TSX BULLETIN: Lyles needs world-leading 19.53 to beat Bednarek, stars Thomas, Davis-Woodhall, Jackson all win at U.S. Trials

World Champion Noah Lyles needed a world-leading 19.53 to win the Olympic Trials 200 m! (Photo: USATF)

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● Errata: Some readers saw a version of Friday’s Trials bulletin which had Grant Holloway’s 110 m hurdles time as 12.88. It was 12.86; we have to stop underestimating him! The time has been corrected online; thanks to David Greifinger and Bob Bettwy as the first two to let us know. ●


What would Noah Lyles do at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials?

In one of the deepest fields in U.S. men’s 200 m history, World Champion Lyles was in a perfect spot in lane six, with Olympians Erriyon Knighton and world leader Kenny Bednarek outside of him.

Super-starter Christian Coleman – in five – got off best and was second behind Bednarek into the straight, with Lyles third. Bednarek was strong on the straight and was leading with 50 m left, but Lyles was coming and fast. He took the lead with about 20 m left and crossed in a world-leading 19.53 (wind: +0.5 m/s) for his fourth national 200 m title, with the equal-17th performance in history.

Bednarek gave away nothing and was close, with a lifetime best of 19.59, now the no. 10 performer in history. Coleman was still third with 50 m left, but faded slightly and Knighton went from sixth at the turn to third in 19.77 and on the team again, with Coleman fourth – as in the 100 – in 19.89. Lyles, Bednarek and Knighton sit 1-2-6 on the 2024 world list.

Tokyo Olympic bronze winner Gabby Thomas owned the women’s 200 m final, making up the stagger from lane eight on 2019 Worlds runner-up Brittany Brown on her right, but Brown kept close and Thomas continued to the line, winning in 21.81 (+0.6 m/s), with Brown getting a personal best at the right time in 21.90 for second.

Behind them was NCAA champion McKenzie Long, in lane seven, who challenged Thomas on the inside and held on for third in 21.91 to go to Paris. The 100 winner,  Sha’Carri Richardson, was fourth in 22.16, with Tamara Clark fifth (22.20), 2022 NCAA champ Abby Steiner sixth (22.24), and Rio and Tokyo Olympian Jenna Prandini seventh in 22.58.

There were three former U.S. champions in the men’s discus, with two-time winner Sam Mattis taking the first-round lead at 66.07 m (216-7), but 2022 victor Andrew Evans taking over in round three at 66.61 m (218-6). Neither could improve, but it was enough to finish 1-2. Evans has the Olympic standard of 67.20 m (220-6), but Mattis does not; he’s world-ranked 13th, so his chances for Paris are good.

Reggie Jagers, the left-hander who was the 2018 national title winner, was sitting in third with his third-round toss of 65.75 m (215-8), but in the sixth round, it was Joseph Brown, fourth at the 2023 nationals, moved from eighth and soared to third at 65.79 m (215-10) and – with the Olympic standard this season – is on the plane for Paris.

The women’s 10,000 m started with cloudy skies and 79-degree temps, with Susanna Sullivan, 34, a member of the U.S. Worlds team for 2023 in the marathon, leading through 5,000 m in 16:09.40 and 6,500 m before Erika Kemp took over. Florida star Parker Valby was in front at the 8,000 m mark, with Tokyo Olympian Karissa Schweizer and Weini Kelati – who has the Olympic standard – following.

Those three broke the race with four laps to go and the only question was the final order. Valby led with 500 m to go, but Schweizer took over at the bell. Kelati took charge with 250 m left, but Schweizer charged back and had the lead until 80 m left, when Kelati came through on the inside and won in 31:41.07. Schweizer and Valby dueled to the line over the last 80 m, with Valby getting second on the lean, with both at 31:41.56.

Kelati, a three-time U.S. champ in road races, is off to Paris; Schweizer is on the team in the 5,000 m but is world-ranked 55th in the 10,000 m, and Valby ranks 81st, so both are doubtful to make the Olympic 10,000 field.

Monae Nichols, the World Indoor runner-up this year was the first-round leader in the women’s long jump at 6.77 m (22-2 1/2), but was passed by Trials triple jump winner Jasmine Moore, recovering from a first-round foul to take the lead at 6.83 m (22-5). But the drama came from world leader Tara Davis-Woodhall, who fouled her first two jumps. In the third round, she was well back on the board and she jumped into fifth at 6.64 m (21-9 1/2), to her considerable relief and those in the stands.

