TSX BULLETIN: Holloway explodes in hurdles heats, Hocker beats Nuguse, Hall beats Norman in wild day at U.S. Track & Field Trials

Grant Holloway ran 12.92 in his heat! (Photo: Stephen Pond/Getty Images for World Athletics)

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The first race of Monday’s 2024 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon was the opening heat of the men’s 110 m hurdles, featuring World Champion Grant Holloway.

He exploded out of lane 4, showed perfect balance and stormed to the line following the 10th hurdle and finished in a world-leading 12.92 (wind: +0.8 m/s), the equal-14th performance in history! Wow!

And then things got crazier. American Record holder Yared Nuguse equaled the Olympic Trials meet record at 3:34.09 in the semis and was the favorite. And he took the lead, leading the pack with three laps to go, two laps to go and at the bell, with World Road Mile champ Hobbs Kessler right behind, then Vincent Ciattei and Cole Hocker, the no. 6 performer in U.S. history at 3:30.70 from 2021.

Hocker, the World Indoor 1,500 m silver winner this year, decided he had to move with 250 to go and pushed past Nuguse and opened a 2 m lead with 200 to go and would not relent. He flew into the straight and Nuguse could not touch him and Hocker crossed the line at 3:30.59, with a lifetime best, a meet record and now no. 3 in the world for 2024.

Nuguse was unchallenged for second in a season’s best of 3:30.86 (now no. 6) and Kessler was also clearly third with a lifetime best of 3:31.53, no. 11 in U.S. history. Ciattei could not move up and was fourth in a lifetime best of 3:31.78, no. 13 all-time U.S. just ahead of 2023 NCAA champ Nathan Green (3:32.20), Henry Wynne (3:32.94) and NCAA champ Joe Waskom (3:33.74). Eight of the top nine – all but Nuguse – got lifetime bests in this race.

Michael Norman, the 2022 World Champion, had the fastest time among Americans coming into the men’s 400 m final at 44.21 from early May. And in his usual fashion, he was in front almost from the start taking the lead in lane five on the backstraight and through the turn. But 2023 Worlds bronze winner Quincy Hall had the fastest time in the semis at 44.42 and had the most in the tank on the run-in and running in lane eight, passed Norman in the final 50 and ran away to a massive lifetime best of 44.17 (old was 44.37) and took Norman’s place as no. 5 in the world for 2024.

Norman made the team in second at 44.41, but barely ahead of the fast-closing Chris Bailey (44.42), with Vernon Norwood fourth in 44.47 and back on the relay squad, as he was for Tokyo. Defending national champion Bryce Deadmon also made the relay squad in fifth at 44.61. Prep Quincy Wilson, so brilliant in the first two rounds, was sixth in 44.94 and could also go to Paris on the Mixed 4×400!

The women’s 5,000 m was another thriller, this time between favorites Elle St. Pierre, the World Indoor 3,000 m champ, and five-time national champ Elise Cranny. Florida’s NCAA star Parker Valby was in front of the race all the way through 3,800 m, when St. Pierre, Cranny and Karissa Schweizer took over. Schweizer fell back a little on the backstraight, but Cranny was battling St. Pierre right into the straight, finishing just short by 14:40.34 to 14:40.36. Schweizer was third and will go to Paris at 14:45.12, with Valby fourth in a lifetime best of 14:51.44.

That left the women’s 800 m, with Olympic champ Athing Mu the center of attention. She was just behind leader Michaela Rose after 200 m, but got tangled on the turn and crashed! Mu got up, but was hopelessly behind and finished ninth in 2:19.69.

Now the race was wide open and Rose, a notorious front-runner at LSU and the 2023 NCAA winner, led through the bell in 57.68 and then into the backstraight, but saw Nia Akins, a two-time national champion, rush by. Coming off the turn, Akins had broken away, and Rose was being pursued by national indoor champ Allie Wilson and Stanford’s NCAA champ Juliette Whittaker. They both got by on the straight and finished 2-3 in 1:58.32 and 1:58.45 (lifetime best), as Rose finished fourth in 1:59.32. Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers did not challenge the leaders and finished seventh in 2:01.12.

