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

First Prediction – US 100 Men

Nov 8th, 2020
7:36 pm PST

It’s the end of the year, and a stones throw to the US Trials. That, and the suspension of Coleman has everyone trying to figure out the men’s sprint squad. That’s not going to be easy, because not everyone competed in 2020. Those that did had an abbreviated season and right now everyone is training for 2021. So picking this team today is going to be tough. As a matter of fact, it’s probably easier to pick the Tokyo final knowing who most of the rest of the world will be sending to the Games. But who said it has to be easy? This is the fun part of being a fan. So, thank you Christian Coleman!

I’m going to start by saying that someone unknown at this moment will show up and run out of their mind! It always happens. It will happen again. That’s what makes the Trials so much fun, watching the unexpected unfold. So, no matter what I say there will be a name that I don’t mention. I’ve gotten pretty good at this, but I’m no witch. Based on what I do know, the top contenders right now are:

Noah Lyles – The defending World champion in the 200, Lyles is also one of the world’s best in the 100. His weakness is that he’s got a technically poor first 30. His strength is that after 30 meters he’s the fastest human on the planet! He’s highly competitive and it’s difficult seeing three men finishing in front of him in any race that matters. Being the competitor that he is, I’ll wager that he’s also working on that first thirty meters. He doesn’t have to lead early, he just needs to be close.

Ronnie Baker – Baker is the best starter not named Coleman – he’s a world indoor medalist over 60. The rest of his race is solid if not spectacular. He’s a strong competitor that’s not a household name because he’s been plagued by injuries during his career. His biggest challenge will be to reach the starting line fit and healthy. If he does that he will be a threat. From there he just needs to execute. If he does that he’s in the mix.

Trayvon Bromell – At his best, Bromell is the poor man’s Justin Gatlin. A very good starter that’s technically solid from start to finish. What he lacks is the power that Justin had in his prime – the force against the track. That’s not a knock, because it still makes Bromell a 9.8x sprinter – and that’s what it will take to make this team. A solid start and good health can get him to Tokyo, because he doesn’t make many mistakes.

Cravon Gillespie – Gillespie was the hottest American collegian in 2019 and made the team for Doha. Like most college kids that went to Doha, the year proved to be too long and he looked tired when he got there. My guess is that we see a fresher version of Gillespie in 202One – along with a few others. He will need that and more as the competition will be stronger than ever. He may need to cut .05 off his 9.93 to get a spot on this team.

Justin Gatlin – The best known quantity in the sprints, there’s only one question with Gatlin – what effect will father time have on his race? He will have to run as fast in 2021 as he did in 2004 – maybe faster – to make this squad! A daunting task indeed for a 39 year old sprinter. His competitiveness is unquestioned. He’s gone head to head with Mo Greene, Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay, and Usain Bolt over the course of what’s become a twenty year career. And therein lies the rub, because the only question is can his body respond one more time!

Michael Norman – Norman has options – three of them. He’s the best triple threat on the planet until Lyles develops an appetite for the quarter – which may never happen. My gut says he has unfinished business in the 400 after opening at 43.45 in ’19 and then finishing last in his Doha semi in 45.94! I don’t thin he wants that to be good he’s remembered in the quarter. So, for me, that means we don’t see him here. If I’m wrong however, and he chooses the shorter sprints, he changes this event. If he runs, someone that would’ve made the team, won’t. Many will be watching the declarations before the start of the Trials.

Of course, here in the United States we’re deep in the sprints. Deep enough to have several individuals that have the ability to get to the semis at Trials and throw together a couple of life time races that put them into the finals. Once there, anything can happen. Following are some individuals that fit that description. Sprinters that have had varying levels of success already, and have enough talent that on a good day – boom.

  • Kendal Williams
  • Kyree King
  • Bryce Robinson
  • Isiah Young
  • Jaylen Bacon
  • Cameron Burrell
  • Chris Belcher

That said, how do I see this playing out? Well, as I said above, I think Norman wants to prove his worth over 400. Just as Lyles wanted to prove himself in the deuce in 2019. So, I see Norman taking a shot at 43.03 before giving his attention to the short sprints. Setting up a spectacular 2022 sprint season for all of us! No Coleman or Norman in the 100.

Lyles will double and has worked on his first thirty during training. He’s ready. I think Gatlin cheats age a bit one more time – and runs 9.96 before Trials. That will get him to the final. Bromell improves with another full off season and training. He’s ready to PR. Ditto for Baker, who is really looking to shake the reputation of not being ready when it matters. Someone unknown today will make the final. It’s the American way! Along with the unknown sprinter a of couple of gentlemen mentioned above will find their way to the final.

At the gun, it’s fairly even, but at thirty we get slight separation with Bromell, Baker and Gatlin from the rest. Ten meters later, Lyles shifts gears and is close. As they go through sixty, Lyles pulls even and others begin to strain. Ten meters later Lyles eases ahead, Gatlin stumbles slightly, Bromell gains an edge and someone yet to be named edges up. At ninety, Lyles throws his arms up and everyone else begins to lean. The crowd goes crazy as we await the names on the Jumbotron.

  1. Noah Lyles (9.79)
  2. Trayvon Bromell (9.83)
  3. Ronnie Baker (9.85)
  4. TBA (9.92)
  5. TBA (9.93)
  6. TBA (9.94)

Relay pool members will be named later. I feel pretty solid about this trio however. Father time catches up with us all. It catches up with Gatlin here. He’s had the greatest run of any sprinter ever. And who knows, he may get a relay spot yet. That said, this will be as strong a team as we’ve ever had. As strong as what we sent to Mexico City. These upcoming Trials are going to be a lot of fun.


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