The USA Track & Field National Championships got busy on Thursday and Lopez Lomong knew he would have to do something special to be competing at the IAAF World Championships in Doha (QAT) later this year.
Although the defending U.S. champion, the former Sudanese refugee had to not only win, but run faster than the Worlds qualifying standard of 27:40.00 to get on the team. Considering he entered with a best of 28:21.37 from last year, that was going to be a challenge.
But Lomong hooked up with fellow ex-Africans Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir and set a strong pace, passing 5,000 m in about 13:46. Korir fell back, but Kirchirchir and Lomong continued together until three laps to go and then Lomong let loose. He finished with laps of 64.1, 64.3 and 55.6, shattering his lifetime best and easily finishing ahead of the qualifying standard in 27:30.06, the fastest time this season by any athlete not from east Africa.
Kipchirchir was second in 27:47.71 and Korir was third in 28:01.43, and as all three are qualified, all can go to Doha.
That race wrapped up a fairly eventful first day, in which Allyson Felix made her return to the track and was fast enough to advance to run another day. She finished fourth in the first heat of the 400 m in 52.20 and was a time qualifier in a race won by Lynna Irby in a season’s best of 51.14. Felix’s time was 11th-best overall and she advanced to tomorrow’s semifinals.
“I felt rusty which was to be expected,” she said afterwards. “I’ve known for a while that I was going to run in the championships; it was always my goal. It was just a matter of what type of form I would be in and it’s not up to my standard. I’ve been at this a long time so it’s always nice to feel the support of the crowd.”
The 2017 World Champion in the women’s 100 m, Tori Bowie, did not start in the heats of the women’s 100; she is also entered in the long jump and 200 m. The other qualifying events were fairly uneventful.
The major shock of the day came in the men’s discus, where Worlds medalist Mason Finley and defending champion Reggie Jagers were both awful and finished seventh and ninth! Sam Mattis won his first national title at 66.69 m (218-9), ahead of Brian Williams (65.76 m/215-9) and Kord Ferguson (63.25 m/207-6). While Ferguson had a lifetime best, he has not met the Worlds qualifying standard; while the USATF procedures do not allow do not allow selection of Finley (who has the qualifying standard and is the U.S. leader in the event this season), he could be invited by the IAAF based on his world ranking.
Asked if anyone could have predicted the discus results, Mattis deadpanned, “If you could bet on track, you could have made a lot of money.
“I was trying to focus on just one thing and let the throw come to me. It’s been a tough season for most of it. However far I was going to throw today was how far I was going to throw and I just wanted to let it come to me.”
Molly Huddle won the women’s 10,000 m for her fifth consecutive national title, finishing just ahead of Emily Sisson, 31:58.47-32:02.19, with Kellyn Taylor third. Both Huddle and Sisson have the qualifying standard and will go to the Worlds.
As expected, the U.S. had two qualifiers for the Worlds in the women’s triple jump and javelin. Year leaders Keturah Orji (14.56 m/47-9 1/4) and Ariana Ince (61.06 m/200-4) won the events, with Tori Franklin (TJ) and Kara Winger (JT) second. For Orji, it was her fourth U.S. national title in a row, while Ince won her first.
The meet continues through Sunday; NBCSN has coverage on Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern time, on NBC on Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern and on Sunday on NBC from 8 p.m. Eastern time.
USATF National Championships
Des Moines, Iowa (USA) ~ 25-28 July 2019
(Full results here)
10,000 m: 1. Lopez Lomong, 27:30.06; 2. Shadrack Kipchirchir, 27:47.71; 3. Leonard Korir, 28:01.43; 4. Connor McMillan, 28:20.18; 5. Kirubel Erassa, 28:20.20; 6. Connor Winter, 28:21.81; 7. Reid Buchanan, 28:22.80; 8. Reed Fischer, 28:23.30.
Discus: 1. Sam Mattis, 66.69 m (218-9); 2. Brian Williams, 65.76 m (215-9); 3. Kord Ferguson, 63.25 m (207-6); 4. Luke Vaughn, 61.78 m (202-5); 5. Jared Schuurmans, 61.37 m (201-4); 6. Eric Kicinski, 61.28 m (201-0); 7. Mason Finley, 61.05 m (200-3); 8. Jordan Roach, 60.47 m (198-4); 9. Reggie Jagers, 59.78 m (196-1).
10,000 m: 1. Molly Huddle, 31:58.47; 2. Emily Sisson, 32:02.19; 3. Kellyn Taylor, 32:02.74; 4. Stephanie Bruce, 32:09.99; 5. Marielle Hall, 32:14.41; 6. Sarah Pagano, 32:48.58; 7. Hannah Everson, 32:54.47; 8. Jessica Tonn, 33:01.84.
Triple Jump: 1. Keturah Orji, 14.56 m (47-9 1/4); 2. Tori Franklin, 14.36 m (47-1 1/2); 3. Imani Oliver, 13.86 m (45-5 3/4); 4. Lynnika Pitts, 13.50 m (44-3 1/2); 5. Tiffany Flynn, 13.35 m (43-9 3/4); 6. Ciynamon Stevenson, 13.24 m (43-5 1/4); 7. Crystal Manning, 13.11 m (43-0 1/4); 8. LaChyna Roe, 13.10 m (42-5 1/2).
Javelin: 1. Ariana Ince, 61.06 m (200-4); 2. Kara Winger, 59.73 m (195-11); 3. Jenna Gray, 57.29 m (187-11); 4. Avione Allgood, 55.29 m (181-4); 5. Maggie Malone, 54.47 m (178-8); 6. Kylee Carter, 54.27 m (178-0); 7. Seri Geisler, 54.11 m (177-6); 8. Katie Reichert, 53.53 m (175-7).