TSX BULLETIN: Constien wins super steeple, Allman supreme with the disc as McLaughlin-Levrone, Richardson, Lyles advance at Trials

Tokyo Olympic women’s discus champion Valarie Allman was all smiles after winning the U.S. Trials on Thursday! (Photo from the Prefontaine Classic by Logan Hannigan-Downs for Diamond League AG)

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Only two finals as the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials resumed in Eugene on Thursday – both for women – with tons of drama in the women’s Steeplechase final as Annie Rodenfels, with a modest 9:25.48 lifetime best, took off and had a 30 m lead after three laps.

But she was out way too hard and wobbled at two straight water jumps and then on some hurdles and was passed two laps later. But the race was fast now, and Courtney Wayment, the 2022 NCAA champ, made a major move for the win with 600 m left.

There were five in contention with 500 m left, but 2019 Pan Am Games silver winner Marisa Howard ran to the front at the bell. On the final lap, it was Tokyo Olympian Val Constien who went for the win and tore ahead of the field, taking a healthy lead into the final water jump and them extending her lead on the straight.

Battling for two remaining Olympic spots were Wayment, Howard and 2023 NCAA champ Olivia Markezich, but Markezich stumbled after being first out of the water jump and lost momentum. She was trying to stay up, but then fell to the ground after the final barrier and stumbled home, limping to the finish line in sixth … but still getting a lifetime best of 9:14.87!

Constien gritted her teeth and raced to the tape in a lifetime best of 9:03.22, moving to no. 3 all-time U.S., with the no. 5 performance, and to no. 3 in the world for 2024. Wayment was a clear second in a lifetime best of 9:06.50 (no. 4 all-time U.S., no. 5 in 2024) and Howard was third in 9:07.14 (no. 5). How fast was this race? The top nine all got lifetime bests!

The women’s discus was all about Tokyo Olympic champ Valarie Allman, who got out to 67.19 m (220-5) on her first try and then improved to 68.09 m (223-4) in round two. Veronica Fraley, the NCAA champ from Vanderbilt, moved up to second in round three at 62.54 m (205-2).

Allman just kept getting better, out to 69.72 m (228-9) in round four, but Louisville’s NCAA runner-up, Jayden Ulrich, moved up to second at 62.63 m (205-5). Neither Ulrich or Fraley could improve and finished 2-3, with Fraley owning an Olympic qualifying mark, but Ulrich having to waiting to see if she can get in on her world ranking; she’s currently 29th.

Allman had one final throw and made the most of it, sending a screamer out to 70.73 m (232-0), the no. 3 throw in American history, and her best in two years! She remains second in 2024 to Cuba’s Jaime Perez, who reached 73.09 m (239-9) in the wind tunnel at Ramona, Oklahoma in April.

There was a lot of qualifying, including the first appearance of Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone at the Trials. The 100 m stars, Noah Lyles and Sha’Carri Richardson were also back for the heats of the 200 m.

The women’s 200 was first up and Richardson cruised to an easy win in heat one, winning in 21.99 (wind: +0.5 m/s), ahead of former NCAA champ Abby Steiner (22.29), with Richardson moving to no. 2 in the world for 2024. NCAA champ McKenzie Long, the world leader at 21.83, cruised to the heat two win in 22.49, ahead of NCAA fourth-placer Jayla Jamison of South Carolina in 22.89.

Brittany Brown, the 2019 Worlds silver medalist, won heat three in a seasonal best 22.29 (+0.2), ahead of a season best for 2022 World 4×100 m gold medalist Jenna Prandini (22.58). Olympic bronze winner Gabby Thomas took control of heat four right away and won decisively in 22.11 (+0.1), well ahead of Oregon’s NCAA third-placer Jadyn Mays (22.50).

No surprises in the men’s 200 m heats, with world no. 2 Courtney Lindsey winning the first qualifier in 20.28, with Garrett Kaalund of Nebraska coming up and getting the same time as Lindsey walked across. World Champion Noah Lyles was in front off the turn and just strode home in 20.10 (0.0) ahead of Robert Gregory (20.28).

“Kung Fu Kenny” Bednarek, the Tokyo Olympic silver medalist, also looked great in his heat, pulling away from Kyree King on the straight, 20.28 to 20.50 (+1.1). Heat four was the seasonal debut of Worlds silver winner Erriyon Knighton, finally cleared on a doping charge. He was even off the turn with 100 m star Christian Coleman, then accelerated on the straight to win in an impressive 20.15 (+1.2), with Coleman a clear second in 20.30.

● Men’s 800 m: In the heats, favored Bryce Hoppel – the 2024 World Indoor Champion – had the lead coming into the final straight in heat one, was passed by World Road Mile champ Hobbs Kessler with 50 m left and then sprinted home to win in 1:46.83 to 1:46.85. Texas A&M’s 2023 NCAA champ Sam Whitmarsh won heat two with a sprint in the last 25 m in 1:46.13, with 2018 NCAA champ Isaiah Harris just behind at 1:46.14.

Rio 2016 bronze medalist Clayton Murphy got to the front with 50 m left to take heat three in 1:47.05, just ahead of Brandon Miller (1:47.10). Georgetown’s Tinoda Matsatsa won heat four, holding on to a small lead down the straight in 1:46.73, ahead of Abraham Alvarado (1:46.76).

