Report25 Jun 2022


Kerley’s record runs at USATF Championships make him the 100m favorite at WCH Oregon22

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Fred Kerley in action in the 100m at the US Championships (© Getty Images)

In three weeks, the title of world’s fastest man will go to the winner of the 100m dash at World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at the reimagined Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. 

Fred Kerley will be favored to win that title. 

Kerley completed a masterful trio of 100m races Friday when he won the event at U.S. Track and Field (USATF) Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field in 9.77 seconds after winning his semifinal heat in 9.76 seconds a little more than 90 minutes before the final. 

That all came after Kerley eased through his preliminary heat Thursday in 9.83 seconds despite easing up at the finish line. That time was a personal best for the silver medalist in the event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and was the fastest time in the world this year. 

Kerley went even faster Friday. In the final, he finished ahead of Marvin Bracey-Williams, who equaled his personal best of 9.85 seconds for second with Trayvon Bromell third in 9.88. The top three finishers in each event automatically qualified for WCH Oregon22, and the U.S. will have a fourth runner at the first World Athletics Championships on U.S. soil with Christian Coleman having an automatic bye as the defending champion from the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. 

Coleman finished third to Bromell and Bracey-Williams in a season-best 9.87 seconds in his semifinal heat before choosing not to run in the final. 

“The more I’m consistent, I’m producing consistent times and a bomb will drop eventually,” Kerley said. “My starts were (bad) today. I believe in my top end (speed) and my top end got me to the finish line today. The magic came today.” 

Kerley broke the meet and Hayward Field records of 9.77 with his semifinal time with both records set by Tyson Gay in 2008. Only Gay, who holds the American record of 9.69, and Justin Gatlin, whose best is 9.74 seconds, have run faster among U.S. sprinters in the 100. Kerley said the only record he’s shooting for is the 9.58 world record set by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin. 

“I put the work in, and I actually expected something faster, but I’ll wait until World Championships,” said Kerley, who will also run the 200 at the U.S. Championships in an attempt at a 100-200 double at WCH Oregon22. “I ain’t really worried about the American record, we’ve got one above that. So, wherever I can get the Usain Bolt record, that’s the one I’m aiming for. You don’t try and go for second place; you go for the top dog.” 

Ryan Crouser has been at the top of the men’s shot put world since winning his first Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He repeated at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after setting the world record of 23.37m at last year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field. He’s also the indoor world record-holder, but the one thing Crouser doesn’t have is a World Athletics Championships gold medal. He brought home silver from Doha, Qatar, in 2019, and from the indoor World Athletics Championships in March in Belgrade, Serbia. 

“It’s been kind of a joke amongst the guys that yeah, you can’t win a world championship,” Crouser said. “I’m still chasing that World Championship title, so hopefully this will be the one. The fun thing at this point is that a PR is a world record for me, so that’s a really special feeling and that’s my goal.” 

Like the 100m, the U.S. has four shot putters going to WCH Oregon22 with Joe Kovacs as the defending champion from 2019. Kovacs, who also won the 2015 World Athletics Championships gold medal, won in Doha when he threw a personal-best of 22.91m, one centimeter farther than Crouser and Tomas Walsh of New Zealand, who was the bronze medalist. 

On Friday, Kovacs had back-to-back throws of 22.87m to open the competition. Crouser opened at 22.42m, and after a foul, took the lead for good at 23.12m as he improved his world-leading mark of 23.02m. Crouser finished off the event with throws of 23.01m, 23.11m, and 22.98m to win another U.S. title with Kovacs second. Also returning to Eugene for WCH Oregon22 will be Josh Awotunde (third at 21.51m) and Tripp Piperi, the NCAA champion for Texas, who was fourth at 21.43m. 

“I was really, really happy with it today," Crouser said. “Joe opened really big, and I had to make the decision do I chase him in round one or solidify my spot and make sure I made the team? So, I made the conservative call. It took me a couple of rounds to chase Joe down. He threw extremely well, so I feel like without Joe setting that high standard early, I probably wouldn’t have thrown as far as I did.  

“I’m really excited going forward, just because the consistency was there, but I was consistently missing those throws just a little bit.” 

