The marks weren’t the best and the Dinamo Stadium in Minsk was maybe half full. But “The Match: USA vs. Europe” was fun to watch. And that’s the whole point.
Dual meets are good for the sport – for just about any sport – and the team scoring creates a dynamic that is not present in the Diamond League, World Championships or the Olympic Games.
The meet was scored 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for all eight places and although the U.S. won 12 of the 18 events held on Monday, they trailed 328-312 thanks to good field performances by the European athletes.
The best performance came from 21-year-old Maksim Nedasekau (BLR), performing at home and clearing 2.35 m (7-8 1/2), the top mark in the world this year. He missed three times at 2.37 m (7-9 1/4), but is suddenly a medal contender for Doha. His prior best was two years ago at 2.33 m (7-7 3/4); he had done 2.29 m (7-6) this year. He impressively beat incoming co-world leader Ilya Ivanyuk (RUS), who cleared 2.31 m (7-7), and American Jeron Robinson (USA: 2.29 m/7-6).
Also worth noting was the season-best 22.35 m (73-4) explosion from American shot giant Darrell Hill, moving him to no. 4 on the world list for 2019! He out-distanced Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki, who reached 21.92 m (71-11).
The women’s 400 m was noteworthy, but not for who won. That was South Carolina’s NCAA champ Wadeline Jonathas, who ran 51.01. But second-place Allyson Felix set a season best of 51.36 in an odd run where she came from way back at 300 m to steam down the straightaway. She said afterwards, “The atmosphere here in Minsk is great. I´m very happy with getting a season´s best today. I devoted this race to my daughter. I´m preparing for Doha, where I´ll be participating in the relay.”
Also of note:
● Men/3,000 m Steeple: The U.S. went 1-2 with Hillary Bor (8:32.64) and Stanley Kebenei (8:33.65), then Bor was inexplicably disqualified. The U.S. protested and he was reinstated.
● Men/4×100 m: The U.S. first team of Demek Kemp, Mike Rodgers, Isiah Young and Chris Belcher passed well and won convincingly in 38.26, beating a Dutch team anchored by Churandy Martina in 38.45.
● Men/Long Jump: Unusual finish with Damarcus Simpson of the U.S., Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou and Spain’s Eusebio Caceres all reaching 8.17 m (26-9 3/4), but with Simpson winning on his second-best jump, another 8.17 m in the sixth round. The distance was a lifetime best for Simpson, a year out of Oregon.
● Women/Javelin: American Kara Winger scored an impressive win, throwing 64.63 m (212-0) on her final toss to pass Belarus star (and no. 4 on the world list for 2019) Tatsiana Khaladovich (64.41 m/211-4).
● Women/Pole Vault: Russia’s Anzhelika Sidorova won at 4.85 m (15-11), ahead of Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi (4.70 m/15-5) and Katie Nageotte (USA: 4.70 m).
By the way, the athletes aren’t competing for country alone. There is prize money of €7,000-5,000-4,000-3,000-2,000-1,000-500-500 for the individual events and €6,000-4,000-2,000 for the relays.
NBCSN has coverage of Tuesday’s final day, beginning at noon Eastern time. Look for results here.