Sunday, June 23, 2024

Day 2 US Olympic Track and Field Trials

by Mark Cullen

On a day on which much attention was rightly focused on the women’s 100m, the women’s triple jump was just as compelling.

Two-time NCAA champion Jasmine Moore pipped multiple national champion Kenturah Orji on her final jump: 14.26-14.22 (46 9 ½ - 14-8). Orji’s final attempt, in turn, fell 4cm short. Nonetheless, Orji made her third Olympic team, and they are joined by Eugene ’22 World bronze medalist Tori Franklin for a trip to Paris.

The women’s 100m semi-finals were brutal (3 semis with top 2 in each to finals, along with the next best two times). Imagine being in the first semi-final with Sha’Carri Richardson and Tamari Davis and trying to defeat one of the two to advance.

In the final, Richardson showed that she can’t be matched in the last 30-40 meters. In an astonishingly deep field in which the top 6 broke 11.0, Richardson stormed to the finish in 10.71, with Melissa Jefferson (10.80) just three one-hundredths behind in second and Twanisha Terry 3rd in 10.89.

Richardson described this as “a full circle moment” which “definitely confirms the the years we’ve been training,” and said she is “grateful and appreciative of the direction that we’re headed.”

The men’s shot put featured yet another clash between Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs; just a single centimeter separated them after the first round, and visions of the epic close finish at 2015 Worlds in Beijing came to mind.

Kovacs’ first put of the day would prove to be his best, however, and Crouser pulled away to win in 22.84 (74-11.25) to Kovacs’ 22.43 (73-7.25). Payton Otterdahl (22.26-73 ½) joined them on the Olympic team.

“This is the hardest meet of the year,” said Kovacs. “Right now, all eyes are on Paris. This (qualifying) is just part of the plan.”

Ryan Crouser
photo: Mark Cullen

There were no huge upsets or surprises in the men’s 100m first round. Only three broke 10.00, with Noah Lyles leading the charge in 9.92. Sorry to see Cravont Charleston not advance; the 2023 surprise national champion has been off form since getting injured in relay camp before the ’23 World Championships.

The women’s 400m semi-finals caused the track to melt a bit. The slowest time of the nine qualifiers to finals was 50.48, while Kaylyn Brown led all comers in 49.71.

Heath Baldwin PRed in the javelin, the next to last event of the decathlon, to secure his win with 8625 points, his personal best by 155 points, over two-time Olympian Zach Ziemek. Baldwin cited his opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best through the NCAA system, and said of his approach to competition, “I don’t like to think about points. I like to think about competing.”

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau estimates the combined male population of Washington and Oregon at 5,991,000. Fortunately, most of them qualified for Monday’s 1500m final.

It helped a lot if your name was Cole Hocker, Cooper Teare, or Elliott Cook (the Oregon delegation) or Henry Wynne, Nathan Green, or Joe Wascom, (the Washington delegation, including Brooks Beasts).

The second heat was significantly faster than the first; Cole Hocker won the first in 3:37.89, while Yared Nuguse won the second in 3:34.09 to tie the Trials record.

In social media news, NBC Olympics correspondent Snoop Dog was in the house on Saturday, while a well-known Olympics commentator has been in for an online razzing. When asked to name his favorite track and field events, he included triathlon on his list. As one of three events in the triathlon is running, I would give him partial credit.

 It’s an uphill battle, folks.

 Carry on.

In a reflective, expansive interview with the gathered media, two-time Olympic gold medalist, Ryan Crouser, distilled track and field and his place in it to its elemental best when he said, “That’s best thing about being the world record holder. When you get a PR (personal record), you get the world record!”

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