Trials / Day Three: Astonishing Performances In A Circus-Like Environment!

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Day 3 was exciting and had so many things going on. Thanks to David Hunter, we have an enthusiastic reminder of what we saw and what we missed!

Remember, David Hunter will cover Day 4, and then, a two-day break! Thanks, David for your daily columns!

Hayes_Quanera-1-OlyTrials21w.jpgQuanera Hayes surprises some with her 400m win! photo by Kevmofoto

Trials / Day Three: Astonishing Performances In A Circus-Like Environment!


June 20, 2021 / Father's Day

There may have been a Day Three spectator or two who might claim they saw every exciting moment on the track and in the field. But that is rather unlikely. Your head would have had to be on a swivel. At one point in this jam-packed session the three Tokyo-bound men in the javelin were taking their victory lap; the women were competing in the high jump and the triple jump, the decathletes were heaving the javelin, and the women steeplechasers were toeing the line on the backstretch. What a glorious day!

Here are the highlights of the three-ring circus that was Day Three:

mHT: Competing outside of Hayward Field in the new, reimagined hammer field, a stirring competition took place. Former Cornell athlete Rudy Winkler dominated the final. Every one of his six throws would have been an event winner. The crowd exploded on his 2nd attempt when the Ivy Leaguer got the ball and chain out 271'4"/82.71m to at last set a new American and Trials record, bettering the 1996 mark of his hero and Olympic champion Lance Deal and also setting a new Trials record. 6th round best marks by Daniel Haugh [2nd / PR 260'5"/79.39m] and Alex Young [3rd / PR 256'11"/78.32] earned them Olympic berths. This trio all PR'd, has the standard and will represent the USA in Tokyo.

wHJ: 2016 world indoor champion and multiple-time national champion Vashti Cunningham [6'5"/1.96m] turned in a focused and workman-like performance in winning the high jump. "This meet has meant a lot to me," said Cunnigham on winning the only national title she had never before won. 2nd place Inika McPherson and 3rd place Nicole Green [both clearing 6'4/1.93m] made the podium but lack the Olympic standard. 4th place finisher Rachel McCoy [also 6'4"/1.93m] has the standard and will be given Olympic Games consideration.

wTJ: Front and center at the west pit, a tooth and nail battle in the women's triple jump took place. Olympian and American record holder Keturah Orji was the victor with a best hop, skip, and jump: a 6th round effort of 47'73⁄4"/14.52m. Tori Franklin - sporting flowing, ribboned hair - battled Orji all the way, finishing 2nd with a 6th round mark of 47'11⁄2"/14.36m. Georgia's Jasmine Moore grabbed 3rd [46'51⁄4"/14.15]. This threesome is Tokyo-bound.

w3000mSC: In the preliminary rounds of the steeple, American record holder [9:00.85} and '17 world championship silver medalist Courtney Frerichs controlled Heat One from the front and crossed 1st in a workmanlike 9:27.75. In Heat Two, '17 world championship gold medalist and multiple-time national championship Emma Coburn also adopted a front-runner strategy winning Heat Two without challenge in the day's fastest time of 9:21.32. "This race we have three full rest days so I was fine going a little harder and treating it more like a workout," noted Coburn. 6 additional athletes posted preliminary round times under the Olympic standard of 9:30 to set up what should be a competitive final on Thursday.

w400m: This championship race will long be remembered, especially by those fortunate enough to have been in attendance to view this stirring final. Nike's Quanera Hayes had kept a low profile coming into these Trials. But she performed to perfection, running a strong race throughout, and was never really threatened on the home stretch as she raced on for the win in 49.78. But all eyes were on track & field legend Allyson Felix and her quest to make yet another Olympic team. Coming into the homestretch, Felix was in trouble and had much work to do. Could she even finish with a chance to be named to the relay squad? Showing uncharacteristic strain over the final 80 meters, Allyson Felix dug down deep and rallied to finish 2d in 50.02. After the race, Allyson shared her thoughts on the race. "I told myself before the race that when it comes down to it, I have to fight. That's been a theme of mine for the past couple of years. I was just gonna give my all and leave it all on the track," she explained. Adidas athlete and world championship finalist Wadeline Jonathas finished in 50.03 with Kendall Ellis snagging a relay spot by finishing 4th in 50.10. Arguably the most versatile sprinter of all time, Felix has now made 5 Olympic teams - only the 6th track and field woman to do so.

