The first day was good for the USA at Yokohama. Here’s what USATF comm had to say. Like the 2x2x400m, it is tough. And the shuttle hurdles? Totally cool.
YOKOHAMA, Japan — Team USATF had a dominant opening day at the 2019 IAAF World Relays, bringing home two gold medals and advancing to the finals of every event contested.
In a most intriguing inaugural 2x2x400 meter race, Ce’Aira Brown(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was out quickly on the first 400m leg, covering the lap in 56.3 to hand off in third as the first female finisher. Donavan Brazier (Portland, Oregon) paced himself on the second circuit, exhibiting the quality that saw him set a world indoor best in the 600m at the Toyota USATF Indoor Championships three months ago. After his 50.8, Brown maintained her composure to clock 61.0 and give Brazier the baton 7.8 seconds behind Kenya. Brazier looked like a world-beater as he came off the final turn with a lead that he would not relinquish on the way to a 48.9 to seal the first gold of the World Relays in 3:36.92.
After a false start by Australia reduced the shuttle hurdle relay field to two teams, Christina Clemons (Montgomery, Alabama) was out quickly and running well before hitting a hurdle midway through. Clemons maintained her poise and at the exchange Freddie Crittenden (Phoenix, Arizona) sped away to keep Team USATF ahead. Toyota USATF Indoor 60mH champion Sharika Nelvis (Georgetown, Texas) overcame a slight stumble from her quickly-set blocks and powered away to make Devon Allen‘s task easy. Allen (Eugene, Oregon) ran conservatively and brough the gold home in 54.96.
Earlier in the heats, Nelvis and Crittenden established a comfortable lead for Team USATF over the first two legs in heat two, and only a clattering of hurdle one by Ryan Fontenot (Houston, Texas) on the anchor kept the U.S. from a perfect run. Queen Harrison (Quinton, Virginia) ran almost solo on the third leg, with Fontenot closing out in 55.09, the fastest time overall.
In the women’s 4×400, Jaide Stepter (Redondo Beach, California) ran a strong and steady leadoff to hand off just behind the Italian team, splitting 51.6. Jordan Lavender (Nashville, Tennessee) stayed in contention with a 52.5 before Joanna Atkins (Clermont, Florida) ran a stellar first 200 and took the lead on final turn on the third leg to clock 51.4, giving Courtney Okolo (Austin, Texas) the baton with a 10 meter lead. Okolo broke out and extended the lead to 30 meters going into the final turn for home crossing in a world-leading 3:25.07 with an easy 51.3 split.
World Indoor Tour 400m winner Nathan Strother (Knoxville, Tennessee) put Team USATF out front immediately with a rapid 44.8 leadoff carry in the men’s 4×400. Josephus Lyles (Clermont, Florida) was passed by Jamaica’s Akeem Bloomfield, but kept contact to hand off to Paul Dedewo(Phoenix, Arizona) in second place with a 46.4. Dedewo flipped the script on the Jamaicans and reestablished a lead with his 45.1 split before Je’Von Hutchison (Boynton Beach, Florida) held off Jamaica’s Nathan Allen with a 45.8 effort to win in 3:02.06, the fastest time of all three heats.
The only squad to lead off with a female runner in the mixed 4×400, Team USATF saw Brionna Thomas (West Lafayette, Indiana) hold her own against five men with a 52.3. My’Lik Kerley (College Station, Texas) made up a lot of ground, running 45.5 on second leg to move to second then handed off to Olivia Baker (South Orange, New Jersey). Baker, an 800m specialist, ran a steady third leg of 52.7 and passed to Indoor 300m champion Dontavius Wright (Grayson, Georgia), who closed well in 45.6 to erase a huge Italian lead and took the second spot at the line to advance to tomorrow’s final in 3:16.01.
Safe passes and superior speed propelled Team USATF to a world-leading 42.51 in the first heat. Mikiah Brisco (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) handed off with a slight lead to Ashley Henderson (San Diego, California), who edged even further ahead down the backstretch. A dominant third leg by Dezerea Bryant (Clermont, Florida) meant that reigning USATF 100m champion Aleia Hobbs (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) had a clear run to the line.
Two-time World Relays gold medalists Michael Rodgers (Round Rock, Texas) and Justin Gatlin (Clermont, Florida) set Team USATF up with a steady first exchange, and Gatlin passed to Isiah Young (Clermont, Florida) in qualifying position. Young’s final exchange with anchor Cameron Burrell(Houston, Texas) was squeezed, but Burrell overtook China and stormed down the straightaway to win in 38.34.
2x2x400: Ce’Aira Brown, Donavan Brazier
Shuttle Hurdle Relay: Christina Clemons, Freddie Crittenden, Sharika Nelvis, Devon Allen