With no Olympic Games or outdoor Worlds on the ’18 calendar, the USATF Indoor Championships took on added meaning as the American pathway to the only global championship of the year: the World Indoor just two weeks hence.
As a result, a varied assemblage of talented Americans—established veterans and rising stars—met in the Land Of Enchantment to battle for each event’s two coveted spots on the team to Birmingham.
Notable records were set on the straightaway by Christian Coleman (see p. 10) and Sharika Nelvis, both the vaults featured mass clearings of high heights and 1500/3000 doubles went to Paul Chelimo and Shelby Houlihan (see p. 20).
Women: An AR For Nelvis
In the 60 hurdles, the adidas trio of Sharika Nelvis (7.70), Kendra Harrison (7.72) and Christina Manning (7.73) came across the line in the first three spots— their clockings also ranking 1-2-3 on the yearly world list.
Further, the 27-year-old Nelvis’s mark set a new American Record, taking down the 7.72s of Lolo Jones in ’10 and Harrison earlier this year, was the No. 3 performance on the all-time world list.
“I am happy,” squealed the joyful Arkansas State alum, who later downplayed the importance of her record time.
“I’m never about numbers. I’m all about winning,” she soberly offered. “You win—you’re on the team. So I got out here, ran my race, stayed in my lane, and I won.”
Shelby Houlihan again won twice. She had captured the two longest running events here last year and she again employed a vicious Miruts Yifter-like late-race acceleration to cross the line first in the 3000 (9:00.08) and 1500 (4:13.07).
“This year there is a team to make so I was just trying to come into both races doing the best I could,” she explained.
Of her finishing kick she offered, “When I’m shifting, I kind of like to think like a car shifting. I like to make it a strong, decisive move. I’m finally trying to get that and it is so exciting.”
The women’s vault is always a top event in the jump-friendly 1513m altitude of ABQ and this was no exception as rapidly improving Katie Nageotte (see p. 9) produced a dream-like career day that saw her join the elite 16-foot club after clearing 16-1¼ (4.91).
A clutch only-attempt clearance by Sandi Morris at 15-11¼ (4.86) was critical to her runner-up finish which will send her—along with Nageotte—to Birmingham.
Indoor WR holder Jenn Suhr cleared 15-9¼ (4.81) to finish 3rd, denying her the opportunity to defend her world title next month.
Young pro Raevyn Rogers looked sharp in the 800 heats, her U.S.-leading 1:59.99 making her the twelfth American ever to break 2:00 indoors.
In the 800, reigning WIC silver medalist Ajee’ Wilson—an old pro at 23— rushed to the front at the gun and shrewdly tamped down the pace, splitting the 400 in 62.32 and leaving her with plenty of unmatched speed over the final lap to grab the victory in a negative split 2:01.60 over Rogers (2:01.74).
The 400 was stark evidence of America’s strength in the event. In the first race of the 2-section final, outdoor world gold medalist Phyllis Francis pressed hard to post a 51.19 win. That was a world-leading mark that she could savor—for about 5 minutes.
In section 2, 23-year-old Courtney Okolo (51.16) outdueled 22-year-old Shakima Wimbley (51.17) to gain the victory and take down Francis’ short-lived WL as those two copped the two team spots.
“That’s what’s so crazy about our sport,” shrugged a gracious Francis after being knocked off the individual squad, although she will have a place on the 4×4 quartet (see p. 42 for complete Team USA).
Still just 20, Vashti Cunningham captured the high jump crown for the third year in a row.
Behind Inika McPherson on the countback after 6-3¼ (1.91), she had a comethrough last-try clearance at a list-leading 6-4¼ (1.94) to take the win.
She promptly upped that lead with a first-try make at 6-5½ (1.97), before failing three times at a PR 6-7 (2.01)
Youth was also served in the women’s 60 as 23-year-old Javianne Oliver—running in her first-ever indoor nationals— dominated a Tori Bowieless field.
She stamped herself as the one to beat in the heats, where an impressive looking 7.11 took 0.03 off her PR.
Her runaway 7.02 win in the final claimed the yearly world lead and made her the =No. 6 American ever.