Wild! And there was more.

No one foresaw the action in the men’s long jump, where Florida State’s Jeremiah Davis, the NCAA runner-up, got the lead at 8.18 m (26-10) in round two and extended to 8.20 m (26-11) and no one could catch him. But it was close. Florida’s Malcolm Clemons, the NCAA third-placer, moved from sixth to second in the final round at 8.18 m himself, with a better second jump than 2017 Worlds silver medalist  Jarrion Lawson, who also jumped 8.18! Qualifying leader Johnny Brackins of USC was second entering the final round at 8.17 m (26-9 3/4), but could not improve.

Only Lawson has the Olympic standard of 8.27 m (27-1 3/4); Davis is ranked 35th and Clemons is 33rd. They will have to wait and see of they are invited to Paris.

The women’s high jump was expected to be another win for 14-time national champion Vashti Cunningham, who has jumped 1.97 m (6-5 1/2) indoors this year. However, after being one of four to clear 1.91 m (6-3 1/4), she missed all three tries at 1.94 m (6-4 1/4), but made the team for Paris on a jump-off vs. Jenna Rogers of Nebraska. Meanwhile, Kentucky’s Charity Hufnagel – who finished 12th at the NCAAs in Eugene earlier in June – cleared a lifetime best of 1.94 m (6-4 1/4) on her fifth straight clearance and won over Arkansas Rachel Glenn, the NCAA favorite who finished in a tie for 13th, but made 1.94 m on her third try! Glenn and Cunningham have the Olympic standard of 1.97 m, but Hufnagel does not.

In the heptathlon, Worlds silver winner Anna Hall had just a six-point lead over Chari Hawkins, the 2023 Worlds eighth-placer, going into the final event, the 800 m. No problem for Hall, a strong runner, who won the event by more than two seconds in 2:04.39 and finished with 6,614 points, no. 4 on the world list for 2024, Hawkins was seventh in Hall’s 800 m race, but finished with a lifetime best of 6,456 for second, while Taliyah Brooks – who was carried off the Hayward Field track with heat stroke in 2021 – also got a lifetime best of 6,408 in third. Michelle Atherley finished fourth at 6,391. Although Hawkins and Brooks do not have the Olympic standard, their world rankings of 12th and 16th essentially assure them of a spot in Paris.

Beyond Holloway’s electric opener on the day, there were other crazy qualifying results as well:

Men’s 110 m hurdles: In the other heats, Freddie Crittenden won heat two in 13.16 (-0.3), 2022 Worlds silver medalist Trey Cunningham ran 13.12 to take heat three (+1.8) and Jamal Britt got a lifetime best to beat 2023 Worlds bronze winner Daniel Roberts in heat four, 13.07 to 13.14 (+1.2).

Women’s Steeple: Kaylee Mitchell won heat one in 9:29.54, ahead of Val Constein (9:29.61) and Courtney Wayment (9:29.66). Heat two was faster, with Gabbi Jennings taking it in 9:23.88, followed by Marisa Howard (9:26.38) and former NCAA champ Olivia Markezich.

Women’s Discus: What a difference a year makes. In 2023, Lagi Tausaga shocked the world with her gold-medal performance at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. On Monday, she fouled her first two throws and then sent a liner far to the left which landed outside of the sector for a third foul and elimination. Wow.

Tokyo Olympic champ Valarie Allman was the leader as expected at 70.89 m (232-7), no. 2 in the world this season and the no. 3 meet in her career. Louisville’s Jayden Ulrich was the no. 2 qualifier at 63.61 m (208-8).

Tuesday and Wednesdays are rest days; the meet will resume on Thursday.

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