DES MOINES, IOWA, July 25-28—Dalilah Muhammad’s 400H World Record and American Records from vaulter Sam Kendricks and hammer thrower DeAnna Price capped the proceedings in a historical marks sense at the USATF Championships. But as always when World Championships team berths are on the line, fierce competition carried all 4 days of the Nationals. Muhammad had to be at her best to ensure victory, Kendricks rode the energy of youngsters breathing down his neck on the hot runway and Price was stoked by the arrival of the U.S. as a world power in her event.
Never-give-an-inch contests thrilled throughout. Just a few examples:
•The first men’s shot comp ever to see three from a single nation launch the ball past 72ft or 22 meters.
•Negative-splitting supreme in the men’s 800, with a pair of second laps under 51. The 1500 saw three speed faster than 52.00 for the final circuit as Craig Engels knocked back Matthew Centrowitz by 0.04.
•A men’s 5000 of whiplash pace changes won by just 0.27 as uber-vet Lopez Lomong tied down the second half of a double.
•An unexpected men’s triple jump champion prevailing by an inch and a half (4cm). In the women’s event Keturah Orji stayed ahead of Tori Franklin by 7¾ (20cm).
•Two days of heptathlon competition were settled by the concluding 800 with Erica Bougard defending just 53 points ahead of PRing Kendell Williams, whose brother Devon won the decathlon.
•Sprint & hurdles matches won and teams selected by 100ths of a second, of course, made for gripping spectacle.
The local organizers deserve accolades for a courteous, friendly Midwestern effort from staff and volunteers. The weather was about as forgiving as a center-of-the-country clime can dish out in late July: 70s up to the low 90s, humid, no surprise. The gamut ran from bright & sunny to rainy & gray, and for a brief moment on the meet’s Friday hail banged down on Drake Stadium during an early-afternoon thunderstorm delay.
What, though, is USATF doing to promote what should be its crown jewel property, the meet where Team USA selects itself? Not enough, perhaps. Crowds ranged from 5179 on Thursday to 9820 on Sunday for a total of 30,367. That’s about 600 more than came to the last World Champs Trials held at Sacramento in ’17 during a heat wave—but a decrease of nearly 8000 from Sacramento ’14 (an off-year Nationals) and about 2000 fewer than showed up in Des Moines in ’13. With Eugene ’21, the first-ever U.S. World Championships, upon us in less than 2 years time where is the effort to heavy-lift the sport’s profile?
If you were at Drake Stadium, though, or watched these champs on broadcast or streaming, you devoured one mouth-watering morsel of an appetizer for Doha ’19. Making the team wasn’t quite as easy as 1-2-3, although in many events the first 3 finishers will indeed comprise the squad (see chart below). But in a significant number of events, somebody who finished in the top 3 did not have the requisite IAAF Qualifying Standard. In these cases, the highest finisher(s) behind them with the standard is expected to be added to the team. Some events will end up with fewer than 3 on the squad. USATF has mandated that there will be no chasing of marks (even though the IAAF’s qualifying period ends on September 6), although more athletes can be added to the squad when the IAAF proffers its field-filling spots.
Note that the U.S. has the possibility of 8 events (3 men, 5 women) with 4-member squads, owning Wild Cards by dint of being the reigning World Champion. Winners of this year’s Diamond League finals in Brussels and Zürich will also be eligible for Wild Cards (as will leaders in the IAAF’s hammer and multi-event challenges), although that’s a choose-one situation if it’s an event where the nation already has the option of a fourth entry. There is no provision for a fifth entry. Teams in the road events were chosen earlier in the year.
