Jeremy Taiwo in the heptathlon long jump at the US Indoor Championships (© Kirby Lee)
A championship record of 6273 in the men’s heptathlon by Jeremy Taiwo highlighted the action on day two of the USATF Indoor Championships in Boston on Saturday (28).
Taiwo had more than 700 points to spare on silver medallist Austin Bahner, who totalled 5526 points. “It feels great,” said Taiwo, who missed all of 2014 through injury. “It was good to finish a heptathlon and still feel healthy.”
Taiwo’s seven-event series included a 7.39m long jump, 14.50m shot put, 2.16m high jump and 7.87 PB in the 60m hurdles. His winning score of 6273 is the best mark in the world this year on a standard track, although Taiwo scored 6344 last month on an oversized track.
“I was really happy about going under eight seconds in the hurdles,” he said. “I came here to do what I was supposed to do and it happened. My legs felt heavy going into the high jump and I tried to stay in the right mental state. I started having fun then, and I felt powerful. It was good.”
Manteo Mitchell was a convincing winner of the men’s 300m, an event that made an experimental debut at these championships in the absence of an IAAF World Indoor Championships this year. Mitchell powered ahead of Clayton Parros in the final run to the line to win in 32.86 to Parros’s 33.00.
In the women’s 300m, Natasha Hastings took the win in 36.52 ahead of Jessica Beard (36.65). “I always go out hard,” said Hastings. “In the home stretch, when Jessica came up beside me, I was just trying to maintain all the way to the line, and I think being out in lane six helped me.”
Shannon Rowbury was a clear winner of the women’s mile in 4:34.40 ahead of Katie Mackey, who finished fast to take second in 4:34.83.
Rowbury, who holds the fastest time in the world this year courtesy of her 4:22.66 run last month, swept to the front of the field off a conservative pace with two laps to run and from there, never looked in any real danger of being challenged.
“I figured it would go slow, which it did,” she said. “I stayed patient and just kept building and building. I knew I had it on the last lap. By the time I got to the last 200 I wasn’t even worried about who was behind me. I felt like if someone got to me, then I had another gear. I wish I could’ve got the American record, but I accomplished all my goals this indoor season and then some.”
In the men’s two miles, Ryan Hill had too much pace for his rivals in a race that turned into a three-lap burn-up, the 25-year old passing teammate Evan Jager on the back straight of the final lap to take the title in 8:26.72. Ben Blankenship finished fast to take second in 8:27.31.
“It was a very fast sprint finish,” said Hill. “I was ultra-sensitive to anyone making big moves all the way through the race. I decided I wanted to be right on the leader with a lap to go, and that’s how it worked out.”
In the field events, Erik Kynard took the men’s high jump title with a best clearance of 2.34m ahead of Ricky Robertson (2.31m) and Jesse Williams (2.28m). Kynard went on to attempt a US record of 2.41m and failed narrowly on his final attempt.
“It was alright,” he said. “It was my first high jump of the year. I was dragging my feet a little out there, but I haven’t been jumping a lot in training. This is only the fifth time I’ve high jumped this year. I got hurt last year so I’ve been taking it slower this year.”
Sam Kendricks was a clear winner in the men’s pole vault, his best clearance of 5.76m giving him a comfortable victory over Chris Pillow (5.60m).
Double Olympic medallist Will Claye took the men’s long jump title with ease courtesy of a 7.93m winning jump. “It was a win, but I wish I would have jumped a bit better,” he said. “I was hoping for better numbers.”
Christian Cantwell was best in the men’s shot put, his 20.41m winning effort leaving him with more than a metre to spare over silver medallist Bobby Grace. “I’m satisfied,” he said. “This is a big deal for me, winning another national title.”
In the women’s long jump, favourite Funmi Jimoh was well off her best with a longest jump of 6.37m, though that was still enough to secure the title in what proved a below-par competition.
On Friday, meanwhile, Sharon Day-Monroe won her fourth consecutive US indoor pentathlon title with a tally of 4654. “I didn’t have the best meet of my life but it was a solid day,” said Day-Monroe. “I’m not sharp yet. It’s only my third meet of the year. There is certainly a lot to work on heading into outdoors and looking to make the team for Beijing.”
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF