Track Shorts 2016: Lap 6, The Olympic Trials

Photo courtesy of Kevin Morris Photographer

Christmas or [insert your favorite holiday here] is fast approaching for Track & Field fans.  In just a few days, the Olympic Trials get started with the men’s and women’s 20k walks in Salem on Thursday, with the track and field events commencing on Friday in Eugene.  The site, for the third consecutive time, is the hallowed Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.  Competition runs through Sunday July 10th.

Track & Field News has prepared a handy, one page schedule of events here.

There are plenty of resources out there for in-depth analysis of what to expect in the various events.  We’ve found these to be particularly helpful:

So, we’ll leave the comprehensive discussion to others and focus on AthleteBiz activity.

By the Numbers

As of Friday, we counted 92 ABers eligible to compete in one or more events.  There may be some additions as necessary to fill out the fields.  That total included 63 women and 29 men.  The 1500, with nine women and five men qualified is our most packed event; it is certainly possible that we’ll see six ABers in the women’s final.  Here is the current list, with T&FN predictions in parentheses.

Men’s 400m
Kind Butler Patrick Feeney
Men’s 800m
Nick Symmonds (5) Erik Sowinski (6)
Men’s 1500m
Garrett Heath (6) Kyle Merber Riley Masters
Jeff See Brandon Hudgins Will Leer
Men’s 5000m
Ryan Hill (1) Garrett Heath (6) Riley Masters
Jeff See Biya Simbassa
Men’s 110m Hurdles
Jeff Porter (6) Justin Johnson
Men’s 400m Hurdles
Johnny Dutch (2)
Men’s Steeplechase
Donn Cabral (3) Donnie Cowart (9)
Men’s 20k Race Walk
Michael Mannozzi (8)
Men’s Pole Vault
Brad Walker (10) Jordan Scott
Men’s Triple Jump
Donald Scott
Men’s Shot Put
Adam Nelson (9)
Men’s Discus
Rodney Brown (1) Lance Brooks
Men’s Hammer
Kibwè Johnson (1)
Men’s Javelin
Riley Dolezal (1) Tim VanLiew (6)
Men’s Decathlon
Jeremy Taiwo (3) Curtis Beach (6)
Women’s 100m
Tori Bowie (1)
Women’s 200m
Tori Bowie (2) Alexis Love
Women’s 400m
Sanya Richards-Ross (10) DeeDee Trotter
Women’s 800m
Brenda Martinez (3) Chanelle Price (7) Molly Ludlow (8)
Phoebe Wright (10) Dana Mecke Kendra Chambers
Women’s 1500m
Katie Mackey (7) Lauren Johnson (8) Heather Kampf (9)
Amanda Eccleston (10) Gabe Grunewald Stephanie Garcia
Rachel Schneider Sarah Brown Brenda Martinez
Sara Vaughn Heather Wilson
Women’s 5000m
Katie Mackey (7) Gabe Grunewald (9) Stephanie Garcia (10)
Tara Welling Sara Hall
Women’s 10000m
Tara Welling Chelsea Sodaro Kaitlin Goodman
Women’s 100m Hurdles
Jasmin Stowers (3) Queen Harrison (5) Jade Barber
Women’s 400m Hurdles
Cassandra Tate (5) Turquoise Thompson (6) Kori Carter
Women’s Steeplechase
Stephanie Garcia (4) Ashley Higginson (5) Jamie Cheever (6)
Bridget Franek Sarah Pease
Women’s 20k Race Walk
Maria Michta-Coffey (1) Miranda Melville (2) Erin Taylor-Talcott (6)
Women’s High Jump
Amy Acuff
Women’s Pole Vault
Sandi Morris (2) Mary Saxer (9) Becky Holliday
Melinda Withrow Melissa Gergel
Women’s Long Jump
Chelsea Hayes (9)
Women’s Triple Jump
Andrea Geubelle (3) Amanda Smock (9) Blessing Ufodiama
Women’s Shot Put
Tia Brooks (1) Brittany Smith (5) Dani Bunch (10)
Women’s Discus
Whitney Ashley (1) Liz Podominick (3)
Women’s Hammer
Gwen Berry (1) Amber Campbell (2) Amanda Bingson (5)
Brooke Pleger (7) Britney Henry (10)
Women’s Javelin
Brittany Borman (2) Kara Winger (5) Fawn Miller
Women’s Heptathlon
Sharon Day-Monroe (4) Heather Miller-Koch (5) Chantae McMillan

Looking at the T&FN form chart, we see 20 ABers projected as Olympians, including eight winners.  A bunch more are forecast to finish in the dreaded 4th to 6th range – so close you can taste it.