Here’s our unofficial listing—as of August 14—of how we think the team is going to look:
|MEN||Qualifier 1||Qualifier 2||Qualifier 3||Qualifier 4/notes|
|100||Christian Coleman (1)||Mike Rodgers (2)||Christopher Belcher (3)||Justin Gatlin (dnc in final) is in as Wild Card|
|200||Noah Lyles (1)||Christian Coleman (2)||Rodney Rowe (7)||Ameer Webb (3), Jamiel Trimble (4), Kyree King (5) & Remontay McClain (6) don’t have Q’s|
|400||Fred Kerley (1)||Michael Norman (2)||Nathan Strother (3)|
|800||Donavan Brazier (1)||Clayton Murphy (2)||Bryce Hoppel (3)|
|1500||Craig Engels (1)||Matthew Centrowitz (2)||Ben Blankenship (4)||Josh Thompson (3) doesn’t have Q|
|Steeple||Hillary Bor (1)||Stanley Kebenei (2)||Andy Bayer (3)|
|5000||Paul Chelimo (2)||Hassan Mead (4)||Drew Hunter (5)||Lopez Lomong (1) & Woody Kincaid (3) don’t have Q’s|
|10,000||Lopez Lomong (1)||Shadrack Kipkchirchir (2)||Leonard Korir (3)|
|110 Hurdles||Daniel Roberts (1)||Grant Holloway (2)||Devon Allen (3)|
|400 Hurdles||Rai Benjamin (1)||TJ Holmes (2)||Amere Lattin (3)|
|High Jump||Jeron Robinson (1)||Shelby McEwen (2)||x||Keenon Laine (=6) could get an IAAF fill-in invite|
|Pole Vault||Sam Kendricks (1)||Cole Walsh (2)||KC Lightfoot (3)||Zach Bradford (4) in as well because of Kendricks Wild Card|
|Long Jump||Trumaine Jefferson (3)||Jeff Henderson (5)||Steffin McCarter (6)||Ja’Mari Ward (1) & Jarvis Gotch (4) don’t have Q’s; Will Claye (2) will only do the TJ|
|Triple Jump||Donald Scott (1)||Will Claye (2)||Omar Craddock (3)||Christian Taylor (nm) in as Wild Card|
|Shot||Ryan Crouser (1)||Joe Kovacs (2)||Darrell Hill (3)|
|Discus||Sam Mattis (1)||Brian Williams (2)||Mason Finley (7)|
|Hammer||Conor McCullough (1)||Rudy Winkler (2)||Daniel Haugh (3)|
|Javelin||none||none||none||Michael Shuey (1) & Riley Dolezal (2) look as if they have good chances to make it as IAAF field-fillers|
|Decathlon||Devon Williams (1)||Solomon Simmons (2)||Zach Ziemek (dnf)||if ZZ’s injury knocks him out, Harrison Williams (3) is close to IAAF fill-in at this point|
|WOMEN||Qualifier 1||Qualifier 2||Qualifier 3||Qualifier 4|
|100||Teahna Daniels (1)||English Gardner (2)||Morolake Akinosun (3)||Torie Bowie (dnc) has Wild Card|
|200||Dezerea Bryant (1)||Brittany Brown (2)||Angie Annelus (3)|
|400||Shakima Wimbley (1)||Kendall Ellis (2)||Wadeline Jonathas (3)||Phyllis Francis (running 200) has Wild Card|
|800||Ajee Wilson (1)||Hanna Green (2)||Raevyn Rogers (3)|
|1500||Shelby Houlihan (1)||Jenny Simpson (2)||Nikki Hiltz (3)|
|Steeple||Emma Coburn (1)||Courtney Frerichs (2)||Colleen Quigley (3)||Allie Ostrander (4) in as well because of Coburn Wild Card|
|5000||Karissa Schweizer (2)||Elinor Purrier (3)||Rachel Schneider (4)||Shelby Houlihan (1) will run only the 1500|
|10,000||Molly Huddle (1)||Emily Sisson (2)||Marielle Hall (5)||Hall depends on IAAF decision on NACAC win, as she doesn’t have Q-standard|
|100 Hurdles||Keni Harrison (1)||Nia Ali (2)||Brianna McNeal (3)|
|400 Hurdles||Dalilah Muhammad (1)||Sydney McLaughlin (2)||Ashley Spencer (3)||Kori Carter (ran 200) is in as Wild Card|
|High Jump||Vashti Cunningham (1)||Inika McPherson (2)||none||Ty Butts (3) has chance of IAAF invite|
|Pole Vault||Sandi Morris (1)||Katie Nageotte (2)||Jenn Suhr (3)|
|Long Jump||Brittney Reese (1)||Jasmine Todd (2)||Shakeela Saunders (3)||Tori Bowie (4) in as well because of Reese Wild Card|
|Triple Jump||Keturah Orji||Tori Franklin||none|
|Shot||Chase Ealey (1)||Michelle Carter (2)||Maggie Ewen (3)|
|Discus||Valarie Allman (1)||Kelsey Card (2)||Laulauga Tausaga (3)|
|Hammer||DeAnna Price (1)||Gwen Berry (2)||Brooke Andersen (3)||Maggie Ewen (4) could end up making it a foursome if an American is leading the IAAF Challenge|
|Javelin||Ariana Ince (1)||Kara Winger (2)||none|
|Heptathlon||Erica Bougard (1)||Kendell Williams (2)||Annie Kunz (4) is in position for IAAF Challenge Wild Card||Chari Hawkins (3) has slim chance of IAAF invite|