A great day of finals. A couple of favorites did their thing. A couple of youngsters turned the tables. And one of the gutsiest races I’ve seen in the last twenty three years!
McQuay Comes of Age
They say that things happen for a reason. Tony McQuay was injured at the NCAA Indoor Championships. He didn’t really get going until conference time. He was clearly fresher than the other collegians entered in this meet. He also seemed fresher than Jeremy Wariner, who even though he was running in lane 2 made a strong move coming off the final turn and looked ready to win. Then McQuay answered – saw Jeremy’s move and raised him two! That was all she wrote as McQuay ran away from the field in the stretch for the win. Wariner tried to respond, but did well to just hold off Greg Nixon by .007. I wonder what McQuay can do with another 9 weeks under his belt – or if Wariner will be better able to respond.
Felix, Demus & Oliver as Expected
This has been a tough meet for veterans and favorites. So to say that Allyson Felix, David Oliver, and Lashinda Demus came, saw, and conquered is saying a mouthful! Each one just went out ran and took charge. Neither win was ever in doubt. Felix’ win in the 400 puts her in position to attempt the 200/400 double should she want to go that way. It also pretty much guarantees her a spot on the 4x4. I would love to see Lashinda Demus as one of her teammates on that relay. I think both can split under 50.00 and lead the U.S. to gold. And Oliver’s win sets him up to participate in what should be the best “showdown” in Daegu against Liu Xiang and Dayron Robles, as it is this Big Three that should be entering Daegu stadium.
The Women’s 1500 – The Race of the Meet
I know there is another day of finals left, but it will take something special to top the women’s 1500. I said before this race that no matter what the finish I was going to be sad that someone was not going to Daegu. That will be Christin Wurth Thomas, who ran the gutsiest 1500 meters I’ve seen since Paula Ivan stole the Olympic title in 1988 by just going out and running away from the field – Ivan won in a sterling 3:53.96 with second WAY back in 4:00.24 – they never knew what hit them til she was taking her victory lap! Christin always takes it out, and she did so today. For three and a half laps it looked like she might pull it off, but with around 150 meters to go Morgan Uceny began her drive to catch her – which she did as she got settled in the finishing stretch. Uceny was fluid, strong and looked like the champion she became! Wurth Thomas tried gamely to hold on, and it wasn’t until the finish line itself that she yielded her ticket to Daegu to Shannon Rowbury by .01! If there were a track genie and he (or she) was handing out just one wish I would ask that Christin be given a lane in Daegu, because she deserves it if only because I KNOW she will make the race exciting!
Centrowitz Holds Off Lagat
First McQuay, then Uceny, then in the final final of the day, Matt Centrowitz came of age and found a way to overcome the odds. This race went as they usually do in a major – the gun went off, then everyone waited to see who would take the lead. The pace doddled, and doddled, and looked like the race was being served up on a platter to either Bernard Lagat or Andrew Wheating – because this was a kicker’s dream. But as the pack came off the final turn with just about everyone in contention, and Bernard Lagat beginning to lift, something strange happened – actually a few strange things happened. First Lagat came up on the leader of the pack, Matt Centrowitz, and shifted gears to go by. Except someone failed to send Centrowitz the memo, because he countered Bernard’s move and held him off – all the way to the tape! Matt lifted and went toe to toe with one of the world’s best kickers – and WON! The rush behind them was furious as Manzano, Wheating, Leer, and Torrence looked like a bunch of dogs after a rabbit! As they drove and lunged at the tape Wheating actually went to the ground – but was outdone by the rapid turnover of Manzano as Leo got the third spot and Wheating the fourth! Lagat, however, has decided to be happy with his spot on the 5000 squad and is giving Wheating the 1500 ticket to Daegu! Lagat is a gentleman and a scholar as the old folk used to say!
Looking forward to a great final day of action. Already this is looking like a “Youth will be served” meet. Will talk about it more after the meet is over, but there will be a lot of vets watching Worlds from my vantage point – TV. The hottest races tomorrow “should” be the 800’s, 200’s and men’s 400 hurdles. Let’s see how they play out!