World and Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton made his highly anticipated debut in the 400m hurdles at the Mt SAC Relays on Saturday (19). Although he finished more than half a second behind winner Jeshua Anderson, Eaton gained a lot of confidence from his 50.01 clocking.
“Now I see 48 seconds is possible,” he told reporters after the race. “It was interesting. When I wanted to make a move like I would in the 400m flat, a hurdle would come up, so I slowed down.”
Eaton, who holds the combined events world records indoors and out, had warmed up for the race with a 13.54 clocking in the 110m hurdles one day prior at the Bryan Clay Invitational, finishing just 0.05 behind world indoor champion Omo Osaghae.
But with barriers over one lap of the track, Anderson’s experience shone through as he won in 49.43. Nevertheless, Eaton finished ahead of seasoned campaigners such as former Jamaican champion Isa Phillips and reigning NCAA champion Reggie Wyatt.
The highest-quality event at Mt SAC was the men’s 800m in which the top three finishers all dipped inside the previous meeting record. World and Olympic finalist Duane Solomon adopted his usual front-running tactics to cruise to victory in 1:43.88, more than a second faster than the meeting record.
In second and third, Erik Sowinski and Puerto Rican record-holder Wesley Vazquez both dipped inside 1:45 for the first time in their careers, clocking 1:44.58 and 1:44.64 respectively.
The other meeting record to be obliterated was the women’s hammer. Canada’s Sultana Frizell came within six centimetres of her own national record, but added more than three metres to the meeting record she set five years ago, winning with 74.98m. All six of her throws landed beyond the 70-metre line and would have been enough to win.
Harris surprises global medallists in sprint hurdles
One of the more surprising performances of the weekend came in the 110m hurdles. The unheralded Aleec Harris – who before this year had a PB of 13.65 – won his specialist event in a big PB of 13.32, taking the scalps of world indoor champion Omo Osaghae (13.41) and world silver medallist Ryan Wilson (13.47).
The women’s sprint hurdles was also a quality race with Sharika Nelvis smashing her PB to win in 12.71 with world and Olympic finalist Angela Whyte taking second in 12.89. Earlier in the week, Whyte had finished second in the heptathlon – her first combined events competition since 2003 – and set a PB of 6018 behind winner Barbara Nwaba’s 6043, both athletes scoring higher than 6000 points for the first time.
Eaton’s wife Brianne Theisen-Eaton also set a PB in the hurdles with 13.08. She also added a centimetre to her long jump best with 6.38m.
Brown and Prandini impress in sprints
Canada’s Aaron Brown comfortably disposed of former world silver medallist Wallace Spearmon in the 200m, 20.26 to 20.45. Earlier in the day Brown had finished second in the 100m, one tenth of a second behind NCAA indoor champion Diondre Batson, who recorded a PB of 10.06 in completely still conditions.
Rising sprint talent Jenna Prandini smashed her PB to win the 100m in 11.11 (0.8), finishing two metres ahead of US champion English Gardner, who opened her season with 11.31.
Wruck the victor in close discus competition
In an exciting discus contest, Australia’s Julian Wruck got the better of India’s Vikas Gowda. Wruck took an early lead with 64.09m, only to see Gowda improve on that by 30 centimetres in the third round. But on his penultimate throw, Wruck snatched back the victory with 64.39m.
China’s Yang Yanbo won the women’s discus with her first-round throw of 63.31m, just one centimetre shy of her PB. Her first five throws all landed beyond the 60-metre line.
Elsewhere, Katerina Stefanidi and Kylie Hutson equalled the meeting record in the pole vault, both clearing 4.55m with Greece’s Stefanidi winning on count-back. Omar Craddock won the triple jump with a marginally wind-assisted 17.26m, while Jeff Henderson produced the second-best mark of his career to win the long jump with 8.12m.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF