Christian Taylor Atop The Decade’s Top 10 U.S. Men

Triple jump king Christian Taylor was selected as our U.S. Men’s Athlete Of The Decade. (GIANCARLO COLOMBO/PHOTO RUN)

JUST AS IN THE PREVIOUS DECADE, only 2 Americans made the World Top 10. In this case Christian Taylor (No. 3) and Ashton Eaton (No. 5). They also head the U.S. list, Taylor earning honors as U.S. Men’s Athlete Of The Decade. The selection of these U.S. people pays more attention to a domestic point of view than do the world choices.

The Top 10 U.S. men of the Teens:

1. Christian Taylor

From a U.S. Rankings point of view Taylor had a perfect decade, collecting all 10 triple jump No. 1s… At his best he raised the American Record to 59-9 (18.21)… He also earned 6 U.S. Ranks in the LJ, with a high of No. 2 and earned a No. 8 in the 400… For much more on Taylor see his bio in the World Top 10.

2. Ashton Eaton

Both of Eaton’s decathlon WRs were of course also ARs and he was 5 times the top U.S. Ranker… So good was he at individual events that he earned a No. 10 in the 110H, a No. 2 in the 400H and a No. 3 in the LJ… 3 times (’12, ’15, ’16) he was voted USAOY… For much more on Eaton see his bio in the World Top 10.

3. Sam Kendricks

The top American vaulter is working on a string of 5 straight U.S. No. 1s… Indoors and out he has won 9 USATF titles and was voted USAOY in ’17… His collection of international medals includes 2 WC golds, 2 WIC silvers and an Oly bronze… 3 times a No. 1 World Ranker… Set an AR of 19-10½ (6.02).

4. Galen Rupp

The Oregonian was all over the U.S. distance rankings, picking off no fewer than 20 positions: 8 in the 10K (including 6 No. 1s), 7 in the 5000 (1 No. 1), 3 in the marathon (all No. 1s) and 2 in the 1500 (high of 4)… He twice set ARs in the 10K—26:48.00 & 26:44.36—and became No. 2 American in the 3000 (7:30.16), No. 8 in the 5000 (12:58.90) and No. 2 in the marathon (2:06:07)… In the Olympics he won 10K silver and marathon bronze.

5. Justin Gatlin

The top-rated U.S. century man and No. 2 in the 200, the Vol alum continued to show speed well into his 30s… On the straightaway he picked up 9 U.S. Ranks, 6 of them No. 1s. At the half-lap the tally was 5 Ranks, 1 No. 1… A 3-time World No. 1 in the 100, he earned a WC gold and 3 silvers and OG silver and bronze… He was voted USAOY in ’14.

6. Noah Lyles

He only had 3 seasons as a pro, but the young Virginian quickly made a major impact, debuting at No. 2 in the 200’s World Rankings (No. 1 American) and followed that up with a pair of No. 1s… He was also a 100 threat, earning World/U.S. Rankings of 2 and 3… He was selected as USAOY in both ’18 and ’19… At 9.86 and 19.50, he’s =No. 8 and No. 2 on the all-time U.S. list.

7. Will Claye

It’s tough to get a No. 1 when your top competition is Christian Taylor, so former teammate Claye had to settle for a TJ sequence of 8 No. 2s and a No. 3… His medal haul totaled 2 WIC golds, 2 OG silvers, and 2 WC silvers (and 2 bronzes)… He also had 7 LJ ranks, topped by a No. 1 in ’12, when he won Olympic bronze for 9 medals total… The world’s farthest tripler in ’19, his 59-6¼ (18.14) made him No. 2 American ever.

8. Aries Merritt

An 8-time U.S. Ranker (with a pair of No. 1s) despite having to take a timeout for a life-saving kidney transplant, the Olympic gold medalist finished off a dream ’12 season by lowering the World Record in the hurdles to 12.80. He had begun that year with a World Indoor gold in the 60H.

9. Evan Jager

Although he didn’t take up steeplechasing until he was 23, the former miler was a quick learner, finishing 6th in the Olympics in his first year, one in which he lowered the AR to 8:06.81 in just his fourth final ever. ARs of 8:04.71 and 8:00.45 followed… He can now claim the 9 fastest U.S. times ever… His tally of U.S. No. 1s is at 7.

10. LaShawn Merritt

With 6 U.S. No. 1s (and a No. 3), Merritt was the decade’s king of quartermilers… His notable haul of international medals included a WC gold and 2 silvers and an Olympic bronze… His ’13 world champion year was good enough that he was voted USAOY… He also earned 4 U.S. Ranks in the 200, including a No. 1.

Previous U.S. Men’s AOD Winners

We first started picking the by-decade stars with the ’60s. Our first 5 winners:
The ’60s—Randy Matson
The ’70s—Edwin Moses
The ’80s—Carl Lewis
The ’90s—Michael Johnson
The ’00s—Jeremy Wariner ◻︎