USATF Women’s 100H — Super-Vet Tops Loaded Field

Thirty-four-year-old mother-of-three Nia Ali (lane 4) “had fun” taking her first 100H title. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

ABSENT THE WORLD, Olympic and NCAA champions, this event projected as a wide-open affair. With only three certain spots available on the Budapest team, this might be the most difficult of all US events in which to qualify.

Could an in-form Keni Harrison make amends for her disastrous outing on this track at last year’s World Championships? Could Masai Russell recapture the magic that produced a collegiate best in April? Could Alaysha Johnson carry forward her excellent early June European form?

What about Tia Jones, the most consistent of all thus far this season? And 2019 World Champ Nia Ali, again returning after maternity? And ’22 Worlds 4th-placer Alia Armstrong, foiled by a barely hooked hurdle at the NCAA meet?

The first round yielded no surprises. Harrison was quickest at 12.50, with Ali (12.53) close, and Tonea Marshall (12.58) became yet another name to reckon with.

The next day, Ali, Harrison and Russell were clear of the rest by the fourth hurdle and advanced easily in the first semi, 12.43–12.45–12.48. Grace Stark (12.74) qualified on time. Marshall led semi II for 7 flights, until Johnson blew past for a 12.37 win. Jones (12.51) and Armstrong (12.60) followed. No one else was close.

Less than 2 hours later, the finalists went to their marks. They were away on the first try. Ali touched down first after hurdle 2, which Russell knocked over — an eerie repeat at the same flight of both her NCAA semi and final races.

Ali remained first past hurdle 5, followed by Harrison and Jones, then Marshall, Johnson, Armstrong and Russell. The lead held over hurdle 8, with Harrison closing and Johnson and Jones very close.

Hurdle 10: Ali cleared and held off Harrison on the run-in, 12.37–12.42. Johnson, in 3rd, hit the barrier and thereby opened a window for the fast-closing Russell, who edged her with a shoulder thrust at the line, 12.458–12.460, as Johnson glanced in the opposite direction at the others. Jones finished a half-step back (12.50, the fastest 5th-place ever), ahead of Marshall (12.63), Armstrong and Stark (both 12.70).

Ali, a 34-year-old mother of three and superlative big-meet performer, said, “I’d never won [an outdoor] U.S. title before, so it means a lot. I try to remind myself to just go out there and have fun and make the best of it, no matter what result I get. It takes the pressure off me. All the stress and anxiety just falls off my shoulders.

“When I’m home, I don’t even think about track.”


FINAL (July 08; wind +0.4)

1. Nia Ali (Nike) 12.37;

2. Keni Harrison (adidas) 12.42;

3. Masai Russell (Ky) 12.46 (12.458);

4. Alaysha Johnson (MoreSMG) 12.46 (12.460);

5. Tia Jones (adidas) 12.50;

6. Tonea Marshall (Nike) 12.63;

7. Alia Armstrong (LSU) 12.70;

8. Grace Stark (Fl) 12.70.

(best-ever mark-for-place: 5)

(lanes: 1. Armstrong; 2. Russell; 3. Johnson; 4. Ali; 5. Marshall; 6. Harrison; 7. Jones; 8. Cunningham)

(RT: 0.143 Marshall; 0.154 Ali; 0.158 Jones; 0.161 Armstrong; 0.180 Johnson; 0.183 Harrison; 0.187 Stark; 0.202 Russell)

HEATS (July 07)

I(0.4)–1. Harrison 12.50; 2. Ali 12.53; 3. Marshall 12.58; 4. Amber Hughes (unat) 12.88; 5. Gabbi Cunningham (Nik) 13.00; 6. Jade Barber (Tracksm) 13.04; 7. Cha’Mia Rothwell (unat) 13.14.

II(0.0)–1. Jones 12.56; 2. Russell 12.74; 3. Stark 12.83; 4. Talie Bonds (unat) 13.03; 5. Kaylor Harris (UCF) 13.26; 6. Destiny Huven (Wi) 13.27; 7. Jaiya Covington (TxAM) 13.43.

III(-0.1)–1. Johnson 12.60; 2. Armstrong 12.80; 3. Alexis Glasco (CCar) 12.91; 4. Rayniah Jones (UCF) 13.07; 5. Paige Magee (Ia) 13.12; 6. Tionna Tobias (Ia) 13.43; 7. Nyile Facey (Cinc) 13.54;… dq—Darci Khan (How).

SEMIS (July 08)

I(0.5)–1. Ali 12.43; 2. Harrison 12.45; 3. Russell 12.48; 4. Stark 12.74; 5. Glasco 12.96; 6. Cunningham 13.14; 7. Jones 13.17; 8. Rothwell 13.44.

II(1.4)–1. Johnson 12.37; 2. Marshall 12.49; 3. Jones 12.51; 4. Armstrong 12.60; 5. Hughes 12.85; 6. Bonds 12.93; 7. Barber 13.03; 8. Magee 13.10.