Tiffany Porter (GBR) started the afternoon off with a nice 12.96 (-0.5) – fastest time this side of last week’s blazer in Tuscon, and of course Sally Pearson (AUS). Then an early treat as the male hurdlers took the track. Crossing the finish line first in 13.10 (+3.0) was Ronnie Ash (USA), as he ran his way into the early hurdle conversation taking the scalps of Dexter Faulk (USA) 13.25, Dexter Faulk (USA) 13.25, Lehann Fourie (RSA) 13.31 and David Oliver (USA) 13.31. Ash’s time would have been a world leader if not for the wind, but his dominance of the race was unmistakable. If he continues as he has in these early meets, he’s going to make it tough on the rest of the field in Eugene.
The hurdlers were just getting things warmed up as Francena McCorory (USA) toured a lap of the track in 51.56 – currently the 3rd fastest time in the world – as she continues to look like one of the top quarter milers in the US. The men went one better as last year’s National champion, Tony McQuay, took a lap in 45.65 for the #2 time in the world in heat 1, followed by Dave Hyatt (JAM) who won heat 2 in 45.68.McQuay looks to be over his injury ills from last year and ready to challenge for another spot on the national team. Meanwhile, Hyatt has shown tremendous improvement this year. Only 46.73 last year, Hyatt was 2nd at last year’s NCAA Div. II championships. This was his second sub 46 of the year following a 45.80 run in North Carolina last month.
Next up was young Marvin Bracy in the high school section of the 100 meters. Unfortunately Bracy false started, as once again this inane rule robbed a meet of a top level athlete. At some point the powers that be at all levels of the sport will realize what a tragic waste this rule is. Sadly this could have been one of the top high school sprint match ups of the year as even without Bracy, Levonte Whitfield (Jones HS, Florida) blazed to a 10.21w (+2.3) with a barely over the allowable wind. Bracy has been getting most of the press this year, but Whitfield ran 10.31 himself last year – so he’s no slouch! A match up between these two later in the season could produce some sparks as 2012 is beginning to look like one of those special high school seasons.
Back on the track frosh Octavious Freeman (UCF) ran like anything but a freshman as she sizzled to a WL 11.10 (+1.1). She would come back later to take the 200 meters in 22.80 (+0.5), the #2 time in the world this year. With women like Carmelita Jeter and Marshevet Myers making the US team in the 100 will be difficult, but Freeman is improving very rapidly this year and I will be curious to see where she is come June. Jeff Demps (FL) will also be one to watch as the season unfolds. Today he clocked 10.11 (+1.1), the second fastest time in the world so far, and the fastest time by a collegian. He was pushed all the way by Kemar Hyman (FLSt) who finished in 10.14 – #3 in the world so far. Demps is looking like he’s ready for another run at an NCAA championship. The question is how deep will he go into the Olympic Trials in June.
The long hurdles produces a set of world leading marks, first with Tierra Brown (USA) formerly of the University of Miami, who scorched a lap in 54.88. Well up on the previous best of 55.45 as this event is now under way. The same can be said the for men’s version as Bershawn Jackson (USA) took the world lead with his 48.49 win over Johnny Dutch (USA) and his 48.96 as they became the first under 49 seconds this year. Dutch had a busy day as he ran the 110 hurdles earlier in 13.73 (-0.1). Not a bad day’s work for Dutch, who has been putting in a lot of double duty at meets this year.
Finally we saw a nice pair of 200’s. I already mentioned Octavious Freeman who doubled back after the 100 to win in 22.80. She had to run that fast as Chalonda Williams (USA) was right there with her. The men’s race saw Florida State senior Maurice Mitchell blaze a 20.08w (+3.1). Mitchell won last year’s NCAA title at this distance and got some relay duty in Daegu. He looks in fine form and ready to defend his NCAA title – and if he keeps running like this may get a spot in the deuce for London, especially with no Tyson Gay to contend with.
Like I said, enough highlights from Day one to cover a normal weekend of activity! The first day in Florida revolves around the individual events, tomorrow will highlight the relays. And if today was any indication, the relays could be off the hook!