USATF championships 2015

lot of stuff going on at the USATF Championship in Eugene Weather was Hot so were the athletes

Jenna Prandini was all business as she settled into the starting blocks, not even cracking a smile when she was introduced to roaring applause.

It took just 22.20 seconds for her mood to change.

The Oregon star raised both arms high into the air right as she hit the tape at the finish line and then pumped her fist when her winning time in the 200 meters went up on the scoreboard.

On the final day of the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in front of a crowd of 10,746, Prandini finally got her ticket to Beijing for the IAAF World Championships in August.

Two days after finishing sixth in the 100 final, the Oregon junior dominated the 200 Sunday. She reset her own school record and became the second collegian to win a U.S. title in the 200.

“The feeling is kind of indescribable,” Prandini said. “It hasn’t really hit me right now. I’m thrilled. I couldn’t be any happier and I’m really happy to go to Beijing.”

All along, the race was Prandini’s to lose. She ran the fastest time during the prelims Saturday with a wind-aided 22.18. She came out Sunday and again ran the fastest time during the semifinals in 22.44.

Then came the finals, and Prandini dominated again.

“I was really focused before the race and I just wanted to get it done and do what I knew I could do,” said Prandini, who was second in the 200 at the last two NCAA outdoor championships.

“I just got out hard and worked that curve and once I came off the curve I had to stay relaxed,” Prandini said. “In other 200s I’ve had a problem with tightening up at the end and I was able to stay calm, stay relaxed and finish that race.”

Candyce McGrone was second in 22.38 and Jeneba Tarmoh was third in 22.44.

Teenage pro Kaylin Whitney was fourth in 22.47 and NCAA champion Dezerea Bryant from Kentucky faded to fifth in 22.48.

With her win, Prandini joins current teammate Jasmine Todd and former teammates English Gardner and Phyllis Francis heading to the World Championships.

Todd qualified in both the 100 and long jump, Gardner made it in the 100 as well, and Francis will compete in the 400.

Prandini, who was already qualified for the 4x100 relay pool, was forced to watch Todd and Gardner celebrate after their big night Friday. She used her disappointment as a driving force Sunday.

“I was in the relay pool but I didn’t have my ticket punched to Beijing,” Prandini said. “I definitely wanted to get out there and get my own individual event. It was definitely extra motivation.”

She also got a little pep talk from Oregon assistant coach Curtis Taylor on Sunday morning before the meet began.

“He said ‘You can do it. Visualize running around that track with a flag in your hand,’” Prandini said. “He had all the confidence in the world in me and I know he’s the best coach I could ever ask for.”

In the end, Prandini got to take that victory lap.

“(Visualizing is) nowhere close to the real thing,” Prandini said. “It’s awesome to be able to hold this flag. It’s like a dream come true.”

Also Sunday, Texas A&M sophomore Shamier Little continued to be the dominant figure in the women’s 400 hurdles, winning the title in 53.83 to become the first to sweep the NCAA and U.S. championships in the same season since UCLA’s Sheena Johnson in 2004.

Little is the current world leader 53.74.

“It’s getting more and more exciting,” said Little, who was the World Junior champion last summer. “I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the next few years.”

Cassandra Tate finished second in 54.01 and 2014 champion Kori Carter was third 54.41.

Men’s 110 Hurdles Final

David Oliver win in 13.04, followed by Ronnie Ash (13.13) and Aries Merritt (13.19).

Women’s 1,500 Final

Jenny Simpson wins in 4:14.86 while Nike Oregon Project’s Shannon Rowbury is second (4:14.99). Keri Gallagher is third (4:15.81). OTC Elite’s Lauren Johnson is fourth (4:16.08) and Nike Oregon Project’s Treniere Moser and Mary Cain are, respectively, sixth (4:16.18) and eighth (4:16.77).

Women’s 200 Final

Oregon junior Jenna Prandini wins in school-record 22.20. Prandini is only the second collegian to win the U.S. women’s 200. Candyce McGrone takes second (22.38) and Jeneba Tarmoh is third (22.44).

Men’s 200 Final

Justin Gatlin wins in 19.57. Isiah Young is second (19.93) and Wallace Spearmon is third (20.10).

Men’s 3,000 Steeplechase Final

Nike-Bowerman’s Evan Jager wins in 8:12.29. Donald Cabral finishes second (8:13.37) and Daniel Huling takes third (8:14.11).


