Wallace Spearmon en route to his 300m World best (Randy Miyazaki) © Copyright
Preview Boston, USA

Spearmon to run 400m - USATF Indoor Championships PREVIEW

With two World Indoor marks already to his credit in the 300m (World best) and 4x400m relay (World record*) during the 2006 indoor campaign, Wallace Spearmon Jr. will tackle the 400m at the 2006 AT&T USA Indoor Championships at Roxbury Community College 24-26 February 2006.

The 400m will a big test for the 21-year-old World Championship 200m silver medallist, who will face 400m specialists LaShawn Merritt, who holds the fastest ever time for a junior indoors, Tyree Washington, 2003 World Indoor gold medallist, and Milton Campbell, 1999 and 2001 World Indoor silver medallist who ran a 2006 world lead of 45.81 in Blacksburg, Va. on 18 February.

The three-day national championships that will serve as the U.S. qualifying competition for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, Moscow , Russia, 10-12 March, will also feature Helsinki gold medallists – MEN: Dwight Phillips (LJ), Walter Davis (TJ), Adam Nelson (SP); WOMEN: Lauryn Williams (100m) and Tianna Madison (LJ).

Whirlwind season for Spearmon

It’s been a banner indoor campaign for Spearmon, who ran a best ever 31.88 seconds for the indoor 300m to smash Brazilian Robson da Silva’s 1989 standard (32.10) at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. on 17 February. The following evening, Spearmon teamed with Jeremy Wariner, Kerron Clement and Darold Williamson for a World record* of 3:01.06 in the  4 x 400m relay.

Competing in Birmingham, UK, on Saturday (18) Spearmon was timed in 20.68 for the 200m, helping him take over the top spot in the IAAF World Rankings for the Event.

Spearmon said that he plans to run additional 400m races in the upcoming years to avoid becoming stagnant in the 200m. Although he has studied videotapes of Michael Johnson, Spearmon concedes that he isn’t in tune with pacing for the 400m but hopes to simply make the U.S. team for Moscow.

“I don’t have a sense of time. I just run to win,” Spearmon said. “I’m going to have to adjust and gain a sense of timing to contain myself for the first 200m.”

Competitive 60m sprints

The men’s 60m figures to be one of the most competitive events over the coming weekend with 2004 Olympic gold medallist Shawn Crawford, 2003 World champion and 2005 World 200m bronze medallist John Capel, and Leonard Scott, the 2005 U.S. indoor leader in the field. Also lining-up will be Coby Miller and 2006 world leader Johnie Drake.

Terrence Trammell will attempt a 60m sprint - 60m Hurdles double. Over the barriers, he’ll face Dominique Arnold, the fourth-place finisher in the 110m Hurdles in Helsinki, who won the Millrose Games 60m Hurdles at the start of this month.

The women’s 60m will feature Me’Lisa Barber and Lauryn Williams, who have the four fastest times by Americans this season to their joint credit. Barber, the 2005 USATF 100m champion, holds a 3-0 edge over Helsinki 100m champion Williams this winter. Defending champion Angela Daigle, Torri Edwards, and 2005 World Long Jump champion Tianna Madison, are also entered.

The women’s 400m is headed by Helsinki silver medallist Sanya Richards, who is the IAAF World Ranked number one for the Event.

The women’s 60m Hurdles should be dominated by 2004 Olympic gold medallist Joanna Hayes, and will be opposed by Danielle Carruthers, Nichole Denby and Jenny Adams are others scheduled to compete. Gail Devers who is making her comeback after maternity leave and who Hayes beat in Millrose has withdrawn from the championships in the last two days.

Howard and Acuff renew High Jump rivalry

Amy Acuff will look to even the season series against Chaunte Howard in the women’s High Jump. Howard, 22, the Helsinki World Championships silver medallist defeated Acuff to win the Reebok Indoor Games in Boston on 28 January with a indoor personal best 1.95m, and a 1.93m win at the Millrose Games. Acuff rebounded to win the Tyson Invitational at 1.95m to earn a share of the 2006 U.S. lead.