But enough of the dry numbers.  Let’s look at some of the stories that go with them.

Will You Be Ready?

For some it’s just a race to get ready after “life” has somehow limited training time.  Take Sandi Morris.  She had her dream season interrupted by a broken pole that has kept her from vaulting for five weeks now; fortunately she could do all other aspects of training so she’s hoping to be ready and now she’s back vaulting.


Likewise, 2012 Olympian Bridget Franek has battled leg injuries all season but is hoping to be fit in time.


Kara Winger‘s competitive preparation was limited by work on her recently completed MBA, and she can “finally concentrate fully on this javelin thing“.  The Trials will be just her second competition of the season.  We note optimistically that she opened the season with a toss of 61.72 meters (202-06) – number two effort by an American so far this year – and had two other throws over 61 meters.

We hope that Sarah Brown‘s four month old baby daughter Abigail has been allowing her to get sufficient sleep as she seeks to regain Olympic level fitness in record time and make the team at 1500 meters.

#3months #photosession #babygirl ????????

A photo posted by Sarah Brown (@sarahmb15) on


The logistics of the hammer, what with the implement and the distances involved, often consigns the event to locations outside the main stadium.  The Eugene organizers have come up with an antidote to that problem.  Traditionally, there are two rest days in the middle of the OTs.  Hey, what if we hold the hammer inside the stadium on one of those rest days?  That way, these athletes get some well-deserved attention and we (the fans that is) don’t have to choose between missing the hammer or missing other events by heading over to that otherwise abandoned field.  For the women, the qualifiers are at 1 pm with the finals at 3 while the men do the preliminaries at 5 and the finals at 7 on Wednesday, July 6.  We advertise in the interest of promoting the event.  Just sheer coincidence that ABers might win both the men’s and women’s events.

From left: Gwen Berry, Amber Campbell, Amanda Bingson

From left: Gwen Berry, Amber Campbell, and Amanda Bingson

AB Sweeps

Trying not to get greedy here but it’s hard not to note the prognosticators have ABers at 1-2 in the women’s walk (Maria Michita-Coffey and Miranda Melville) and women’s hammer (Gwen Berry and Amber Campbell).  With Erin Taylor-Talcott qualified in the walk, and Amanda Bingson, Brooke Pleger, and Brittany Henry competing in the hammer, AB sweeps are possible.  Just sayin’.  Dig a little deeper and you see the strength of the AB women’s weight events.  For the shot, T&FN has Tia Brooks(1), Brittany Smith(5) and Daniella Bunch(10) in the top 10 and for the discus they have Whitney Ashley and Liz Podominick in first and third.  Definition of depth right there.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

  • How will veterans Sanya Richards-Ross and DeeDee Trotter fare in their final OT 400 appearances against the younger guns?
  • Can Adam Nelson pull off the ultimate promotional coup for his new StrongAt40 business by making his 4th Olympic team? And can fellow 40 year old Amy Acuff make her 6th! Olympic team?
  • How will relative newcomer Andrea Geubelle fare against veterans like Amanda Smock in the TJ?
  • Will Tori Bowie be competing in three events at the Olympics – 100, 200 and 4 x 100?
  • Is the women’s OT 100 m hurdle field – which includes ABers Queen Harrison, Jasmin Stowers and Jade Barber – deeper than the Olympic Final?
  • Will 4th placers from 2012 (Mary Saxer (PV), Ashley Higginson (ST), Molly Ludlow (800), Donnie Cowart (ST) see a better fate this time?
  • Will Cassandra Tate‘s recent international success translate into an upgrade from 2012’s 5th place finish?

    Jeff Porter making a dive to London

    Jeff Porter diving toward London

  • Will 800/1500 experience be an advantage for Katie Mackay and Gabe Grunewald as they move up to the 5000?
  • Will Jeff Porter “take a dive” again and make his 2nd Olympic team?
  • Will USATF honor Heather Kampf‘s petition to move the 1500 final to Agate Ave, the long street adjacent to Hayward Field? 🙂

92 Different Stories

We’ve only scratched the surface here.  For every athlete’s story mentioned above there are two or three more that we couldn’t cover – band width issues or deadline or something like that.  The road to Eugene for each of these athletes has been long, full of ups and downs and a lot of hard work.  Each may have different goals with some aiming to win, others attempting to make the team and some maybe just happy to be there.  We only wish we could chronicle all the journeys that got them to Eugene.

TV Coverage/How to Watch

The virtual offices of AthleteBiz close up shop for the Trials as we all head out to Eugene.  Taking in the event live is the best.  For those who can’t make it west, there will be more extensive coverage from the NBC networks.  Details on where and when to watch are here.

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