Men’s Triple Jump Final

Omar Craddock wins with a mark of 57-6¼. Will Claye is second (57-4¼) and Marquis Dendy is third (56-6½).

Women’s Pole Vault Final

Jen Suhr wins the women’s pole vault after clearing 15-9¾. Sandi Morris of Arkansas is second (15-3) and Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin is third (15-1). Former Duck and UO record-holder Becky Holliday finishes tied for seventh (14-5¼) and former Duck Melissa Gergel is tied for 14th (13-11¼).

Men’s 800 Final

Former Springfield runner Nick Symmonds wins in 1:44.53. Erik Sowinski takes second (1:44.84) and Casimir Loxsom is third (1:45.35).

Women’s 800 Final

Alysia Montano wins in 1:59.15. Brenda Martinez captures second (1:59.71) and Ajee’ Wilson is third (2:00.05).

Men’s Shot Put Final

Joe Kovacs wins with a toss of 71-8. Christian Cantwell is second (71-0) and Jordan Clarke takes third (70-6¼).

Women’s High Jump Final

Chaunte Lowe wins with a jump of 6-3¼. Elizabeth Patterson takes second (6-2) and Amy Acuff is third (6-2). UO’s Lauren Crockett finishes tied for seventh (5-10).

Heptathlon (final day)

Barbara Nwaba wins with 6,500 points. Sharon-Day Monroe is second (6,458) and Erica Bougard is third (6,288).

Women’s 400 Hurdles Final

Shamier Little of Texas A&M captured first in 53.83. She was followed by Cassandra Tate (54.01) and Kori Carter.

Men’s 200 Semifinals

Justin Gatlin (19.90), Isiah Young (20.19) and Wallace Spearmon (20.30) are the three top qualifiers for the final at 2:22 p.m. today.

Men’s 5,000 Final

Ryan Hill wins in 13:50.69 as first four runners finish within a second of each other. Benjamin True is second (13:51.09) and Olympic silver medalist and Oregon Nike Project runner Galen Rupp is third (13:51.54). UO senior and NCAA indoor champion Eric Jenkins is seventh (13:56.16). Former Duck A.J. Acosta was entered but did not run.

Women’s 5,000 Final

Nicole Tully wins in 15:06.44. Marielle Hall is second (15:06.45) and Abbey D’Agostino is third (15:06.59). They were followed by two Bowerman Track Club runners, Emily Infield in fourth (15:07.18) and American record-holder Shalane Flanagan in fifth (15:10.02). Former Duck and OTC Elite’s Alexi Pappas was 13th (15:48.26). Nike Oregon Project runner Shannon Rowbury, who is running the 1,500 later today, was entered but did not run.

Men’s 20,000 Race Walk Final

John nunn of the U.S. Army won in 1:28:39.48). Nick Christie captured second (1:30:51.69) and Patrick Stroupe was third (1:31:28.34.

Women’s 20,000 Race Walk Final

Miranda Melville won in 1:36:33.99, followed by Maria Michta-Coffey (1:38:45.92) and Katie Burnett (1:40:00.57). South Eugene grad and Bowerman Track Club member Erin Gray was disqualified.

Women’s 200 Semifinals

Men’s 110 Hurdles Semifinals

Top three qualifiers were David Oliver (13.08), Jason Richardson (13.12) and Aleec Harris (13.17) for the final at 2:52 p.m. today.

Women’s 200 Semifinals

Oregon junior Jenna Prandini clocks the fastest time (22.44) going into the final at 2:31 p.m. today. She’s followed by Kaylin Whitney (22.49) and Dezerea Bryant (22.62).

There was a gum show Sunday at Hayward Field.

As Nick Symmonds prepared to cross the finish line in the 800-meter final at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships for his sixth U.S. title, the gregarious local favorite flexed his biceps for the cameras and the crowd of 10,746.

It was free advertising for Symmonds, who has the logo of his Eugene-based Run Gum company tattooed on his arms.

A year earlier, after his highly successful relationship with Nike and the Oregon Track Club Elite had come to an end, a physically battered Symmonds watched the event from his couch while contemplating retirement.

“I was 30 and my body was broken,” Symmonds said after gutting out the victory with a time of 1 minute, 44.53 seconds. “I had never suffered an injury like that before and I just thought I was too old to keep running at this level. I’ve gone through some real self doubt in my career.”

