There were only two finals today, as the bulk of today’s activity involved heats and semis that will lead to the crescendo that is the final two days of the Trials. So let’s talk about those finals then move on to the day’s action.
The women’s shot was one of those easy to predict events with AR holder Jill Camarena Williams and Michelle Carter in the field.They’re easily our best puters and performed that way going 1,2. In the steeple Colorado’s Emma Coburn took over midway, controlled the race and easily won by some 30+ meters. Bridgett Franek stayed in 2nd for most of the race and out kicked Coburn’s Colorado teammate Shayla Kip as they went 2,3 to fill out the team. Coburn looked easy in her victory and certainly capable of better. She’s currently 11th in the world so perhaps she can get to London and complete well.
So with those tickets to London punched, who looks to be in the best position for Satuurday anbd Sunday based on today’s heats and semis? Well, two men that won’t be competing at all are Walter Dix and Justin Gatlin – both scratched from their opening round heats in the 200. Dix obviously couldn’t answer the bell after getting injured in the 100. That’s a big loss as his 19.53 PR rates as #2 American all time – just ahead of Tyson Gay who’s 19.58 will also be missing due to lack of preparation rehabbing from surgery. Gatlin had run 20.11 earlier in the season and based on his 100 meter performances looked ready to improve on his 19.86 best. Also scratching was Mookie Salaam who had a best of 20.05. That’s a lot of talent left on the cutting room floor so to speak.
All of which leaves Wallace Spearmon as the lone known entity heading into the heats. And of course Wallace looked the part of favorite leading the opening round with a 20.17 clocking. No television of the heats but also producing solid times were Calesio Newman 20.28, Jeremy Dodson 20.28, and Shawn Crawford 20.32 – very good opening marks. Let’s see what the follow up is in the semis.
We did get the women’s semis – and the final is going to be HOT. In the first semi, Bianca Knight ran a sizzling turn but couldn’t shake Jeneba Tarmoh. Tianna Madison joined them with a strong stretch run as Tarmoh (22.30), Madison (22.33), and Knight (22.34) crossed the line together. But that was just the beginning. In semi #2 Sanya R-Ross burned the turn to separate from Kimberlyn Duncan then held her off down the stretch before easing down near the finish – winning 22.15 to 22.37! Duncan will have to run that turn much better if she wants to go to London. In the final semi Allyson Felix had no problem at all with the turn blazing around the bend and coming into the straight well ahead of Carmelita Jeter. Felix never left cruising speed and shut down in the final stages to boot – and ran 22.30.
I wondered about R-Ross coming into this meet. Well, right now she and Felix look to be some combination of 1,2 – with a whole lot of folk in the battle for the last golden ticket. And if you want eerie, the times for Felix and Tarmoh were only .001 different in spite of being in different heats! Preview to the final?
Speaking of previews, I think that’s what we got in the first semi of the women’s 1500 as Uceny took control and led the race from gun to tape with Jenny Simpson on her shoulder throughout. Uceny did what she does – run smart – and Simpson looked to be searching for the right spot to pounce. A bit behind them was Anna Pierce who looked to be trying to find her opening as well. But if you watch their legs, Uceny has the quicker tempo, and in the final lap when it’s time to kick, if these girls want to jump her they’d better surprise her and be prepared to try and run and hide. The second semi saw Shannon Rowbury run comfortably throughout before running away on the final lap. I’m sticking with my original prediction of Uceny, Simpson, Rowbury, though Rowbury may switch finishing spots with Simpson. This race and the women’s deuce will be highlight races of the weekend!
The men’s version lacks the “names” of the women’s race, but it too is shaping up to be a final lap burner. The biggest name in the field is Andrew Wheating and running in the first semi he almost seemed to be toying with the field before storming through to qualify in the second position. In the second semi Matthew Centrowitz seemed to be running week within himself as he led Will Leer and Robbie Andrews past the line. This race is going to be slow and will go to the best kickers – so look for half the field to be in contention with 300 to go.
And then there are the hurdles. The men’s 110s opened today and there were no major casualties. Aries Merritt and Jason Richardson looked very sharp. David Oliver started better than I’ve seen since 2010. And in the long hurdles it looked like veterans day with Lashinda Demus, Angelo Taylor, Bershawn Jackson and Kerron Clement showing their “experience”. The best youngster on the day was Georganne Moline who ran a PR 54.72 and looked comfortable doing it.
All of which leads into what is going to be a hot Saturday.