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

USATF Match Ups

Jun 21st, 2017
1:18 pm PDT

PlaceholderThe NCAA’s are in the books, and it was exciting as usual. There’s something about the combination of great head to head match ups; team scoring; and relays that makes track and field everything it’s supposed to be. At its core; it’s why the Olympics are so exciting and well watched. Pay attention USATF and IAAF – especially Sebastian Coe.

Next up will be a slew of National championships, headlined by USATF Nationals. The prelude to the upcoming World Championships in London. While there will be several exciting Championships – Kenyan mid distance, Jamaican sprints among others – the US Championships are exciting across the board. The next best thing to Worlds itself. Sprints, distances, field events America’s national meet has it all. The greatest showcase of athletic talent outside of Worlds or the Olympics.

Following are five events I’m especially looking forward to watching. Must see TV for any true fan of the sport. The Sacramento heat may put a damper on the longer distances, but the speed events should flourish. The following events should sizzle!


Men’s 100 – Gatlin v Coleman

This could be a passing of the torch as Gatlin appears to be showing his age and Coleman is on the rise. Gatlin is one of history’s fastest ever at 9.74, and he’s medaled in three Olympics owning a complete set of gold ’04, silver ’16, and bronze ’12! Coleman just won the NCAA title and set the collegiate record in his semi at 9.82 – =#8 all time. It’s shaping up as a classic old v new event. The question of the meet, can Gatlin hold off the charge of the youngster? Take note, while the conversation is about Gatlin and Coleman, Ronnie Baker and Cameron Burrell should have an impact on this race.


Women’s 200 – Bowie v The Field

Tori Bowie has been our best female sprinter in the last couple of global majors. Coming into this meet she appears to be better than ever. While the 100 tends to get the headlines, this event may have the most talent. Kyra Jefferson is fresh off setting the collegiate record in the event. She looked very strong the final 50 meters. Deajah Stevens was right beside Jefferson until the final few steps and had been running very fast all year long. Allyson Felix has been our best for over a decade and always shows up to Nationals ready to go. This event will be deep and fast, but it’ll take a major effort to defeat Bowie.


Men’s 200 – Lyles v Coleman v Merritt

The 200 is one of my favorite events, and it’s great to see how much talent is flowing into it these days. LaShawn Merritt and Justin Gatlin have been spending more time here the last couple of seasons. Christian Coleman has been under 20 this season. But the kid I’m most looking forward to in this event is young Noah Lyles. He set the HS record last year at 20.09 while just missing a berth in the Olympic team. He’s not missed a beat this year setting the indoor record in the 300, then cruising a 19.90 shut down 200 looking as if he didn’t realize he was running that fast. I expect to see something "fast" this week. Especially with Coleman running a US leading 19.85 here to go with his 9.82, and the possibility of Merritt running here since he’s got a bye in the 400. This could be the first of many match ups to come featuring Coleman’s blistering turn v the powerful yet smooth closing speed of Lyles. The potential result could be something staggering.


Men’s Triple Jump – Taylor v Claye

This pair of jumpers is the epitome of a friendly rivalry. Former teammates at Florida, they’ve continued to push each other on the world stage, at nationals, Worlds and the Olympics themselves.When this pair jumps, big things happen. Like when they competed wrote this season at Pre in May, Clay’s windy 59′ 2.5" pushing Taylor to 59′ 5" – the #3 mark all time! These are the types of results they routinely push each other to and I’m looking forward to something similar this week. At the least we should see jumps in the 58 foot range. If we’re lucky however, 59 feet would be a joy to watch.


Men’s 400 – Kerley v The Field

Kerley has laid waste to the NCAA, now he gets a shot at the big boys. The question on the table for me is, if he’s challenged, how fast can he run? He’s split 43.3 on the 4×4. He’s run several times around 44.0/44.1 looking as if he’s running three quarters of a race. His collegiate record 43.70 looked like he had more in the tank. So, if one or more of the pros can press him in the third 100 (around the turn) how much faster can he go? Kerley v van Niekerk could be epic when it happens. Until then, Kerley v The Field will have to be the teaser.


These should be the highlight events of what will be a meet of exciting results. I expect big things from the women’s long jump which should feature Reese and Bartoletta. A wide open men’s 110 hurdles could have an outstanding and close finish. This meet always comes down to exciting match ups as our best compete for berths on the World Championships team. Pay close attention to the youth movement that’s taking place as I believe the next generation – Coleman, Lyles, Kerley, Burrell, Jefferson, et al – begins being felt in Sacramento.

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