Symmonds said competing for the Seattle-based Brooks Running Company has breathed some new life into his career. He had just enough oxygen to get by runner-up Erik Sowinski (1:44.84) down the stretch.

Duane Solomon, owner of the previous two U.S. titles, promised and delivered a blistering pace before hitting a wall with 50 meters left.

“(Solomon) took it to the twilight zone,” Symmonds said. “All morning I’m just like, ‘Prepare yourself for the fight, you’ve got to be willing to be up and close to the action.’ At 150 meters into the race I was like, ‘You are not doing that.’”

Symmonds wisely took his pedal off the gas and methodically started to pick off one member of the pack at a time with about 300 meters remaining.

“I always say if I can be on the leader’s shoulder with 150 meters to go, I like my chances,” Symmonds said. “I moved up onto Erik Sowinski’s shoulders, we moved shoulder to shoulder for about 20 to 30 meters and I finally broke him.

“Then it was just about how do I celebrate this.”

Casimir Loxsom finished third in 1:45.35 to earn the final spot for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing. Clayton Murphy, who finished third in the NCAA Outdoor Championships two weeks earlier at Hayward Field, was fourth, setting an Akron school record (1:45.59).

“The pace was a little hot,” Loxsom said. “I was happy to hold on for the third-place spot.”

Solomon eventually crossed the finish line in 3:08.74 after his strategy backfired.

“The last 100 I just could not control my body at all. There was nothing I could do, my body just wanted to slow down,” Solomon said. “I got to the point where I was almost blacking out. I just had to stop, I had nothing left, I could barely walk to the line.”

In the women’s 800 final, Alysia Montano — who ran eight months pregnant at last year’s outdoor national championships — won with a time of 1:59.15.

Then Montano did Steph and Riley Curry-style interviews with her 9-month-old daughter, Linnea.

“I’ve had a couple of ups and downs in the postpartum journey,” said Montano, who is still breastfeeding and easing her way back into the sport with limited training. “I knew that I would be able to make it back. The national championship? I didn’t know it would happen this soon, but I believed.”

Montano finished last year’s race in 2:32.13 when her goal was not to be the first elite athlete lapped in the 800. On Sunday, the 29-year-old just wanted to use her experience to get back on the podium.

“I think honestly what’s given me this championship is being able to have perspective and faith in my ability to compete without really knowing where my fitness is,” said Montano, who tied Madeline Manning for most wins in the 800 with six.

Brenda Martinez (1:59.71) was the runner-up. Ajee Wilson (2:00.05), despite losing a shoe with 200 meters to go, finished third to qualify for the world championships.

Maggie Vessay, a pre-race podium favorite, fell down and eventually finished in 3:14.92.

Galen Rupp accomplished his primary goal of qualifying for the IAAF World Championships in two events.

He almost accomplished so much more.

Rupp was leading the men’s 5,000-meter final coming into the home straight but was passed by both Ryan Hill and Ben True before reaching the finish line on Sunday during the final day of action at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championship meet at Hayward Field.

Hill won the slow, tactical race in 13 minutes, 50.69 seconds. True was second in 13:51.09.

Rupp, who won his seventh-consecutive 10,000 title on Thursday, was third in 13:51.54.

“To get on both teams was the goal, first and foremost,” said Rupp, 29, a member of Nike Oregon Project in Portland. “I was able to win the 10K, which is obviously great. I was hoping to win today, but like I said, qualifying was the No. 1 thing I needed to do.”

This is the fourth time the former Oregon star has qualified for the World Championships in both distance races.

He was also third in the 5,000 in 2011 and second in 2013. He completed the 10,000/5,000 sweep in 2012 before going on to win silver in the 10,000 at the London Olympics.

“I knew what it was going to be like going in,” Rupp said. “It’s not the first time I’ve doubled. I had to take care of business on Thursday first.”

Hill qualified for his second World Championship team with the victory. He finished third at the U.S. outdoor meet in 2013.

He took the lead with a strong kick in the last 100 meters.

“Perfect race for me,” said Hill, who trains with the Bowerman Track Club in Portland. “The pace and the gradual buildup to a hard finish, it’s really what I wanted, and then to be able to be in the top five almost the whole time and never lose the race, it just played out perfectly for me today.”

True, who finished second to Rupp in the 10,000, won’t run the longer race at the World Championships, he said. He’ll focus on the 5,000 instead, though he still needs the World Championships standard of 13:23.

