The defining moment of 2017 for USA track & field is here. The US Championships start Thursday and besides competing for national titles, athletes will be seeking a coveted spot on US team for the World Championships later this August in London. The venue this year is Sacramento and we can’t help but comment on the forecast, which calls for temperatures over 100 for three of the four days, hitting 109 on Thursday. Yeah, we know it’s a dry heat but still…
If you look at the Sacramento forecast from Celsius' perspective it'll only be in the low 40s— Kyle Merber (@TheRealMerb) June 16, 2017
AB athletes are included among the favorites, the likely contenders and the possible big surprises. We counted 70 (!) AthleteBiz athletes in the top 10 predictions prepared Track & Field News (links provided at the end of this report).
We preview it all below.
Very cool that the Bible of the Sport has several ABers projected as gold medalists.
Tori Bowie is on the list twice and why not after her dominating 200 performance at the Prefontaine meet. Though she’s been making waves at 1500 (Prefontaine, Portland), Brenda Martinez is favored in the 800 off of her 1:58.78 at the USATF Distance Classic. She seems fit and ready to demonstrate how the Olympic Trials race would have ended if she hadn’t fallen.
Maria Michta-Coffey is listed as the favorite for the 20km race walk; trying not to jinx anything here but they didn’t exactly go out on a limb with that pick.
Four weight event ABers are also favored to win. Kibwé Johnson and Gwen “the American record is truly mine” Berry are the men’s and women’s US Leaders this year in the hammer and Kara Winger looks dominant in the javelin. Don’t forget Riley Dolezal, who tops the US javelin list with his big 79.36 (260-4) throw at the Iron Wood Classic.
Jeff Henderson is looking to add World Championship gold to match the Olympic gold from last year and is listed as the favorite.
Looking for the Medal Stand/Ticket to London
T&FN also has many ABers in the hunt for medals and a spot on the US World Championship team. Start with all the ABers projected for silver – Sean Donnelly in the hammer, Dani Bunch in the shot (having a breakout year – how ‘bout that 2nd place at Shanghai Diamond League meet?), Jasmin Stowers at 100 HH (big win at Pre), Andrea Geubelle in the TJ, Chaunte Lowe in the high jump (has she missed any national teams since 2004?!?) and Charlene Lipsey in the 800 figures to continue her breakout year.
Had a great time at the Adidas Boost meet. A new outdoor PR 1:59.5! Happy for the win but was more excited to be greeted by this little girl at the finish line. Solahni came to the track meet just to see me run????. Being able to inspire and encourage kids is a blessing. Kids are our future make sure you lead by example. #adidasrunning
We note that Sandi Morris is projected for silver in the PV but we’re not so, um, Suhr about that pick; Sandi is the US leader at 4.84 (15-10.5). Predicting Miranda Melville for second in the walk? Again, not going out on a limb there.
Among those projected for bronze include Amber Campbell in the hammer, Tim VanLiew in the javelin, steepler Stephanie Garcia (like Martinez, she’s been flaunting her 1500 credentials), Erik Sowinski (seems like he’s always in the mix), Whitney Ashley in the discus and heptathlete Sharon Day-Monroe.
How ‘Bout Some Love For?
Then there’s another group of AB athletes – some listed on the formcharts, some not – that we’ll be keeping our eyes on. Not saying they’ll necessarily medal (though some could do so) but don’t be surprised if you hear their names this weekend.
For example, Ryan Hill knows how to peak, has the experience and maybe the best kick in the field so we would not count him out in the 5000. Sam Mattis still has the number three discus throw this year. Steeplers Donn Cabral and Donnie Cowart bring a wealth of experience. Triple jumper Donald Scott is part of tight pack with a shot at bronze. Christina Manning and Queen Harrison have solid seasonal bests and should be in the mix at 100HH, possibly the USA’s strongest event.
Last year’s near miss at the Olympic Trials will likely keep Liz Podominick focused and her discus performances to date suggest she’ll be in the medal hunt. Same for Amanda Bingson; she’ll be looking to put last year’s OT behind her and she does have the #5 mark for the season.
Related: Liz Podominick’s Road to London
As usual, AB has a bunch of middle distance people ready to make a splash. Sara Vaughn (win at Music City), Amanda Eccleston (PRs and solid efforts at 800 to 5000), Lauren Johnson (4:05.98 at Portland) and Shannon Osika (4:06.17 at Furman) all look poised to be factors in the 1500. Ditto that for Johnny Gregorek and Kyle Merber, who both threw down 1:47 800s last weekend in preparation for the men’s 1500. In the 800, Casimir Loxsom hasn’t put up outdoor times yet but know he’s a fierce competitor and Shaquille Walker now sports a PR of 1:45.68. The women’s 800 field is deep so Cecilia Barowski, Kendra Chambers, and Dana Mecke could run fast, even if they don’t quite medal.
