This is Dave Hunter’s story for the Day of the 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships. Dave will be doing a story each day of the championships. Dave just wrote for us at the NCAA Championships, and he will be covering the World Championships, also in Eugene, from July 14-25, 2022.
USATF / Day One: Navigating The Rounds
Mu, McLaughlin, Norman, and Kerley Look Unbeatable Eugene, Oregon, by Dave Hunter
University of Oregon / Hayward Field June 23rd, 2022
A good number of track & field fans attending the USATF outdoor track & field championships may be crestfallen after first reviewing the Day One start list. Day One features only 3 championship finals. Of course, the Under 20 meeting is also simultaneously taking place at Hayward Field. And while the U20 activity offers “Coming Attractions” for our sport, it presently does not have anything like the world championship qualifying drama that accompanies the USATF national championship meet as athletes pursue their goal of securing world championship berths. But not to worry. For many – the athletes and the fans – their Day One attention will be focused on the preliminary activity – “the Rounds.”
Of course, the athletes’ most important goal in the preliminaries is to advance and to ultimately earn a spot in the finals. But the rounds offer more than that. For the competitors, the early, non-final competitions provide an array of helpful opportunities – a chance for the sprinter to see if that new and much-practiced starting technique really does provide a better opening surge in the heat of genuine competition; an opportunity for the jumpers to test that runway or apron and get those all-important steps just right in a bona fide competition; an experience for middle distance racers to not only test-drive a new race strategy but also to see how that healing hamstring fares in an actual race. And in the non-sprint events, athletes are given the opportunity to gain insight into the race strategies of their competitors that can be quite helpful in later, more important rounds. And finally, all of these nuanced observations are also available to coaches, spectators, and other competitors.
So for all at the other-worldly Hayward Field, sit back in your new comfortably- padded chair, complete with cup holder, and enjoy the opening rounds and all they can reveal.
m800m: There were no upsets in the first round as the favored athletes all advanced. Erik Sowinski – everybody’s favorite rabbit – showed he can still run quite competitively, leading wire to wire to win section one in 1:47.23. Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, who always seems to race his best in the rounds, finished an easy-peasy 1:47.49. Reigning world 800m champion Donovan Brazier, reportedly coming back from pesky bursitis in his foot, looked like his old self running the fastest time of the day, clocking 1:46.62 to win section two. In section three former Penn State star Isaiah Harris (1:47.10) found an extra gear on the homestretch and his charge to the line allowed him to slide ahead of Vincent Crisp by .006 seconds. Former Kansas athlete Bryce Hoppel (1:48.12) looked very sharp, taking control with 200m to go to win the final section. The advancing athletes will be back on Day Two for the 800m semi-final round.
w800m: Can anyone even race with Athing Mu? We don’t know. She has yet to be put to the test. She is the current world leader at 1:57.01 and ranks #8 on the all-time world list. In her prelim, she looked terrific relentlessly building a lead of at least 10 meters at 600m. Coasting over the final furlong, the 2-time Olympic gold medalist easily won in 2:01.24. Notable advancers include: Nia Akins (2:01.40), Sage Herta (2:00.80) Tokyo medalist Raeven Rogers (2:01.10); 12-time national champion Ajee Wilson (2:00.37); The field has 24 hours to figure out how to challenge Mu in Friday’s semi-final races.
w400H: Dalilah Muhammad – Tokyo silver medalist and #2 on the all-time world list – was a scratch after she felt a recent hamstring twinge in recent days. She was ultimately granted an exemption that relieved her from competing. As the Doha world champion in this event, the former world record holder has an automatic berth in the 2022 world championship next month in Eugene. Sydney McLaughlin – the Olympic gold medalist and current world record holder (51.46) – put on a clinic as she immediately took charge of the race and easily authored a stunning wire-to-wire victory in 54.11. Notables joining Sydney in Saturday’s final will be Nike athlete and world championship medalist Ashley Spencer (55.79), Beijing medalist Shamier Little (55.50), and Britton Wilson (55.79) – #4 on the world list. Does anyone have the formula to compete with McLaughlin in Saturday’s final?
