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

USATF Plot Lines

Jun 17th, 2013
9:06 am PDT

CainThe World Championships are in August, and this week we select the athletes that will be representing the good old Red, White, and Blue. In spite of the fact that many say the sport is dead, the US Trials are annually one of the greatest meets on the planet – trumped in depth only by the Games and World Championships themselves.

As such it’s a meet steeped in drama and plot lines with many of the world’s best athletes going head to head for spots at the big dance. This year will be no different with intrigue all over the place.

Take the men’s 100 where we select the trio that will go up against Bolt & the Jamaicans – as well as play a strong role in the 4×1 squad. Gay, Gatlin, Dix, Bailey, Rodgers, Patton, Kimmons, Locke, Young, Silmon, Batson – do the kids even have a chance?

How about the women’s middle distances where we’ve developed several competitive women in the last several years – Uceny, Simpson, Rowbury, Pierce, Montano, Cain, Wright, and Martinez among others. There should be some tremendous battles here. As a matter of fact the women’s 1500 could bed one of the most intriguing events of the week.

Then there’s the men’s 400 hurdles where it looks like old school (Taylor, Clement, Jackson) will meet new school (Tinsley, Dutch, Andersen, Wyatt) in what could be a changing of the guard – or not. Bottom line is nearly every event this week will have some type of "story" waiting to be flushed out and told – and we get to watch.

While we’re watching this play out, here are a few individual tales that I think bear following as they could have a major affect on how thy team to Moscow is shaped.


Mary Cain – Middle Distances

The high school phenom will be attempting to make her first major team. And to be honest she’s got as good a chance as most of the "adults" that are entered. I’ll be curious to see what she enters because personally I think her best chance is in the 800 as the adults seem to be stronger as the distance lengthens. She’s a gutsy racer however, and my guess is we see her in the 1500 and she will be a factor in that final lap.


Carmelita Jeter – Sprints

Jeter started out like a house afire early, then hit injury. Even not at her best however she should still make the team unless several women find their way under 10.90. With top rival Fraser Pryce running well and wanting to get into the 10.6 zone however, Jeter can’t afford to be too far off the pace this week. Jeter’s health could be key to one of history’s most epic female sprint battles.


Jeremy Wariner – 400 meters

Once upon a time Wariner was "The Man" in the 400 winning everything available and moving to #3 all time. Then along came Merritt, a split with his coach, and he became a strong number two – still remaining a force in the event. Lately however, he’s had difficulty in average races and the last result I saw from Wariner he ran 46.0. This could be the first time he’s stepped on the track healthy and failed to make the team since 2004.


Wallace Spearmon – 200 meters

Spearmon has been a staple on US international teams in the 200 since 2005. When others have faltered (Gay, Dix, Crawford, et al) Spearmon has been there – even running legs on dinner of our most successful 4×1 squads. His results this year have been very un-Spearmon like as he enters nationals with a best of only 20.32. Nationals will be as strong as ever with vets Gay & Dix looking ready. Justin Gatlin a threat to return to form. And lots of young talent in Isaiah Young, Bryshon Nellum, Charles Silmon, and Curtis Mitchell looking for a ticket to Moscow. This could be Spearmon’s toughest run.


Aries Merritt – 110 Hurdles

Merritt had a near perfect storybook type season last year – capped by a season ending 12.80 world record. But heading into Iowa Merritt has a best of only 13.37 as he’s fought injury, and hasn’t finished a race since April 27. That’s not how the sequel was supposed to play out. Luckily for Merritt, no one else has really stepped their game up either as David Oliver (13.10) and Rush Wilson (13.18) lead the way to Iowa. A healthy Merritt runs that easily – we just don’t know how healthy he is.


Dwight Phillips – Long Jump

People forget but Phillips is the =#5 jumper all time at 28′ 8.25" – on the verge of 29 feet. He’s won multiple gold at both the Olympics & Worlds, but heads to Iowa struggling to jump 27 feet. If he can reach 27 feet he’ll pull a Carl and make yet another team – a fitting end to a great career – but can her get out to what used to be an easy, routine jump for him? Phillips could find himself battling his toughest opponent ever at nationals – Father Time.


Morgan Uceny

On the Circuit and on the clock, Uceny has been America’s top miler. But she’s suffered disaster at the big dance falling at both the Olympics & World Championships. She’s back for another shot but has been relatively quiet so far running only 4:08.49. Personally I’ve thought her to beer our best tactician over 1500, she’s going to have to price it here as this could be one of our toughest 1500 fields in some time. And in order to get back to the Biff stage to redeem herself, she’s got to get a ticket this week.

