Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Stars are Coming Out in Carson

The Visa Championship Series always hits its stride this time of year with the trio of Carson, New York and Eugene leading into the National Championships. This year Carson will kick this stretch run off in fine style with stars galore this weekend.

Previous Carson winners World Champion sprinter Tyson Gay and Olympic Champion sprinter Veronica Campbell Brown have both pulled out of the meet to spend a bit more time training and rehabbing from early season injuries, yet their absence should go unnoticed so deep is the quality of this year's meet.

Potential Highlights:

Men's 100 - The field includes the Olympic silver medalist (Richard Thompson) the most recent World silver medalist (Derrick Atkins), Olympic finalist Darvis Patton, and current world co-leader Travis Padgett. Padgett is the best starter in a field full of strong finishers. The best surge between 40 and 60 meters should secure victory. Look for Patton to pull it out in the seasons first sub10.

Men's 200 - Olympic gold ('04) and silver ('08) medalist Shawn Crawford, World finalist Marvin Anderson, and sub20 performers Rodney Martin (19.99) and Xavier Carter (19.63) take on Olympic 400 meter champion Lashawn Merritt! Merritt leads the world at 20.17 but that may not be good enough for top 3 in this field. Crawford will burn the turn and Carter will close late, but Merritt has looked effortless this year and rush off the turn and hold off any late rushes - and should better his PR of 19.98, which would give him the seasons first sub20.

Men's 400 hurdles - Olympic gold medalist Angelo Taylor v silver medalist Kerron Clement. Throw in former Olympic and World champion Felix Sanchez and tough as nails James Carter and we should see the year's first 47 second clocking. Taylor and Clement are the fastest quarter milers in the field and should have a slight edge. Clement tends to have trouble over the final few hurdles, Taylor won't falter and should win here with Carter making it tough with a strong close.

Women's 100 - Powerhouse and current world #2 Carmelita Jeter takes on last year's US Olympic squad of Torri Edwards, Muna Lee and Lauryn Williams. Add Marshavet Hooker who was 4th at last year's Trials and we have one hot race. Jeter has looked nearly unbeatable so far this spring, but Edwards has the skills to put this one away early and Williams always shows up to compete. Jeter has the added motivation of Jamaican Kerron Stewart having taken the world lead and running very well the last two weeks. I look for Jeter to continue her winning ways while throwing down the gauntlet to Stewart with a new world leader.

Women's 200 - Allyson Felix makes her season debut in an event she has dominated the past few seasons. Having lost the gold medal in Beijing after taking consecutive golds in the last two World Championships I'm looking for Felix to put the pedal to the medal here. She ran 49.7 in the 4x4 at Penn and took over the world lead in the 400 (50.75) in Doha last week. She should get a good run here from Sanya Richards, but Felix should easily surpass the current world leading time of 22.59.

Women's 100 hurdles - Olympic champion Dawn Harper takes on Michelle Perry, winner of the last two World Championships. Throw in burners Virginia Powell and Perdita Felicien and we should have one blazing race. This one is too tough to call as this is a very even, very tough group of young ladies. Perry is the most experienced which could give her a slight edge. But one wrong hurdle often decides this race. This should come down to the photo.

All of these races and I've missed stars like Jeremy Wariner (400), Dwight Phillips (LJ), Terrence Trammell (110H), Jenn Stuckzynski (PV), high school prodigy Jordan Hasay (1500), Shalane Flanagan (5000) and Bernard Lagat (1500). This meet should be as exciting and deep as Doha. So grab your popcorn and tune in to ESPN2 for what should be an entertaining meet!

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