“Honestly, I have been working really hard and I was hoping something like this could happen,” she said. “But I wasn’t thinking about times.”
Seasoned pro Brittney Reese looked ready to go after her fourth World Indoor long jump title after twice jumping a world-leading 22-7 (6.88).
Erica Bougard got a world-leader too, her 4760 total in the pentathlon moving her to No. 2 on the all-time U.S. list, just 45 points off the American Record.
DeAnna Price captured the weight throw crown with a PR 80-5 (24.51) that also claimed the WL, and moved her to No. 5 on the all-time world list.
|— USATF Women Top Finishers —|
Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 16–18 (200m banked; altitude 1513m)—
60: 1. Javianne Oliver (Nik) 7.02 PR (WL, AL) (=6, x A); 2. Destiny Carter (unat) 7.19 PR; 3. *Teahna Daniels (Tx) 7.22; 4. Felicia Brown (adi) 7.34.
400: 1. Courtney Okolo (Nik) 51.16 (WL, AL); 2. Shakima Wimbley (adi) 51.17; 3. Phyllis Francis (Nik) 51.19.
800: 1. Ajee’ Wilson (adi) 2:01.60; 2. Raevyn Rogers (Nik) 2:01.74; 3. Kaela Edwards (adi) 2:02.77.
1500: 1. Shelby Houlihan (BowTC) 4:13.07; 2. Colleen Quigley (BowTC) 4:13.21 PR; 3. Shannon Osika (Nik) 4:13.60; 4. Sara Vaughn (NYAC) 4:13.96.
3000: 1. Houlihan 9:00.08; 2. Katie Mackey (Brk) 9:01.68; 3. Emma Coburn (NBal) 9:01.85.
60H: 1. Sharika Nelvis (adi) 7.70 AR (old AR 7.72 Lolo Jones [Asics] ’10 & Kendra Harrison [adi] ’18) (WL) (3, 3 W); 2. Kendra Harrison (adi) 7.72 =PR (=4, =5 W; =2, =2 A); 3. Christina Manning (adi) 7.73 PR (=6, =8 W; 4, 5 A).
Semis: II–1. Harrison 7.77 (x, =9 A).
3000W: 1. Maria Michta-Coffey (Ois) 13:00.53; 2. Miranda Melville (Skech) 13:33.19; 3. Robyn Stevens (Skech) 13:34.58 PR.
PV: 1. Katie Nageotte (adi) 16-1¼ (4.91) PR (4, =11 W; 3, =5 A) (in/out: =4, x W; 3, =9 A; non-Isi: =3, =9 W) (14-5½, 14-9½, 15-1½, 15-5½, 15-7¼ =PR [5, x A], 15-9¼ PR [=4, x A; in/out: 5, x A], 15-11¼ PR [4, x A; in/out: 4, x A], 16-1¼, 16-6½ [xxx]); 2. Sandi Morris (Nik) 15-11¼ (4.86); 3. Jenn Suhr (adi) 15-9¼ (4.81).
LJ: 1. Brittney Reese (Nik) 22-7 (6.88) (=WL, AL) (also 22-1½ AL, 22-7 WL, AL); 2. Quanesha Burks (unat) 21-10 (6.65); 3. Jessie Gaines (GardSt) 21-2¾ (6.47).
TJ: 1. Tori Franklin (Ois) 46-5¼ (14.15) PR (6, x A); 2. Andrea Geubelle (unat) 45-2½; 3. Viershanie Latham (unat) 43-9¼ (13.34).
SP: 1. Dani Hill (Nik) 59-4¾ (18.10) ; 2. Erin Farmer (unat) 59-0 (17.98) PR; 3. Jeneva Stevens (NYAC) 58-3¾ (17.77).
Wt: 1. DeAnna Price (NYAC) 80-5 (24.51) PR (5, x W; 5, x A); 2. Stevens 79-6 (24.23); 3. Gwen Berry (NYAC) 78-6¼ (23.93).
Pent: 1. Erica Bougard (Nik) 4760 PR (WL, AL) (2, 2 A); 2. Kendell Williams (unat) 4508; 3. Alex Gochenour (unat) 4405.