Also in the race was 40-year-old Bernard Lagat, the American record-holder who finished in 10th at 13:59.48 and failed to make his fifth World Championships team for the United States, and sixth overall.

Eric Jenkins, who just completed a standout senior season at Oregon, finished seventh in 13:56.16.

“Man, that was tough,” said Jenkins, who now runs for Nike. “I just felt a little flat, a little tired. It’s been a long year. I definitely could’ve ran a smarter race. I hung out in the back too much, and you can’t do that. You might be able to get away with that in an NCAA 10K, but you can’t do that up at this level.”

Also Sunday, Evan Jager won his fourth consecutive men’s 3,000 steeplechase.

The American record-holder, who competes for the Bowerman Track Club, won in 8:12.29.

Donald Cabral was second in 8:13.37, and Dan Huling was third in 8:14.11.

Gatlin wins 200 with fastest time ever at US championships

By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer Published: Jun 28, 2015 at 6:25 PM PDT
Gatlin wins 200 with fastest time ever at US championships
Jenna Prandini, second from left, celebrates after winning the 200-meter at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., Sunday, June 28, 2015. From left to right are: Kaylin Whitney, Prandini, Dezerea Bryant and Kyra Jefferson. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Moments after crossing the finish line, Justin Gatlin turned to his left and pointed at the clock to make sure everyone noticed what he just did.

Hard to miss that time. Somewhere, a certain Jamaican sprinter is no doubt hearing about it, too.

Gatlin breezed to the 200-meter title at the U.S. championships in a meet-record 19.57 seconds Sunday. He dominated a race in which he had the lead coming off the turn. It was all over after that, given how he has been running lately and that his legs were feeling particularly fresh.

"I wanted to go out and make a statement and that's what I did today," Gatlin said. "That's probably one of the best races I've had."

Training partner Isiah Young was second, 0.36 seconds behind, and 30-year-old Wallace Spearmon third as he rounds back up to speed after sports hernia surgery.

In the women's 200, Oregon standout Jenna Prandini won in 22.20. Candyce McGrone was second and Jeneba Tarmoh third.

Gatlin shattered his previous best of 19.68, which he set last July in Monaco and then matched last month here at Hayward Field. Tyson Gay, the 100 winner who skipped the 200, set the previous meet record of 19.62 in 2007.

And just so you know: Michael Johnson has the American record (19.32) and Usain Bolt the world record (19.19).

"I'm just honored to say I'm on that short list of Americans who have ran that fast," Gatlin said.

The 33-year-old Gatlin was so quick in the opening round that his competitors were jokingly telling him to slow it down. He was simply eager to begin because he skipped the 100 because he had an automatic bye into the world championships courtesy of his Diamond League title.

He's now set up for a showdown in both events with Bolt in Beijing later this summer.

First, though, some rest. Running that time left him drained.

"My body has never been there before," said Gatlin, the controversial sprinter who returned in 2010 after serving a four-year doping ban. "It hurt.

"But I'm feeling really good now."

Soon, it's back to work for Gatlin in an effort to catch Bolt, who skipped Jamaican nationals because he has automatic byes into both events as the world champion.

"A lot of sprinters are waking up and saying, 'It's time to fight back. It's time to work hard and bear that American flag with honor,'" Gatlin said.

Spearmon returns to the Bird's Nest in Beijing, a place that doesn't hold pleasant memories. He captured bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before being disqualified for stepping outside his lane.

"Unfinished work," Spearmon said.

Much like Gatlin, Prandini got a lead and never looked back.

"To go out there and actually put together my race and to come away with a win is exciting," Prandini said.

There were several touching moments at nationals on the final day, things like Chaunte Lowe giving her American flag to a military veteran after she won the high jump.

Then there's Alysia Montano, who ran the 800 at nationals last summer 7 1/2 pregnant and finished in 2:32.13. On Sunday, she carried 10-month-old Linnea in her arms after winning the event in 1:59.15.

"My greatest accomplishment was sharing an amazing moment with my daughter (last year)," Montano said.

There was a little drama in the men's shot put, with runner-up finisher Christian Cantwell perturbed over winner Joe Kovacs taking two extra practice throws before the final.

"I thought it was a little bush league," said Cantwell, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist.

Kovacs brushed it off.

