Adam Nelson moves up to No.3 All-time in Fayetteville (Kirby Lee) © Copyright

With massive 22.40m put, Nelson improves to No. 3 all-time - Fayetteville report

Fayetteville, Arkansas, USAArkansas will always have a special place in Adam Nelson’s heart. It is especially so after his victory in the Shot Put in the Tyson Invitational on Friday night (15 Feb.)

Throwing in front of a large entourage of family members, and a near-record crowd of 4519 at the Tyson Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas, Nelson won the Shot Put with a monstrous 22.40m performance to move into third position on the all-time global performance list with the world’s best throw since 1989.

The effort topped Nelson’s world-leading mark of 22.07 in the Millrose Games in New York on 1 Feb. and continued his ascent up the all-time list.

Nelson now only trails compatriot Randy Barnes’ World record of 22.66 and Ulf Timmermann’s (GDR) mark of 22.55. Both marks were set in 1989. Nelson entered the season with an indoor best of 21.66 set in 2005.

Other World-leading efforts at the Tyson Invitational - the fourth of five events on the USA Track & Field Visa Championship Series - were turned in by Wallace Spearmon in the 200m (20.19), Nick Willis in the mile (3:55.93) and Alistair Cragg in the 5000m (13:32.01).  

Change in implement pays dividends

Nelson credited the breakthroughs to a change in the shot put. He first made the switch at the Millrose Games when he borrowed reigning world indoor and outdoor champion Reese Hoffa’s shot put.

Hoffa finished second in Fayetteville at 21.14m. Christian Cantwell was third at 20.50m and Dan Taylor was fourth at 18.99m.

“I know that people who don’t throw the Shot Put don’t think it would make a big difference,” Nelson said.  “But for me, it helps me line things up in the back of the circle. A really small difference in position makes a big difference in the throw.”

Nelson anticipated an even better throw than the one that he unleashed in the four-throw competition on Friday. Nelson said he is using a disappointing showing in 2007 as his motivation for 2008.

“I underperformed significantly from a lack of competitions and really not adequate planning,” Nelson said. “But this year, I am in the best shape I have been in and I am ready for something big and I was actually thinking that I could have gone a lot farther than I did tonight.A lot farther.”

That mark could come next week in the USATF Indoor Championships in Boston, on 23-24 Feb., which will serve as the qualifying competition for the U.S. team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, 7-9 March.

“The indoor season is a great preparation for outdoor season,” Nelson said.  “A lot of are training through the indoor season. If this is indicative of what I can do in the outdoor season, I am really excited about that.’’

Joyous Return to Arkansas for Nelson

The Tyson Invitational marked Nelson’s first visit to Arkansas since attending the funeral of a cousin four years ago.

Nelson gave away his entire allotment of 25 tickets to his family, which included his mother, father, sister and a brother-in-law and extended family members who made a six-hour drive from Turner, Ark. to watch him throw.

“Different events have different meanings,” Nelson said. “This is a powerful event for me because it is the first time that I have thrown in front of my family and all the extended family that I haven’t seen in four years. This place will always hold an special place in my heart.”

Victorious homecoming for Arkansas Alums Spearmon, Cragg and Wurth-Thomas

It was also sentimental evening for Arkansas alumni Spearmon, Cragg and Christin Wurth-Thomas, who posted victories on their former college track.

Cragg won the 5000m in 13:32.01 to open the meet. Wurth-Thomas ran 4:27.18 in the women’s mile for a Tyson Center record and the best U.S. mark of the year.

Spearmon concluded the meet with his victory in the meet finale in the 200m in 20.19 that was the fifth fastest performance of all-time.

Spearmon, running in the fourth lane, was in control throughout and might have challenged his American record of 20.10 set at the 2005 NCAA championships on the same track had he not glanced over his left shoulder as he broke the tape.  Jordan Vaden placed second in 20.80 and Rubin Williams was third in 20.84.

“I thought I had already crossed the line,” Spearmon said. “If I didn’t shame on me.”

Spearmon, who earlier placed fourth in the 60m in 6.73, could be excused for the mental lapse in his only indoor meet of the season. He said that he hadn’t done any speed work in preparation for the event.

It’s been a whirlwind off season for Spearmon after placing third in the Osaka World Championships in the 200m.

He switched from college coach Lance Brauman to his father Wallace Spearmon Sr. Spearmon also became engaged to Monica Hargove, a 2006 World Indoor silver medalist in the 4 x 400m Relay, in October.

“Tonight was a great opener but not what I had hoped for,” Spearmon said. “I feel like if I ran one more I would have gotten (the American record). I put my name on the radar. I gave my competitors something to look at.”

Jeter pulls out another close sprint win

Carmelita Jeter won her third consecutive Visa Championship Series meet by a scant 0.01 seconds in the women’s 60m.

The Osaka World Championships 100m bronze medallist edged Muna Lee, 7.27 to 7.28, in a race where four hundredths of a second separated the top five finishers. Miki Barber was third in 7.29, Alexandria Anderson was fourth in 7.30 and Marshevet Hooker was fifth in 7.31. Sanya Richards was sixth in 7.40.

Like her victories in the 55m at the Run for the Dream in Fresno on 21 Jan. and the Millrose Games in the 60m, Jeter accelerated over the second half to come from behind to pull out the win.

“I still have some work to do in my first 30m,” Jeter said. “I felt okay. It wasn’t the time that I wanted but I felt like I worked hard and it was a good win.”

In the men’s 60m, Trindon Holliday of Louisiana State University, who gave up a spot on the U.S. team in the 100m for the Osaka World Championships to prepare for the football season as a kickoff return specialist and wide receiver on the 2007 collegiate national championship team, surprised defending World indoor champion Leonard Scott, 6.60 to 6.62.

Texas freshman Bianca Knight won the women’s 200m in a NCAA and U.S-leading 23.07 over Alexandria Anderson (23.36) and Natasha Hastings (23.51).

Four-time World outdoor hurdles champion Allen Johnson, who will turn 37 on 1 Mar., won the 60m hurdles after overtaking Joel Brown to win, 7.60 to 7.64.

Stuczynski Wins Women’s Pole Vault             

In the women’s Pole Vault, Jenn Stuczynski avenged a defeat to Jillian Schwartz at the Millrose Games with a 4.64m clearance.

Stuczynski, Schwartz and Lacy Jansen all cleared 4.64m on their first attempt followed by three misses at 4.74m. Stuczynski, however, won the competition after making her opening height of 4.54m with Schwartz over on her second.

Other Winners

Kenia Sinclair of Jamaica won the women’s 800m in 2:01.41. In the men’s 800m, James Hatch in 1:47.92 over Sam Burley and Brandon Shaw, who finished second and third with identical times of 1:48.84.

A Baylor team of Trey Harts, Justin Boyd, LeJerald Betters and Quentin Iglehart-Summers won the men’s 4 x 400m relay in 3:06.89. LSU’s quartet of Brooklyn Morris, Nickiesha Wilson, LaTavia Thomas and Deonna Lawrence combined to win the women’s race in 3:35.01.

Kirby Lee for the IAAF

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