Another US 800m title for Alysia Montaño (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News 26 June 2012 – Eugene, USA

Montaño and Symmonds take 800m titles in Eugene - US Olympic Trials, Day 4

Eugene, USAFinals in both 800m races plus three field events comprised the major highlights for Day 4 of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon on Monday (25).

The wins here by Alysia Montaño keep getting closer and closer, but the Daegu fourth-placer still controls the women’s 800m in her home country. Montaño opened with 26.5 and 55.87 as the rest of the field stayed 10-15 metres behind. With Alice Schmidt leading the remaining runners down the back stretch, Molly Beckwith moved up and pulled even with Schmidt with 200 left.

Off the final curve, the chase to catch Montaño was on, but the woman with the flower in her hair held on to win in 1:59.08 as Geena Gall came from fourth to clip the others for second in 1:59.24. Schmidt outraced Beckwith to the tape for the final team position, 1:59.46 to 1:59.68.

In the men’s 800m final, Nick Symmonds started his final kick in fifth place with 300 metres left, took the lead coming out of the final curve, and then sped away to a 1:43.92 clocking. Khadevis Robinson also made up lots of ground on the back stretch and was able to win a close duel with Duane Solomon for the second spot, 1:44.64 to 1:44.65. Ryan Martin (1:44.90) and Tyler Mulder (1:45.02) were fourth and fifth.

Nieto bests the conditions

The cool and wet conditions Monday were not greeted well by the finalists in the men’s High Jump. Handling the situation best on this day was Jamie Nieto, the fourth-placer at the 2004 Athens Games. The 35-year-old had a perfect slate through 2.28m before failing three times at 2.31m, but it was enough to win the event on a countback again three others at 2.28m.

Erik Kynard, multi-eventer Nick Ross, and World champion Jesse Williams were in the next positions. Kynard and Williams will get the team spots for London, as Ross does not possess the necessary A-standard.

The men’s javelin produced PBs for the top two finishers. However, as neither had the A-standard, they both left the stadium without an Olympic nomination. Sam Humphreys’ winning toss of 81.86m was an agonizing 14 centimetres short of a London ticket. It was otherwise a superb day for the Texas A&M student, who had never before been over 80 metres but had four throws exceeding the event’s respectability level.

Sam Crouser, too, was also a newcomer to the 80-metre range with 80.80m, an almost three-metre improvement on his lifetime best.

The London spots will thus go to placers three through five—Craig Kinsley (79.92m), Berlin finalist Sean Furey (77.86m), and Cyrus Hostetler (77.63m).

The US will be represented in the women’s Triple Jump by a single entrant, Amanda Smock, who was the only competitor possessing any kind of Olympic standard. Her leadoff 13.94m was the best of her day, winning out over Sheena Gordon (13.83m) and Andrea Geubelle (13.79m).

Qualifying –

Both 3000m steeplechase events sorted out competitors for the finals on Thursday.

Daegu finalist Emma Coburn went to the front quickly in the first section in the women’s division and easily won in 9:43.19, with Shalaya Kipp (9:46.17) and Mason Cathey (9:47.32) rounding out the top three in that heat.

The other section was somewhat more competitive until Bridget Franek went to the front with two laps left and won with 9:44.05. Next across the line were Sara Hall (9:44.55) and Ashley Higginson (9:45.21).

Evan Jager (8:30.60) and US year leader Donn Cabral (8:30.64) crossed the line virtually together in the first men’s steeplechase qualifying heat, as the top five automatic advancers were in a cluster spanning only 0.55 seconds. Beijing Olympians Josh McAdams (8:31.15) and Billy Nelson (8:35.22) were among those staying alive.

Two-time World championships team member Dan Huling, running near or at the front the entire way, took over the lead just after the bell and won the second heat in 8:29.00 as early frontrunner Ben Bruce came back to take second with 8:29.11.

With two laps remaining in the first heat of the women’s 5000m qualifying, Julia Lucas forced the pace and pulled the six automatic qualifiers ahead of the rest. At the end, it was a quick finish by Abbey D’Agostino (15:41.14) which clipped Julie Culley (15:41.29) at the tape, with Lucas holding third with 15:42.82. Among the other automatic qualifiers was Lisa Uhl (15:48.16), who already has an Olympic team spot in the 10,000m.

In the last ten metres of the second heat, Liz Maloy slipped through on the inside to win in 15:46.00 ahead of Molly Huddle (15:46.05) who had been leading at the bell. Daegu finalist Lauren Fleshman (15:51.53) and Beijing Marathon competitor Magdalena Lewy Boulet also advanced (15:51.73). The winner of last Friday’s 10,000m, Amy Hastings, was the fastest of the non-qualifiers with 15:59.05.

Osaka 2007 double winner Bernard Lagat moved even with Lopez Lomong with 80 metres left in the second of two heats of the men’s 5000 metres as the two crossed the line almost together, with Lomong being given the nod with 13:42.81 to Lagat’s 13:42.83. Ben True (13:43.12) won the chase for the next spot with Ryan Hill (13:43.24) moving strongly from seventh to fourth in the final 100 metres.

The first heat was controlled capably by Galen Rupp who broke open an 11-runner cluster with 650 left. Andrew Bumbalough stayed close to Rupp the rest of the way and actually enjoyed a moment of glory when he clipped the Oregon star at the finish, 13:46.80 to 13:46.82. Trevor Dunbar, also an Oregon product, brought the crowd to its feet with a fast finish for third in 13:49.19. Among those not making the cut was Alan Webb, who finished eleventh (and last) in 14:01.25.

Only 11 of the 24 competitors in the men’s Pole Vault qualifying were able to solve the moist weather conditions for a height clearance. Accordingly, only two bar placements --5.30m and 5.40m-- were needed to separate the finalists from the also-rans, with Osaka world champion Brad Walker, Beijing fourth-placer Derek Miles, and Daegu finalist Jeremy Scott among that elite group.

Lance Brooks dominated the men’s discus qualifying with a 64.80m throw, more than two metres ahead of the next best competitor, Russ Winger, at 62.61m. Brooks’ best effort of the year, 64.93m, is still 7 centimetres under the Olympic A-standard, which he still needs for a London nomination should he finish in the top three in Thursday’s final.

Otherwise, the session, contested for the most part in a drizzle, eliminated no one of note. Others advancing were two-time world championships finalist Jarred Rome (61.84m), Daegu finalist Jason Young (61.34m), Helsinki 2005 fifth-placer Ian Waltz (61.30m), and Athens Olympic finalist Casey Malone (60.71m).

The Trials programme will resume on Thursday, 28 June.

Ed Gordon for the IAAF

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