USATF Men’s Championships — Friday Recap

Noah Lyles won the battle of 100 PRs over Ronnie Baker, 9.88 WL to 9.90. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

Des Moines, Iowa, June 22—Carrying the title of “next greatest” or “best of a generation” can be far-fetched and a heavy responsibility, but Noah Lyles seems to have brandished these titles for some time. The 20-year-old Virginian took another leap towards track nobility on Friday, running a PR 9.88 to win the 100 less than 2 hours after stopping the clock at a PR 9.89 in the semis. “I knew that if I just kept my focus I could do what my body was going to allow me to do,” he said after beating Ronnie Baker’s PR 9.90.

The 9.88 moved him into =No. 9 on the all-time U.S. list and also claimed the yearly world lead. The century title may be the first of many for the sprinter whose primary focus has been the 200. In the absence of a global championship this year, Lyles’ schedule includes a full European slate of racing and hopefully the Diamond League final.

Action inside and beyond Drake’s blue oval decided multiple titles. In the decathlon, Day 1 leader Zach Ziemek used field events to claim the combined events win with a list-leading 8294. A discus win (167-0/50.90) and big day in the vault (17-6½/5.35) separated the former Wisconsin Badger from runner up Solomon Simmons.

With perennial triple jump favorites Christian Taylor (running the 400) and Will Claye (absent from the meet) not in the action, a duel of another sorts developed between Chris Bernard and Donald Scott. Bernard struck first in round 2, bounding 56-10 (17.32) to take the lead. Scott jumped to 2nd in round 4 (56-6¾/17.24), but his final round effort of 57-0 (17.37), a PR, sealed the win. Taylor attempted to transition to the TJ after running 45.95 in his semi, but said recovery time was insufficient. He sandwiched a pair of passes around a foul, about 20 minutes after his 400.

The hammer also saw a tight battle as the top five were separated by just 2½ feet on the final tally. Rudy Winkler, the ’17 NCAA champ, used a third-round 242-0 (73.76) to edge Alex Young’s 240-3 (73.22).

The slimmest of margins separated qualifiers in the 400 hurdles semifinals. TJ Holmes’s 49.00 in heat II gave him the fastest time heading into Saturday’s final. Byron Robinson followed closely behind in 49.04, with three others at 49.15 or faster.

World Indoor silver medalist Michael Cherry topped the 400 semis, running 44.87 to win heat II. Paul Dedewo and Tennessee’s Nathan Strother went 1-2 in heat 1, dashing to 45.03 and 45.10. DQ’s of Vernon Norwood and Rashard Clark in the first race opened up a spot in the final for Josephus Lyles.

Just as he did in the opening round, Iowa Hawkeye alum Erik Sowinski went to the front in the 800 semis to run 1:46.39. Sowinski held off Brandon Lassiter in heat I, who closing speed could be formidable in Sunday’s final. Former Nittany Lion Isaiah Harris and Olympic medalist Clayton Murphy made quick work of heat II, going 1-2 without much trouble. □