Also seeking her first outdoor World Athletics Championships title is women’s pole vaulter Sandi Morris, who has two outdoor silver medals to go with an Olympic silver medal and two indoor World Athletics Championships gold medals, including in March when she won in Belgrade, Serbia. 

On Friday, Morris improved her world lead in the event by winning at 4.82m. Alina McDonald was second with a personal best of 4.65m, the same height cleared by 2020 Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Katie Nageotte, who was third. Morris is looking forward to having the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field. 

“I’m just so grateful that I get to experience it because it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Morris said, “and to get to look up and see those American flags and have the hometown crowd behind us, I know it’s going to be very, very special. So, I’m fortunate to be on the team and to maybe get to win my first gold medal in front of a home crowd, so fingers crossed, but I don’t want to jinx myself.” 

Making the team wasn’t a foregone conclusion for Morris and Nageotte, who both needed third-attempt clearances at 4.60m to stay in the competition. When the two of them and McDonald all cleared 4.65m, the team for Eugene was set. 

“I’ve always been good at this third-attempt making because I have the ability to mentally reel myself in and just say, this is just 4.60, I’ve jumped this a zillion times in my life,” Morris said. “I know what I have to do to get over this, focus on executing the jump, and I was able to pull it out and continue on from there. I just have to keep it interesting to keep everybody on their toes.” 

The biggest upset of the U.S. Championships through the first two days came in the women’s 100m final where Melissa Jefferson, who just completed her sophomore year of college at Costal Carolina University, shocked the field to win in a wind-aided (2.9mps) 10.69 seconds. Aleia Hobbs, the pre-meet favorite, was second in 10.72 and Twanisha Terry finished third in 10.74 to make her first World Athletics Championships team. 

Coastal Carolina is a mid-major NCAA Division I school, and Jefferson said she and some of her collegiate teammates, who are also competing at the USATF Championships, are hoping to put their Conway, South Carolina, school on the map. 

“This is for us to be able to go out there and show the world that hey, it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you have the dedication and hard work to put it in and see the results you can do it anywhere,” she said. 

At the NCAA meet at Hayward Field two weeks ago, Jefferson finished eighth in the 100m final in 11.24 seconds and was ninth in the 200m final in 22.90 seconds. Jefferson, however, had shown potential for big things when she ran 10.88 in the 100m at the Sun Belt Conference Championships in mid-May in Louisiana. That time ranked seventh in the world entering Friday, and she was second in her semifinal heat earlier Friday in a personal-best 10.82 seconds, just behind Hobbs, who set a personal best of 10.81. 

“I’m very big in my faith, and I just have to trust God,” Jefferson said. “Of course, two weeks ago I wasn’t really happy with the results that came, but I had to step back and realize who’s really in control. That’s not me, He’s in control. He knew that two weeks ago had to happen in order for this to happen today and I’m fine with that." 

Val Allman, the 2020 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s discus who improved her American record to 71.46m earlier this season, won her fourth U.S. title Friday with a best of 66.92m. Laulauga Tausaga-Collins had a personal-best of 64.49m to finish second, and Rachel Dincoff was third at 62.14m. 

In the women’s high jump, Vashti Cunningham won another U.S. title at 1.93m, and was the only jumper in the field with the World Athletics Championships standard of 1.96m. Rachel Glenn was second at 1.90m, the same height as Rachel McCoy, the third-place finisher cleared. 

Other highlights included: 

• Rayvon Grey winning the men’s long jump with a personal-best leap of 8.19m, four centimeters better than runner-up Steffin McCarter, but just off the World Athletics Championships standard of 8.22m 

• World-record holder and 2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin easily won her semifinal heat of the women’s 400m hurdles in 52.90 seconds. 

•  Athing Mu, the 2020 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 800m, won her semifinal heat in a swift 1 minute, 57.55 seconds, and five other runners broke 2 minutes with three of them turning in personal bests. 

• World-leader Michael Norman had the fastest time in the men’s 400m semifinals in 44.28 seconds. In the women’s 400m semifinals, Talitha Diggs, the NCAA champ for Florida, had the fastest time at 50.88 seconds, and Allyson Felix, in her final season, advanced to the final on time. 

By Ashley Conklin 

 

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