wHT: the USA will be represented in next month’s world championship gathering with a quartet comprised of perhaps its strongest contingent ever of women’s hammer throw athletes. Automatic qualifiers Nike athlete Brooke Anderson ((255’9”), Janee Kassanavoid (249’6”), and Annette Echikunwoke (242’0”) will be joined by 2019 Doha victor DeAnna Price (239’8”) in the world championship competition next month.
wLJ: This field event final certainly was strange. Highly-favored Tara Davis – 2- time NCAA champion and #2 on the US list – fouled on her opening 3 attempts and was a shocking quick out. As it turned out, had just one of Davis’ leaps been a fair jump, she would have made the USA world championship team. Quanesha Burks’ (23’2”) wind-aided (2.7) jump was sufficient to earn her the win but was ineligible to give her a world championship qualifying mark. 2nd place Jasmine Moore (22’31⁄4”) and 4th place Tiffany Flynn (a season’s best 22’111⁄2”) – the only two left in the field with qualifying marks – will represent the USA in next month’s world championship gathering. A world ranking procedure will be undertaken by World Athletics next week which could possibly add Burks as the 3rd and final addition to the USA’s world championship squad.
w100m: Aleia Hobbs (10.88) had the best clocking in this prelim as the adidas sprinter was one of 4 athletes [Marybeth Sant Price (10.99); Tamara Clark (10.94); Twanisha Terry (10.92);] to post sub-11.00 times. Talented sprinter and social media darling Sha’Carri Richardson was not a competitive threat; ran 11.32 in her heat, and was never in it.
m100m: In the men’s 100m prelims, Fred Kerley looked spectacular as the reigning Diamond League champion posted a time of 9.83, a new world leader. No other first-round athletes broke 10 seconds. Notable advancers included Trayvon Bromell, Christian Coleman, Marvin Bracy, Micah Williams, and Kenny Bednarek
mDT: Discus victor Terrell Adams (207’8”) along with US list leader Sam Mattis (3rd place with 204’2”) and Brian Williams (5th with 203’10”) will compete for the USA in the world championships next month.. BYU athlete Dallin Shurts (2nd in 204’5”) lacked a WC qualifying mark.
m3000mSC: The highlight of this prelim was the return to the track of multiple-time national champion Evan Jager. Jager – who has spent the last few years addressing nagging injuries – looked sharp, finishing 2nd in his heat, and clocking 8:23.57. Other top athletes moving on included Mason Ferlic, Hillary Bor, and Anthony Rotich. The men’s steeplechase final will be held on Saturday.
m1500m: There were surprises in this prelim. Drake’s Isaac Basten (3:38.92) rang up the quickest time. Other top-flight advancers included Johnny Gregorek, Yared Nuguse; Henry Wynne; Sam Prakel; and Cooper Teare; Failing to advance, among others, were Drew Hunter, Cole Hocker, Colby Alexander, Hobbs Kessler, and Eric Jenkins. Saturday will feature this final.
w1500m: Heather MacLean looked strong in posting the day’s fastest time: 4:07.96. Other notable advancers included Elle St. Pierre; Cory McGee Josette Norris; Karissa Schweizer and Nikki Hiltz. The final will take place on Saturday
w400m: Jade Stepter (51.05) looked the best as no one broke 51 seconds. Some of the others having qualifying marks and moving on included Rosaline Effiong. Talitha Diggs, Lynna Erby, Kendall Ellis Wadeline Jonathas. Among others, Alexis Holmes, Jessica Beard, and Quanera Hayes did not advance.
m400m: Michael Norman (44.72) was the cream of this crop as the current world leader clocked 44.72 in what appeared to be an easy effort around the oval. Also moving on to Friday’s semi-final will, among others, be Vernon Norwood, Bryce Deadmon, Randolph Ross, and Wil London.