At the longer races we note that Abbabiya Simbassa still has the #5 time at 10k. Reid Buchanan, Riley Masters and Craig Lutz have credentials that could make things interesting. Kaitlin Goodman just ran 31:55 and has a string of solid road results so she could make some noise at 10k. Since Lauren Paquette ran well at the Oxy meet and added a fast 1500 at Music City, we’ll be watching her in the 5000.
Last tuneup workout before USA's done Finally found my wheels, just in time! Feeling race-ready and pumped for Thursday!— Kaitlin Goodman (@runnerKG) June 18, 2017
Johnny Dutch just hit 49.00 in Jamaica which is 7th on yearly list. Cassandra Tate brought her season best down to 54.78, so she and Kori Carter (54.53) may be rounding into shape at the right time. Brittany Smith got a season best at the Iron Wood Classic and is in the mix for the shot put.
Not enough room here to fully recognize all the other AB’ers who will show up in Sacramento fit and determined to deliver big performances…but we list them here:
|Chad Noelle||Heather Kampf|
|Stephanie Schappert||Lianne Farber|
|Craig Lutz||Jess Tonn|
|Raven Clay||Jade Barber|
|Curtis Beach||Turquoise Thompson|
|Sarah Pease||Jamie Cheever|
|Brigetta Barrett||Maya Pressley|
|Britney Henry||Alina Duran|
Let’s throw away the formcharts for a minute and talk about a couple of athletes everybody would like to see do well. Nick Symmonds has been competing professionally since 2006. He’s a two-time Olympian and six-time US Outdoor Champion. Sacramento will be his last US Championship appearance, and you can catch his lead-up in his great new vlog series. We wish him well.
And then there’s Gabe Grunewald. If you’re not familiar with her story start here. Nobody has had more curves thrown at her yet every time she has responded to adversity with grace and more determination. She’s not that far removed from surgery and was in chemo (the ultimate PDD – performance debilitating drug) while training for the US Championships. But there she’ll be at about 8 pm on Thursday night, toeing the line in the 1500 heats. She doesn’t show up in the formcharts but here’s hoping we see her in the finals on Saturday. Gabe Grunewald – come for the race, stay for the inspiration.
Cancer may have slowed me down but it hasn't stopped me. See ya in Sac where I'll be racing the USA 1500m for 8th year in a row! https://t.co/F97w8f7J4O— gabriele grunewald (@gg_runs) June 16, 2017
Since we sometimes poke fun at the prognosticators from the safety of our keyboards, AB staff decided we would each make a “bold” prediction of our own so you can make fun of us next week. Here are the “dark horse” athletes we think will make some noise this weekend.
Jack: I’m betting on a seasoned veteran of these high pressure events, Donnie Cowart. Donnie just laid down a sweet 8:30 steeple in hot Nashville. I also anticipate a breakthrough performance from Brittany Smith in the shot put. Still only 26 she seems ready.
Aaron: How about Cecilia Barowski? Is there anyone else going into their event as hot as she is? With a 2 flat under her belt from the USATF Distance Classic, Cecilia is all up-side. I like her to medal in this deep event. And, let’s not leave out Mary Saxer. Already with a USA Championship to her name, I like her to bring home a medal as a super-sweet 30th birthday present for herself.
Steve: Why wasn’t Shannon Osika on the T&FN formchart? She’s got a string of good performances and has shown some range with good 800s and 3000’s this year. She’ll be in the final and pushing for a top 5 finish.
With all the attention on the track likely to continue, we need to interrupt this US Championship preview to acknowledge some great off-track work in the last few weeks. In Manchester England, days after the terrorist attack, the city went ahead with the Great Manchester Run in a great display of resilience. ABer Dathan Ritzinhein was the winner (28:06 for 10k) and offered a series of tweets praising the city and its people. This was on the heels of his solid 1:14.27 win at the River Bank 25k. Also at River Bank, fellow ABers Neely Gracey and Tara Welling took home 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Going back abroad, there was the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, a 56-mile test of endurance, which earns its slogan as the Ultimate Human Race. Camille Herron conquered the course and all the (female) humans with the win.
Other efforts we wanted to highlight were Esther Atkins getting 2nd at the Brooklyn Air BnB half, Sara Hall taking the Freihofer 5k (with ABers Jamie Cheever 6th and Meghan Peyton 8th), Chelsea Sodaro 3rd in the tri at Richmond, and Samantha Bluske winning the Columbus 10k. So roadies don’t despair, just because we seem focused on track doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention to you guys too.
How to Watch
NBCSN will have live coverage Friday to Sunday. Friday goes from 10:30-12:30 (ET) which should include the 100 finals, the 800 semis, and the 5000 finals. Saturday is from 4pm to 6pm when the schedule shows the 400 finals, the 1500 finals, the women’s steeple and the women’s 100H final. Sunday is also 4 to 6 and has the 800 finals, the 400H finals, the men’s steeple, the 200 finals and the men’s 110H. Live streaming is available from usatf.tv. Click here for details on how to watch.
We’ll be back next week with results from the Championships and a detailed preview of Tracktown events.
Related: Our Gear for USAs