m400m: Not unlike Hayes' dominating performance in the w400m, Michael Norman stormed out of the blocks at the gun and controlled the men's 400m final from the front. Never headed, Norman led wire-to-wire for the victory in 44.07, the world leader. Afterward, Norman shared his feeling about making his first Olympic team. "It's been a long time coming. It's been five long years, so to come in here and check one more box off my dream list is a long time coming. Only half the job is done," said the winner. Michael Cherry pushed his rival but never was able to take command as he finished 2nd in 44.35. NCAA champion and world leader [43.85] Randolph Ross finished 3rd in 44.74 while North Carolina A&T star Trevor Stewart finished 4th in 44.90 to claim a relay team position.

Decathlon: A hotly-contested competition featuring many PR performances throughout the 10 events came down to a dramatic finish in the final event: the 1500m. Nike's Garret Scantling [8647 total points], the leader after Day One of the Deca, maintained that leadership position throughout the 2nd day for the 10-event victory. Steve Bastien [8485 total points], in 4th place after 8 events, threw 200'9' in the javelin and ran 4:22.21 in the event-ending 1500m to scramble up to 2nd with 8485 total points. Zack Ziemek [8471 total points], aided by a PR clearance in the high jump of 7'1⁄4", ran a valiant 1500m in 4:40.69 to finish 3rd and to award him with the precious points he needed to obtain the Olympic decathlon standard of 8350. This trio will be heading to Japan.

w100H: A final in the women's 100m hurdles - a precise event in which athletes can rarely recover from a mid-race gaffe - always feature pre-race tension. This particular final provided pressure as well as the opportunity for world record holder Keni Harrison, the 2016 Oly Trials heavy favorite who failed to make that Olympic team. Solid as a rock, the multiple-time national champion rocketed out of the blocks, hurdled cleanly, and crossed first in 12.47 to gain a redemptive win and a place on the USA Olympic team. "My coach and I's plan was to win every round, execute every round," said Harrison after the race. Reigning Olympic gold medalist Brianna McNeal finished 2nd [12.51] and adidas athlete Christina Clemons [12.53] took 3rd to round out the trio which will be representing the USA in Tokyo.

m100m: This final event - held in the gloaming - had been long-awaited: a showdown among the young bucks and the old guard. New Balance athlete Trayvon Bromell - recovered from nagging injuries and showing unshakable focus - completed his dream. With a good start and a strong drive phase, he powered on for the win in 9.80. " It was a heck of a race. Going in I knew my competitors, their strengths. I had to stay humble and give every athlete in the field their respect," said Bromell afterward Indoor 60 meter sprint star Ronnie Baker closed well for 2nd while quarter-miler-turned-sprinter Fred Kerley crossed in 9.86 for 3 . That trio will represent the USA in Tokyo in the men's 100m. Nike's Kenny Bednarek [9.89] finished 4th to snare an all-important relay team position. Noah Lyles's dream of an Olympic sprint double was dashed as he finished 7th in 10.05.. 39-year-old Justin Gatlin, former 2-time Trials 100m champ and multiple-time Olympic and World Championship medalist earned in a span of over 15 years, cramped up and glided in the last in 10.87. Afterward, n emotional Gatlin explained what these Trials have meant for him. "Happy and sad at the same time. It's a very rare opportunity that you are witnessing something you are going to do for the last time while you're doing it. It made me sad, but it made me happy to be here and be able to do it."

At the end of Day Three, you could hear the frenetic chatter as the spectators were leaving the gleaming, new, state-of-the-art shrine that is the new Hayward Field. They had witnessed a very special day in the rich history of these Trials - a day that affirmed what they already knew: that the USA Olympic Trials are The Greatest Show In Track & Field. / Dave Hunter /

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