USATF Men’s Championships

USATF Men: WR 6.34 By Coleman

Christian Coleman’s photo was on the cover of the USATF meet program, and he was understandably the center of much of the pre-meet publicity after he bettered Maurice Greene’s 60 WR of 6.39 by 0.02 in January.

That mark couldn’t be ratified for technical reasons (T&FN, January), but it was assumed that all would be in order at the Nationals and that Albuquerque’s 1513m of altitude would help. The anticipation grew on Saturday, when Coleman (see sidebar) ran his heat in 6.46 after clearly putting on the brakes in the last 20m.

On Sunday he clocked 6.42 in his semi and then, in the final event of the meet, lowered the WR to 6.34.

“It’s been a fun weekend,” he said. “And it was all building up to this moment. I knew it would be a special race.”

Paul Chelimo, last year’s outdoor 5000 champion, won his first indoor titles, scoring an impressive 1500/3000 double. In the 3000, he shared the pacesetting with his U.S. Army teammates, Shadrack Kipchirchir and Emmanuel Bor. Chelimo (7:57.88) took the lead for good on the antepenultimate lap and Kipchirchir (7:58.42) nabbed the second WIC place. That threesome used similar tactics in the 1500, but on the last lap Kipchirchir was overtaken by Ben Blankenship (3:43.09) and Craig Engels (3:43.29). That pair will be the WIC team, as winner Chelimo (3:42.91) will run only the 3000 in England.

Chelimo completed a double with this 1500 win – KEVIN MORRIS/PHOTO RUN

Hurdler Jarret Eaton, the ’16 winner, defeated defending champ Aries Merritt (7.46) with a PR 7.43.

The top two finishers in the 400 (Michael Cherry 45.53 and Aldrich Bailey 45.59) both set indoor PRs.

Two big streaks were on the line in the vertical jumps. High Jumper Erik Kynard was going for his fifth straight title and he succeeded by being the only man to clear 7-6½ (2.30).

But then he failed in his three tries at the WIC entry standard of 7-7¾ (2.33).

Vaulter Sam Kendricks was seeking his seventh straight U.S. title, indoors and out. Instead, the outdoor world champion, who was undefeated in 17 meets last year, extended his winless streak in ’18.

The surprise winner of the event was 27-year-old Scott Houston, who had never placed higher than his 4th in last year’s indoor nationals but here stitched together a remarkable string of lifetime bests.

Houston first raised his indoor PR to 18-9½ (5.73) and then matched his absolute PR of 18-11½ (5.78), which is the WIC qualifying standard.

Kendricks was ahead on misses at that point, but only Houston could clear the next height, a U.S.-leading 19-1½ (5.83).

This was a major upset but, as Houston noted, upsets happen, saying, “That’s why we compete.”

Kendricks took his loss philosophically, saying, “Most men leave unhappy after they lose and I don’t want to be one of those men.”

The 800 provided drama in both the heats and the final, where Donavan Brazier (see sidebar) prevailed in near-record time.

With only heat winners guaranteed a lane in the final, Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, one of the favorites, fell victim to the slow pace—as well as Drew Windle’s strong finishing kick—and did not advance.

In the final Brazier passed Erik Sowinski just before the bell and easily ran away from the field. Windle again unleashed his great kick, moving from 6th to 2nd on the last lap to clinch the other Birmingham slot.

Brazier’s 1:45.10 was his third indoor PR in three weeks and was just 0.10 off Johnny Gray’s 26-year-old AR. Brazier might have gone faster if he had realized he was that close to the record. “I read the clock and it said 1:43, 1:44,” he said, “and I was like, ‘Agh! I think I’m gonna miss it.’ ”

The long jump saw the yearly U.S. lead improved four times. Outdoor champ Jarrion Lawson jumped 26-8½ (8.14) in the first round. Then Mike Hartfield went an indoor PR 26-10½ (8.18) in round 2.

But in round 5, reigning world indoor champ Marquis Dendy reached 26-11¾ (8.22), but then, on the next jump, Lawson put things out of reach with a leap of 27-6 (8.38).

