Casimir Loxsom was the star of the show on the final day of the USATF National Indoor Championships in Boston on Sunday (28) as the 23-year-old blitzed his way to a US indoor record of 1:15.33 with a gun-to-tape win in the 600m.
Loxsom shot to the lead on the first of three laps, which he covered in 23.76, and he extended his advantage over closest challenger Erik Sowinski on the second lap, passing 400m in 48.24. From there, it was simply a race against the clock for Loxsom and he held his form admirably over the final 200m to take a quarter of a second off his own US indoor record of 1:15.58.
“I was ready,” said Loxsom. “I was super-confident. There’s been times in my career where I haven’t done everything I could to be good, and to be on the line knowing you’ve done everything is a great feeling.”
Loxsom noted that his improved form this year came as a result of a renewed application ever since getting a wake-up call while racing on the IAAF Diamond League circuit last summer. “Sometimes there are weekends like this where things just work out,” said the 2010 world junior 800m silver medallist. “How you handle success is much less of a testament to your character as when things don’t go great.
“I got my doors blown off in those Diamond Leagues last year, but I thought to myself: ‘I never want to be back here like this. I want to get back and do well’. This is a great step towards that. I mean, the Olympic 800m final is going to be going out as fast as I ran there [through 600m], so it’s fast, but it’s not anything out of control. I’m more excited to be winning races.”
Former world indoor bronze medallist Michelle Carter provided the best field event mark on Sunday. In her first competition of 2015, the US record-holder won her eighth national shot put title with a world-leading throw of 19.45m.
Shannon Rowbury was an easy winner of the women’s mile on Saturday, despite struggling with illness for much of the week, and she returned for second helpings on Sunday, kicking past teammate Jordan Hasay on the final bend to win the women’s two miles in 9:43.94 to Hasay’s 9:44.69.
“I’ve had a cold since Birmingham [last week],” said Rowbury. “Warming up, I felt kind of flat. I was supposed to share the lead with Jordan near the end, but she kept accelerating, and it wasn’t until the last 100 that I could get to her.”
With a successful indoor season completed, Rowbury’s attention now turns to the outdoors and the road to the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, where she is still undecided on her best event. “I’ll take a little break, then start gearing up again,” she said. “We haven’t really had the chance to do any hard sessions recently because we’ve been racing. It’s a grind, but I’m looking forward to getting back to that.
“Outdoors, I still haven’t broken two minutes in the 800m, I still have a lot of room to improve in the 5000m if I want to be a threat, and I feel like I have a PR in me in the 1500m.”
Victories for new mothers Payne and Montano
Demi Payne claimed her first national title in the pole vault with a best clearance of 4.55m, a little over a year after the birth of her daughter.
“It’s hard to put into words,” said the overjoyed 23-year-old. “The field was so talented; it was a bit intimidating. I knew I could win. It was just a matter of focusing. Beijing is in the plan in the summer; I’ve got all these goals and I feel like I’ve hit every single one so far. Before I had my child, I was just pole vaulting for fun, and after I have a brand new focus and thought: ‘this is my last chance to do it’.”
Another athlete to strike gold shortly after returning from maternity leave – this time just six months after childbirth – was Alysia Montano, who won the 600m in 1:26.59.
“I did my very best to stay fit during my pregnancy, but it wasn’t for 800m; it was for the health of my baby and that stood to me,” said Montano. “Adrenaline was kicking in when I stepped on the start line. This is a national championship, and it was the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
There was, however, contrasting fortunes for race favourite Ajee Wilson, who crashed to the track at the halfway point, effectively ending her shot at the title. “I was ready to run and excited to compete but stuff happens,” said Wilson, whose heat time of 1:26.56 was faster than Montano’s winning time in the final. “I’ve just got to get up, brush it off and keep going.”
Hurdlers Harris and Stowers win first national titles
Aleec Harris was a convincing winner of the men’s 60m hurdles in 7.51 ahead of Jarret Eaton (7.59) and Jeff Porter (7.66), and the weekend’s events were closed with a swift performance by Jasmin Stowers in the women’s 60m hurdles, the 23-year-old taking the title in 7.84, the second-fastest time in the world this year.
“I’m ecstatic to pull off the win,” said Stowers. “I knew I had to get out because there were great athletes beside me. Words can’t express how happy I was.”
World indoor silver medallist Marvin Bracy won his second successive national title in the men’s 60m in 6.55 ahead of Joseph Morris (6.57) and Clayton Vaughn (6.60). Ryan Bailey, who was among the favourites for the title, trailed home in last place after stumbling badly coming out of the blocks.
“My start wasn’t the best,” said Bracy, “but it felt great once I got up into my stride. My finish felt so great, and I managed to surge to the front of the pack.”
Tianna Bartoletta also successfully defended her title in the women’s 60m, taking the win in 7.08 from Jessica Young (7.16).
“I’m really pleased that I was able to defend my title,” said Bartoletta. “The time was secondary, but I’m pleased that I was able to run under 7.10. It was the best I could do today. Now it’s time for me to transition to outdoors and get back into the long jump. I’ll be divided about 50/50 between the 100m and long jump. My goal is to make the team for Beijing in both.”
Matt Centrowitz bounced back to form with a commanding win in the men’s mile, taking the lead with 400m to run and controlling the race thereafter to win his first US indoor title in 4:01.40 ahead of Ben Blankenship (4:02.14) and Pat Casey (4:02.85).
“Once I hit the front, it was just about squeezing it, picking the pace up every 100m,” said Centrowitz. “I didn’t feel anyone getting up on me, so I thought I was doing a good job. As soon as I hit 100 to go, the announcer said something about me pulling away. I was surprised because there were a lot of good closers in that race. We wanted to end the season on a positive note and get my first indoor title, and that’s what we did.”
Lauren Wallace surprised many, including herself, to win the women’s 1000m in 2:40.42, holding off the challenge of Treniere Moser (2:40.62) and Stephanie Brown (2:40.62) to take her first national title.
“It’s unreal,” said Wallace. “It hasn’t set in yet. The coolest part was running through the tape. I’ve never been able to do that before.”
In the men’s 1000m, Robby Andrews came from behind with his trademark fast finish to take the title in 2:21.91 ahead of Kyle Merber (2:22.39) and Michael Rutt (2:22.44). “They finally put my favourite distance in there,” said Andrews. “It was a hard-fought race, but it was a lot of fun.”
Chaunte Lowe was a dominant winner of the women’s high jump, her 1.88m clearance enough to secure the title ahead of Amy Acuff (1.82m).
In the women’s triple jump, Amanda Smock was best with a mark of 13.28m, while Omar Craddock took the men’s title with a best leap of 16.84m.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF