T&F Olympic Trials off to a rousing start

EUGENE — A historic men’s shot put and a thrilling men’s 10,000m gave the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field the first day it deserved after waiting a long year for it to finally become a reality. In front of an appreciative and noisy crowd in the new Hayward Field, Team USATF athletes shined brighter than ever as spots on the squad for the Tokyo Games were up for grabs in the first two finals of the meet.

Men’s Shot Put final

Ryan Crouser (Redmond, Oregon / USATF Oregon) had hinted at it for months, stringing together some of the best throws ever. If he hit all his positions and applied force through the shot, the world record would be his.

In round four of the final, he knew the moment it left his powerful right hand that this was The One, sending the 16-pound iron ball farther than anyone in the history of the world.

After qualifying earlier in the day with the fifth-farthest throw in history and a meet record 22.92m/75-2.5, Crouser did what almost everyone on the planet knew he would eventually do, smashing the world record with a 23.37m/76-8.25 bomb that landed almost at the end of the sector.

Crouser’s throw added almost a foot to the previous world record of 23.12m/75-10.25 set in 1990 by Randy Barnes, and he had two other throws beyond 74-feet in his series.

Here’s a look at the rest of Day 1 of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials

Day 1 of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials. Photo: Paul Merca/Track Town USA

Women’s 1,500m 1st round

All three heats of the women’s 1,500m followed a similar pattern with a conservative early pace and a mad dash over the final 300m. A group of seven women in the first heat came off the final turn all within striking distance of one of the six automatic qualifying spots for the semifinal. Nikki Hiltz (San Diego, California / USATF San Diego-Imperial) on the outside and Jenny Simpson (Boulder, Colorado / USATF Colorado) on the inside were the fastest over the final 50m, with Simpson taking first in 4:11.34 and Hiltz second in 4:11.42.

Women’s 400m 1st round

Showing poise befitting the most decorated American woman in track and field history, Allyson Felix (Los Angeles, California / USATF Southern California) ran a controlled race in heat one of the women’s 400m and won with a 50.99 ahead of Jessica Beard’s (Ocoee, Florida / USATF Florida) 51.10.

Behind those two, Jaide Stepter-Baynes (Los Alamitos, California / USATF Southern California) had a season-best 51.20 and NaAsha Robinson (Huntsville, Alabama / USATF Alabama) notched a lifetime best 51.30, both achieving the Tokyo standard.

Quanera Hayes (Hope Mills, North Carolina / USATF North Carolina), the fastest woman in 2021 in this field, went out quickly in heat two and established a big lead but had to put on another little burst of speed in the final 10m to assure her of the win in 52.34 in front of a quick-finishing Taylor Manson (Gainesville, Florida / USATF Florida) of Florida.

Team USATF’s top finisher at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Wadeline Jonathas (West Columbia, South Carolina / USATF South Carolina) bided her time in lane two as Lynna Irby  (Indianapolis, Indiana / USATF Indiana) took the pace out very quickly on the outside. Jonathas took over the lead off the final turn and won in a season-best 50.64, with Irby second in 50.91. 

Kaylin Whitney (Clermont, Florida / USATF Florida) set a personal best of 50.94 in third. The final section saw Kendall Ellis (North Hollywood, California / USATF Southern California) win comfortably in 51.02. Collegians Shae Anderson (Norco, California / USATF Southern California) of UCLA and Talitha Diggs (Hellertown, Pennsylvania / USATF Mid-Atlantic), the Florida freshman who is the daughter of Olympian Joetta Clark-Diggs, were second and third.

Day 1 of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials. Photo: Paul Merca/Track Town USA

Men’s 400m 1st round

North Carolina A&T’s Trevor Stewart (Spotsylvania, Virginia / USATF Virginia) finished behind Noah Williams (Hilton, New York / USATF Niagara) of LSU at the NCAA Championships last week, but he reversed that order in the first heat by sprinting away from the field to win in 44.75. Williams was second in 45.21 and 2019 Pan American Games bronze medalist Justin Robinson (St. Louis, Missouri / USATF Ozark), still just 19 years old, was third.

Georgia’s Elija Godwin (Athens, Georgia / USATF Georgia), always a fast starter, took off quickly and was never challenged on his way to a 44.81, several strides ahead of Michael Norman’s (Sherman Oaks, California / USATF Southern California) 45.18 runner-up effort and Nathan Strother (Lexington, Kentucky / USATF Kentucky) came through to take third in 45.44.

Day 1 of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials. Photo: Paul Merca/Track Town USA
Day 1 of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials. Photo: Paul Merca/Track Town USA

Men’s 800m 1st round

A slowish opening lap left seven men with very little between them, including 2019 World Championships fourth-placer Bryce Hoppel (Midland, Texas / USATF Missouri Valley). Hoppel and Abraham Alvarado (Smyrna, Georgia / USATF Georgia) moved slightly ahead into the last straight, and Alvarado crossed the line first in 1:48.35. Hoppel was .03 back and Shane Streich (Janesville, Minnesota / USATF Minnesota) took the third automatic berth by four-thousandths of a second over Samuel Voelz (New Palestine, Indiana / USATF Indiana).

Women’s High Jump qualifying

It took 1.87m/6-1.5 to advance to the final and seven of the 12 women who cleared that did so without any misses. Outdoor world leader Vashti Cunningham (Las Vegas, Nevada / USATF Nevada) took only one attempt overall and will be joined in the final by NCAA champion Rachel Glenn (Long Beach, California / USATF Southern California) of South Carolina and Rachel McCoy (Austin, Texas / USATF Texas Southern), among others, but Jelena Rowe (Las Vegas, Nevada / USATF Nevada), one of three American women who have the Tokyo standard, missed three times at her opening height of 1.82m/5-11.5 and did not advance

Women’s 100m 1st round

Picking up right where she left off last week while winning the NCAA sprint double, Cambrea Sturgis (Kannapolis, North Carolina / USATF North Carolina) drove out of the blocks and won going away in 11.15. Jenna Prandini (Pflugerville, Texas / USATF Central California), an Olympian at 200m in 2016, was second and Tianna Bartoletta (Berkeley, California / USATF Pacific) took third to advance.

All eyes were on heat four, with American leader Sha’Carri Richardson (Dallas, Texas / USATF Texas Southern) lined up in lane five. Not a great starter, Richardson owned the second half of the race and blazed away from her competitors to pass the line in 10.84, easily the fastest time of the day. Mikiah Brisco (Baton Rouge, Louisiana / USATF Southern) was second to move on, and English Gardner (Voorhess, New Jersey / USATF New Jersey), who has a restaurant named after her in the new Hayward Field, took third to advance.

Source: USATF

Featured Image Caption: Day 1 of the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials. Photo: Paul Merca/Track Town USA