Saturday, July 27, 2019

Four Boxes

US Records in W Hammer and M Pole Vault 
Highlight Day #3 of USATF Nationals
by Mark Cullen
copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.
Banner at Drake Stadium
Des Moines, Iowa
Site of 2019 USATF Championships
photo credit: Mark Cullen/
Beneath their names in today's results are four boxes.

They say AR, WL, FR, and PB.

Props to those who set a Personal Best at their national championships - no better place to realize your dream.

World Lead means you are best in your event in the world so far this year. It also means you are a favorite to win gold in Doha at this fall's World Championships. If you became world leader today at US Nationals, the pressure just ramped up.

To set a Field Record has special meaning, especially in a venerable stadium like Drake, a place where it's notoriously hard to achieve stadium records after a more than a century of hosting track meets.

An American Record is perhaps better named a US record; AR is sometimes confused with Area Record, a broader category, such as North America, which includes Mexico and Canada, too. Nonetheless, today it means American Record - and it means it twice.

DeAnna Price broke her own American record in the women's hammer throw with her last-of-the competition throw of 78.24 (256-8). While she had a terrific series coming into that throw - 75.66 - 77.51 - 76.40 - 75.77 - 76.72 - only the second round gave a hint of what might be to come.

Price started her final throw noticeably faster than all but the second, and was slightly late on the release. But she was remarkably fast in between, and the late release sent the missile screaming down the left foul line; whether or not it would be fair was in doubt until it landed, just inside the sector.

Price awaited the posting of her distance.

And waited.


She doubled over under the weight of her accomplishment as the crowd erupted in thunderous applause.

Price was glad to be competing at all after a spring that was physically challenging. "My physical therapist was holding me together with duct tape and wires," she said. But she returned to consistent training and was rested and prepared for today's competition.

"The most important thing is you can't let things gets to you," said Price, and few are her equal when it comes to keeping her eyes on the prize. This was the second time she set the American Record at Drake, having done so last year as well, and today was a repeat performance of the most magnificent kind.

Sam Kendricks, 2017 World champion in the pole vault, has been nothing but gracious and welcoming of the newer vaulters on the scene, most notably his embrace of the ridiculously talented Armand Duplantis. So on this day of days when he surpassed even Duplantis with his stratospheric American record 6.06/19-10.5, he gave his time and attention to the younger members of the Doha team: recent Oregon graduate Cole Walsh, Baylor sophomore to be KC Lightfoot, and Kansas sophomore to be, Zach Bradford.

"Competition is a great way for young men to get to know each other," said Kendricks. "There's a lot of young pole vaulters that I crave to know.” During today's lightning delay, "I walked up to all the young jumpers and said, 'Hey, do you know me? I know you now because we're all going to be a team; we're going to be on the track together.'"

"I know where they came from, I know what their Mom's name is, I know how old they are - even (as he looked at Lightfoot) if they were born in '99! I know what their goals are in the sport."

Nothing spoke better to the high regard his competitors have for him than what they did on his two attempts at the American record. His faithful comrades lined the runway and led the stadium in rhythmic clapping. When he landed as the new American record holder, Kendricks thought to himself, "Oh, no, here they come!" 

Dogpile of a lifetime.

Said teammate Cole Walsh, "I don't know what other country shares that camaraderie."

She throws, he jumps.

They do these exceedingly well.

Nothing like a 4-box day. Unless, of course, it's 5. 


Doha anyone?

Link to today’s many additional results:

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