ATHLETICS: Coleman and Crouser dominate the sprints and shot put, and Felix makes it to the 400 m final

A third U.S. national championship for shot put superstar Ryan Crouser

There were plenty of underdog and comeback stories at the USA Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium on Friday evening, but the world’s no. 1 sprinter wasn’t one of them. He came to dominate and he did.

After defeating his friend and rival Justin Gatlin – the reigning World Champion – in the semis in 9.96 (to 10.16), Christian Coleman got his usual brilliant start in the final and ran away from everyone to win easily in 9.99 into a headwind.

He left no doubt about his status, despite the modest times, but behind him were unlikely World Championships teammates in Michael Rodgers, now 34, and comebacking Chris Belcher, who finished second and third, both in 10.12. All three will go to Doha, along with Gatlin, who skipped the final as he get a wild-card entry into the Worlds as the 2017 winner.

Coleman will be on his second Worlds team, as will Belcher, but it will be the fifth for Rodgers, who made the 2009-13-15-17 Worlds, with a best of fifth in the 100 m final in 2015.

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There was another dominator on the infield in Des Moines in Olympic shot put champ Ryan Crouser. But he had to come from behind to win. Joe Kovacs, the 2015 World Champion, had his best throw in two years with a third-round 22.31 m (73-2 1/2) that looked like it might be the winner; it moved him to third on the 2019 world list.

But Crouser’s speed in the circle improved on his fifth throw and sent the 16-pound ball to 22.62 m (74-2 1/2), another stupendous throw that’s his fourth-best of the year … but better than anyone else has thrown!

The other highlight final on Friday was the women’s 100 m, with surprises galore at the finish line. Teahna Daniels, who was a disappointing fourth at the NCAA Championships run on her home track at the University of Texas, showed controlled power and speed in the middle of the race to win in 11.20 into a 1.7 m/s headwind. She had command of the finish, but just behind was English Gardner, whose injury problems have hobbled her for most of the last three years. She said afterwards that her second-place finish in 11.25 was off of just four weeks of training. Could she be the surprise in Doha?

Sha’Carri Richardson, who ran 10.75 to win the NCAA title, started poorly and was never a contender, finishing eighth and last in 11.72. She’ll try to do better in the 200 m starting tomorrow.

Some of the loudest cheers of the day came in the 400 m semis, especially for the stretch run of Allyson Felix in the second semi. A time qualifier in the first round (52.20), she turned on the speed down the home straight to finish in third in 51.45 and qualify for the final. That semi was won by defending national champion Shakima Wimbley in 50.20, followed by Courtney Okolo in 50.94. The first semi was won by Kendall Ellis in 50.81.

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The first men’s 400 m semi was a stunning win for Paralympic star Blake Leeper, who stormed down the straight to win in 44.38, a Paralympic World Record! He was born without legs and runs on prosthetics and has been a great ambassador for Paralympic sport. Michael Cherry was second in 44.85.

If he finishes in the top three in the final, Leeper’s status to run in Doha is not clear. He said afterwards, “I’m just taking this opportunity to be able to compete at the national championships. I got a really good team working on this right now to get me into the World Championships. I’m just really trying to do my job and try to show the world that I belong here.”

The second semi was a heavyweight battle between world leader Michael Norman (43.45) and Fred Kerley, the 2017 national titlist. Norman got out best, but Kerley closed the gap on the straight and they together to the line in 44.04 for Norman and a seasonal-best 44.09 for Kerley. It’s an impressive race for Kerley, who moved to no. 2 on the world list for 2019.

Reigning World Champion Christian Taylor just ran through once in the triple jump to confirm his place on Doha, but in the real jumping, it was defending champion Donald Scott who got out to a wind-aided 17.74 m (58-2 1/2w) to put a lot of pressure on the field. Will Claye got closest, at 17.70 mw (58-1) in the third round, but he had to settle for second. He appeared to be fully recovered from his recent Diamond League injury and had the best series, jumping 17.18 mw (56-4 1/2w), 17.64 mw (57-10 1/2w), 17.70 mw (58-1w), 17.68 m (58-0 1/4), 17.52 m (57-5 3/4) and 17.68 m (58-0 1/4).