"I just like getting Christian mad," cracked Kovacs, who celebrated his 26th birthday Sunday.

Other things to know from Sunday:

NEON BRIGHT: Wearing a bright bow in her hair, Texas A&M's Shamier Little became the first to win the 400 hurdles nationals and NCAA championships in the same season since Sheena Johnson (UCLA) in 2004.

MISSING MISSISSIPPI: TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna said there was no "political statement" by not flying the Mississippi flag all week at Hayward Field. Every state was represented in a bank of flags except Mississippi, which has the Confederate flag in one corner.

THIRD PLACE: Galen Rupp caped off a tumultuous week by taking third in the 5,000, less than a second behind winner Ryan Hill. Rupp won the 10,000 on Thursday amid allegations that coach Alberto Salazar encouraged him and others to skirt anti-doping rules.

AROUND THE TRACK: 110 hurdler David Oliver overcame a slow start to win the event. ... Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Suhr won the pole vault by clearing 15 feet, 9 3/4 inches. ... Nick Symmonds flexed as he crossed the line to win the 800. ... Barbara Nwaba edged Sharon Day-Monroe by 42 points for the heptathlon crown.

With the 2015 USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in the books, here's a look at the athletes who will be headed to Beijing to compete in the 2015 IAAF World Championships, which are set for Aug. 22-30.

These athletes earned their spots by finishing in the top three in their events at the U.S. championships at Hayward Field in Eugene. Some athletes have automatic bids to the world championships, and so in those events the United States can send four athletes.

Note: Athletes in parentheses have NOT met the world championships standard and have until Aug. 9 to do so. If they don't meet the standard, then athletes who finished behind them at the U.S. championships and have met the standard will claim spots in Beijing.

(Athletes with Oregon and southwest Washington connections in bold)


100 meters: Tyson Gay, Trayvon Bromell, Mike Rodgers, Justin Gatlin (auto bid)

200 meters: Justin Gatlin, Isiah Young, Wallace Spearmon

400 meters: David Verburg, LaShawn Merritt (auto bid), Vernon Norwood, Bryshon Nellum

800 meters: Nick Symmonds, Erik Sowinski, Casimir Loxsom

1,500 meters: – Matthew Centrowitz, (Robby Andrews), (Leonel Manzano), Ben Blankenship, Kyle Merber (6th)

3,000 steeplechase: Evan Jager, Donn Cabral, Daniel Huling

5,000 meters: Ryan Hill, (Ben True), Galen Rupp, Garrett Heath

10,000 meters: Galen Rupp, Ben True, Hassan Mead

110 hurdles: David Oliver (auto bid), Ronnie Ash, Aries Merritt, Aleec Harris

400 hurdles: Bershawn Jackson, Johnny Dutch, Kerron Clement, Michael Tinsley (auto bid)

20k race walk: (John Nunn), (Nick Christie), (Patrick Stroupe)

50k race walk: John Nunn, (Nick Christie), (Patrick Stroupe)

High jump: Erik Kynard, JaCorian Duffield, Jesse Williams

Pole vault: Sam Kendricks, Brad Walker, Jake Blankenship

Long jump: Marquis Dendy, Jeff Henderson, Mike Hartfield

Triple jump: Omar Craddock, Will Claye, Marquis Dendy, Christian Taylor (auto bid)

Shot put: Joe Kovacs, Christian Cantwell, Jordan Clarke, Reese Hoffa (auto bid)

Discus: Jared Schuurmans, (Russ Winger), (Andrew Evans), Rodney Brown, Chase Madison (7th)

Hammer: Kibwe Johnson, Conor McCullough, A.G. Kruger

Javelin: Sean Furey, (Riley Dolezal), (Sam Crouser), Tim Glover

Decathlon: Trey Hardee, Jeremy Taiwo, Zach Ziemek, Ashton Eaton (auto bid)


100 meters: Tori Bowie, English GardnerJasmine Todd

200 meters: Jenna Prandini, Candyce McGrone, Jeneba Tarmoh, Allyson Felix (auto bid)

400 meters: Allyson Felix, Natasha Hastings, Phyllis Francis

800 meters: Alysia Montano, Brenda Martinez, Ajee Wilson

1,500 meters: Jenny Simpson (auto bid), Shannon Rowbury, (Keri Gallagher),(Lauren Johnson)Treniere Moser (6th)

