Friday, June 28, 2024

Day 6 US Olympic Track and Field Trials

Hurdles History

by Mark Cullen

Day 6 was a day with only one final and a multiplicity of semi-finals and qualifying rounds. But it's the one final that will linger longest.

A remarkable 110 hurdles final as Grant Holloway scared the 12.80 world record with his #4 all-time performance of 12.86. For the first time ever, the top three finishers in a 110m hurdles race broke 13 seconds.

Freddie Crittenden was second in 12.93 with Daniel Roberts 3rd in 12.96.

Cordell Tinch - 4th in 13.03 - must be wondering what more it takes to make the Olympic team.

In the men's hammer, only Rudy Winkler and Daniel Haugh have the Olympic qualifying standard of 78.20/256-7. Haugh led his flight with a second round throw of 74.94/245-10 and finished 3rd overall.

“I’m in the best shape of my life,” he said. “What to do between now and Sunday’s final?”

“Go jump in the river down the street! Have some fun, cool off a little bit, and talk with my coach.”

As for why his season is going so well: “I’ve been 12 months injury free, so I’ve been able to compound and compound the training. It’s just consistency; you just show up every day without getting hurt.”

That he threw almost 75 meters today?

“You know it’s a great sign.”

Surprise 2nd place qualifier was Justin Stafford. Two years ago his PB was 73.07/239-8; now it’s 76.12/249-9. He is clearly focused and ready for Sunday’s final and has one goal and guiding principle: “Execute.”

Rudy Winkler had a surprise foul called on his first throw - one which he disputed and which was hard for observers to perceive - but he rebounded to lead qualifying in 77.08/252-11 with his third and final throw.

Winkler, too, feels confident about Sunday. “I think I’m in a really good place physically, mentally. I’m just excited to be here and to be competing.”

“I used to approach these meets and be very stressed out about them,” he said.  “And now it’s nothing but fun… It’s refreshing and nice. I feel like it’s easy to be mean to yourself in the sport. It was nice to just be nice to myself this year and enjoy it.”

Kara Winger is on the javelin comeback trail and led the first flight at 63.01/206-8; this stood up to lead the entire javelin qualifying process. Two-time national champion Maggie Malone Hardin is the only javeliner (it’s time for a new word) who has the Olympic qualifying standard of 64.00/210-0, and she finished 2nd today in 62.40/204-9.

The start list for Sunday’s women’s pole vault final warms the hearts of Pacific Northwesterners - especially those associated with the Moll sisters – twins Hana and Amanda. They will be jumping third to last and second to last in the order. Only Katie Moon will jump after them – lofty territory indeed.

Hana is the more decorated of the two with U20 and NCAA indoor titles to her credit. Not to mention the fact that she’s the national high school and American U20 record holder. For those of us from the Seattle area privileged enough to have seen their rise (they are from Olympia, WA), it’s hard to remember that they are only 19.

With 1:44.70 the men’s 800m Olympic qualifying standard, finding runners under that standard was no problem for athletes in the second heat. Hobbs Kessler and Brandon Miller separated themselves by only two one-hundredths of a second with stellar times of 1:43.71 and 1:43.73, respectively. Bryce Hoppel won the 3rd heat in 1:44.01. The boys are ready.

In the first heat of the men’s 200m semis, Noah Lyles ran 19.60 with Christian Coleman second in 19.89. ‘Nuff said.

The women’s 200m took shape with Gabby Thomas leading all qualifiers at 21.78, and Sha’Carri Richardson had the 2nd fastest time, 21.92. While Richardson is the favorite, never ever underestimate Gabby Thomas.

Expect a wholesale rewriting of the women’s and men’s 200m all-time lists on Saturday.

Gabby Douglas

In a rarity, 27 started the women’s 100m hurdles and 27 qualified for the next round. In short, a busful of qualifiers, led by Masai Russell in a scorching 12.35.

Only Donald Scott has the triple jump standard among the qualifiers, 11 men broke 50.00 in the intermediate hurdles with Rai Benjamin leading the way at 47.97, and Nikki Hiltz led the dozen women’s 1500m qualifiers to Sunday’s final.

All of the usual suspects advanced to the women’s shot put final - but there was a crowd-pleasing new suspect today. Oregon’s NCAA champion Jaida Ross finished 3rd and has the Olympic qualifying standard. 

Can you imagine Hayward Field if she makes the Olympic team? Oh, that’s right. Well, yes, you can.

Get ready for a wild weekend with 6 finals on Saturday and 11 – count ‘em! – on Sunday.


photo by Mark Cullen

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