Moore, Nichols and Baylor’s NCAA fifth-placer Lex Brown stayed as the top three through four rounds, with Davis-Woodhall improving slightly to 6.69 m (21-11 1/2). But then Davis-Woodhall rode a slightly-over-the-allowable wind of 2.6 m/s to the lead in round five at 7.00 m (22-11 3/4)! Bang!

Brown passed Nichols in the fifth round with a better back-up jump – they were both at 6.77 m – but Tokyo Olympian and 2022 national champ Quanesha Burks leaped past both at 6.80 m (22-3 3/4). Brown was done, but Nichols took the last ticket to Paris with a final try of 6.86 m (22-6 1/4) for third! Moore fouled on her last try and Davis-Woodhall got a nail-biting win.

Two-time World Champion Chase Jackson fouled on her first-round try in the women’s shot, but Tokyo Olympic silver winner Raven Saunders got out to 19.88 m (65-2 3/4) to take the lead. Jackson rebounded to 18.87 m (61-11) in round two for third, with collegiate record holder Jaida Ross of Oregon into second at 19.60 m (64-3 3/4).

Jackson got unleashed in the fourth round, parking the shot at 20.10 m (65-11 1/2) to take the lead with a seasonal best, still no. 2 on the year list, and that was good enough to win, her third national title. Saunders improved to 19.90 m (65-3 1/2) to confirm her second-place status. Ross finished third and is also off to Paris.

The remaining qualifying events were in the women’s hurdles. In the 100 m hurdles, 2019 World Champion Nia Ali – who jogged through the race to qualify yesterday – got off well, but 2018 World Indoor 60 m silver medalist Christina Clemons and Tokyo Olympic silver winner Keni Harrison were together in the middle of the track and moved ahead. Alia Armstrong was in the fight for third, but Ali came up on the run-in, as Clemons leaned to beat Harrison (both in 12.52, +0.8) and Ali got third 12.55, as Armstrong faded to fourth (12.67).

Tonea Marshall was coming off a lifetime best in the heats (12.41) and 2023 Pan Am Games bronze medalist Alaysha Johnson were 1-2 halfway through semi two, but Johnson came up on the run-in to win on the lean, with both at 12.36 (+1.0). Lolo Jones, who won the Trials in this event in 2008, was eighth in 14.50.

NCAA champ Grace Stark got out best in semi three, but 2023 NCAA runner-up Masai Russell came to the lead off the 10th hurdle and the run-in and won, 12.36 to 12.45, a PR for Stark (+0.5). Both Ali and Armstrong made the final on time.

In the 400 m hurdles semis, world-record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone was out hard in the first race, ahead of former world-record holder Dalilah Muhammad. McLaughlin-Levrone was all alone into the straight and eased up to win a world-leading 52.48. Muhammad was strong into the straight and was second in 54.16, followed by 2015 Worlds bronze winner Cassandra Tate in 54.66.

The second semi was tight between Arkansas’ NCAA third-placer Rachel Glenn – already on the U.S. team in the high jump – and two-time Worlds runner-up Shamier Little and Sydni Townsend, the NCAA fifth-placer. Little took over into the final straight, but Glenn passed her on the 10th hurdle, with Little recovering to win in 53.49 (world no. 8 in 2024) to Glenn’s lifetime best of 53.68, with Townsend at 55.26.

Tokyo Olympian Anna Cockrell ran hard from the start and was in front of NCAA champ Jasmine Jones into the straight and while Jones had trouble with the 10th hurdle, Cockrell breezed to a lifetime best of 52.95 (world no. 4 in 2024), with Jones at 53.66 in second.

The men’s and women’s 20 km walks were held in Springfield in the morning, with Nick Christie winning his sixth straight national title in 1:24:46, way ahead of 2017 national champ Emmanuel Corvera (1:30:15) and Jordan Crawford (1:30:52). Allen James, a 1992 and 1996 Olympian, finished 14th in 1:43:26 … at age 60!

Robyn Stevens, the Olympic Trials winner in 2021, took her second national championship in 1:37:38, comfortably in front of two-time winner Miranda Melville (1:39:38) and Michelle Rohl (1:42:27).

Sunday’s Trials finale is all finals, in the men’s 800 m, 5,000 m, 400 m hurdles, high jump, triple jump and hammer, and the women’s 1,500 m, 100 m hurdles, 400 m hurdles, vault and javelin.

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