3,000 steeplechase: Emma Coburn, Stephanie Garcia, Colleen Quigley

5,000 meters: Nicole Tully, Marielle Hall, Abbey D'Agostino

10,000 meters: Molly Huddle, Shalane FlanaganEmily Infeld

100 hurdles: Dawn Harper-Nelson, Keni Harrison, Sharika Nelvis, Brianna Rollins (auto bid)

400 hurdles: Shamier Little, Cassandra Tate, Kori Carter

20k race walk: Miranda Melville, Maria Michta-Coffey, (Katie Burnett)

High jump: (Chaunte Lowe), (Liz Patterson), (Amy Acuff)

Pole vault: Jenn Suhr, Sandi Morris, Demi Payne

Long jump: Tianna Bartoletta, Brittney Reese (auto bid), Janay DeLoach, Jasmine Todd

Triple jump: (Christina Epps), (April Sinkler), (Keturah Orji)

Shot put: Michelle Carter, Tia Brooks, Jeneva Stevens

Discus: Gia Lewis-Smallwood, Whitney Ashley, Shelbi Vaughan

Hammer: Amber Campbell, Deanna Price, Amanda Bingson

Javelin: Kara Winger, Brittany Borman, (Hannah Carson)

Heptathlon: Barbara Nwaba, Sharon Day-Monroe, Erica Bougard

Athletics | International

Tyson Gay with Justin Gatlin © Gallo Images

US ready to end 100m drought

29 June 2015, 10:08

A strong and hungry group of US sprinters is ready to end a long American drought.

The once dominant country has not won a global title in the 100 metres since 2007, but that could change at the IAAF world championships in Beijing in August.

Led by year's fastest man Justin Gatlin, the US squad finalised at the weekend's American trials is loaded with talent to challenge the world.

"The US team will be the strongest for some years," internationally recognised athletics expert Mel Watman told Reuters when asked to assess the overall strength of the American team.

"At the 2013 worlds the US won only six gold medals but in Beijing I wouldn't be surprised if your athletes won double that number."

Along with Gatlin, former world champion Tyson Gay, the last US sprinter to hold a global title, promising teenager Trayvon Bromell and veteran Mike Rodgers, all will be in the 100m at Beijing.

"I think a lot of (US) sprinters are waking up and understanding that it's time to fight back," said Gatlin, who had a bye in the 100m at the trials but ran a scorching 19.57 seconds in the 200m.

Only four men have ever run faster.

"It's time to go out there and work hard and bear that American flag with honour," said the controversial Gatlin, who has served two doping bans.

"I think a lot of us are doing that, Bromell, Tyson, myself, even Isiah Young in the 200, Wallace Spearmon.

"We're going out there and we're going to be ready when it comes to world championships."

The group's speed in both sprints – Gatlin, Young and Spearmon will run the 200m – has given the Americans hopes of dethroning an underperforming Usain Bolt, who has won all but one global 100m title since 2007. The other went to Jamaican compatriot Yohan Blake.

There is strength too on the women's side with English Gardner sharing the year's top time in the 100m and London Olympic gold medallist Allyson Felix the outright leader in the 200.

Along with Gatlin, Felix, Gardner and Olympic pole vault champion Jenn Suhr, the Americans leave their trials with nine other athletes with the top performances in the world this year.

"A nice blend of youth and experience, as typified in the sprints where you have proven big-time winners like Gatlin (33), Gay (32) and Felix (29) lining up with wonderful newcomers to the international scene such as Bromell (19) and Jenna Prandini (22)," said Watman.

"The strength in depth in numerous events was awesome.

"No other nation could match 12 men inside 10.00 seconds for 100m (admittedly some wind assisted), six inside 45 seconds for 400m, five long jumpers over 8.30m, nine women inside 11.00 seconds for 100m, and six 100m hurdlers inside 12.70 seconds."

Eugene the host with the most

Created on Monday, 29 June 2015 00:42 | Written by Kerry Eggers | Print

EUGENE — TrackTown USA has its sobriquet for a reason.

It's consensus, if not unanimous, opinion that Eugene stages a track and field meet better than any other city in the country.

The U.S. Track and Field Association has acknowledged the city's superiority through the years by staging its major meets here.

The Olympic Trials have been held in Eugene in 1972, '76, '80, '08 and '12 and will be here in '16.

The U.S. Championships have been here in seven of the last 16 meets dating from 1999, including 2009, '11 and '15.

