This weekend’s USATF Championships was the culmination of the US outdoor season. The Eugene weather was atypically hot (100 degrees!?) and took a toll on athletes who had to run preliminaries in addition to the final. Probably didn’t help the distance times either, although at this meet they tend to be tactical races anyway.
A fascinating aspect of the US National Championships, at least when national team berths are on the line, is it’s not just about first place. Take the men’s 800 for example. As Nick Symmonds crossed the line, he raised his arms in triumph, celebrating a come-from-way-behind victory. But Erik Sowinski and Casimir Loxsom, who followed Symmonds to the tape, raised their arms as well, for second and third place here was basically winning. In fact, as well shall see, sometimes 4th or even 7th might still be a meaningful finish.
AthleteBiz was well-represented by 73 competitors. Six found their way to the top of the podium. Winners included:
- Ryan Hill – remarkably easy looking sprint up final straight to win the 5k
- Kibwè Johnson – two throws over 250 in winning the hammer
- Tori Bowie – found another gear in the last 30 meters to overtake the field in the 100m
- Kara Winger – first throw of 213-01 was enough to easily win the javelin
- Miranda Melville – battled fatigue to hold on for the 20k walk
- Amber Campbell – takes the hammer with a final toss of 237-05
Silver appeared to be the most popular color for ABers this weekend, with ten taking second in their respective event.
- Brenda Martinez – goes sub 2:00 for second in the 800
- Cassandra Tate – PR of 54.01 in the 400H is good for her first national team berth
- Brittany Borman – three throws over 200 and she is a solid second in the javelin
- Tia Brooks – comes up big on her last throw to get a place on the team in the shot put
- Sharon Day-Monroe – had a remote shot at first going into the 800 but settled for second in the heptathlon
- Erik Sowinski – came in with sore hamstring but left with a first-time spot on the national team, running 1:44.84 in the 800
- Donn Cabral – boxed early but smashed his PR by nearly six seconds in the steeple
- Brad Walker – veteran vaulter makes the team again
- Jeremy Taiwo – solid effort puts him on the decathlon team
- Riley Dolezal – javelin toss of 264-11 gets him second
Other ABers punching their ticket to Beijing:
- Whitney Ashley – goes 204-01 in the discus for third
- Amanda Bingson – next to the last throw in the hammer got her third by just 2 inches
- Kori Carter – put together three good 400H races and took third in the final
- Amy Acuff – jumped 6-2 to get third in the high jump
Work to Do
The bad news for Riley Dolezal and Amy Acuff is that even though they finished in the top three, they have not met the qualifying standard for the World Championships. They have until August 9th to get those qualifying marks. In Acuff’s case, she needs to jump 6-4.25; her season best is 6-2. Dolezal has to reach 269-0, he’s hit 266-03 so far this season.
On the other side of this equation are athletes who finished outside the top three but have met the qualifying standards in events where one or more of the top three don’t have a qualifier. These athletes get to claim spots for the team if the top three placers don’t get the requisite mark by August 9th. Three ABers who find themselves in this position are Garrett Heath, Kyle Merber, and Heather Kampf. Heath missed by .07 making the team outright but his fourth place finish would be enough if Ben True does not run 13:23. Merber, who was 6th in the 1500 still has a shot because neither Robby Andrews or Leonel Manzano have a 3:36.20 yet; Kyle’s situation is more of a long shot because Ben Blankenship – who has met the standard – finished ahead of him in Eugene and would get first dibs on a WC spot. Same for Kampf. Her 7th place finish in the 1500 still might be good enough but, like Merber, she has someone ahead of her with the qualifier so she needs two athletes to miss the standard. Clear as mud, right?
Learned a lot about how to execute a perfect 1500m championship race. To be .2 away is hard, but at least I know I am able. #usatfourdoors— Heather Kampf (@HeatherRaeKampf) June 29, 2015
Near Misses and What Ifs
Three cruel realities of this selection process are that 1) some people miss by the smallest of margins, 2) the tactical nature of the races means tighter packs and an increased likelihood of a stumble, trip or fall and 3) a rare bad or unlucky day for the final and a season’s worth of good performances don’t matter. ABers seemed to well-represented in all categories.
- Molly Ludlow and Chanelle Price miss out in the 800 by .04 and .11 respectively
- Garrett Heath was just .07 out of the money in the 5k, though as we noted, his WC hopes are still alive
- Queen Harrison was 4th in the 110H by the narrowest margin of .01
- Lashinda Demus missed 3rd in the 400H by just .03
- Rachel Schneider loses a chance to qualify on a diving finish Lauren Johnson in the 1500
- Heather Miller-Koch makes the team in the heptathlon with just 15 more points, or about 1 second faster in the 800
- Ashley Higginson – how much did the early stumble in the steeple affect her time?
- Maggie Vessey – in the mix with 250 to go but falls, taking Ajee’ Wilson’s shoe off in the process
- Gabe Grunewald – in contention but falls with 500 meters to go
- Katie Mackey – right where she wanted to be with 600 meters to go in the 5k but clipped another’s heel and stumbled; she didn’t panic and was able to regain contact but the damage was done and she finished 6th
- Jasmin Stowers has a leg cramp and posts one of her slowest times of the year in the 110H
- Liz Podominick doesn’t post a mark in the discus after a tough (and protested) foot fault call
If It’s July, This Must Be Europe
Diamond League action heats up this month, with meets in France, Monaco, Switzerland and Sweden. There’s a full slate of other meets on the continent as well. Things will slow down in August in anticipation of the World Championships at the end of the month.