2019 Des Moines Diary, Day 3: Athletes soar to new heights as American records fall in women's hammer throw and men's pole vault, by USATF Communications


Kerley_FredFH1a-USAout19.JPgFred Kerley upets Mike Norman in a big 400m! photo by PhotoRun.net

This is the fine review of Day 3 as we catch up from our trip to Des Moines and several days of track coverage! Thanks to Josh Gurnick.

Athletes soar to new heights as American records fall in women's hammer throw and men's pole vault

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Team USATF athletes displayed world-leading and record-breaking performances Saturday at Drake Stadium, on Day 3 of the 2019 Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships.

Fans can watch on demand coverage on NBC Sports Gold, and find full results here.

Reigning men's pole vault world champion Sam Kendricks elicited a roar from the crowd when on his second attempt, he sneaked over 6.06m/19-10.5 to set an American record. It was the highest jump in the world outdoors since 1994 and made him the second-highest outdoor vaulter in world history. Kendricks had a clean slate through the first eight bars, and was almost over on his first try at the AR height before the crossbar toppled off.

After his record jump, his fellow vaulters dashed to the pit to dogpile the popular Kendricks, who added a centimeter to the previous AR. Cole Walsh took the second spot on the podium with a clearance at 5.76/18-10.75, a height matched by Baylor freshman KC Lightfoot in third. Kansas freshman Zach Bradford also qualified for Doha in fourth place on the basis of Kendricks' bye as world champion.

Much like the men's event on Friday, the women's hammer produced a plethora of strong marks, but none was stronger than DeAnna Price's American record 78.24/256-8 on her final throw. Price, who set the previous AR at last year's Championships here, hit 77.51/254-3 in round two, which at the time was the fourth-farthest throw ever by an American. She added three more tosses beyond 75 meters before her record effort. With four women throwing beyond 75 meters, the competition was one of the deepest in world history, surpassed only by the 2012 Olympic final.

In the women's high jump, Vashti Cunningham leapt through the air with ease enroute to winning her third consecutive high jump title. Cunningham entered the competition at 1.83m/6-0 and did not miss until she was the last woman standing. She defeated Innika McPherson with a clearance of 1.96m/6-5 before an unsuccessful attempt at what would have been new personal best 2.01m/6-7. McPhearson cleared a season best 1.94m/6-4.50 and Ty Butts placed third with a personal best at 1.92m/6-3.50.

In the Nike Women's 1500m, Lauren Johnson went out early and held the lead through three laps, seeking the world championships qualifier but faded in the last lap. At the bell, the pack moved past Johnson. Defending champion Shelby Houlihan moved ahead and sustained her lead through the final lap, crossing in 4:03.18. Jennie Simpson finished second in 4:03.21, and Nikki Hiltz closed fast in the last 25 meters to claim third in 4:03.55.

A Toyota Men's 400 meters matchup between world leader Michael Norman and 2017 USATF Outdoors champion Fred Kerley promised a quick time. Kerley, who in 2017 at Sacramento was the last man to beat Norman over one lap, never saw anyone from his lane seven spot after he made up the stagger on the runner to his outside on the backstretch and came away as the seventh-fastest man in world history with a stunning 43.64. Norman, who clocked 43.45 earlier this year, wasn't far behind in 43.79, and this year's IAAF World Indoor Tour winner Nathan Strother claimed the bronze in 44.29. Vernon Norwoodlowered his PR to 44.40 in fourth.

With a World Championships bye in her pocket, Brittney Reese only needed to take one attempt in the women's long jump, but the 2012 Olympic champion and seven-time World Indoor and Outdoor gold medalist threw caution to the wind in round two and came down at 7.00m/22-11.75, the best by an American this year and second on the world list. Reese won her eighth U.S. outdoor title, but her first since 2016. The next three women finished within one centimeter of each other, led by Jasmine Todd's 6.79m/22-3.5 for silver. Sha'Keela Saunders and Tori Bowie both had a best of 6.78m/22-3, but Saunders got the bronze based on a better second mark.

Hilary Bor led in the opening lap of the Michelob Ultra Men's 3,000m Steeplechase and swapped the lead with Stanley Kebenei and Andy Bayer. Bor led the trio into the bell lap, and then took off with 300 meters to go. Bor and Kebeni were neck-and-neck and the footrace was on after the last barrier. Bor held off his competitors, finishing in 8:18.05, with Kebeni second in 8:19.12 and Bayer, 8:23.23.