There are many many more – Angelo Taylor, Bershawn Jackson, Walter Dix, English Gardener, Bernard Lagat, Brianna Rollins, Sanya Richards Ross – I could go on all day. What it all means is that this should be one of the most exciting championships in some time – and that’s saying a lot. I must say that once again I’m disappointed in USA Track & Field add their website has no information regarding a webcast of the event. A travesty for the top team in the world to NOT have a web presence for our championships!

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8 Responses to “USATF Plot Lines”

  1. Anderson says:

    Remember that Jeter and Phillips have wild cards to the WC so all they have to do is get out the blocks/make the pit once and they are in Moscow.

    Also Cain declared in the 1500 and scratched in the 800 so yea she will be there.

    • CHill says:

      I remembered Jeter, forgot about Phillips .. I just figure Jeter will race and Smith will have her ready to ..

      Cain must’ve just scratched the eight cause I checked late this weekend .. Figured she’d go that route .. Tougher go for her, but I’m no longer surprised by anything she does – unless she runs under 4:00 … That race is going to be off the chain .. Martinez and Cain are going to spice it up .. Uceny, Rowbury, and Simpson will probably try to go tactical ..

      Men’s 100 is going to be crazy too .. Gat and Gay are ready .. We’ll see about Dix .,, Bailey hits a start and he almost unstoppable ., and then all the youngsters on the edge .. The final is going to be interesting ..

      • Anderson says:

        Martinez is actually only running the 800 not the 15, which may be an easier since as you stated, the 1500 is pretty loaded.

        100m I can’t imagine Gay and Gatlin not making the team. 3rd will really be whoever what’s it the most, Bailey, a healthy Dix, Mike Rodgers. I really wouldn’t be surprised if anyone got that 3 Rd spot.

        • CHill says:

          That 800 is going to be rough with Martinez in there .. She and Montano can go 1:58 … Several others have PRs in that range but haven’t done it recently ..

          That 100 is going to have a tight run for third … Gatlin is running a better final 20 lately and could make the fight for first interesting … Third will be a dog fight .. The 100 isn’t really Dix’ race .. Basket needs a solid start .. Rodgers need to get easy it before he fades … And the others need to PR ..

          I do like what I saw from that NCAA final … A run like that from one of the top finishers could earn a spot ..

  2. D says:

    Simpson is running the 500 because she has the wild card in the 1500.

    Bailey is hurt, I am taking Dix for third in a mild upset.

    Martinez is a shock. I know she has dropped sub 2 but I just figured it was speed work for the 15. The 8 isn’t as open as advertised either.

    Cain will be the story of the weekend, but do we really believe she has it through the rounds to make a team??? That is a lot for a 16 year old. It will be fun to watch.

    As always the drama is in the hurdles (yes I am biased) but it is. With the rise of Rollins, Merritt not having the wild card, a logjam in the long hurdles this is going to be heart racing action. The good thing about the longer hurdles is there is an influx of youth, finally. Especially in the women’s race. Carter, Moline, Brown, Thompson, and Muhammad have come to supplant the old guard

    • CHill says:

      The 1500 change with both Martinez & Simpson in the eight .. Actually gives Cain a better shot to make the team ..

      Dix for third is not out of the question … Winning would be as he’d have to PR big time cause hid best is only 9.88 ..

      I think Cain is ready .. If she has a regular coach if say no but Salazar has prepared her for everything else I think she’ll be ready ..

      Hurdles are in transition and a high movement is going to occur this week .. Only the 110s are immune in my opinion .. Big news if Merritt doesn’t make the team .. Carter and Rollins are going to dominate in my opinion .. And Moline will be right there ..

  3. Jonathan Pollard says:

    C’mon, Des Moines! Get some fans in the stands please! It’s a great meet, qualifying and finals.

    • CHill says:

      Yes, I’m sure that some of it has to do with the fact that not too many finals have been run .. But these are some of the best athletes in the world – watch as much of them as you can !! This is why I’m a huge advocate of moving the big meets around – Trials, Nationals, NCAA etc … It’s tough when your big meets are always in the same place then suddenly show up somewhere else … When meets are rotated you have the opportunity to give exposure to more parts of the country … It’s not like in Europe where Britain is the size of California or most countries roughly the size of Iowa … Then you can focus on one city … We’re too big … In order to grow the sport we MUST spread the exposure …

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