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

Trials Final Weekend

Jul 2nd, 2012
11:21 am PDT

Allyson FelixAfter over a week of action, the Trials wrapped things up in nice style this weekend. There were only 2 finals on the track on Saturday, but 5 on Sunday. With 2 field finals each day. One would almost think they could have had single day “finale” and did it up right for the fans. Still there was some great action over the final two days.

There were only four finals on Saturday, but they were something else. In the field we got what we expected in triple jump with Christian Taylor and Will Claye setting the pace. They did it early with Taylor hitting 17.32m/57’10.25” and Claye 17.55m/57’7” in the initial round – event over! Taylor fouled round 2 and then passed his remaining jumps. Claye too two more jumps but didn’t improve so passed his final three jumps. That’s how good this pair is. No one else was close and now one else has the “A” standard so these two young men will carry the banner into London. Not a bad pairing to do so.

We got a bit more excitement in the women’s high jump where favorite Chaunte Lowe was actually pushed to the limit by Brigetta Barrett. Both women cleared 2.01m/6’7” the difference being a single miss by Barrett back at 1.85m/6’4.75”! Lowe was her usual stellar self, for Barrett it was new territory as the mark was a PR for her. Great jumping for both of them, as they are now =2nd globally on the season – another great pair headed to London. Not to mention that in third was Amy Acuff (1.95m/6’4.75”, =9th globally) making her fifth Olympic squad!

As hot as things were in the field they were hotter on the track, as a matter of fact if I had done a separate day for Saturday it would have been  called “PR Saturday”.. Starting with the semis of the men’s 110 hurdles where Jason Richardson became the 13th man in history to run under 13.00 with his 12.98 in the 3rd semi. This was on the heels of Aries Merritt clocking a PR 13.01 in the previous semi. Setting up the possibility of 3 sub 13 men in the final with AR holder the winner of semi 1 (13.27). While we didn’t get 3 men under the magic barrier, we did get two as Merritt, flew to an impressive 12.93 to win ahead of Richardson’s 2nd 12.98 of the meet! Merritt is now =8th all time, tied with none other than Renaldo Nehemiah! The shocker was third place as Jeff Porter ran a PR 13.08 to get the final spot to London – ahead of Antwon Hicks (13.14) and AR holder David Oliver (13.17). This makes the second Games in a row where the AR holder didn’t make the Olympic team as Dominique Arnold (12.90) failed to make the trip to Beijing. As a matter of fact previous record holder Allen Johnson (12.92) failed to make it out of his heat in ‘04 – though he was at the end of his career and was a previous champion. Are we having an AR curse in this event?

One might have thought it hard to top the hurdle race, but the women’s deuce lived up to the pre-race hype – in a BIG way. With Knight, Duncan, R-Ross, Madison, Felix, Tarmoh, and Jeter all lining up this race was LOADED. And while Felix was the prohibitive favorite, one had to feel that Jeter was a threat off of her pure speed; R-Ross off her recent PR (22.09); Duncan off her fresh legs and solid races all season; Madison off her steady PR running recently; and Tarmoh off her 100 performance. But from the fun this was Allyson Felix’ race as she stormed around the bend, emerged first into the straight, and powered away to a 21.69 PR win! THAT is how the deuce is run! That was a Michael Johnson, Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay type of run – gun to tape. She heads to London as the 4th fastest woman in history over half a lap. And finally seems to be reaching her potential at this distance – I’ve felt for a few years she should be at 21.6. Next stop London and a date with VCB! Behind her Jeter finished in 22.11 for a PR and R-Ross completed her double by making the team at 22.22. This is easily the strongest group we’ve ever sent to the Games.

The running wasn’t quite as fast on Sunday, but the teams selected were definitely strong. Starting in the field, we got 3 women over 23 feet in the long jump as unknown Chelsea Hayes leaped 7.10m/23’3.5” on her final jump of the competition to leapfrog into the lead with her foot and a half PR! This after Janay Deloach jumped 7.03m/23’0.75” for a PR then a windy 7.08m/23’2.75” on her penultimate jump to temporarily take the lead. But Brittney Reese got the last word as she won the event with a final round jump of 7.15m/23’5.5” jump – best in the world – to lead our strongest ever contingent in this event to the Games.

Morgan UcenyIn the women’s javelin we got an upset as Brittany Borman, who entered the year with a best of 54.32m/178’2.5”, and the meet with a best of 59.42m/194’11.25” hit 61.51m/201’9.5” to defeat AR holder Kara Patterson and punch her ticket to London! In fourth Rachel Yurkovich has reached the “A” standard and she too will be on that flight.

But the real drama for the day was on the track. In the women’s 400 hurdles things went pretty much to form as Lashinda Demus (53.98), Georganne Moline (54.33) and T’erea Brown (54.88) took the three spots to London. Demus won the World title last year and is an early favorite for London. Moline, INHO should be a finalist and has the potential to upset some folk. She runs a smart race and her long strides eat up ground – especially over the second half of the race. I think she can be better than the PR she ran in this race. These three women form a very solid group. We’ll see how they do at the Games.

