Both the men’s and women’s 100 meters lived up to the hype at the USA Track and Field Championships, US Trials on Friday (24 June), as both legal and windy fast times were the story of the evening.
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On the women’s side, despite the pronounced absence of Sha’Carri Richardson, the Oregon crowd was left in a collective gasp as collegian Melissa Jefferson redeemed her collapse in the NCAA final a couple of weeks prior by clinching the US title in 10.69 (+2.9).
But it wasn’t just Jefferson, 7 of the 8 finalists broke 11 seconds – in fact, six were superior to 10.9.
Aleia Hobbs, who still is the fastest woman at the meet with a wind-legal 10.88, ran 10.72 in this final for second to narrowly edge new professional Twanisha Terry, who ran 10.74. Young Tamari Davis just missed an individual Worlds berth with a 10.78 for 4th, while Tamara Clark ran 10.82 for fifth. Celera Barnes was sixth in 10.86, Javianne Oliver ran 10.94 and in last place was Brittany Brown’s 11.04.
Jefferson got the best start, with Hobbs getting a reaction on par with the majority of the field, and separated from both Terry had to run down Davis for third place.
“I did the job I needed to do at NCAAs,” said Jefferson. “I realized that one had to be sacrificed for the other, if I had done good at NCAAs I might not be standing here right now.”
The men’s final was all about Fred Kerley. Earlier in the day, he ran a wind-legal world lead, personal best and meet record, eclipsing Tyson Gay’s 2008 9.77. He separated instantly from the field and increased his lead dramatically by 60 meters to storm to a smooth 9.76 seconds.
In the second heat, Bromell looked to be rounding into form with a 9.81, with Marvin Bracy-Williams and Christian Coleman (who would opt out of the final) close behind in 9.86 and 9.87.
In the final, Kerley got a more subdued start, but his quarter-mile strength was too much for the rest of the field as he pulled away in the final meters to win in 9.77. Bracy-Williams qualified in a 9.85 for second place, while 2021’s fastest man got the third and final spot in 9.88.
Oregon athlete Micah Williams was just off the podium in 9.90. After a few close flirts over the years, this was the first race where everyone in the field went sub-10. Elijah Hall Thompson was fifth in 9.90, Kyree King was sixth in 9.96 and Kenny Bednarek was seventh in 9.98.
“It’s just been all about patience and training and continuing to do what I got to do,” said Kerley.
In other news, Sydney McLaughlin had the fastest qualifying time by more than two seconds in the 400-meter hurdles, 52.90 seconds. The next closest competitor in either heat was Masai Russell in 55.02. Meanwhile, the reigning US men’s 400 hurdles champ, Rai Benjamin, would also easily finish the fastest on the day to make the final in 48.41.
In the 400 meters, all of the favorites advanced through to the finals, with Allyson Felix headlining the non-automatic finalists in 51.32 seconds. 2021 Olympians Michael Norman and Randolph Ross sailed to the final in the first men’s heat with 44.28 and 44.36 finishes, respectively. Collegians Elijah Godwin and Champion Allison from the universities of Georgia and Florida, respectively, qualified in 44.66 and 44.80.
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