A world-leading 8.41m long jump by Marquis Dendy proved the highlight on day one of the US Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon on Friday (11), on an evening where there were contrasting fortunes for the local favourites in the 3000m finals.
While Ryan Hill and Shannon Rowbury booked their spots at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 in impressive style with a pair of dominant wins, Galen Rupp’s attempt to do the same just 27 days after winning the US Olympic marathon trials came up short.
It was Dendy, though, who stole the show with his fifth-round effort in the men’s long jump of 8.41m, which surpassed his previous world-leading jump of 8.38m, set in Fayetteville last month. That was more than enough to take victory, with Jeffery Henderson edging Marquise Goodwin on count-back to take silver and the second spot on the US team for the World Indoors, with both recording a best of 8.05m.
“The runway was really, really fast,” said Goodwin, whose next best jump was 8.10m in the third round. “I was way ahead on my check mark on the first few jumps so had to slow a lot down and adjust, but now I’ve got them, I can go back and improve at Worlds.”
Dendy believes the world indoor record – which stands at 8.79m and is held by Carl Lewis – may now be on the cards when the World Indoors take place in the Oregon Convention Center next week. “I’ve always been the type of person to step up to the plate, and I just have to work on these last 38cm to try to get the world record,” he said. “Consistency is key.”
There was another world-leading performance in the women’s shot put, with Michelle Carter throwing 19.49m in the first round of her first competition of the year. Jill Camarena Williams took second with 18.64m ahead of Jeneva Stevens (18.56m).
“I feel good ahead of next week,” said Carter. “I know I have so much more to go. Today was a confidence booster, so now it’s time to rest and get ready for Worlds. It’s going to be great.”
Speed the lethal weapon for Hill
On the track, the best action was saved for last, with the men’s 3000m pitting the individual talents of Galen Rupp against a horde of unified teammates from the Nike Bowerman Track Club. Less than four weeks removed from his 26.2-mile victory at the US Trials in Los Angeles, Rupp struggled to cope with the pace laid down by Andy Bayer, Lopez Lomong, Ryan Hill and Evan Jager, who passed 1000m in a swift 2:31.82.
Rupp became detached from the leading pack in the second kilometre as Lomong took over, leading through 2000 metres in 5:06.60 before stepping off the track and handing over to teammate Evan Jager. However it was the fast-finishing Hill who was to benefit most from his teammates’ efforts, the 26-year-old surging to the front on the penultimate lap and holding off the late charge of Paul Chelimo to take a narrow victory in 7:38.60 to Chelimo's 7:39.00.
“I never really know how to plan the last 1000m, so I just decided to take the lead a little earlier than the last lap,” said Hill. “I knew I had to give it my all. I’m going to take it easy for the next few days, maybe do one workout, then hopefully come back and put in a good performance next weekend.”
Erik Jenkins was third in 7:41.19, with three-time world indoor champion Bernard Lagat just failing to make the US team in fourth (7:41.25). Rupp finished eighth in 7:48.34. “I was obviously a little tired from it,” said Rupp. “I have no regrets. I’m glad I came back and gave it a shot, but the marathon takes it out of you.”
For Rupp’s Oregon Project teammate Shannon Rowbury, there were no such worries, and she underlined her medal potential ahead of next weekend when sprinting to victory in the 3000m in 8:55.65 ahead of Abbey D’Agostino (8:57.31) and Shalaya Kipp (8:59.31).
“I’ve been doing a lot of strength work this winter and in recent weeks I’ve done some speed, so I’ve given myself a lot of tools,” said Rowbury, who will also contest the 1500m on Saturday and choose between the two next weekend. “It’s now a case of seeing how they stack up against the best in the world.”
Kendricks shows class
Sam Kendricks was another to underline his medal potential when clearing 5.90m to win the men’s pole vault, putting him well clear of runner-up Mike Arnold (5.60m) and Sam Pierson (5.50m). Erik Kynard bowed out of the high jump victorious after clearing 2.29m on his first attempt, with his closest rival Bryan McBride only managing 2.26m.
Elsewhere on Friday, Ashton Eaton proved he is every bit as tough as he is talented with less than one week to go before he defends his world indoor heptathlon crown. Eaton was well off his best in his opening event of the day, the men’s 60m, finishing eighth in his heat in 6.80, and while conversing with his coach alongside the pole vault competition, he was struck in the head by a falling crossbar. However, after some stitches and bandaging were applied backstage in the arena, Eaton emerged for the long jump, in which he finished sixth in 7.60m.
The women's 60m hurdles produced a remarkable qualifying round, with seven women dipping below eight seconds, led by Janay DeLoach with 7.88. The heats of the men's 400m were led by Vernon Norwood, who blitzed the field to win in 45.81, while Natasha Hastings was the fastest of the women with 51.79.
Michael Rogers was the fastest qualifier in the men’s 60m, edging long jumper Jeffery Henderson in the first of three heats, 6.56 to 6.58. Marvin Bracy split the difference in the final heat, cruising to victory in 6.57, while Trayvon Bromell looked at ease when winning the second heat in 6.64.
In the women’s triple jump, Christina Epps was the only athlete to surpass 14 metres, her best effort of 14.05m proving more than enough to take gold ahead of Tory Franklin (13.66m) and Imani Oliver (13.59m).
Gwen Berry reigned supreme in the women’s weight throw, her best mark of 24.35m giving her 16cm to spare over runner-up Amber Campbell, while the men’s title went to Colin Dunbar, who threw 23.96m to take gold ahead of A.G. Kruger (23.24m).
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF