The first day of the fourday USATF Championships saw one Athens Olympic champion knocked off the Team USA roster for Helsinki and another beaten back into second place in his event.
The weather, which was sunny but cool and very breezy, with the temperature dropping to close to 10 C. after the sun went down, affected both performances and results.
Tim Mack, the 2004 Pole Vault gold medallist, finished seventh tonight, clearing only 5.40 and failing at 5.55. The winner was Brad Walker, who cleared 5.75 to beat 2000 Olympic gold medallist Nick Hysong and 2004 Olympic silver medallist Toby Stevenson (both 5.65).
Back from injury Pate takes LJ title
Miguel Pate, who jumped 8.60 in 2003 but suffered a severe knee injury and missed a chance at the Olympics, announced his return to world class with a winning jump of 8.35. He beat Olympic champion Dwight Phillips, who could manage 'only' 8.28 in his three fair jumps.
Pate said: "It's been a long two years. [Phillips] is a great competitor, and to beat him and be national champion - there are no words for how feel."
Phillips, World No. 1 the last two years, didn't care much for the defeat: "I'm very angry right now, but Miguel was the better man today. This is the first time I've been contested in a while, and I've got to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Along with 8.33 jumper Brian Johnson (third today in 8.09), the U.S. should have a formidable trio in Helsinki. A notable casualty of the men's Long Jump final was Olympic silver medallist John Moffit who finished a disappointing eighth with a best effort of 7.68m.
Abdirahman and Acuff win again
Longtime friendly rivals Abdi Abdirahman and Mebratom Keflezighi were never more than a step apart in the men's 10,000, Abdi winning, 28:10.38 to 28:10.57. Becky Breisch, a coming star, won the women's discus with 62.92, rallying from fourth place on her final throw.
2004 Olympic 4th placer Amy Acuff won her 5th national championship in the High Jump, as the first three all cleared 1.90. By the time the high jumpers (many of them in semi-bikinis) reached that height, the temperature had dropped to 11-12 C.
In the Decathlon, Athens silver medalist Brian Clay won the 100 metres with a good 10.70 into a 1.8 m/s headwind, and was never headed, ending the day with a 4,322 score and a 129-point lead over Ryan Harlan.
The men's 400 heats were uneventful, but fast, with Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner posting the quickest time, 45.29. The women's 400 heats were similar, but a little tamer. Friday's semis in both should provide a few fireworks.
And in the men's 1500 heats, 10 of the12 qualifiers ran faster than four-minute mile pace. Increasingly, young American 1500/milers are willing to run fast the whole way rather than just the last lap.
James Dunaway for the IAAF