Saturday, July 8, 2023

Battle of the Brands

by Mark Cullen

You know when someone says, “This is why we run the race,” that something unexpected has happened.

Cravont Charleston won the USATF men’s 100m title by a scant 1/100th in turning back two of the greatest stars of this show, Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles. Collectively, their 9.95-9.96-10.0 finish upset every form chart except, perhaps, those kept by closest relatives and friends.

Charleston was ranked #14 in the world (by World Athletics) coming into the meet.

The madness continued in 4th and 5th places. Brandon Carnes (4th) and JT Commerce (5th) were ranked 17th and 46th, respectively.

Charleston was not completely off the radar screen as he ran a windy 9.87 in April and a 9.90 just three weeks ago. He was coming, but not many saw it, including those he now counts among his rivals.

“I thought I had it,” said Christian Coleman. “Honestly, I really thought I had it.”

A deeply religious man, Charleston, when asked if he sensed his life having changed yet as US 100m champion, said, “I try to stay calm and not let it get to me. I’m still the same person and I always give glory to God. I’m not going to let it change me too much.”

He calmed himself during the day by playing gospel music. In this he finds peace, and it “keeps me grounded and sane.”

In addition to running the open 100m, Charleston is looking forward to relay duty and being part of the camaraderie of that team.

Cravont Charleston, US 100m Champion

Mark Cullen photo

In the women’s 100m, Sha’Carri Richardson completed a nifty three-race triple of 10.71-10.75-10.82 to win her national title.

 Tamari Davis had the start of a lifetime, and while she couldn’t hold her lead over  Richardson, her start surely propelled her onto the World Championships team.

“My semi-final start was great – and this start!” Davis said. “I’ve been working on that, and I know if I have a great start the race will be great for me.”

She is still working on the last 10 meters of her race and “once I really complete everything, I’m ready to see how I do.”

Brittany Brown set a personal best of 10.90 in winning silver. The 2019 World silver medalist at 200m said, “It’s been a whirlwind and I’m glad to be back.”

With coaching changes, a period of time without a contract, and the pandemic – to name a few life changes - since her Doha medal, Brown is delighted to find herself back on the US team.

“I’m glad to be back here in a different event, but it feels good.  It’s been whole different journey,”

She is enjoying the challenge of a new event.

“I feel like it’s just me coming to terms with (the fact) that I can do the 100, the 200, the 300 – I can even do the 400 if you want!”

Her road from silver in Doha to making this World Championship team in a personal best 10.90 has been a rocky one, but her resilience has only served to increase her self-confidence.

“I am multi-faceted and when I put my mind to it, I can do it.”

Friday notes

* Harrison Williams took almost 10 years to achieve a personal best in the decathlon and he won! In the decathlon 1500m, Austin West won the race within the race and set a PB by 4 seconds, but still needs a qualifying mark to make the World Championships team.

*News you can use: Jenna Prandini did not start her 100m semi. Upon further reflection, this is not a complete surprise considering her strength in the 200m this year and her likely membership once again on the sprint relay team.

*Anna Hall won the heptathlon with a score of 6677 - by 358 points over Taliyah Brooks, but this was well shy of her personal record of 6988. Will 7000 be in her future in Budapest?

*In the first men’s 800m semi-final, the top three all broke 1:46.00 in impressive semi-final times of 1:45.26 (Bryce Hoppel), 1:45.67 (Clayton Murphy), and 1:45.92 (Isaiah Harris).

*A similarly impressive first semi of the women’s 800m – Nia Akins 2:00.02, Raevyn Rogers 2:00.44, and Ajee Wilson 2:00.66 led the way.

*Donald Scott, Will Claye, and Chris Benard, made the triple jump team. It’s hard not to wince and hope for his good health when Christian Taylor jumps. He suffered a grievous Achilles rupture in May 2021 and has not, quite understandably, been quite the same since.

 *Vashti Cunningham won her 13th US high jump title. Pause and absorb.

 *In the women’s 400m, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone ran a 49.60 to win her semi-final by .99 of a second, marking her 2nd consecutive day under 50 seconds. Makes you wonder what’s in store for Saturday’s final.

 *Possibly unsettling… the feature on the scoreboard – make that the ‘experience’ board - that counts down how many meters are left in a race.

 Don’t we already know? Is this news for the runners? Did it really help the 10,000m m runners Thursday evening to know they had 6,785 meters to go?

 *Though on second thought… that self-same scoreboard shows how many meters a runner is from the winner. It certainly gave fresh perspective to the women’s 10,000m when Elise Cranny finished 108 meters ahead of Natosha Rogers, who was 3rd. That certainly does add meaningful perspective to understanding the margin of Cranny’s win. Rogers was at the 100m start when Cranny was crossing the finish line.

 Let’s make a deal: we’ll keep the scoreboard but we’ll drop the ‘experience’ board. All in favor?!

*Meanwhile, in the battle of the brands… while the women’s top five 100m sprinters included two athletes representing Nike and three representing adidas, the men’s top five looked like this:

1. Tracksmith

2. Nike

3. Adidas

4. unattached

5. Texas A&M Commerce

Take a screenshot of that!

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