ATHLETICS: Richardson sensational in 10.64w and 10.86 in women’s 100 m at U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials

On her way to Tokyo: sprint star Sha'Carri Richardson (Photo: Paul Merca for Tracktown USA)

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The second day of the U.S. Olympic Trials for track & field was packed with drama, with the spotlight firmly on the women’s 100 meters, and deservedly so. The highlights:

Women’s 100 m: It was showtime for Sha’Carri Richardson in the semis and she zoomed to the front by 30 m and ran away in semi one and started celebrating with 20 m left, finishing in a wind-aided 10.64 (+2.6 m/s). She told NBC afterward, “I’m that girl” and right now, she is! Teahna Daniels was second in 10.84w and Jenna Prandini was third (10.96w).

Semi two started with a false start for former U.S. champ Aleia Hobbs (more on this later). On the re-start, it was Javianne Oliver who took charge in mid-race in a wind-aided 10.83 (+2.5 m/s), followed by Gabby Thomas (10.95w) and the fast-closing former Oregon star English Gardner (10.96w).

Between the semis and the final, Hobbs’s false start was reviewed and discarded, and she was assigned lane nine! Richardson was right in the middle of the track in lane five, but it was Oliver who blew away the field at the start. Richardson was undaunted and took over in mid-race and ran away from the field in 10.86, into a headwind of 1.0 m/s. She ran almost as fast into the stands after the final to find her family and celebrate her ticket to Tokyo.

Oliver was second in 10.99 and Daniels finished third in 11.03, with Jenna Prandini fourth in 11.11 and Thomas fifth in 11.15.

Women’s discus: Valarie Allman came in as the overwhelming favorite in the final and the American Record holder and she was hot right from the start. She spun out to 69.45 m (227-10) in the first round and then 69.92 m (229-5), the nos. 3-4 throws in U.S. history, behind her American Record of 70.15 m (230-2) in 2020 and her 70.01 m (229-8) toss in qualifying.

The rest of the throwing was ordinary, with Micaela Hazelwood second at 62.54 m (205-2) and Rachel Dincoff third at 60.21 m (197-6). Hazelwood has not met the Olympic qualifying standard of 63.50 m (208-4) and will not go to Tokyo.

In the qualifying-only events:

Men’s 100 m: Isiah Young broke first in heat one and cruised home, edged in the final 10 m by Kenny Bednarek, 10.07-10.08; Cravon Gillespie got third in 10.20. There was plenty of buzz for heat two, with the ageless Justin Gatlin – now 39 – in lane one and world leader Trayvon Bromell in eight, and Bromell exploded out of the blocks and was challenged by Gatlin on the way to the finish. Bromell finished in 9.84 wind-aided (+2.7 m/s), with Gatlin in 9.93 and Oregon’s Micah Williams third in 9.95. Wow!

Heat three went sideways at 30 m as teen star Jaylen Slade’s right leg buckled and he fell to the track; Marvin Bracy-Williams won in 10.00 (+2.0 m/s), over Chris Belcher (10.01). Slade said afterwards that he took a bad step and was not badly hurt. Three contenders faced off in heat four, and Ronnie Baker blasted out best, with World 200 m Champion Noah Lyles chasing and sudden sprint (instead of 400 m) star Fred Kerley coming on in the final 15 m. Baker won in 9.88 (+1.9 m/s), with Kerley edging Lyles, 9.93 to 9.95. Good news for Lyles: it was a seasonal best, as he had run only 10.03 in 2021.

Men’s 400 m: Michael Cherry is having a career year and looked in perfect form as he came off the final turn in semi one slightly in front and then extended his lead to win easily in 44.50, his second-fastest ever (!). Georgia’s Elija Godwin was strong down the straight as well and was second in 45.10 and Texas A&M Bryce Deadmon got third in 45.17. LSU’s Noah Williams, who was the world leader in the early season, faded to seventh (45.73).

