Erik Kynard at the 2015 US Championships (© Kirby Lee)
Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard provided one of the highlights of the second day of the US Championships as he equalled his personal best of 2.37m to win the high jump in Eugene on Friday night (26).
Kynard was clean over the bar until 2.34m, which he cleared on his second attempt, and then claimed his second national outdoor title with a second jump at 2.37m, which also equalled Jesse Williams’ meeting record from 2011.
The competition was not completely over, as JaCorian Duffield had added three centimetres to his personal best when he went clear at 2.34m on his second attempt.
After two failures at 2.37m, and secure in second place having booked his place on the plane to Beijing as part of the US team going to the IAAF World Championships in August, Duffield decided to take his third attempt at a US record-equalling 2.40m.
He brought the bar down, allowing Kynard to pass and call for the bar to be raised one centimetre in the hope that he could consign Charles Austin’s mark from 1991 to history.
It wasn’t to be but Kynard, after finishing fifth in Moscow two years ago, demonstrated the fact that he can’t be counted out of consideration for a medal in Beijing.
The 2011 world champion Williams had to settle for third on this occasion with 2.31m but made his fifth World Championships team.
Hardee back to the top again
Much like 2014, Trey Hardee used the championship stage to underscore his legacy as one of the world’s best in the decathlon, accumulating a world-leading score of 8725 and defeating Jeremy Taiwo by 461 points.
He led the way after the first event, posting 10.48 for the 100m, and was never seriously challenged in an event that also counted towards the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
The two-time world champion had a slight scare in the pole vault as the pole slipped out of his hand and he got slightly bruised in the fall but he went on to record a personal best of 5.35m.
After a 61.92m javelin, which was more than seven metres short of his best but still good enough to lead the rest of the field, Hardee was as good as confirmed as the winner.
His final score was the second-best performance of his career, only behind his 8790 from the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin. He now aims to return to the podium after not finishing in Moscow two years ago.
"I woke up this morning. I texted my agent and my coach telling them that I’m not sore. I felt like I didn’t do anything yesterday,” Hardee said. “I was in a good spot."
Kara Winger dominated the women's javelin and won with 64.94m, more than three metres beyond what anyone could manage.
The day’s only track finals were in the 100m, and did not disappoint.
In the men’s event, US record-holder Tyson Gay clocked 9.87 with a 0.0m/s wind reading to win ahead of 19-year-old Trayvon Bromell, the sensation of the heats who took second with 9.96.
In the semi-final, Bromell also flew to a wind-assisted time of 9.76 (3.7m/s).
Bromell’s streak of second-place finishes at Hayward Field continue after placing runner-up at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championship and 2015 NCAA Championships but he can take plenty of consolation from the fact that he became the first male teenager since 1980 to qualify for a US team in the 100m going to a senior global championships.
In the women’s final, former University of Oregon students English Gardner and Jasmine Todd fed off the famous Hayward Field crowd energy they were accustomed to in their collegiate days to finish behind Tori Bowie’s 10.81 (1.2m/s) and qualify for Beijing in second and third place, running 10.86 and a personal best of 10.92 respectively.
Gardner had earlier run a personal best and world-leading 10.79 to win her semi-final but couldn't quite reproduce that sort of speed later in the day.
In the final, Bowie was just 0.01 outside her personal best, set when she won at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco last summer.
"It's kind of like a dream come true almost," said Bowie. "Oh my gosh, I worked so hard to get to this level. Honestly, I would've been content to just get top three, but I'll take first place any day."
Nelvis moves up the lists
Both Gay and Bowie had to cede to the accolade of having the best track performance of the day to hurdler Sharika Nelvis.
The first two semi-finals for the women’s 100m hurdles were heavily wind-aided and saw Keni Harrison and Jasmin Stowers win in 12.46 and 12.47. But the swirling wind had dropped to 1.9m/s for the third semi-final and Nelvis came away with the stunning world-leading time of 12.34, the third-fastest by a US hurdler ever and a run that moves her up to seventh on the world all-time list.
But with seven US women in the world’s top 10 ahead of Saturday’s final, Nelvis may need another near-perfect performance to punch her ticket to the IAAF World Championships.
In the women’s 1500m semi-finals, 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson pushed the pace and finished in 4:08.55, by far the fastest of the three races.
David Verberg recorded the fastest time in the men’s 400m semi-finals with 44.41.
The women’s 400m saw one of the biggest shocks of the championships so far as Olympic champion and US record-holder Sanya Richards-Ross failed to make the final after finishing fifth in her semi-final, won by Francena McCorory in world-leading 49.85.
Bershawn Jackson and Johnny Dutch moved one step closer to another duel for the US title in the men’s 400m hurdles. Dutch ran the fastest time of the semi-finals with 48.90, having seen Jackson win his race in 49.06.
The women’s 400m hurdles preliminary round saw Cassandra Tate post the best performance with her 55.58 heat victory.
Boris Berian, who ran 1:43.84 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York, surprisingly failed to make it out of the 800m semi-finals while Casimir Loxsom ran a personal best of 1:44.92 for the fastest time of the day.
The US Championships continue until Sunday at Hayward Field in Eugene, the venue for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships and the 2021 IAAF World Championships.
Chris Chavez for the IAAF