Collegians Stand Out During First Half Of U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field
NEW ORLEANS — After the first four days of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field, it turns out the term "All American" is a perfect representation of the top collegians in their respective event.
Six of those collegians who earned All-America honors during the 2016 track & field cycle truly proved to be All-American in Eugene, Oregon once again as they punched their ticket to wear the red, white and blue for Team USA at the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
With the rest day upon us, let’s take a look back at the first half of Trials and break down how all of those collegians fared at Hayward Field.
Through To Rio
Men’s 800 Meters
Team USA: Clayton Murphy, Boris Berian, Charles Jock
Recent Akron star Clayton Murphy proved to be a saavy tactician throughout the 2016 season.
Indoors and outdoors, Murphy kicked past the competition to win titles at 800 and 1500 meters, respectively. His outdoor win was truly remarkable as he left the third-fastest indoor all-conditions miler in collegiate history (Izaic Yorks) and the indoor mile champ (Henry Wynne) in the dust over the final 100 meters.
So how could you doubt Murphy’s acumen once he advanced to Monday’s final at the Trials?
Murphy, who turned professional following the outdoor season, settled in early and surged late to win the final and make his second international team (also competed at the 2015 IAAF World Indoor Championships). He was eighth after 400 meters, moved up to fifth with 200 meters to go and turned on the afterburners soon after.
Men’s Shot Put
Team USA: Ryan Crouser, Joe Kovacs, Darrell Hill
Former Texas star Ryan Crouser didn’t get to throw at Hayward Field during the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships since he exhausted his eligibility indoors.
Don’t worry: Crouser made up for lost time last Friday afternoon.
Crouser crushed the qualifying round, topping the competition by 8¾ inches.
Then once the finals began, Crouser made it clear everybody else was throwing for second place.
Crouser unleashed a howitzer on his second attempt as it sailed 22.11 meters (72-6½). That throw not only earned the former Longhorn the title but ended up as the only 22-meter heave of the afternoon.
Of note: Pittsburg State’s Garrett Appier, owner of all things shot put in the Division II record books, placed sixth.
Women’s Discus Throw
Team USA: Whitney Ashley, Shelbi Vaughan, Kelsey Card
Kelsey Card and Shelbi Vaughan didn’t wait long to leave their mark on last Saturday’s final.
Card put herself in second place after Round 1 with a heave of 60.13 meters (197-3).
Vaughan decided she liked second better in Round 2 when she topped Card’s throw with a 60.28-meter (197-9) missile of her own.
When the dust settled following the last throw of the final, Card and Vaughan were headed to Rio. They’ll be joined by Whitney Ashley, who won the event with a heave of 62.25m (204-2).
Men’s Long Jump
Team USA: Jeffery Henderson, Jarrion Lawson, Marquis Dendy
After three attempts in Sunday’s final, recent Arkansas jumper and 2016 Bowerman Award finalist Jarrion Lawson sat in sixth place. That’s not a terrible spot to be, but the top-3 with Olympic standards make it to Rio, so Lawson knew he had some work to do.
Lawson dug deep and soared a wind-legal 8.58m (28-1¾) on his fourth jump. That was the best all-dates mark by a collegian since 1994 and pushed him to second place.
Knowing he was well ahead of third place, Lawson shut it down and passed on his next two attempts.
Speaking of The Bowerman Award, Marquis Dendy — the winner of the men’s trophy in 2015 — is also going to Rio. Dendy might have finished fourth, but third-place finisher Will Claye didn’t have a wind-legal Olympic standard and therefore, Dendy goes instead.
Team USA: Ashton Eaton, Jeremy Taiwo, Zach Ziemek
Wisconsin’s Zach Ziemek put together a dream season in 2016.
Ziemek won the indoor heptathlon title and then took second in the ultra-competitive decathlon outdoors.
When Ziemek returned to Hayward Field for the Trials, it was "Rio or Bust" for the Badger. As it turns out, there won’t be a need to cash out just yet.
Ziemek looked in control from the start as he posted top-3 marks in three of the first five events. High marks in the discus throw and pole vault on the second day put him in position to make the Olympic team barring a collapse in the 1500.
A time of 4:48.21 in the last event meant Ziemek added 629 points to his total and secured a trip to Brazil. His final tally of 8413 points moved him up to No. 5 in extended-season collegiate history.
Close, but staying home
Curtis Thompson, Men’s Javelin Throw — The Mississippi State standout placed second in the final, but didn’t reach the Olympic standard of 83.00 meters. Thompson’s heave of 82.88m (271-11) on his first attempt did break a 16-year-old meet record, though. Unfortunately that didn’t stick as Cyrus Hostetler smashed it four attempts later (83.24m/273-1).
Taylor Ellis-Watson & Courtney Okolo, Women’s 400 Meters — The quarter-mile rivals tried the best they could to push each other to Rio in their best individual event, but it wasn’t to be. Ellis-Watson had the better race on Sunday as she finished fourth in 50.25. Okolo, the second fastest woman in the world at this distance entering the Trials, faded down the stretch and took sixth in 50.39. Both women will find out if they’re selected for the 4×400 relay pool on July 11.
Najee Glass & Arman Hall, Men’s 400 Meters — The Gators put two in Sunday’s final, but didn’t have enough to finish in the top-3. Hall had the second fastest reaction time of the field and finished fourth in 45.09. Glass got out of the blocks well, but finished seventh in 45.48. Both men will find out if they are selected for the 4×400 relay pool on July 11.
Morolake Akinosun & Ariana Washington, Women’s 100 Meters — Akinosun and Washington reached Sunday’s final, but were no match for the raw speed of English Gardner, Tianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie. The collegiate duo took fourth and sixth (2015 The Bowerman Award winner Jenna Prandini was fifth). Both women will find out if they are selected for the 4×100 relay pool on July 11.
Christian Coleman & Jarrion Lawson, Men’s 100 Meters — Coleman and Lawson didn’t have enough left in the legs to keep up with Justin Gatlin, Trayvon Bromell and Marvin Bracy on Sunday. The former SEC duo finished sixth and seventh (American record holder Tyson Gay was fifth).