Report25 Jun 2018

Houlihan’s double highlights final day of US Championships


Shelby Houlihan wins the 5000m at the US Championships (© Getty Images)

Shelby Houlihan completed an unprecedented double-double on the final day of the US Championships in Des Moines on Sunday (24).

She won the 5000m in 15:31.03 to accompany her 1500m title from Saturday. Other athletes had previously achieved this double at the US Championships outdoors, but Houlihan is the first athlete to accomplish the feat following a similar double (1500m and 3000m) at the US Indoor Championships in the same year.

As the four-day championships closed, other highlights included Evan Jager’s seventh consecutive win in the 3000m steeplechase, Devon Allen’s upset of Grant Holloway in the 110m hurdles, 800m victories by Clayton Murphy and Ajee Wilson, and one of the top US discus competitions.

Houlihan easily outdistanced second-place Rachel Schneider, 15:32.71. Karissa Schweizer was third in 15:34.31. Houlihan’s final 50 meters was timed in 6.1 and 100 metres in 13.4 at the end of a 62.85 lap.

“I could kind of feel it squeeze down the last mile,” said Houlihan, whose final mile was run in about 4:44. “I just tried to hammer as much as I could.”

She planned to run only the 5000m here until she won the 1500m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene. The 25-year-old conceded she is more confident in the 1500m than in the 5000m.

At the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018, she was fourth in the 1500m and fifth in the 3000m. For the summer, Houlihan said she might aim at the US record at 1500m.

“If the race is there, that’s awesome,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s the main focus.”

Weather delays

Late in the meet, there was a three-hour weather delay. That influenced Michael Normal to withdraw from a 200m that could have been among the highlights of the four-day championships.

First event after action resumed was the steeple, in which Jager has won every US title since 2012. He pulled away for a Drake Stadium record of 8:20.10, followed by Hillary Bor in 8:22.58. Andy Bayer, the NCAA 1500m champion at this stadium in 2012, was third in 8:24.66.

“My body probably actually felt better because I had done two warmups,” Jager said.

Also after the delay, Allen came from behind to win in 13.46 (13.452) over Holloway’s 13.46 (13.454). Allen, trailing by at least a metre before the last hurdle, has won US titles in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The hurdles loss was the first all year for NCAA champion Holloway, indoors or outdoors.

Jarrett Eaton was third in 13.51 and world record-holder Aries Merritt fourth in 13.52.

Murphy, who tried an 800m/1500m double at these championships a year ago and came away injured, showed more of his 2016 form. His 800m was won in 1:46.50 off uneven 54.53/51.97 laps. NCAA champion Isaiah Harris was second in 1:47.11.

Wilson won her third 800m title in a stadium record of 1:58.18 over fast-finishing Raevyn Rogers, second in a PB of 1:58.57. Ce’Aira Brown was third in 1:58.65 as five women finished inside 2:00.

In another distance race, Olympic silver medallist Paul Chelimo retained his 5000m title by holding off Ryan Hill, 13:29.47 to 13:29.67. Chelimo ran the final lap in 55.78, Hill in 55.89.

Jagers tops quality discus

Discus was once a strength of US throwers, but not lately. Mason Finley’s bronze in London last year was the first medal at a World Championships since Anthony Washington’s gold in 1999.

In an exciting competition on Sunday in which the lead changed several times, Reggie Jagers won with 68.61m, the best by a US thrower since 2011 and putting him fifth on this year’s world list. He was followed by Finley (67.06m) and Sam Mattis (66.32m). Not since 2000 had three US throwers exceeded 66 metres in the same competition.

Mattis broke Jagers’ stadium record of 64.59m with 65.45m in the first round and 66.32m in the third. Jagers then threw 66.92m at the end of the third round to reclaim the stadium record. Finley raised the record to 67.06m in the fifth before Jager reclaimed it (again) with 68.61m just moments later.

Elsewhere in the field, Sandi Morris successfully defended her pole vault title with a clearance of 4.80m. Katie Nageotte was second with 4.70m and 36-year-old Jenn Suhr third at 4.60m.

Maggie Ewen came from behind to win the shot put with 19.29m over Jessica Ramsey, second in a PB of 19.23m. Olympic champion Michelle Carter was sixth with 18.01m.

Jeron Robinson won the high jump (2.31m) and Jeff Henderson the long jump (8.10m). Erica Bougard scored 6347 points to become the heptathlon champion and move into the overall lead in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge standings.

Shamier Little set a stadium record of 53.61 in the 400m hurdles, second on the world list to the world U20 record of 52.75 by Sydney McLaughlin, who skipped these championships. Little had previously won in 2015, the year she was the silver medallist at the IAAF World Championships.

Georgeanne Moline stumbled after she rolled an ankle coming off the last hurdle, and she was second in 54.12. Olympic bronze medallist Ashley Spencer tripped over the third hurdle, fell and did not finish.

In Norman’s absence, Ameer Webb won the 200m in 20.47 (-1.9m/s). Jenna Prandini won the women’s 200m in 22.62 (-1.0m/s), reprising her title from 2015.

Roy Jordan for the IAAF