The men’s competition will pit defending indoor champion Tora Harris against 2004 Olympic Trials champion Jamie Nieto, and 2005 NCAA indoor and outdoor champion Jesse Williams of Southern California.

Hartwig, Stuczynski head Pole Vault fields

American Pole Vault record holder Jeff Hartwig has come on strong in recent weeks with wins in the Millrose Games and Tyson Invitational and a world leading 5.85m clearance in the John Dalton Memorial Open in South Dakota on 18 February. Hartwig will be opposed by Tim Mack and Toby Stevenson, who finished in gold and silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and the current IAAF World Ranked number one, Brad Walker.

Newcomer Jenn Stuczynski will be the women’s favourite with the absence of Stacy Dragila for the second consecutive year. Stuczynski, 24, a former basketball player who took to pole vaulting a year and a half ago and won last year’s 2005 national indoor title, has set five personal bests this season, including a 4.68m effort that solidified her No. 2 position on the all-time U.S. indoor list.

Helsinki Winners Phillips, Davis and Madison in horizontal jumps

The men’s Long Jump will pit the world’s top two jumpers of 2005  together as Helsinki gold medallist Dwight Phillips battles with 2005 USATF champion Miguel Pate. Reigning World Indoor champion Savante Stringfellow is also down to compete, though he was carried off from the infield on a stretcher in Birmingham on Saturday. The Triple Jump entry list will be headed by defending World outdoor champion Walter Davis.

In the women’s Long Jump, 2005 World champion Tianna Madison will face 2005 World Championships finalist Grace Upshaw, and Akiba McKinney, the third-place finisher in the 2004 Olympic Trials. In the women’s Triple jump, Tiombe Hurd is seeking her fourth indoor national title.

Men’s Shot Put highlights weight events

It’s anybody’s guess who will come out on top when Reese Hoffa, Adam Nelson, Christian Cantwell and John Godina compete in the Shot Put. Godina, Nelson and Hoffa were the top three throwers in the world in 2005. Hoffa, though, has been the dominant thrower on the 2006 indoor circuit with a world-leading 21.65m in the Millrose Games and a win in the Reebok Boston Indoor Games.

The women’s Shot Put features 2003 champion Kristin Heaston and defending champion Jillian Camerena.

In the weight throw, A.G. Kruger is seeking his third title in four years but is expected to be challenged by Kibwe Johnson. Erin Gilreath is the two-time defending women’s champion.

Goucher hopes to transfer Cross Country success to indoor 3000m

Adam Goucher, who won the USATF cross country title over 4 km in New York last weekend to earn a berth on the national team for the 34th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Japan (1 – 2 April), will race against American harrier teammates Ian Dobson and Luke Watson in the 3000m.

The women’s 3000m also includes five of the six members of the World Cross Country team with Carrie Tollefson, Lauren Fleshman, Amy Mortimer, Sarah Schwald and Sara Hall. The race also includes 8km national team members Sara Slattery, Katie McGregor and Sharon Thompson.
In the men’s 800m, defending champion Kevin Hicks faces 2003 winner David Krummenacker in a contest between these Helsinki World Championship teammates. The women’s 800m start-list includes two-time champion Hazel Clark, 2002 and 2003 NCAA champion Alice Schmidt, and former 400m Hurdler Frances Santin.

The men’s 1500m features four of the top seven finishers from the 2005 USATF outdoor championships - runner-up Christopher Lukezic, third-place finisher Rob Myers, Charlie Gruber and Jason Lunn.

In the women’s 1500m, Treniere Clement, the 2005 USATF outdoor champion, and Tiffany McWilliams, the 2003 USATF indoor champion and 2004 NCAA outdoor champion, are among the top entrants.

Kirby Lee for the IAAF

*pending the usual ratification process