● Men’s 5,000 m: The first heat had almost everyone in contact with two laps to go, with 2021 NCAA champ Cooper Teare leading North Carolina’s 2024 NCAA winner, Parker Wolfe, with 600 to go. But on the straight heading to the bell, 1,500 m winner Cole Hocker zoomed to the front from 12th place, passing Teare and then sprinting through the rest of the race with a 53.11 final 400 m to win in 13:33.45. Wolfe passed Teare on the straight for second, 13:33.96 to 13:34.07. Not in the picture was two-time Olympic 5,000 m medalist Paul Chelimo, 33, who finished 12th in 13:39.90.

In heat two, 10,000 m winner Grant Fisher was ninth in the Tokyo 5,000 m final and was the headliner. Anthony Camerieri led the race through 4,000 m, but then the field moved past, with Sean McGorty taking the lead, but with 2023 national champion Abdi Nur, Dylan Jacobs and Fisher close in line. At the bell, Nur was running strongly, with Jacobs, Tokyo Olympian – and 10,000 m qualifier – Woody Kincaid, McGorty and Fisher behind, and it stayed that way until the final straight, when Kincaid sprinted to the win in 13:23.91, with Nur at 13:24.14, Fisher at 13:24.78 and Jacobs fourth in 13:24.91. Kincaid finished with a 54.43 final lap.

The final is on Sunday.

● Men’s 110 m hurdles: The semifinals means Grant Holloway, and he flew out of the blocks and won easily in 12.96 (+0.3), way ahead of Cordell Tinch (13.19) and Cameron Murray (13.27). Said Holloway in his NBC interview, “Right now, I’m just in a zone. I want to stay there.”

Worlds fourth-placer in 2023, Freddie Crittenden got the early lead and won semi two in 13.05 (-0.2), with Ja’Qualon Scott – the NCAA third-placer – in 13.23, edging 2022 Worlds silver winner Trey Cunningham (13.26), who was the final time qualifier! Three-time national champ Daniel Roberts got out best in heat three and held on to win in 13.11 (+1.1), with Michael Dickson closing fast (13.19).

● Men’s 400 m hurdles: Olympic silver medalist Rai Benjamin was in heat one, running a controlled first six hurdles, then jogging in to win in 49.56, with James Smith in 50.56. Alabama’s Chris Robinson, the 2022 NCAA champ, had the early lead and then took over again to win in 49.54 over Khallifah Rosser (49.93).

Texas Tech’s NCAA champ, Caleb Dean, built a big lead in heat three and cruised in at 49.45, with Vance Nilsson well behind at 50.45. Trevor Bassitt, the 2022 Worlds bronze medalist, took control early in heat four and won in 50.29, with Aldrich Bailey in 50.41. In the final heat, CJ Allen, a member of the 2023 Worlds team, won heat five in 50.08, with Tokyo Olympian David Kendziera second in 50.72.

● Men’s High Jump: Ten of the qualifiers cleared 2.19 m (7-2 1/4) and two cleared 2.14 m (7-0 1/4), including stars 2023 Worlds silver winner JuVaughn Harrison and 2024 World Indoor runner-up Shelby McEwen.

● Men’s Discus: The 2018 national champion, Reggie Jagers, got off a big 65.52 m (214-11) throws on his first try and did not improve, but no one could catch him and he was the top qualifier. Andrew Evans, the 2022 U.S. national champion, got off a second-round throw of 65.31 m (214-5) as the no. 2 qualifier, followed by two-time NCAA champ Turner Washington at 65.00 m (213-3).

● Women’s 1,500 m: The three heats qualified 24 to the semifinals, so no need to run too fast, and the first-heat pack was together until 5,000 m runner-up Elise Cranny ran to the front at the bell. She spread the field out and led into the straight, with Sage Hurta-Klecker coming up to challenge. In the final 50 m, it was Tokyo Olympic finalist Cory McGee who took over and won in 4:15.75, with Hurta-Klecker at 4:15.90, defending national champ Nikki Hiltz at 4:16.00 and Cranny fourth in 4:16.05.

In heat two, Tokyo Olympian Heather Maclean led at the bell and lengthened her lead to the end, winning confidently in 4:07.31, ahead of 2022 national champion Sinclaire Johnson (4:08.50) and Helen Schlachtenhaufen (4:08.81). Heat three had Tokyo 2020 Olympic finalist Elle St. Pierre taking the lead on the final straight in 4:06.41, ahead of Emily Mackay (4:06.47).

● Women’s 400 m hurdles: Superstar Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone was in heat one, and blasted through the race, winning easily in 53.07, winning by more than three seconds. USC’s NCAA champion Jasmine Jones also won her heat easily, in 55.54, with Houston’s Sydni Townsend in 55.72.

Anna Cockrell, fifth at the 2023 Worlds, cruised to the heat four win in 54.71, with Akira Garrett in 55.67 in seconds. In heat four, Rio 2016 gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad trailed Arkansas’ Rachel Glenn into the straight as both qualified easily in 55.03 to 55.51. Heat five saw Shamier Little, the two-time Worlds silver medalist, take the lead on the run-in in 54.93, with 2015 World bronze winner Cassandra Tate second in 55.55.

● Women’s Long Jump: World leader Tara Davis-Woodhall took one jump of 6.93 m (22-9) and that was enough, as it was for Jasmine Moore (6.92 m/22-8 1/2) and Tokyo Olympian Quanesha Burks (6.75 m/22-1 3/4).

Monae Nichols moved up to third with her second-round jump of 6.85w (22-5 3/4w).

On Friday, the men’s 110 m hurdles is the only final – world-record watch for Grant Holloway – but also with a ton of qualifying.

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