Saturday, July 27, 2019

Hammer, Shot Put Take Center Stage - USATF Day 2

There's nothing like a sizzling 100m to bring a track meet alive.

But first, the important stuff.

The men's hammer.
Conor McCullough wins the national title and climbs to #8 all-time US
photo credit: with thanks to USATF/Instagram
Never was there a US hammer championships like this. The throwers came out blazing, and by the end of the day, four had exceeded the World Championships standard of 76.00/249-4.

In fact, three had done so by the end of the 1st round - Sean Donnelly 250-7 76.38, Rudy Winkler 251-0/76.51, and Conor McCullough 252-4/76.92 - and 2019 NCAA Champion Daniel Haugh 250-9/76.44 joined them in the 2nd. The three places to Doha had been settled by then, but that is only a retrospective view. At the time, that was hard to tell given the scintillating competition that continued.

With his final throw, McCullough put a 256-4/8.14 exclamation point on this most memorable of competitions. It vaulted him from 10th to 8th on the all-time US performers list, and tied him for 8th in the world this year. Said McCullough, "(With) all the young guys coming up, it's exciting to have a US Championships with four guys over 76.00 meters."

Multi-talented Michael Shanahan - who has a 5,000m PB of 15:25.10 - set his hammer personal best at 245-5/74.80 while finishing 5th. The former New Hampshire All-American - there are words you don't hear often - had a terrific series and marked himself a star of the near future. McCullough, Winkler, and Haugh are Doha bound, and Sean Donnelly, in 4th place at 250-7/76.38, was nothing but gracious in the face of what had to be a heartbreaking outcome - a miss to Doha by 6cm/2in.

If only this compelling competition could have been held in true center stage - the stadium - there would be a lot more budding hammer throwers in Iowa and beyond.
Ryan Crouser before the Prefontaine Classic
photo credit: Mark Cullen/
Not to be outdone by guys throwing heavy objects around, the shot putters took over. They demonstrated once again that you have to throw 22.00/72-2.25  to get somewhere in this event now, as that's what it took to make the World Championships team. Ryan Crouser settled things with his 5th round 22.62/74-2.5, with Joe Kovacs (22.31/73-2.5), and Darrell Hill (22.11/72-6.5) adding to the 22.00m festivities.

"The guys made it tough out there - three guys over 22.10m plus," said Olympic champion Crouser, who has struggled with recurring low-level injuries this year. "For me to go out there and get a 22.60m plus, I was really happy with that. I'd put that up there with any of my best throws ever."

Note that Crouser's 22.62 is one centimeter longer than Darlan Romani's winner at the Prefontaine Classic. Game on.

It was a challenging day for decathletes. Bad enough was the early exit this week of heavy favorite Zach Ziemek with an injury; worse was Stanford's young star Harrison Williams missing a trip to Doha by a mere 12 points. His 8188 is a number he won't soon forget.

With the withdrawal of Justin Gatlin from the final, the men's sprint went from 100 meters to 100 meh-ters. Christian Coleman won in 9.99, with Mike Rodgers and Christopher Belcher joining him on the podium.

The women's 100m was run into a 1.7mps headwind,  with Teahna Daniels, English Gardner, and Morolake Akinosun advancing to Doha with times of 11.20, 11.25, and 11.28. In the men's race, 2nd and 3rd were separated by .006 of a second, 10.114-10.120.

Donald Scott edged Will Claye in the triple jump, 17.74 to 17.70; Omar Craddock took third, another 15 cm behind. 17.43 was Scott's PB coming into the competition. Scott now has four national titles, 2 indoors and 2 out, in an event that has been dominated by Christian Taylor and Will Claye.

2017 World Champion Taylor has a bye to the World Championships and all he had to do was compete in the US championships and the US would have 4 qualifiers instead of three. Taylor flew in from his base in the Netherlands (I think it's a home, but really, it's more exotic to call it a base), fouled his first jump and passed the next two. Fitness! Off to Worlds the US goes with 4 triple jumpers.

Meanwhile, let me suggest that yelling "Go Big Guy" at a hammer competition does not have the desired sorting effect!

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