? A dagger in the heart. I was the among the best in the world and I’m supposed to step up and execute my race. Right now, I’m just in shock. I’m going through anger, disbelief, frustration, and confusion.
“During the warmup I jammed my hip,” Harper-Nelson continued. “I didn’t think it would affect me in the race. I’ve never been in a position where someone was pulling away and I wasn’t able to react. I was saying, what, you can’t go? I don’t believe it. Of course, I’ll be crying and my coach (Bobby Kersee) will console me. I don’t know. I just want to see these girls run well. Just go out and represent us. I can’t believe I’m saying this. Someone else to represent us!”
Allyson Felix (Los Angeles, Calif./Nike) advanced in the first round of the women’s 200-meter dash by winning the second heat in 22.93. The 2012 Olympic 200m gold medalist is competing with an injured ankle which she is rehabbing. Former Oregon Duck and Clovis High School star Jenna Prandini (Clovis, Calif./Puma) also advanced by winning the second heat in 22.72, the fastest time of the day as 22 women advanced to Saturday’s semi-finals.
Brenda Martinez (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./New Balance) bounced back from a disappointing women’s 800 final by winning the second heat of the women’s 1,500m semi-finals in 4:11.05, the second fastest time of the day in the two semis behind 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson who won the first heat in 4:10.09. Martinez ran much of her race towards the back of the pack on the outside and took the lead on the backstretch of the final lap, comfortably crossing the finish line.
“I was aware of what was going on in the front but I wasn’t going to do any of the work. I just wanted to feel good on the last lap. And I didn’t want to run over distance by running outside beyond lane three,” Martinez said
She added: “I didn’t want to get too close to the other athletes, especially going that pace. Lluckily, no one fell.”
On Monday Martinez was knocked out of contention in the women’s 800m final by an accidental tripping incident with less than 200m to go and finished seventh.
In the women’s pole vault prelim, Kristen Brown (San Diego, Calif./Nike) was the final qualifier for Sunday’s final with a best vault of 4.35m/14-03,25. Jenn Suhr (Adidas), the current Olympic and World Champion, had the best vault of the day with a 14-09/4.50m.
Three Californians advanced to Sunday’s finals in the women’s 400m hurdles. Former USC Trojan Dalilah Muhammad (Glendale, Calif./Nike) scored the fastest time of the day by winning the second semifinal heat in 54.14
“I felt good. I just wanted to get out and execute,” said Muhammad, who was the 2013 U.S. champion in the 400m hurdles. “My coach (Lawrence Johnson) told me not to hold back. In the final I’ll run the same pattern and, hopefully, run a little faster.”
Kori Carter (Hawthorne, Calif./Brand Jordan) placed third in the first semifinal heat with a 55.86.
“I was sort of running scared so my step pattern was all over the place,” said Carter who was running in lane 8, her least favorite lane. “But I felt strong, so if I can just get my race pattern together I know the finals will go really well.”
Jaide Stepter (Santa Ana, Calif.), a standout at the University of Southern California who is currently in her senior year, placed fourth in the first 400m semi in 55.95, qualifying for the finals.
“My race was completely off pattern, but I just wanted to make the final, so I did what I had to do to get it done,” Stepter said.
Mark Winitz has written about running and track and field, organized programs for runners, and served as a consultant and publicist for road races for almost 40 years. He is a longtime activist within USA Track & Field and is a certified USATF Master Level Official/Referee. He also assists road racing events through his company, Win It!z Sports Public Relations and Promotions in Los Altos, CA.