In the triple jump, 2-time former champ Chris Carter led after round 1 and became the yearly U.S. leader in round 3 at 56-5¼ (17.20).

But in the next round ‘12 WIC gold medalist Will Claye—competing in his first indoor meet in 3 years—jumped a list-leading 56-8½ (17.28), which held up as the winner.

— USATF Men Top Finishers —

Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 16–18 (200m banked; altitude 1513)—

60: 1. Christian Coleman (Nik) 6.34 WR, AR (old WR, AR 6.39 Maurice Greene [Nik] ’98 & ’01; also betters unratified 6.37 Coleman ’18); 2. Ronnie Baker (Nik) 6.40 PR (3, =5 W; 3, =5 A); 3. Mike Rodgers (unat) 6.50.

Semis: I–1. Baker 6.45 =PR (=8, x W; =5, x A). II–1. Coleman 6.42 (x, =7 W; x, =7 A).

400: 1. Michael Cherry (Nik) 45.53 PR; 2. Aldrich Bailey (Nik) 45.59; 3. Vernon Norwood (NBal) 45.60.

800: 1. Donavan Brazier (Nik) 1:45.10 PR (2, 3 A); 2. Drew Windle (Brk) 1:46.29; 3. Erik Sowinski (Nik) 1:47.02.

1500: 1. Paul Chelimo (USAr) 3:42.91; 2. Ben Blankenship (OTC) 3:43.09; 3. Craig Engels (NikOP) 3:43.29.

3000: 1. Chelimo 7:57.88; 2. Shadrack Kipchirchir (USAr) 7:58.42; 3. Ryan Hill (BowTC) 7:58.69.

60H: 1. Jarret Eaton (unat) 7.43 PR; 2. Aries Merritt (Nik) 7.46; 3. Devon Allen (Nik) 7.49 PR.

3000W: 1. Nick Christie (unat) 12:09.96; 2. Emmanuel Corvera (NYAC) 12:24.10; 3. Alexander Bellavance (unat) 12:30.04.

Field Events
1. Erik Kynard (Jord) 7-6½ (2.30); 2. Jeron Robinson (Nik) 7-5¼ (2.27); 3. Ricky Robertson (unat) 7-4¼ (2.24).

PV: 1. Scott Houston (Shore) 19-1½ (5.83) PR (AL) (17-7¾, 18-1¾, 18-5½, 18-7½ [2], 18-9½ PR, 18-11½ PR, 19-1½ PR, 19-3½ [xxp]); 2. Sam Kendricks (Nik) 18-11½ (5.78); 3. Mike Arnold (unat) 18-11½ PR.

LJ: 1. Jarrion Lawson (Asics) 27-6 (8.38) (AL); 2. Marquis Dendy (Nik) 26-11¾ (8.22); 3. Michael Hartfield (adi) 26-10 (8.18) PR; 4. Jarvis Gotch (unat) 26-8½ (8.14) PR.

TJ: 1. Will Claye (Pum) 56-8½ (17.28) (AL); 2. Chris Carter (unat) 56-5¼ (17.20); 3. Omar Craddock (adi) 56-1¾ (17.11) ; 4. Chris Benard (Nik) 55-6½ (16.93).

SP: 1. Ryan Whiting (Nik) 67-9 (20.65); 2. Darrell Hill (Nik) 65-8¼ (20.02); 3. Jon Jones (Nik) 65-4¾ (19.93).

Wt: 1. Conor McCullough (NYAC) 78-2¾ (23.84) (WL, AL); 2. Alex Young (Velaa) 77-1¼ (23.50); 3. Sean Donnelly (IronWTC) 76-11¾ (23.46) PR.

Hept: 1. Jeremy Taiwo (Velaa/NYAC) 5935 (7.15, 23-3½/7.10, 41-10/12.75, 6-10¾/2.10 [3216–2], 8.19, 16-6¾/5.05, 2:41.36 [2719]); 2. Wolf Mahler (unat) 5923 PR; 3. Devon Williams (unat) 5842.

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