Saturday, June 23, 2018

Des Moines - Day 2

2018 US National T+F Championships
Friday, June 22

We keep saying that Noah Lyles is the sprint star of the future.

Noah Lyles is the sprint star of today.

Let there be no doubt of this after Friday’s spectacular men’s 100m final. After a less than stellar start, Lyles ran down Ronnie Baker with mere meters to go in a new world leading time of 9.88.

Whose world-leading time did he break? His own 9.89 run in the semifinals less than two hours  earlier. Put this together with his Prefontaine Classic 200m 19.69 win and the 20 year old is the best sprinter in the world right now.

If that light you see approaching you on the railroad tracks is an inevitable comparison to Usain Bolt at the same age, you’re right – this comparison cannot be avoided. Their personal bests at 20:

Lyles: 9.88/19.69
Bolt: 10.03/19.75.

Baker, who had come into this meet as world leader with his wind-aided 9.78, was second to Lyles here in 9.90 and most certainly remains part of this conversation, as does London World silver medalist Christian Coleman, who is out with an injury.

Noah Lyles
US National 100m Champion
photo credit: USATF

Louisiana State’s Aleia Hobbs became the first woman to complete the NCAA/USATF 100m sweep in 27 years. She bolted out of the blocks and was never headed as she won in 10.91. Quite a year for Hobbs who also won the NCAA Indoor 60m in March. Hobbs sprinted the last 20 meters with a big smile on her face, so clear was it that she would win. A heartening return to form for Jenna Prandini in 3rd.

Oiselle’s Maria Michta-Coffey won the in-stadium 20k walk - remarkably her 42nd national title - in a stadium record 1:35:21.59, while Zach Ziemek won the decathlon with 8294 points, also a stadium record. The previous one was held by Ashton Eaton.

Donald Scott was a mild surprise as winner of the men’s triple jump; he just edged Chris Benard by 5cm/2in with a classic last round winning jump of 17.37/57-0.

Rutger’s Rudy Winkler won a tightly contested men’s hammer throw in which the top 5 were separated by less than a meter. Winkler came from 5th place to first with his 3rd round 73.76/242-0. An errant throw by Sean Donnelly cleared the left field netting, bounced on the street pavement, and hit a parked car.

In qualifying and semi-final rounds, world record holder Keni Harrison’s 12.46 was by far the fastest 100m hurdles qualifying time. All 8 men’s 400m hurdles finalists qualified within a second of each other (49.00-49.71), setting up what promises to be a deep and highly competitive final.

2012 1600m relay gold medalist Jessica Beard ran an exceptionally strong 400m to win her semi in 50.65, while Shakima Wimbley won the other semi in 50.57. Michael Cherry won his semi-final in 44.87 and was the only finals qualifier to break 45.00.

Erik Sowinski led the men’s 800m wire-to-wire for the second straight day, but said what works in the semi does not suggest a tactic for the final. 

“I ran the same way last year and it didn’t pay off for me (in the final),” he said. “With guys like Isiah (Harris) and Clayton (Murphy), those guys are so strong that I need to have a lot of room with 100m to go.”

The hold-your-breath moment of Saturday’s finals-laden schedule will come at 1:10pm when the men’s 200m heats begin. 

Will Lyles toe the line – or won’t he?

*Credit to David Woods for his statistical research on the comparison of Bolt and Lyles at 20.

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