Friday, July 26, 2019

USATF Day #1 - Flying Discs and Big Surprises

On-site at Drake Stadium, Des Moines, Iowa
Drake Stadium at Night
Thursday, July 25, 2019

photo credit: Mark Cullen/
Thursday's men's discus final was, by any standards, a surprise, as 2015 NCAA champ Sam Mattis, and Brian Williams and Kord Ferguson, bronze medalists respectively at the last two NCAA meets, took the podium places.

Just as surprising as who made the podium was who did not. Neither Mason Finley nor Reggie Jagers did - between them, Finley ('16 and '17) and Jagers ('18) hold the last three US discus crowns and Finley, memorably, won World bronze in London. Pre-meet analysis had them on the podium; Finley finished 7th in 61.05/200-3 while Jagers did not crack 60m as his best of 59.78/196-1 earned him 9th, and a newer generation had a chance to shine.

Said Jagers, "My Dad passed away this past year so I really wanted to go out with a bang for him. It didn't come true but this might be a blessing in disguise because now I get to train for Olympics full-time. I made the Pan-American team so perhaps I'll be able to redeem myself.

"It was just weird because me and Mason both did pretty bad and we were both defending champions. I would just say I want to come back and come back strong. I know my Dad will be with me, and next meet I won't put too much pressure on it - I'll just come through and I'll just believe in myself."

Neither Jagers nor his fellow competitors would attribute their results to the weather, which featured a strong, direct breeze in the first round as well as rain through most of the last two.

"I usually aspire to do well in bad conditions anyway - I'm from Cleveland, Ohio!" joked Jagers.

The discus competition was unusual in that both 1st and 2nd were settled with 1st round throws.

Mattis won with a season's 66.69/218-9, while Williams threw a personal best 66.69/218-9 to win silver. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was Kord Ferguson’s thunderous 4th round 63.25/207-6, a massive personal best by almost four feet (1.18/3-10.5). Ferguson was seeded 10th coming into the competition and his presence in the final was unexpected - much less winning bronze.

The men's discus is instructive of how qualifying for the Doha World Championships works.

Top three go to Worlds, right? Well, not exactly.

Top three go to Worlds if they all have met the qualifying standard, in this case 65.00 meters.

But what if the top two have met the standard and the third has not?

The next highest American on the world list during the qualifying period who has exceeded the 65.00 meter standard by the most makes the World Championship team, and that lucky winner is none other than Mason Finley.

I think.

His place on the team really won't be assured until the final roster is released next week.

In other Day #1 highlights, Kentura Orji won her historic 4th triple jump in a row, Molly Huddle won her 5th 10,000m title, and Lopez Lomong and Shadrack Kipchirchir waged a mighty battle in a compelling men's 10,000m race. They broke away from the field and went head-to-head until the final circuit when Lomong settled things with a 55.59 closing lap. He finished in a spectacular 27:30.60.

Full results are here:

Notes: I'm in Des Moines covering the men's and women's hammer and men's and women's discus for Track and Field News. I will highlight one event daily and include the best of the day (as above) with links for more information.

I encourage you to click on the USATF results site. Marks are posted as they happen, and you can 'watch' throw-by-throw, jump-by-jump, and lap-by-lap coverage.

Brian Williams (2nd), Kord Ferguson (3rd), Sam Mattis (1st)
photo credit: Mark Cullen/

No comments:

Post a Comment