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

Team USA v.2017

Jun 26th, 2017
5:31 pm PST

Me for Blog picTeam USA, the athletes that will be attending the World Championships in London, was selected this past weekend. After nearly a week of some of the toughest competition on the planet, how does the squad that emerged from Sacramento look?

Well, going in it looked like we were headed for a transition, with several old stars looking vulnerable. Coming out it looks like a partial transition took place – some oldies hanging on for that last shot at a global medal, some having to say goodbye. The resulting mix of old and new looking to be potentially one of the strongest teams we’ve had in recent years.

In the middle and long distances, veterans held court pretty well with standard bearers like Jenny Simpson, Matthew Centrowitz, Evan Jager, Emma Coburn, Shannon Rowbury, and Molly Huddle booking passage to London. Ditto in the field as stalwarts Tianna Bartoletta, Trey Hardee, Will Claye, Brittney Reese, Erik Kynard, and Ryan Crouser leading the way back to Worlds. The biggest insurgents of youth coming in the speed events – actually a good thing as we were beginning to get a bit long in the tooth.

Overall as I look at this team I actually like what I see. Our vets are solid, our "kids" very talented. We should do well in London, even as we are in a transitional mode. My thoughts on some of the events and results over the week.

I must say that my biggest disappointment was the DNS of Noah Lyles in the men’s 200. I was looking forward to both a potential coronation if Mr Lyles as well as a stirring race. Lyles apparently had hamstring tightness – and Justin Gatlin and LaShawn Merritt also failed to start. Taking the wind out of the deuce. Gatlin made the 100 team, and Merritt has a bye into London in the 4, so it was only Lyles missing his shot at the team. Big disappointment.

In their absence, it appeared that Christian Coleman would have a cake walk in the event. But Mr Coleman’s long season (and upper arm movement) began to show. First in the 100 where the showdown between he and Gatlin was exciting as it was supposed to be, though the outcome had a twist. The twist being Gatlin overcoming Coleman’s start to take victory in the final 10/15 meters. Gatlin holding form better, Coleman’s upper body betraying him. The same thing happened in the deuce as Coleman took the lead around the turn, only to give it up late to Ameer Webb. Some expressed concern about his losses. I see nothing to be concerned about. He’s got to be tired – as most collegiate athletes should be right now. He only lost by hundredth -.03 in the 100, only.01 in the deuce. He’s fine. Needs a break before prepping for Worlds. Though I would work on relaxing those shoulders during this time.

I must say that I saw encouragement in the 100 with Chris Belcher and Jaylen Bacon in third and fourth. They performed well at NCAA’s and continued here. With Lyles a non starter in the deuce, I would go with the top four in the 100 as my 4×1 squad. It’s time for new blood, and I liked what I saw from both in Eugene.. They could become the core of the future, Gatlin being the only vet. Similar for the women. Tori Bowie showed domination in the 100, fatigue in the deuce (looked like the heat got to her) though she qualified in third. Deajah Stevens made both squads as well placing second in the 100 and winning the 200. Collegiate teammate Arianna Washington getting the third spot in the 100. I think the three from the hundred plus Allyson Felix is gold in London.

I also like the young 400 squads we’re sending to Worlds. On the men’s side, Fred Kerley continued his winning ways – this time in 44.02. I’m totally looking forward to what should be ahead to head with Wayde van Niekerk in London. Potentially THE head to head off the year! Runner up Gil Roberts will have to show he can repeat, which he hasn’t done in the past. The interesting one is Will London – young and steadily improving. He could surprise. I also like women’s winner Quanera Hayes. Fast early in the year, she showed that form again at 49.72. I also like seeing Kendall Ellis in third at 50.00. Overall a lot of youth in the 400 that I think it’s going to do well.

While I’m on the subject of youth and the 400, let’s throw in hurdles, because both long hurdle groups are young and talented! All three women (Delilah Muhammad, Shamier Little and Kori Carter) ran under 53 seconds in one of the fastest race finishes in history. The men are lead by a pair of Florida Gators – they’re young. but Eric Futch has twice won the college title and just won The US title. I think I trust him to do well when it matters.

Speaking of youth, I’m really excited about both winners of the 800. Donovan Brazier looked like the guy that ran 1:43 last year. His move with 200 to go is what it takes at the elite level. He’s a finalist if he runs like that in London. And Ajee Wilson ran fast and with passion throughout. She can clearly run the rounds and is an easy finalist the way she looks right now. Joining with the distance runners i named above and it looks like a repeat of medal winning is in store!

As I began, I like the team that’s emerged this weekend. Veterans where needed, but a lot of exciting potential among the youth. Looking forward to seeing how the summer goes. Then an attempt to handicap London. Europe should be fun.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply