The hurdles are perhaps the area where we have some of our strongest contenders for gold medals in Daegu. They also have some of our top young up and coming talent. Here is how I see the hurdles playing out in Eugene.
Men’s 110 Hurdles
Calling the winner in this event is pretty easy given that David Oliver is the current AR holder; has been rock solid; and is a threat to run under 13.00 nearly every time he steps on the track. Therefore, barring disaster, he should win this race easily. It’s the battle behind him that will be close – with some new blood headed to Daegu.
Aries Merritt is not completely new blood, having made the team to Berlin and bowing out in the heats. But this season he’s been consistent with three races under 13.20 – and that consistency should get him the second spot. He’ll have to run his best however as newbie Omo Osaghe, and veteran Joel Brown have also run well, though just off Merritt’s pace. Which means that the race for Daegu tickets will go to the hurdlers with the fewest errors. True in any race, but critical in this one where a bobble leaves you home. I give the nod to Osaghe because of his youth and hunger, as a major bobble cost him an NCAA title and he will be looking for retribution here.
I expect two other veterans to be in the mix – Ryan Wilson & Terrence Trammell. Trammell has been a fixture on international teams since the year 2000 – which makes it hard for me to put him out of the top three. However, reality is that Trammell hasn’t run sub13.20 since ‘09; sub13.10 since ‘08; sub 13.00 since ‘07. In short it seems as if he is on the down side of his career – as wonderful as it’s been – I hope he proves me wrong.
Men’s 400 Hurdles
Five men. Three spots. Three vets. Two youth. This race has the potential to be as exciting as the sprints – and should be reminiscent of the 1988 Olympic Trials: Moses (47.37), Phillips (47.58), Young (47.72), Patrick (47.75) and Harris (47.76). One of the most exciting long hurdle races of all time.
This time around the names will be Anderson, Clement, Dutch, Jackson and Taylor – and all but Anderson are sub-48 hurdles, and he is oh so close. Jackson, Clement and Taylor have a bevy of World and Olympic medals between them – five of them gold. Anderson and Dutch have won the last four NCAA championships.
So with the stage set, who goes to Korea and who unfortunately has to stay home – because this race is an example of why I would love to see the World Championships move away from “Olympic” type qualifying and move to inviting the best in the world per event!
After much consideration I have to give the nod for the win to Bershawn Jackson. Tough competitor, experienced and best stride pattern when he’s on. I’m betting that he puts these things together and crosses the line first. He’ll be pressed however, as Angelo Taylor has as much experience and his speed is sharp over the open quarter. Jackson has the better stride pattern, however, and should take the lead in the event for good on the second half of the final turn. Not that Taylor will give up – and those first two hurdles off the turn will decide who wins.
Third place will be HOTLY contested – a la ‘88. My nod goes to Anderson. He’s been running well; is very strong; and seems to be running to put his loss at last year’s NCAA championships far behind him. He’ll be looking to claim that third spot over the man who took the NCAA title away from him last year – Dutch. My bet is that Anderson comes off the turn first and Dutch doesn’t quite get by him.
The man that I thought would dominate this event for years, and possibly make a run at the WR – Clement – ends up out of the money here. His stride pattern and hurdling is not as good as the others, and he seems to have lost that closing ability that once made him such a monster in this event. If, however, he is able to hold it together long enough to be close off the turn, he could completely flip the results of this race.
Women’s 100 Hurdles
This is an event that is always hard to predict. The start seems to be more crucial here than it is in the men’s event, and banged hurdles pretty much ruin a race. Add the fact that most of these women are pretty much in the same range coming in and I don’t think it’s as clear cut as some might think.
The woman running best coming in in my opinion is Danielle Carruthers – so I’m giving the nod for the win, barely. I say barely because Kellie Wells was starting to look like a lock about a month ago, and if she runs like the late April, early May version, she could run away with the race. But I have to go with consistency in this event and Carruthers has been consistent, if not as spectacular.
Consistency will get the last ticket to Daegu as well. In this case I’m banking on the consistency of the coach – as Bobbie Kersee is as good as it gets at having his athletes ready for the big ones. Which is why I ‘m pegging Ginnie Crawford for that final ticket. She’s perhaps the fastest woman on the flat among these hurdlers and she’s been running fairly cleanly over the hurdles recently. That adds up to Daegu in my book.
Pressing all three of these women will be vets Lolo Jones and Dawn Harper. Jones seemed ready to be crowned Queen in Beijing until she hit the final hurdle – she’s not been the same since. Harper, ironically, was the recipient of gold in that race as she became the unexpected victor. But she hasn’t been quite the same competitor since then either. Both have the ability to make the team, but will they put their races together in time?
Women’s 400 Hurdles
This is an event where we have a stud (ette) and a lot of women behind her with a lot of growing yet to do. The “stud” is Lashinda Demus who cranks out fast times the way the mint prints money. She should have little difficulty with this field as she is easily two seconds better than the rest.
After Demus we have a lot of youth in this event. The best of which should be the last two NCAA champions – Queen Harrison & Tierra Brown. They ran 1,2 at last year’s NCAA meet and I expect them to go 2,3 here behind Demus as Harrison seems to be a tad stronger than Brown.
With the first three places going to a vet and two youth, I expect the next three places to follow suit – in reverse. With Krais reversing her finish with Thompson from the NCAA meet; and the vet (Tosta) finishing behind the youth. Tosta’s times have gotten progressively slower each year since ‘07, and like so may other vets this year may have to give way to the up and coming “kids”.
No such issues for Demus who seems ready to upgrade her two World silvers (‘05 & ‘09) for a gold.