The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Pre Trials Thoughts

Jun 17th, 2024
9:24 am PDT

With most country’s selection meets literally days away, there are still many many questions regarding who will be lining up in Paris France. Not sure I can remember a year with so many late debuts, or so few competitions for athletes that should be in contention. Usually by now, I have a pretty good idea who will be on Team USA. Yes, there are always surprises, but in general the top athletes have usually separated themselves by now. This year however, is kind of like a box of chocolates. I’m not completely sure what we’re going to get. As a matter of fact, I would say my confidence level in my early predictions is well under 50%. At the end of the day, it simply means that this is going to be a very unpredictable, and exciting selection meet! And the only thing that matters now is what you do between June 21 and June 30. Those that are ready and do well will get all expenses paid trips to Paris France as members of the US Olympic Team. First three event finishers, plus relay pool selections. Everyone else will be observers of the Games. That’s the Olympic Trials. That said, here are just a few thoughts I have as we head to Eugene.

I’m actually going to start with the Men’s 400m. Usually a very strong event for the US in major meets. So far this year, it’s been a pair of European athletes making big noise. Brit Matthew Hudson Smith setting an EU record of 44.07. Belgian Alexander Doom running 44.15 and out finishing everyone in site. As well as Canadian Christopher Morales Williams who’s dominated the NCAA and leads the world at 44.02. WR holder Wayde van Niekerk has been quiet. Former Olympic champion Steven Gardiner has looked good but competed sparingly. And no American has really impressed. Outside of former World champ Michael.Norman, who opened at 44.21 this year. The Trials looks to be wide open in this event. This from the country that’s produced Lee Evans, Quincy Watts, Michael Johnson, Jeremy Wariner, and LaShawn Merritt to name just a few. Time for quartermilers to step up.

Then there are this year’s high school sprinters. Every year the “kids” seem to get better. Back in the 70’s it was Houston McTear, Johnny Jones and Dewayne Evans. The 80’s saw Roy Martin making noise at the Trials. Recently Noah Lyles and Michael Norman challenged the adults. This year Quincy Wilson (45.12) and Christian Miller (9.93) have been very consistent and fast high school stars. Wild Quincy is very confident, in reality he’s not quite close enough yet. Though in the right race, you never know, but it will take under 44.40 to make this team. Christian on the other hand, is close enough to slip into a spot in a hot race. Without wind something near 9.90 could get to Paris. Both should be fun to watch as they make the attempt. There’s something to be said for youthful exuberance.

Miller is in one of the sport’s marquee events, the 100m. Last year’s winner at nationals, Cravont Charleston will be opening up in Eugene. Ironically his PB is.02 slower than Miller’s! Charleston came out of nowhere to surprise everyone. I think this year’s race is going to be a bit more difficult than last year. As Olympic Trials races tend to be the most difficult. That and the fact that there are several healthy “alpha” sprinters in this year’s race. Noah Lyles, Christian Coleman and Fred Kerley are all previous World Champions and still in their prime. Back from lady years finals we also have Terrence Laird and Kendal Williams. As well as semi finalists PJ Austin, Kyree King, and Courtney Lindsey. Throw in former Olympian Ronnie Baker, and we have what should be a very loaded field. This one should be a doozy! That’s why I’ll be in the stadium for this one.

Two seasons ago Abby Steiner was the talk of Eugene, winning the NCAA in 21.80, then the national title in 21.77. Last year injury slowed her to 22.07 and a fourth place finish. Just missing the plane to Budapest.That injury was corrected with surgery as she ended her season with that race. She’s back healthy as evidenced by 11.05 earlier in the spring. Similarly while Abby was terrorizing everyone, Gabby Thomas was running with an injury. She too has since healed. Ran 21.60 last year, and has also been running well early season. Which means that this year we get a healthy Abby racing a healthy Gabby. According to my track math, that should add up to something special for both. Especially when you add in this year’s “hot girl” McKenzie Long (21.83). And the ever present Sha’Carri Richardson (21.93/21.61w). Making this event must see TV in my humble opinion.

It seems like every year there is an up and coming high hurdler entering our national championship meet. In ’22 it was Tre Cunningham. Who on the heels of Grant Holloway, also dominated collegiate competition and made the World team. Last year it was Cordell Tinch. Who had done his thing in Division II. Then came to town and made the World team. This year it’s Ja’Kobe Tharp. His mission is to try to break into the top three against Cunningham, Tinch, Daniel Roberts (who just makes teams), and Holloway. Not an easy task by any means as that podium will be as difficult to ascend as Paris. This end up being the best high hurdle race of the year.