In the men's Javelin, Michael Shuey took an early lead with a second-round 77.32m/253-8, but after that the competition heated up and he had to stave off challenges from Riley Dolezal and Tim Glover. Dolezal launched an 82.84m/271-9 on his final throw to briefly take the lead, but on the Shuey's ultimate effort he surpassed that by the slimmest of margins to win with a lifetime-best 82.85/271-10, the farthest throw by an American since 2017. Glover ended up third at 77.47m/254-2, his best mark in three years.

World record-holder Keni Harrison was never heeded on the way to her third straight U.S. gold in the 100m hurdles, zipping to a 12.44 into a 1.0 meter per second wind to win by .11 over Nia Ali. Reigning Olympic champ Brianna McNeal was third in 12.61. Proving the American squad is the hardest team to make in world track and field, Sharika Nelvis (12.66) and Queen Claye (12.68) dipped under 12.70 and narrowly missed out on spots.

Speeding to the lead through the first half of the Xfinity women's 400m, Shakima Wimbley came away with gold in 50.21, just .01 off the nation's-leading time she set in Friday's semifinals. Kendall Ellis, the 2018 NCAA indoor champion for USC, took silver in a season-best 50.38, while South Carolina's NCAA champion Wadeline Jonathas was the bronze medalist in a PR 50.44. Allyson Felix, running only her third race since giving birth last November, finished sixth in 51.94.

Chasing Khallifah Rosser down the backstretch, Rai Benjamin made a strong move on the final curve to take the lead in the Chocolate Milk men's 400m hurdles and raced on to win in 47.23, the 11th-fastest time ever by an American. TJ Holmes closed strongly to place second in a season-best 48.58, with Houston's Amere Lattin setting a lifetime best of 48.66 in third. Texas Tech's Norman Grimes also notched a PR 48.68 in fourth as five men clocked sub-49-second times.

Featuring the past two national champions, the women's heptathlon went according to form on day one with last year's winner Erica Bougard having one of her best first day's ever to score 3,937 points and lead Kendell Williams, the '17 gold medalist, by three points after four events. Bougard ripped a PR 12.78 to win the 100m hurdles, .06 ahead of Williams, who tied her lifetime best. Clearing 1.88/6-2 to win the high jump, Bougard increased her lead to 48 over Williams, who matched her PR with a 1.85/6-0.75. It was Williams' turn in the shot put, where she produced a lifetime-best 13.41/44-0, almost three feet ahead of Bougard, to take over the top spot by eight points. Closing out the day with a 23.80 in the 200, Bougard regained the lead as Williams clocked 23.91.

Five of the world's top performers made sure the women's 400m hurdles semifinals were intriguing. Defending champion Shamier Little threw down the gauntlet in the first section, winning by almost a second in 54.49, and 2016 Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad met that challenge to win the second heat in 54.22, .02 ahead of '16 Rio teammate and this year's world leader Sydney McLaughlin. 2015 World Championships bronze medalist Cassandra Tate and '16 Olympic bronze medalist Ashley Spencer went 2-3 behind Little to also gain berths in the final.

Running into steady winds in the men's and women's 200 heats, Brittany Brown and Keitavous Walter came away with the fastest times of the day. Brown, who ran collegiately at Iowa, romped to a 22.63 in the first heat, easily the best women's performance out of four heats, while Walter's 20.59 in the first men's heat was tops. The world's fastest man in 2019, Noah Lyles, easily moved into the semi-final with a 20.65 to win the fifth heat, and 100m champ Christian Coleman cruised to a 20.70 for the second auto qualifying spot in heat four. NCAA champion Angie Annelus (22.97 in heat three) and Dezerea Bryant (22.94 in heat four) were the only other women to crack 23 seconds.

It took six tries for the first heat of the men's 100m hurdles to get under way, and when it did, 2018 World Indoor 60m hurdles silver medalist Jarret Eatonedged Rio fifth-placer Devon Allen 13.51-13.52. NCAA champion Grant Holloway, the world's fastest man in 2019 with a 12.98 best, won the second heat in 13.56, and Kentucky's Daniel Roberts, runner-up to Holloway at the NCAA meet, was heat three's winner in 13.40, the fastest time overall.

The final day of competition begins Sunday at 7:00 a.m. CT with the Men's 10K racewalk.

Media and fans are encouraged to join the conversation using #ToyotaUSATFOutdoors on Twitter,Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

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