By Gary Smith, TrackAlerts.Com Contributor
EUGENE, Ore. – The evergreen Dawn Harper-Nelson landed the women’s 100m hurdles title at the USA Trials, while there was a shocker in the women’s 400m at Hayward Field on Saturday.
Harper-Nelson came into the final with a lot of experience but was surrounded by a group of women bang on form this season.
Nevertheless, the Olympic silver medalist from London in 2012, showed class under pressure when she held her form to lean-out her busy rivals and win the event in 12.55 seconds (-0.1).
Kentucky’s Keni Harrison extended her striking form this season with a second place finish in 12.56, which saw her punching her ticket to the 2015 IAAF World Championships.
Sharika Nelvis, who recorded the two fastest times in the world this season in the opening two rounds, was third in 12.59.
Queen Harrison finished 4th in 12.60, whereas Jasmin Stowers, the world-leader in the event before the USA trials, ended 5th with a time of 12.65.
The top three finishers on Saturday will join defending champion Brianna Rollins in the event at the world championships.
Allyson Felix powered her way to victory in the women’s 400m, but world-leader and pre-championships favourite Francena McCorory failed to make the team to Beijing.
Felix, who is yet to decide on whether she will do the 200/400 double at the August world championships, showed exquisite strength over the last 50m to edge Natasha Hastings at the tape and win in 50.19.
Hastings, who led the race up to the 350m went 50.25 for second, with Phyllis Francis running past McCorory to take third in 50.67.
McCorory, who posted a world-leading 49.85 to win her semi-final heat on Friday night, faded to fourth in 50.88.
In the men’s division, David Verburg pipped world champion LaShawn Merritt to take his first national title in 44.63, with Merritt crossing the finishing line second in 44.66.
“I finished sixth in 2013 and last year I didn’t make the final so to come and beat someone like LaShawn Merritt means a lot,” Verburg told NBC after his victory.
Merritt, celebrating his 29th birthday on Saturday, has a berth to the world championships, but he said he decided to compete in all three rounds at the USA trials to “work on some things.”
Finishing third was LSU NCAA champion Vernon Norwood, at 44.80, with Bryshon Nellum also making the team in the individual event by finishing fourth in 45.18.
Former world championships silver medal winner Tony McQuay dropped out of the contest on the backstretch and failed to finish.
In other finals on Saturday, Bershawn Jackson clocked 48.29 to lead home Johnny Dutch (48.43) and Kerron Clement (48.44) in the men’s 400m hurdles, but NCAA champion Michael Stigler missed out after finishing fourth in 48.96.
Matthew Centrowitz went 3:37.25 to seal the men’s 1500m title and Emma Coburn dominated the women’s 3000m steeplechase final in 9:15.59.
In some early round results, Justin Gatlin got his USA trials campaign up and running with a 19.92 heat winning performance in the men’s 200m.
Isiah Young (19.99), Dedric Dukes (Florida, 20.15), Beejay Lee (USC, 20.18), Wallace Spearmon (20.26) and Curtis Mitchell (20.36) have also made it into the semis.
Jenna Prandini (Oregon, 22.18), Candyce McGrone (22.38), Kyra Jefferson (Florida, 22.53), Dezerea Bryant (22.53), Jeneba Tarmoh (22.55) and Charonda Williams (22.63) are the top qualifiers in the women’s 200m.
In field event finals, Tianna Bartoletta leaped a personal best mark of 7.12m (23-4½ ) to win the women’s long jump title ahead of world champion Brittney Reese (6.97m) and Janay DeLoach (6.95m). Oregon’s Jasmine Todd, who was third in the women’s 100m final Friday night, earned another place on the team, as she finished fourth in the long jump in 6.84m. With Reese being the defending champion, USA gets to place four athletes in the event.
Gia Lewis-Smallwood won the women’s Discus throw with a standard of 63.09m, with Amber Campbell Mjolnir edging out Deanna Price in the women’s Hammer throw with an effort of 72.36m. Price Southern did 72.30m for second place.