The men’s race served up very unexpected results. Youth played no roll here as the veterans got it done. None more surprising than Michael Tinsley. Angelo Taylor had run his usual hard backstretch and came into the stretch with a huge lead – then hit a hurdle. That threw him off stride big time and he began to struggle down the stretch. Tinsley to his outside ran hard and overtook the two time Olympic champion 48.33 to 48.57 to win the title and a trip to the Games. Behind this pair Bershawn Jackson and Kerron Clement were waging their own war for the final spot. Their battle went down the the finish line as Bershawn (48.94) dived for the line, but Clement (48.89) got there first! Tragic for “Batman” who was the hottest hurdler on the planet early in the season, but won’t get to book a flight to London.

All the principles in the women’s 1500 will be headed to the Games however, as Morgan Uceny (4:04.59), Shannon Rowbury (4:05.11) and Jenny Simpson (4:05.17) followed the script (at least the one I had played out in my head) to lead us to London. These are three savvy women who all ran solid races. At the end of the day however, Uceny took control early, and kept everyone else where she wanted them. Since she’s the best kicker in the field, the final lap was anti climatic as she simply maintained the lead and crossed the line first. I’m excited about this trio in London. While they are well off the PR’s of some of the women that have run well under 4 minutes. I think that they are capable of running under that barrier, and will do well in what is usually a tactical race in majors. I talk a lot about the short races, but the 1500 is actually one of my favorite events and it’s nice to see such a strong group of women headed to London.

Wallace SpearmonThe men’s race was a pleasant surprise as well. Mostly because the pace didn’t dawdle and we got an honest race. Even so coming into the final lap there were still a half dozen men that legitimately had a shot at the team, but Matthew Centrowitz (3:35.84) and Leo Manzano (3:35.75) had been controlling things and like Uceny are solid kickers, so that put an end to two spots as they headed down the final backstretch and came into the straight still in control. The resultant rush for the finish was won by Andrew Wheating (3:36.68), as his long strides easily ate up more ground than anyone else in that final stretch. I’m not sure if this group will be competitive in a fast race, but as with the women, if the pace is allowed to drop  I think we have a chance here.

The final race of the meet, the men’s deuce, was really to see who would go to London with Wallace Spearmon to represent the US. With Gay and Dix not competing Spearmon was the lone “stud” on the track and ran like it winning in 19.82 (2.3). Behind him Maurice Mitchell (20.14) and Isiah Young proved to be the best of a group of young sprinters. Spearmon should be a medalist at the Games. I’m dying to see how he does in London.

So there we are. The team for London is set. And I will be back to give my opinion on how I think we will perform.

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8 Responses to “Trials Final Weekend”

  1. Anderson says:

    Some Corrections:
    Amy Acuff makes her 5th Olympic team: 96, 00, 04, 08, 12.
    Jason Richardson becomes the 13th man to go under 13 sec.
    Manzano won the 1500 in 3:35:75, Centro was second.

  2. Nick says:

    CHill, hope you’re feeling better.

    110HH: JR was killing his semi until he shut it down after #10, jogging across. Would have been very close to WR time otherwise.

    Walter Davis got screwed: he had 3rd but not the standard going into his last jump. He took off, went airborne, then the crowd erupted in response to a big clearance in the women’s HJ. Walter, still airborne, became visibly unhinged and mis-jumped on his subsequent launch. Very unfortunate, and I thought he should have gotten another jump.

    Media coverage of the women’s 100; no, USATF could not foresee this occurrence. And they did their best to resolve it with the parties involves. Makes me sick that media has made this ‘controversy’ into the headline of the Trials, with all their Monday morning quarterbacking. The officials tried very hard to get it right; I work side by side with these people, and they want the correct call.

    On a personal note, I got to meet Martha Watson, class act.

    Solid team going to London. Don’t know if we’ll exceed our medal haul from Barcelona, but it’ll be fun to watch.

    Regards,
    Nick

    • CHill says:

      Thanks Nick … A little better … One of the reasons I didn’t make the trip this time … Should be ok in another day or so …

      I too hate that the controversy has dominated the meet … It was a very good Trials ..

      I think we may exceed Barcelona … Working on my post meet analysis now … Just a little slower than normal .. :-)

  3. Jim says:

    As a hurdles coach I was disappointed with NBC’s coverage of the 110 HH, especially the semis. What I found most impressive about the final was the performance of Jeff Porter. He hit at least 9 of 10 hurdles, several very hard, enroute to his 3rd place finish. Every hurdle strike added hundredths of seconds to his time. Had he run a clean race, then he definitely would have run sub-13, and might have even challenged for the win. He may surprise many in the Olympics.

    • CHill says:

      Yes, the semis definitely deserved more attention .. A new sub 13 and one very close … That’s historical track taking place and they glossed over it … Porter is going to be very interesting … Like you said he had nothing close to a clean race in his PR run … That says a lot … London is going to be a greater race than first thought – and without Oliver … That’s something to think about …

  4. michael roth says:

    … and a record breaking performance by Trevor Barron, followed by the tightly contested race won by Maria Michta. Both completely ignored by NBC.

    • CHill says:

      My biggest disappointment is that they have track people on board that should be providing better guidance .. They miss far too much for the staff they have ..

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