Statement field performances highlight Day 2 of Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships
DES MOINES, IOWA — On the second day of the 2019 Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships, six national champions had statement performances emerged as facility records continued to fall at Drake Stadium. The world’s greatest track and field athletes earned coveted positions in upcoming finals on their quest for spots on Team USATF at the IAAF World Championships in Doha.
Fans can watch on demand coverage on NBC Sports Gold, and find full results here. Live coverage of day three begins on NBC Sports Gold at 11:30 a.m. CT and live on NBC from 3:00pm to 5:00pm CT.
One of the deepest men’s hammer competitions in recent USATF Championships history saw Conor McCullough take a lead that he would never relinquish with his first round throw, and on his final attempt, the NYAC athlete became the eighth-best U.S. performer ever with his personal best and facility record 78.14m/256-4. Coming into the event, only two Americans had achieved the Doha qualifying standard of 76.00m, but those two men, Sean Donnellyand Alex Young, finished out of the money as McCullough, Rudy Winkler and NCAA champion Daniel Haugh of Kennesaw State took the top three spots with season bests.
After watching 2015 World Champion Joe Kovacs blast his best throws since 2017 in the first three rounds, culminating with a 22.31m/73-2.5, Olympic champion Ryan Crouser unleashed a facility record 22.62m/74-2.5 in round five for the win, with Kovacs and Darrell Hill claiming the other medals. Hill had a season-best 22.11m/72-6.5 in the third round.
Big breezes early in the event pushed the top men’s triple jumpers out past 58-feet, and Donald Scott II had the biggest boost in round one with a wind-aided 17.74m/58-2.5 that carried him to his fourth national title indoors and out. Yearly world leader Will Claye bounded to a windy 17.70m/58-1 in round three for the silver, setting a facility record in the next stanza with a wind-legal 17.68m/58-0.25. Claye matched that distance in the final round, and Omar Craddocknabbed third with a 17.55m/57-7. Reigning world champion Christian Taylortook one attempt, a foul, to secure his bye to Doha.
Christian Coleman made a sound statement that he’s the leader of the pack in the Nike Men’s 100m final. Bursting from the line and accelerating through the drive phase, Coleman led start to finish and charged through the line in 9.99 into a 1.0 meters per second wind. Veteran Mike Rodgers was second in 10.12 (10.114), six-thousandths of a second in front of bronze medalist Christopher Belcher, who was also given a 10.12.
Showing she is back to the form that took her to the NCAA Indoor 60m title in 2016, Teahna Daniels of Texas was a surprise winner in the Xfinity Women’s 100m. Daniels, the NCAA fourth-placer and NACAC U23 champion, overcame challenges from 2016 Olympic Trials champion English Gardner and former Longhorn Morolake Akinosun to win in 11.20, with Gardner second in 11.25 and Akinosun third in 11.28.
A World Championships competitor in 2017, Devon Williams put together his best decathlon since that season to win with 8,295 points and surpass the Doha standard. Williams, the NCAA indoor heptathlon champ for Georgia in ’17, rode a hefty breeze to a 13.78 in the 110m hurdles to open the day, and then added a pole vault PR of 5.00/16-4.75 and a lifetime best of 60.74/199-3 in the javelin to win his first U.S. title. A timely PR in the 1,500 meters pushed Solomon Simmons past the Doha mark, too, helping him score 8,225 in second, while Stanford’s Harrison Williams notched a PR 8,188 for third.
There were fireworks in the semifinals of the Toyota Men’s and Xfinity Women’s 400m, led by Michael Norman‘s 44.04 to top the men’s finals qualifiers, and a spirited run by Allyson Felix to finish third in her section in 51.45 and advance to the women’s final only eight months after giving birth to her daughter. Norman had to work to win his semi against Fred Kerley, who pushed him all the way to the tape to clock a season-best 44.09. Shakima Wimbley took over the U.S. women’s lead for 2019 with a 50.20 to win the second semi after 2018 NCAA indoor champ Kendall Ellis edged this year’s NCAA outdoor winner, Wadeline Jonathas of South Carolina, to take the first semi with both timed in 50.81.
Rai Benjamin, the fastest American this year and the second-fastest man in the world in ’19, cruised to a 48.30 to win the second semi of the Chocolate Milk 400m hurdles, and NCAA bronze medalist Amere Lattin of Houston topped the first section in 49.12. 2016 Olympic champion Kerron Clement qualified for the final, finishing fourth behind Lattin.
The pre-meet favorites advanced easily in the semis of the Michelob ULTRA Men’s and Toyota Women’s 800m. Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphywon the first men’s heat in 1:45.24, the fastest time of the day, and 2019’s fastest American, Donavan Brazier, won a more tactical second section in 1:47.27. Brazier covered the final lap in 52.11 after a rather pedestrian 55.16 opening circuit to hand Kansas’ Bryce Hoppel his first loss of the year. Ajee’Wilson and Raevyn Rogers were the victors in the two women’s semis, with ’17 Worlds bronze medalist Wilson stopping the clock at 2:01.02 to take the measure of Hannah Green and high school sensation Athing Mu. Rogers easily won section two in 2:00.90.
Always one of the marquee events of the Championships, the women’s 100m hurdles showcased the world record-holder, the reigning Olympic champion and the ’16 silver medalist along with a host of other highly-ranked entrants. Brianna McNeal, who took gold at Rio, recorded the fastest time overall with a 12.75 into the teeth of a 3.5 m/s wind. Last year’s IAAF World Indoors 60m hurdles silver medalist Christina Clemons took heat one in 12.77, and the runner-up from ’16, Nia Ali, won heat two in 12.92. Keni Harrison, who holds the world record at 12.20, captured the final section in 12.91.
Three relatively even races in the Chocolate Milk Men’s 1,500 meters first round had no major casualties. Josh Thomson was the fastest heat winner in section one with a 3:42.12, while Craig Engels (3:43.22) and Ben Blankenship(3:43.07) were tops in the next two heats. Defending Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz safely moved on to the final with his third-place 3:43.46 in the final heat.
American record-holder Courtney Frerichs and reigning World Champion Emma Coburn had no trouble finishing first in their heats of the Nike Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase, as Frerichs won the first section in 9:46.35 ahead of NCAA gold medalist Allie Ostrander. Coburn won section two in 9:51.43, two seconds up on ’16 Rio eighth-placer Colleen Quigley.
Day three of the competition begins at 11:30 p.m. CT with the Women’s Heptathlon 100m hurdles. Watch live on NBC Sports Gold.