All eyes were on superstar Michael Norman in semi two, but Vernon Norwood – twice a World Championships relay gold medalist – blasted to the lead around the second turn and came into the straight in the lead. But Norman surged as Norwood fell back and Norman passed Wil London and held off NCAA star Randolph Ross to win in 44.73. Ross was second in 44.85, just ahead of London (44.92) and Trevor Stewart (45.05), with Norwood fifth in 45.12. Both Stewart and Norman will advance to the final as time qualifiers.

Men’s 800 m: World Champion Donavan Brazier and Rio medalist Clayton Murphy were both in semi one and playing a waiting game to get in position for the final straight. They came off the final turn in traffic, but ran away from everyone else in the last 50 m, with Murphy winning in 1:46.26, Brazier second in 1:46.57 and Brannon Kidder third in 1:46.97.Quanera Hayes,

Front-runner Isaiah Jewett led most of the second semi, but coming around the final bend, former Kansas star Bryce Hoppel accelerated down the straight and he and Isaiah Harris finished 1-2 with Jewett third: 1:46.00-1:46.16-1:46.18. All three are on to the final.

Men’s pole vault: The 12 finalists all qualified at 5.65 m (18-6 1/2), with World Champion Sam Kendricks and new star Chris Nilsen clearing all four heights without a miss.

Men’s triple jump: Will Claye came in as the favorite and he led the qualifying at 16.85 m (55-3 1/2), ahead of Donald Scott (16.81 m/55-2) and Chris Benard (16.55 m/54-3 3/4).

Men’s javelin: The qualifying round was led by Marc Anthony Minichello at 76.63 m (251-5), with 2021 U.S. leader Curtis Thompson second at 76.23 m (250-1). It took just 68.04 m (223-3) to reach the final in one of the U.S.’s weakest events.

Men’s decathlon: The first day concluded with Harrison Williams posting the fastest time of 48.21, but he was only in sixth overall with 4,291 points at the halfway mark. The leader is Garrett Scantling with 4,494, trailed by Georgia’s SEC champion Kyle Garland (4,424), who skipped the NCAA Championships to compete here. Veteran Zach Ziemek is third (4,409).

Women’s 400 m: Kendall Ellis took the lead around the final turn of semifinal one, with Allyson Felix ready to strike down the straightaway. Felix got to the lead with 50 m to go, but Ellis pushed hard and won – as Felix backed off – in 50.83 to 51.01. UCLA’s Shae Anderson was third in 51.27 and advances to the final. Phyllis Francis, the 2017 World Champion, finished seventh in 52.12.

Lynna Irby went out hard in semi two, but Quanera Hayes caught Irby with 100 m to go and won in a much-faster 50.07. Former NCAA champ Wadeline Jonathas came up in the final 10 m to get second in 50.24, with Kaylin Whitney third (50.35) and Irby a time-qualifier for the final in fourth (50.58).

Women’s 1,500 m: The first semi was slow, with Elle Purrier St. Pierre kicking best to finish in 4:09.18, just ahead of 2011 World Champion Jenny Simpson (4:09.92) and Dani Aragon (4:09.94). The second race was more honest, with Nikki Hiltz winning in 4:05.87, edging Cory McGee in the final meters in 4:05.96, with Sinclaire Johnson third in 4:06.04.

Women’s 100 m hurdles: World-record holder Keni Harrison ran powerfully in the first heat to win in 12.49, only 0.01 off her seasonal best; only three others have run faster in 2021. Taliyah Brooks came on during the run-in to edge Christina Clemons in heat two, 12.61-12.64.

NCAA champion – and now a professional – Anna Cockrell won heat three in a blanket finish in 12.63, out-leaning Rayniah Jones of Central Florida (12.64) and Payton Chadwick (12.66). Rio Olympic champ Brianna McNeal, competing under a stay from the Court of Arbitration for Sport while she appeals a five-year suspension for tampering with doping protocols, was superb in winning heat four in 12.50, ahead of Gabbi Cunningham (12.67) and Tonea Marshall (12.76).

Sunday’s finals include the men’s hammer, women’s high jump, women’s triple jump, the men’s decathlon, women’s and men’s 400 m, the women’s 100 m hurdles and the men’s 100 m.

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