Finally I want to touch on two of our bigger personalities here in the US. No, not Noah and Sydney. I’m referring to Fred and Sha’Carri. Not that Noah and Sydney aren’t big personalities in this sport. I’m looking forward to watching both in Eugene. Fred and Sha’Carri are personalities that must be “on” in order to produce. When they are on, they are potentially gold medal winners. When they are off however, both can bomb horribly. They are two highly entertaining sprinters that have shown to be among the greatest ever over 100m. Sha’Carri won Worlds last year at 10.65 – equal 5th performer ever. Fred has run 9.76 making him equal 6th performer ever. These are the two sprinters I hope to see in Eugene. Both can strengthen team USA with their healthy presence. More importantly, they will push others to perform at those levels as well.

It’s time. Show time. The toughest team in the world to make is about to conduct auditions. As they say in Britain, this ships be a real cracker!

Two Weeks Until Trials

Jun 10th, 2024
11:15 am PDT

As the NCAA Championships end. The European Championships begin to hit their stride. And the New York Grand Prix is in the books. We sit two weeks away from the Olympic Trials! Usually by now, things are pretty solidified as far as who the strong contenders for Team USA are. As I look at my own notes, and graphs, etc however, I'm still hesitant on many many spots for this team Read More...

Early Trials Thoughts

Jun 3rd, 2024
5:24 am PDT

It's about that time. We're about three weeks until the Olympic Trials. Here in the US that's what we call our Olympic team selection meet. Other countries call it something else. While still others use a completely different selection process. No matter what it's called, or how it's done, by the end of June we will know who will be competing in Paris! As the season has progressed, there has been much talk about the competitions to date and how athletes have looked Read More...

World Relays Review

May 7th, 2024
6:44 pm PDT

Let me begin by saying that World Athletics needs to find a spot on the schedule for this meet every year. It's always a fun exciting meet. Because relays are fun and exciting. It's also an opportunity for to athletes to run without worrying about their times, won loss records, or anything related to their individual events Read More...

It’s All About Timing

May 2nd, 2024
7:11 am PDT

This past weekend track fans had events from Thursday thru Sunday! An entire weekend of track and field to enjoy. Literally nearly every corner of the globe was hosting a meet of some type. It was great to see so much action, especially with several meets being televised and streamed. I noticed a lot of criticism aimed at athletes who are not performing up to the expectations of some fans Read More...

Can The Men’s 100m Record Be Broken

Apr 26th, 2024
10:12 am PDT

Track and field is in high gear now, as just about everyone expected to be in contention for medals has begun competing. This weekend we get the second Diamond League meeting in Shanghai/Suhoux China. Watching the press conference for the meet, the first question that was asked was to Christian Coleman regarding the current WR in the men's 100m Read More...

Here We Go

Apr 22nd, 2024
8:05 pm PDT

That's what went through my mind as this past weekend's results started pouring in! I got started at 4:00 in the morning with the Diamond League meet from China. Another exciting race in the 100H from the women. Ending in a 12.45 for Jasmin Camacho Quinn. Another WR for Mondo at 6.24m. A sizzling 3:50 Read More...

Fast Feet in Florida

Apr 16th, 2024
10:53 am PDT

Among the many meets that were held this past weekend, the Tom Jones Invitational stood out. As usual there was a large field of both top college programs as well as elite athletes looking for high level competition. If you're a fan of speed, go check out this meet on ESPN where it was streamed and is currently archived, because the result was two days of great track and field Read More...

Tom Jones On Deck

Apr 11th, 2024
8:36 am PDT

One of my favorite early season relay meets every year is the Tom Jones Invitational at the University of.Florida. That's because the week of the Texas and Florida Relays end up having a good dozen of so very good meets. Which means that the talent ends up at several different locations. Not a bad thing mind you, because that means lots of athletes getting the opportunity to compete! However it's nice that after they all get the chance to get started, they get to come back shortly after and really So, while the Florida Relays is the older meet, Tom Jones has grown in stature to become a meet that produces outstanding results Read More...

Relay Season in Full Effect

Apr 2nd, 2024
5:55 pm PDT

This past weekend ended the month of March with several outstanding relay meets. Athletes tend to love early season relays, because it gives you a chance to kick things off and see where you are, without actually running your "regular" event. You can run a relay leg of any distance you choose to gauge where you are Read More...