This is David Hunter’s column on the second day of the USATF Champs!
Furious Sprint Finals Highlight Day Two
Richardson and Charleston Are Victors
June 7, 2023
As expected, the premier events of Day Two were the women’s and the men’s 100-meter dash. These sprint finals are always a tense and mentally-taxing showdown to determine who is the fastest kid on the block. There is a lot of pride and ego on the line. But in the end, it is not about the swagger or the bravado. It’s about being the first one to get to the finish line.
w100m. The premier events of Day Two were the women’s and the men’s 100-meter dash. Sha’Carri Richardson, fresh off her world-leading 10.71 in the preliminary round, powered her way to a devastating victory in heat 1 of her semi. In Heat 2, Tamari Davis (10.96) and Tamara Clark (10.98) also authored sub-11:00 performances to advance. Other notable advancers included Brittany Brown, Melissa Jefferson, and high schooler Mia Brahe Pedersen.
In the final, Richardson was focused and serious. Normally a crowd-pleasing fashion plate, Richardson got down to business and tossed her orange wig to the side as the athletes crouched into their blocks. With a solid start and a textbook drive phase, Sha’Carri left the field in the dust as she crossed the line in 10.82, followed by Brown (10.90) and Davis (10.99).
m100m. Christian Coleman looked strong with his quick start intact as he won his semi in 9.98. Noah Lyles (9.94) and Cravent Charleston (9.98) also turned in sub-10 performances in the other semi. In the final, Coleman (9:96) got his customary rapid start as Lyles (10.00) chased in vain. But the dark horse Charleston (9.95) got to the line first for what has to be considered an upset.
wHJ – Final. Vashti Cunningham, Rylee Anderson, and Jenna Rogers authored cleaned cards through the first two opening heights. At 1.91m/6’3¼”, Anderson and Rogers went three and out while Cunningham, always poised in the clutch, sailed clear on her 2nd attempt to clinch the win.
mTJ – Final. A magnificent 4th round hop, skip, and jump of 17.22m/56’6” was enough to give Donald Scott the victory while always-in-the-hunt Will Claye (16.98m/55’8½”) grabbed 2nd and Chris Benard (16.68m/54’8¾”) finished in 3rd place. Multiple-time Olympic and World Championship gold medalist Christian Taylor, still working his way back from injury, was 8th in 16.12m/52’10¾”.
In the final three events on the concluding day of the Heptathlon, Anna Hall dominated, racking up big points as she strung together the best performances of all three of the Day Two events: long jump: 21’0”; javelin: 144’0”; 800m 2:10.91. Her final point total of 6677 easily gave her the victory – 358 points ahead of heptathlon runner-up Tallyah Brooks.
The concluding day of the Decathlon provided some 10th-event drama. With only the 1500-meter run remaining, frontrunners Harrison Williams (final count: 8630 PB) and Zack Ziemek (final count: 8508) were essentially assured of their place on the podium and a ticket to Budapest. But the third and final spot was theoretically up for grabs – and Iowa’s Austin West, the 4th place athlete leading up to the 1500m final event, knew he had a chance to leapfrog over 3rd place athlete Kyle Garland. As it turned out, a determined West put together a well-paced personal best of 4:20.98 to finish 1st, while Garland struggled in last in 4:53.38. The result? West’s final cumulative point total of 8331 was enough to lift him past Garland (8198) for the 3rd spot and a ticket to the world championships.
In addition to the several marquee final events that showcased Day Two of these championships, it was primarily a day of advancing as athletes focused on delivering performances that would keep them in the competition and reward them with an appearance in the event’s final.
w100H / Prelim: Four top-flight hurdlers appear to be in a great position. Former world record holder and Olympic medalist Keni Harrison (12.50), global gold medalist Nia Ali (12.53), Tia Jones (12.56), and Tonea Marshall (12.58) were the only athletes in the prelim to finish the prelim under 12.60.
m400H / Prelim: 6 of the athletes moving on to Saturday’s semi-final round ran the prelim lap in under 50 seconds. Looking the sharpest were the three prelim victors: 2-time Olympic silver medalist Rai Benjamin (49.05), CJ Allen (49.50), and Quivell Jordan-Bacot (49.98)
m400m / Semi: This semi-final round produced 4 athletes under 45.00: Multiple Olympic relay medalist Vernon Norwood (44.43 SB), Bryce Deadmon (44.70 SB); Florida’s Ryan Willie (44.85), and Quincy Hall (44.86 SB). This should be a battle in the final.
w400m / Semi: Anybody who has watched the first two rounds of the women’s 400m dash already knows who will ultimately win this event. Sydney McLaughlin (an easy 49.60 in winning the semi) looks invincible as she glides through these early rounds. Battling for 2nd looks like it might be between collegiate record holder Britton Wilson (50.59) and Talitha Diggs (50.95).
m800m / Semi: The early rounds suggest the ultimate field for the final should be prepared for a terrific and competitive race. In the semis, the first heat was a spirited affair, with the athletes crossing 400m in sub-51 seconds as Bryce Hoppel (1:45.26), Clayton Murphy (1:45.67), and Isaiah Harris (1:45.92)all looked in top form. The second heat was a slower, more tactical race as front-running Isaiah Jewett (1:47.05), Georgia phenom and NCAA 800m champion Will Sumner (1:46.49), and Derek Holdsworth (1:47.53) earned the right to advance to Sunday’s final.
w800m / Semi: The 8 athletes advancing to Sunday’s final all rang up semi-final times within 0.83 seconds of the top clocking of 2:00.02 by Nia Akins. The final could be a tactical traffic jam. Keep an eye on the veterans: Ajee Wilson (2:00.66), Raevyn Rogers (2:00.44), and Charlene Lipsey (2:00.64).