It’s only Friday, but we’ve already had enough track to fill a weekend – and we’re just getting started! The early results are in, and while Oslo wasn’t quite as hot as I had hoped, the "kids" we definitely ahead of expectations at the NCAA Championships!
Let’s start with Oslo where vets Usain Bolt (JAM) and Sally Pearson (AUS) confirmed their status as early London favorites. Fresh off his 9.76 in Rome last week, Bolt cranked out a 9.79 in Oslo. Again his only competition came from teammate Asafa Powell who was second in 9.85. Powell seemed more relaxed today as he wasn’t right next to Bolt, and no one else was a factor. He led the race early but once Bolt came out of drive phase the the result was not in doubt. Powell will certainly be a contender in Kingston at the Jamaican Trials, but will have to produce this type of performance while running in traffic – and Saturday we’ll see what form Yohan Blake is in.
Sally Pearson had her first competition away from home, but you’d never know it by the way she ran. She opened up with a swift 12.59 heat before blitzing a 12.49 in the final to equal her own world leading best. Surprising in second was Kristi Castlin (US) in a PR 12.56. Castlin entered this season with a best of 12.81 and so far this year has run the 6 fastest times of her career. She is starting to fulfill the promise she showed when she set an AJR 12.91 back in 2007, and is suddenly a Trials threat with a slew of women in that 12.5/12.6 range.
Two other women solidified their positions as a medal favorites yesterday, one being World 400 champion Amantle Montsho (BOT) who sizzled in with a 49.68 victory – showing a new consistency in that mid 49 range. She may have gone faster with some competition as this race was never in doubt as she totally controlled things with second place a block back at 50.71. Also becoming a solid medal contender of late is miler Abeba Arigawe (ETH) who took another 1500 victory against teammate Genzebe Dibaba – 4:02.42 to 4:03.28. This pair has suddenly become a threat to go one, two in London as they are dominating things early. Meanwhile, back in 6th was last year’s #1 Morgan Uceny (US) who finished ahead of Anna Pierce (US) to stay ahead of her American competition – critical since it seems that her peak is timed for London. Uceny is still a favorite to take the American title, then will have her work cut out in London with the Ethiopians suddenly on a tear.
Speaking of milers, Asbel Kiprop (KEN) won yet another mile, this time in a world leading 3:49.20. This man runs the easiest looking 3:49’s I’ve ever seen. I remember when Coe and Ovett were cracking the barrier and looking like they were all out round the bend and heading for home. Kiprop simply cruises around the track looking as if he isn’t going to break a sweat! He and teammate David Rudisha in the 800 look like near sure bets to take the middle distance races in London.
On the men’s side a couple of other competitors continued to look like medal bets as well. Javier Culson (PUR) won yet another 400 hurdle race this time becoming the first man under 48 seconds in 2012 with his 47.92 WL – in a romp over Jehue Gordon’s 48.78. Take note that World champion David Greene (GBR) was well back in 4th – and he has a lot of work to do to back up some of his earlier statements this year!. Also continuing to perform well is pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie, winning this time with a leap of 5.82m/19′ 1". Lavillenie is easily the most consistent vaulter out there right now and the only one clearing 19 feet on demand. Right now it looks like gold may be his to lose.
The full results from Oslo can be found here. It was a good meet, but I have to say the real excitement the past couple days has been in the semifinal rounds of the NCAA Championships in Des Moines Iowa. Up to this point the collegians have been a tad dull so far this year. There has been the occasional hot mark, but for the most part this has not been one of the most exciting college season on record. It looks like things may do a 180 before the weekend is over because the semis were SIZZLING!
Take the men’s 100, where Harry Adams’ (AUB) 9.96 made him the second fastest American on the season. He wasn’t alone as he led 7 sprinters under 10.10 – in the semis! Then there was Tony McQuay (FLA) who won the 3rd semi of the 400 in 44.67 – and he needed to with Josh Mance (USC) 44.83 and Gil Roberts (TX TECH) 44.84 breathing down his neck! McQuay moves to #3 in the world and looks ready to make another international team. First however he’ll have to get past an NCAA final field where the slowest qualifier was 45.29!
McQuay also anchored his Gator squad to a 3:02.34 semifinal win in their heat of the 4×4 – a mark that ended up as only the 5th fastest on the day as surprising Penn St led the way into the finals at 3:01.52 – with USC as the slowest qualifier to the final at 3:03.21! Several of those squads ran good enough to make the Olympic final. Did I mention that defending 200 meter champion Maurice Mitchell (FL ST) scorched a 20.22 to win his semi? Or that Marquis Goodwin (TX) won the long jump at 8.23m/27′ 0" and Erik Kynard (KS ST) the high jump at 2.34m/7′ 8" – and had a decent shot at 7′ 9"!
But the star of this show just may be Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU) before the weekend is over. So far she’s cruised to an 11.11 semi win in the 100 – INTO a negative 1.2mps wind. Anchored a 42.68 semi win the 4×1 to lead all qualifiers. And finished up her semifinal efforts with a world leading 22.19 sec victory in her 200 semi – and she still has three more races to go! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this young lady looks like the second coming of Gwen Torrence – and the NCAA’s could be just the beginning of her 2012 season!
Suddenly this meet looks like it could be one of the most exciting championships ever, and an excellent precursor to the Olympic Trials. Prior to the pasts couple of days I felt that the Trials would be dominated by the professionals. We’ll see what the next two days of competition bring, but expect to see the “kids” in contention in Eugene. The finals will be run today and tomorrow. And Saturday we have New York on tap. Then it’s on to the Trials! Life is good.