In the men’s hammer, the top three all cleared the Doha qualifying standard, with Conor McCullough winning his first national title with his sixth-round throw of 78.14 m (256-4). He led from the first round on, but claimed a lifetime best on the last toss. He now stands no. 8 on the 2019 world list.

Zach Ziemek, the U.S. leader at 8,344, exited the Decathlon during the high jump, falling to the ground with a right knee injury. That left the event to Devon Williams, who scored 8,295 to not only win the event, but score the Doha qualifying standard of 8,200 points. Solomon Simmons got a lifetime best of 8,227 for second – and a trip to Doha – but Harrison Williams, who won the 1,500 m in 4:29.71, scored 8,188 and missed the standard. That leaves an opening for Ziemek to ask for a medical waiver to be placed on the team; she’s currently eighth on the 2019 world list.

Rai Benjamin looked awesome in the semis of the 400 m hurdles, cruising to a 48.30 win that suggests something special in the final.

One of those who skipped Friday’s events was 10,000 m winner Lopez Lomong, who was scheduled to run the heats of the 1,500 m, but wisely decided to pass, as he is also entered in the 5,000 m.

The meet continues through Sunday; NBC has coverage 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)

Men

100 m (wind -1.0 m/s): 1. Christian Coleman, 9.99; 2. Michael Rodgers, 10.12; 3. Chris Belcher, 10.12; 4. Cravon Gillespie, 10.19; 5. Ronnie Baker, 10.20; 6. Isiah Young, 10.21; 7. Ameer Webb, 10.23; did not start – Justin Gatlin.

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.

Triple Jump: 1. Donald Scott, 17.74 mw (58-2 1/2w); 2. Will Claye, 17.70 mw (58-1w); 3. Omar Craddock, 17.55 m (57-7); 4. Chris Benard, 17.33 mw (56-10 1/4w); 5. KeAndre Bates, 16.85mw (55-3 1/2); 6. Chris Carter, 16.74 m (54-11 1/4); 7. John Warren, 16.34 m (53-7 1/2); 8. Matthew O’Neal, 16.31 m (53-6 1/4).

Shot Put: 1. Ryan Crouser, 22.62 m (74-2 1/2); 2. Joe Kovacs, 22.31 m (73-2 1/2); 3. Darrell Hill, 22.11 m (72-6 1/2); 4. Jon Jones, 21.40 m (70-2 1/2); 5. Josh Awotunde, 20.97 m (68-9 3./4); 6. Payton Otterdahl, 20.67 m (67-9 3/4); 7. Curt Jensen, 20.64 m (67-8 3/4); 8. David Pless, 20.54 m (67-4 3/4).

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).

Hammer: 1. Conor McCullough, 78.14 m (256-4); 2. Rudy Winkler, 76.51 m (251-0); 3. Daniel Haugh, 76.44 m (250-9); 4. Sean Donnelly, 76.38 m (250-7); 5. Michael Shanahan, 74.80 m (245-5); 6. Alex Young, 74.80 m (245-5); 7. Morgan Shigo, 72.64 m (238-4); 8. Colin Dunbar, 70.93 m (232-8).

Decathlon: 1. Devon Williams, 8,295; 2. Solomon Simmons, 8,227; 3. Harrison Williams, 8,188; 4. Steven Bastien, 8,023; 5. Scott Filip, 7.993; 6. Daniel Golubovic, 7,824; 7. Kurt Brondyke, 7,785; 8. Jack Flood, 7,711.

Women

100 m (-1.7): 1. Teahna Daniels, 11.20; 2. English Gardner, 11.25; 3. Morolake Akinosun, 11.28; 4. Dezerea Bryant, 11.29; 5. Twanisha Terry, 11.32; 6. Aleia Hobbs, 11.33; 7. Caitland Smith, 11.46; 8. Sha’Carri Richardson, 11.72.

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).