Ashton Eaton brought a record capacity crowd to full roar Saturday at Hayward Field as the Oregon graduate set a world record in the decathlon, scoring 9,039 points to break the previous record of 9,026 set in 2001 by the Czech Republic’s Roman Sebrle. The official attendance was 21,795. It was but one highlight of a dramatic and newsmaking day at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field.
Eaton’s record was the first world record set at the U.S. Olympic Trials since Michael Johnson’s 19.66 in the 200m at Atlanta in 1996. It was also the fifth time an American set a decathlon world record at the Trials, a feat most recently achieved in 1976 by Bruce Jenner. Former record holders Jenner and Dan O’Brien were on hand to great Eaton at the finish line.
Needing to run better than 4:16.23 in the 1500m to crack the WR, Eaton followed Curtis Beach and Joe Detmer through the first three-and-a-half laps before crossing the line in 4:14.48 as Beach waved him through the line.
2011 World champion Trey Hardee claimed the second spot on the podium with a score of 8,383 points and will join Eaton in London. Gray Horn was third at 7,954.
Reigning Olympic champion Bryan Clay faltered in the 110m hurdles where he hit the ninth hurdle and did not clear the tenth hurdle. His time of 16.81 garnered him only 644 points. Things did not get better in the next event when Clay fouled three times in the discus and did not score a mark. Though he was out of contention to make the decathlon podium, Clay continued on to finish all ten events, finishing 12th with 7109 points.
World 100m champion Carmelita Jeter dashed to her third U.S. title in the short sprint, all won at Hayward Field, with a swift 10.92. 2005 World long jump gold medalist Tianna Madison was second in 10.96. The event’s drama came in the tussle for the third spot where three-time World 200m champion Allyson Felix and former Texas A&M star Jeneba Tarmoh finished in a dead heat at 11.07 (11.068).
Reigning Olympic champion Dawn Harper out-sprinted Kellie Wells and Lolo Jones to win the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.73, with 2011 U.S. champion Wells second in 12.77 and two-time World Indoor 60m hurdle winner Jones surging to place third in 12.86. It was the second national title in the 100m hurdle for Harper, who also won in Eugene in 2009, and Jones makes her second straight Olympic team after winning the ‘08 Trials and finishing seventh in Beijing.
Collegians Timothy Glover of Illinois State and Sam Humphreys of Texas A&M recorded the two farthest throws in the preliminaries of the men’s javelin throw. Glover threw a best mark of 80.27m/263-4, while Humphreys threw 78.12m/256-3. Eugene local Cyrus Hostetler had an interesting throw on his first attempt when his javelin split in half in mid air. Hostetler was given a second attempt on that throw and qualified to the next round with a 74.74m/245-2.
In the men’s shot put prelims, Reese Hoffa exceeded the automatic qualifying mark on his second attempt at 21.22m/69-7.5, the furthest mark of the day. Christian Cantwell and Ryan Whiting easily moved on to the finals with the two next best throws. Neither Dan Taylor nor two-time Olympic silver medalist Adam Nelson advanced to the finals.
World Indoor 60m champion Justin Gatlin and defending Olympic Trials champion Tyson Gay were the two swiftest men in the first round of the 100. Gatlin blasted to an impressive 9.90 in the fifth section to lead all qualifiers, while Gay looked smooth and easy in winning the fourth heat at 10.00. The only noteworthy casualty was last year’s NCAA runner-up Mookie Salaam.
Amanda Smock was the top qualifier in the women’s triple jump, as the defending national champion spanned 13.80m/45-3.5 in the second round. Oregon’s Lauryn Newson used a huge PR leap of 13.52/44-4.25 to advance, but American record holder Tiombe Hurd finished just outside the top 12 and failed to advance.
Ten men cleared 2.18m/7-1.75 in the high jump qualifying, including World champion Jesse Williams and NCAA winner Erik Kynard of Kansas State. A total of 13 athletes moved on to the final, but not 2008 World Indoor bronze medalist Andra Manson, who was 16th overall.
Running more like a sprinter than a middle distance ace, Alysia Montano covered the first 400 of her 800 semi in 55.65 and held on to grab the fastest qualifying time at 2:00.25. Alice Schmidt clocked 2:00.50 in pursuit of Montano, with Molly Beckwith and Geena Gall taking the top two spots in the other semifinal heat.
Khadevis Robinson kicked past Duane Solomon and NCAA champ Charles Jock to win the first semifinal of the men’s 800m in 1:45.83, with Oregon’s Elijah Greer sneaking past Jock for the third auto qualifying spot. Tyler Mulder and defending Trials champion Nick Symmonds were easy advancers out of semi two, won by Mulder in 1:46.14.
Reigning Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt and 2004 gold medalist Jeremy Wariner were two of the eight qualifiers for the men’s 400m final, where they will be joined by NCAA champion Tony McQuay of Florida and four other collegians. Merritt won the second section in 44.78, the fastest time overall, and McQuay captured semifinal one at 44.84.
Francena McCorory at 50.55 and golden-tressed Sanya Richards Ross at 50.81 led the way in the women’s 400m semifinals. 2009 World 4x400 gold medalist Debbie Dunn was the other athlete to dip under 51 seconds with her 50.99 behind McCorory.
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