The NCAA Championships began a nine-year run at Hayward Field in 2013 that will extend to 2021.

Some college coaches question whether the latter event should be annually placed in Eugene, giving University of Oregon teams a decided advantage in attempting to win a team title.

The College Baseball World Series has a permanent location in Omaha, Neb., and the College Softball World Series has been held in Oklahoma City each year since 1997. But neither locale has a host team competing for a championship.

"We're not baseball, we're not softball," Florida track coach Mike Holloway said before the recent NCAA meet in Eugene. "We're coming here to compete against the best team in the country, and that makes it a little more difficult. I have to travel further than anybody. It takes 16 or 17 hours to come here and try to beat a team (with athletes) who slept in their own beds."

Like Holloway, Texas A&M coach Pat Henry praised Eugene's ability to stage a premier meet and the reception by the fans. He said keeping the city as the host site makes sense for now.

"Somebody else has to step up to the plate and say, 'We can do something similar to what they're doing in Eugene,'" Henry said. "I don't know who that is, and somebody has to prove that they can do it.

"Right now, this is very good for the sport. I just wish this site didn't have a horse in the race."

Former Oregon coach Vin Lananna, now president of TrackTown USA, has his opinion on the subject.

"The best place to have the NCAAs is in this community," he said. "I would bet if someone would ask the coaches of the majority of those teams -- instead of asking the same coaches every time -- you'd get a different answer. In a poll done by the NCAA, (the coaches') No. 1 importance is competing in front of a full stadium."

Is there another city in which crowds can approximate what they are at Hayward?

"Right now there isn't," Lananna said, "but I hope there will be."

With 10,746 on hand for Sunday's final day of the recent USTFA Championships, four-day attendance figures were 38,795, an average of nearly 9,700 per session. Crowd counts for the NCAA meet were similar.

All of those interviewed during the USTFA meet lauded Eugene's performance in staging the meet. There were varying opinions, however, of whether it should be a permanent spot for such events as the NCAA Championships.

"There are so many athletes who look at Eugene as a destination where they want to come to for big meets," said Dan O'Brien, the former decathlon Olympic champion and world record-holder who served as a television analyst during the USTFA meet. "Fans here are more knowledgeable and more enthusiastic than about anywhere they go. The fans work together. They take the initiative from the beginning and say, 'We're going to lift these athletes up and help them perform.'

"The only drawback you hear about Eugene is hotel space and that there is not a central gathering place in the evenings for the athletes. They want to meet up on Main Street or the hot spots in town. That's the only thing that's missing here. But the positives far outweigh the negatives."

O'Brien said he is uncomfortable with one city as permanent host, mentioning that Fayetteville, Ark., was host of the NCAA Indoor Championships for nine straight years.

"There's no doubt there are some advantages here for the Oregon Ducks, just like there were for the Arkansas Razorbacks indoors," he said. "Arkansas won a few indoor championships because it was at their place. The same thing happens here. Oregon athletes don't have to travel, they sleep in their own beds, they're familiar with their surroundings. But if you ask where else would you want it that would have the stadium feel or the atmosphere, no place comes to mind."

Distance runners Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan love big meets in Eugene, but wouldn't mind seeing them spread throughout the country.

"I'll never say anything bad about Eugene," Goucher said. "They always do an excellent job. It's no coincidence that the NCAAs, the Prefontaine Classic, the U.S. Championships are all here right in a row.

"A lot of cities do a great job -- Des Moines (Iowa), Sacramento, Indianapolis. But there's something about Eugene that is unique. The athletes are embraced here. There's a lot of history here, and the knowledge in the crowds."

Having the NCAA meet in Eugene nine straight years, though, "is a little bit in excess," she said. "The fans will come to other places, too. Eugene could work with the other cities -- this is our model and how it works. I understand why Eugene always gets it, but the love could be shared and inspire the younger generation in other cities across America."

"Eugene has a world-class facility and fans," said Flanagan, the Portland runner who will compete in the 10,000 at the World Championships. "All the athletes feel fortunate when they get to compete here. People here are really into track. That's important to us."

But Flanagan, who grew up in Boston, thinks there are other cities that could serve as host.

"It's good to diversify and spread it out," she said. "There are some good venues on the East Coast that need to be explored, like (New York's) Icahn Stadium or (Franklin Field) in Philadelphia. The Boston Marathon is one of the biggest events of the year. There are a lot of fans there. Flip flop the meets from east to west every year, and it might be a good rivalry for who can host the best meet."

