Friday, June 26, 2009

US Championships Day One

Track and Field: USA Track & Field Championships

The first day of any National Championship is full of qualifying rounds - and this year's US Nationals was no exception. The goal on Day One is to qualify and make it to Day Two. So typically the first day is very low key - and such was most of yesterday's competition, low key. A lot of the big news happened off the track as leading decathlete, Brian Clay, middle distance hopeful, Andrew Wheating, and leading hurdler David Oliver, were all forced to withdraw from the meet due to various injuries. Clay and Oliver were potential medal threats in Berlin, so their withdrawals will be especially missed.

With that done the focus went to the competition itself. And the spotlight was on Tyson Gay, as he came into the meet with the intent to run only one round of the 100. As the defending champion in both sprints, Gay is guaranteed passage to the World Championships and so only had to basically run here to show fitness - as rules state he must run at least once in the national meet.

In lane 2 of the first heat, Tyson's race was very interesting. A false start, caused the field to sit on the second go round and Gay was out cautiously. This was Gay's first 100 of the season and it showed for 50 meters as he ran just off the pace of the field. But like a Ferrari that's been in the garage for a while, once the carbon blew out of the pipes Tyson rocketed by the field and won going away in a sizzling 9.75w (+3.4) - 7th fastest time ever under all conditions, fastest ever seasonal debut! Gay described the race as horrible, saying "I ran a horrible race. Technically it was horrible. My focus was horrible,". And he was somewhat correct as it was far from a perfect race - though there was nothing at all horrible about the result. I can't wait for him to get sharp and "get it right"! With only two sprint races under his belt - 19.58, 9.75w - after coming back slowly from last year's injuries, its clear that Tyson will be a major force in Berlin. Video of yesterday's first round race can be seen here.

The rest of qualifying went according to form. The winds were strong most of the day, favoring the dashes, but giving some trouble to full lap races. As a result dash times were quick, others were held down a bit.

We did have four finals on the day. Brandon Roulac winning the Triple Jump (54' 8.25") and Stephanie Brown Trafton continuing her dominance in the discus (210' 9"). On the track Amy Begley upset Shalane Flanagan to win the women's 10000 (31:22.69), while Galen Rupp continued to show he is America's best hope with an easy 27:52,53 win in the men's 10000. Full results for the day can be found here.

Today's competition will feature finals in both the men's and women's 100 and 5000 meters. In the 100 meters, Carmelita Jeter will be looking to stay undefeated among the women, while we will get to see who gets paired with Tyson Gay in Berlin. Galen Rupp will be contesting the 5000, and going for a double victory. In the women's race we should be treated to a Jenny Barringer, Shannon Rowbury, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan battle!

Should be another good day of competition.

Track and Field: USA Track & Field Championships

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