Track Shorts 2016: Lap 5

Heading into the last weeks before the Olympic Trials, May has been an incredibly busy month.  I count no less than 12 meets with important results, two USTAF road racing championships and a smattering of other road races.  We’ll rest in October I guess.  Biggest news was from Gwen Berry in the form of an American Record.  Sandi Morris has been vaulting well, when the pole doesn’t break on her.  Let’s dive in and see what’s been happening.

Getting the OQ

One of the quirks of the US Olympic qualifying system is that you can finish in the top three at the Olympic Trials and not get to go the Games. That’s because the standard to make it to the Trials is sometimes easier than the required mark to get to the Games themselves. At first blush that sounds silly but there is good reason for this. First, an athlete might hit the standard at the Trials. Second, the Trials are supposed to somewhat mirror the conditions of the Games, with multiple rounds. In some events, without the easier standard, the fields wouldn’t be large enough.

Where was I going with this? Oh right, this was meant to explain the significance of a set of performances since we last spoke and how four ABers added their names to the list. Gwen Berry hit a kind of trifecta with her effort at the Tucson Elite Classic; her 250-04 toss was a good for the win, an American record and the Olympic standard. Tori Bowie, already set for the 200, added the 100 as well with a 10.80 win at the Doha, Qatar Diamond League stop. And, at the HOKA ONE ONE Middle Distance classic, a pair of steeplechasers – Donnie Cowart and Jamie Cheever (celebrating her recent engagement?) – got their OG qualifiers.

You can check out who’s in at Flotrack’s lists:

Men’s 2016 Olympic Standard Lists | Women’s 2016 Olympic Standard Lists

Piling up Diamond League Points (and frequent flyer miles)

The Diamond League season is off and running, with events so far at Doha, Shanghai and Rabat. You can learn more about the Diamond League set up here. Basically, there are designated meets throughout the season and you rack up points for top six finishes. At the end of the year overall and event winners are crowned.

Several ABers got a jump on the fields with strong performances at Doha. Tia Brooks (shot), Sandi Morris (pole vault with a world leading performance – video below) and Tori Bowie (100) picked up wins (and 10 points) in the first DL meet of the year. Others gathering points in Doha were Brittany Borman (two points for fifth in the javelin), Cassandra Tate (two points for fifth in the 400H) and Chanelle Price (one point for 6th in the 800).

Less to report from the other two meets. Whitney Ashley got a point for 6th in the discus at Shanghai. Cassandra Tate came up big with a 54.69 for second and eight points in the 400H at Rabat, while Brittany Smith came home with four points for her 3rd in the shot.

Speaking of frequent flyer miles, we have Jeff Porter sightings for the month of May in Jamaica, Hengelo (Denmark) and Ostrava (Czech Republic). He’s been picking up 2nds and 3rds, hitting 13.4-13.5 wherever he goes.

Road Warriors

Two USTAF road championships were contested in May – the mile and the 25K. They should just name the women’s mile trophy for Heather Kampf. She won again, with a 4:34.2; fellow ABers Gabe Grunewald and Meghan Peyton were 3rd and 7th. On the men’s side, a beardless Garrett Heath was 2nd to the hirsute Ben Blankenship while Brandon Hudgins was 5th and Riley Masters (returning from injuries) was 7th.

In the 25K race, ABer Jared Ward had been part of a three man pack that left the field behind at about 11 miles. Jared couldn’t match the surge of Christo Landry at the 13 mile mark and had to settle for second; he’s already stamped his ticket for the Rio Marathon. Esther Atkins ran a strong race and was 4th in the women’s race. Both picked up significant points in the USATF Running Circuit Standings. Current standings are available at RunnerSpace here.

Did You Notice?

The pile of great results at the HOKA ONE ONE Middle Distance Classic, including:
The pile of great results at the Tucson elite classic, including:
  • Britney Henry placing 3rd in the hammer with a 222-0 toss
  • Tim VanLiew competing twice, winning one section with a 257-6 and then taking third in the Invite section with a 261-3; Riley Dolezal came away with a 5th place finish and a throw of 254-4
  • Liz Podominick taking 2nd with a 196-5 discus throw
Americans digging Asian cuisine, including:
  • Erik Sowinski picking up wins in Kawasaki and Beijing, dipping under 1:46 both times. Speaking of dipping, he may have nicked the Beijing win with a better lean at the tape than Kipyegon Bett; decide for yourself on the video below
  • Lauren Johnson running a speedy 4:05.29 at Beijing

Besides ARs and Olympic qualifiers, Gwen Berry was also a winner at the Jamaica Invite meet.

AB TJers Andrea Geubelle (Oregon Twilight) and Blessing Ufodiama (Oxy Invitational) pick up wins.

Joe Gray and Jamie Cheever went outside of their respective “comfort zones” and won the Rhody Run 12k.

More To Come

Some of the highest ranked AB’ers will be testing themselves against very strong international field at the Pre Classic and the Gortiz Multis this weekend.  And the Olympic Trials are barely a month away!


Sandi Morris shared an update on Instagram about her progress since her broken pole at the meet in Ostrava:

A few days ago, I had an X-Ray on my wrist, and learned that when I broke a pole in Ostrava, it also broke the tip of my ulna… It’s a small hairline fracture in my wrist. It’s not very painful, and if I had never gotten an X-Ray I probably would have thought it was just a minor sprain for a couple of weeks. But here is the hand I have been dealt (literally). No vaulting for at least 4 weeks, but I can train in a modified way. This has been nothing but fuel to my fire. Life threw a wrench in my plan, but instead of letting it lodge itself in my way and prevent success, I’m going to pick it up and use it to tighten all of the loose nuts and bolts in my training. Now I can seriously focus on other things that I know will benefit me in the long run. Learning to do things like upper-body work and squats with hardly any use of my hands for the next few weeks shall be interesting! Don’t worry about me, I got this ???? Thank you for all of your kind words, love, and support. I couldn’t do this alone. Even without a broken wrist! #Thankyou #Believe #roadtorio #positivemind #polevault #niketf #nikewomen #justdoit #overcome #bumpintheroad #teamUSA #usatf

A video posted by Sandi Morris (@sandicheekspv) on

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