There are those, though, who think keeping the major meets in Eugene makes sense.

"This is the best place to compete," veteran shot putter Reese Hoffa said. "Great atmosphere. They draw great crowds. Everything about it is awesome. If other places want to have an NCAA meet, they have to compete with what they can pull off here."

"Right now, it's the only place that the U.S. championships and Olympic Trials should be," said Ryan Hill, the national champion at 5,000. "No other venue or fan base has stepped up near the level that Hayward and Eugene does. It's completely deserving to always be here."

"The nationals and NCAAs should be here every year, if possible," veteran high jumper Amy Acuff said. "I don't think you move it around. Why change a good thing?"

Getting to the truth more complex than who you believe



Kara Goucher, the central figure in a BBC/ProPublica report on alleged questionable use of prescription drugs by NOP's Alberto Salazar, finished 18th in the 5,000-meter final on day four of the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene on Sunday, June 28, 2015. (Carl Davaz/The Register-Guard)

Listening to Kara Goucher, looking into her eyes and hearing her voice, one thing is clear.

Goucher believes what she’s saying. She bears compelling witness and says she’ll be happy to do so under oath if asked.

“I would welcome that opportunity,” Goucher said. “I would welcome that opportunity for myself, for every former Oregon Project member, for every doctor that’s been involved ... to go under oath, I would welcome that opportunity.”

Talking to Alberto Salazar and Galen Rupp, reading their words and hearing their voices, another thing is clear. To the extent that it’s possible to know another person’s thoughts, they seem convinced of their innocence. They believe they’ve followed the rules and defy anyone to prove otherwise.

“I’ve got nothing to hide,” Rupp said.

That was the scene Sunday morning at Hayward Field, where the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships concluded in much the same way they began: with questions about the Nike Oregon Project and its alleged experiments with performance-enhancing drugs.

Goucher, the former Oregon Project athlete who gave voice to those allegations in a report from ProPublica and the BBC, made her first comments to reporters at large after finishing 18th in the 5,000 meters.

Her voice wavering at times, Goucher recounted the personal toll of going public. Some of the harshest words came in a written response from Salazar, the coach she once counted as a father figure.

That relationship has soured, probably beyond repair. Goucher, who left the Oregon Project in 2011, said she hasn’t spoken to Salazar since the report was published.

“I know who I’m dealing with, so I knew it would get ugly,” said Goucher, who claims Salazar pressured her to take a prescription thyroid medication for competitive purposes.

“... People think I’m a liar, a manipulator. That sucks. I mean, that sucks. But I care more about the sport and the future of the sport.”

Knowing the backlash that awaited, it’s hard to believe Goucher would go public unless she believed completely in the validity of her allegations. She speaks convincingly of “her truth” — the things she heard and saw that led her to believe the Oregon Project was guilty of cheating.

“They have their truth, and they have their reasons,” she said. “My experience is my experience, and I can only share that.”

This is where things get complicated, because no one in the report claims to have witnessed Rupp using steroids. Evidence linking him to testosterone is purely circumstantial: an outdated notation, a suspicious performance, a series of strange tests.

That doesn’t make the allegations untrue. The report’s strongest claims might ultimately be substantiated, but if I’m on the jury, the evidence isn’t strong enough to convict.

It’s possible the Oregon Project could adhere to the letter of the anti-doping code while doing things that made some athletes deeply uncomfortable. Those two statements are not mutually exclusive.

Medical need is a nebulous concept when you’re talking about professional athletes, who have a vested interest in conditioning their bodies to operate at peak efficiency. Most of us don’t aspire to perfect health, but it’s a different conversation when your livelihood can depend on a fraction of a second.

Some athletes would gladly find a reason to take a prescription medication if it helped them gain an edge. Others, like Goucher, support a more natural approach.

“I never knew you could put a needle in you and have it still be legal,” she said. “I believe we should have a no-needles policy. But unfortunately, we don’t.

“I think there needs to be some reform on what we allow our athletes to do,” she continued, “but I just know that the rules as they stand have been broken.”

That’s what the anti-doping authorities have to decide, and as convinced as both sides appear, there’s only one answer to the question.

When it comes to the truth, there’s no such thing as hers and theirs.

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