This year’s US Championships has been a nice display of both old and new talent, but Sunday’s closing day definitely belonged to the veterans. As time and time again familiar faces stepped up to bat and hit it out of the park.
The best of these was David Oliver who sped to a world leading 12.93 in the 110 hurdles. The mark was Oliver’s second sub13 of the season and moved him to =7th all time with none other than Renaldo Nehemiah. The mark is even more remarkable given that he blasted the very first hurdle before settling into his rhythm. Behind him collegiate champ Ronnie Ash was third in a PR 13.19 as he continues to improve and is looking like the future of the event here in the US. But Oliver has been on fire all season and is having the best season as he once again improved his season’s best, this time with a new PR. Right now he is arguably the best hurdler in the world. And while it is Dayron Robles that is the WR holder, Oliver has set himself up as the man to beat as the injury bug seems to be behind him.
Another vet whose injuries seem to be in the rear view mirror is Wallace Spearmon. Many forget that just a few years ago, Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay were chasing after Spearmon as he was the best of the young trio in mid decade. Since then immense improvement by Bolt and Gay and injuries to Spearmon put him on the outside looking in at the sprint party that has become the Bolt and Gay show. But Wallace looked like he might be ready to get back into the fray with his performance in Des Moines – a sizzling 19.77 that was aided by an over the allowable 2.9 mps wind. Regardless of the wind what was impressive was the manner in which he ran the race. A notoriously slow starter and poor turn runner, he was actually with the field coming off the turn – a field that including Walter Dix fresh off his 100 meter win. Spearmon then went into his patented overdrive and the race was essentially over as he surged ahead and won going away. While he still has work to do on the turn – Bolt and Gay run the turn as if it were a 100 meter final – if Spearmon can stay close he can be dangerous. This race was a sign that he just may be ready to get back into the 200 meter wars in a big way.
Jenn Suhr also appears to be healthy once more. Her early season looked a tad shaky, but she looked back in form Sunday scaling the bar at 16’ .5” and taking a shot at the 5 meter barrier (16’ 4.75”). A healthy Suhr gives us a strong shot in the pole vault and strengthens our women in the field, where suddenly we are looking quite strong – at least on the top end.
Also coming up with big performances were Christian Cantwell and Dwight Phillips. Cantwell winning the shot at 71’ .5” – repelling new threats Ryan Whiting and Cory Martin as well as dispensing with old rivals Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson. Cantwell has been super consistent this year and seems to finally have his groove. Phillips won the long jump at 27’ 5” – demonstrating his consistency over 27 feet and that he has no challengers domestically.
Add these to the performances of Patterson, Fountain, Jackson, Dutch, Howard-Lowe and a few others, and we ended the weekend with a pretty solid showing. Very good when its taken into account how many of our top athletes were missing. Kudos to those that competed and gave us their best. We look to be putting together a nice base of talent as we look forward to the next championship cycle.