USATF Indoor Championships Day 1 Recap
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In front of a house that was over 90% full, field events took center stage at the first day of the USATF Indoor Championships, and the evening was capped by a pair of fast-finishing 3000 meter races won by hopefuls for Olympic gold.
In the field, AG Kruger, Amber Campbell, Jen Suhr and Jesse Williams all successfully defended their 2011 US Indoor championships, while Amanda Smock won her first US Indoor and Will Claye won his first senior USATF title of any kind.
On the track, Trevor Barron added a meet record to his resume, and World Champion Jen Simpson and former World Champion Bernard Lagat won their 3000 meter races.
AG Kruger won his weight throw title with a bit of work. Garland Porter took the early lead with a seasonal best of 23.27meters (76' 4¼"), then Kruger took over in the second round before being passed by Michal Mai's 23.91 meters (78' 5½"), a PR and good for 8th on the all-time US list. It wasn't until the fifth round that Kruger finally took the lead for good, when he hit 24.57 meters (80' 7½").
Amber Campbell did not have to wait as long to claim her weight throw victory. On her very first throw, she broke her own meet record, heaving the weight out to a personal record of 24.78 meters (81' 3¾"). Brittany Riley, the American Record holder and 2012 seasonal leader in this event, was relegated to a distant second, and an expected battle never materialized. Since the weight throw is not an international event, the indoor season is over for these men and women.
The next US indoor champion came in an event that doesn't usually merit much mention. Young Trevor Barron won the 3000 meter walk in 11:36.27, taking nearly a minute off the meet record (which sounds impressive until you find out that the 3k has been held at the indoor nationals just once and that 5k was the championship distance until last year). Still, it's a good outing at a mile of altitude, and proof that the USA has a relevant racewalker for the first time in several generations. With the walks having long ago been removed from the World Indoor Championships, Barron now turns his attention to the Olympic Trials.
Jen Suhr, fresh off a pole vault American Record three weeks ago, defended her title in a minimalist way. She opened at 4.57 meters and won the competition at 4.67 meters, then took three attempts at a record height of 4.90 meters (none were close to success). In Friday's pre-meet press conference, she revealed that she has been suffering from achilles pain but assured reporters that her heel is structurally sound. No wonder she jumped as little as possible. Afterwards, Suhr hinted that her health might impact a decision to go to the World Indoor Championships. Joining her on that team will be second-place Mary Saxer, with Lacy Janson as the alternate if Suhr withdraws.
Will Claye took the triple jump lead from his very first jump and never let go. He was the 2012 world leader entering the meet, from his 17.39 meter (57' ¾") win at the USATF Classic two weeks ago. He beat that three times tonight, topping it off with a fourth-round 17.63 meters (57' 10¼"). Christian Taylor, the reigning World Champion, had a foul-plagued night, getting just two marks, but a 17.21 meters (56' 5¾") in the third round put him more than two feet clear of third-place Aarik Wilson. The USA will have the toughest pair at the World Indoor Championships.
Jesse Williams, also a defending World Champion, had a bit of a rough night in the high jump. He struggled to win, going to his third attempt at both 2.26 meters (7' 5") and 2.29 meters (7' 6"), but got the job done. Afterwards he tweeted that he was very tired and looking forward to getting back to training. Joining him on the US team for the World Indoor Championships will be Jamie Nieto, who beat Keith Moffat on the countback, both clearing 2.26.
Amanda Smock won her first US Indoor triple jump championship by chipping away. After fouling on her first jump, Smock, the 2011 US outdoor champion, improved in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds. Not until that fifth round did she take the lead, and then by only a scant three centimeters (1¼ inches) over Erica McClain. This is the end of the indoor season for those two, as no American has achieved the World Indoor Championships qualifying standard.
The last two events of the night were the men's and women's 3000 meters. Jen Simpson, the defending World Champion at 1500 meters, was the elephant in the room, so to speak. No one wanted to lead early in the race, as everyone else took their cues from her. Later, a group of four headed off on their own: Simpson, Sara Hall, Lauren Bonds and Jackie Areson. Just after the bell for the last lap, Simpson took off and was never approached, finishing up with a 29.3 second last lap to clock 9:19.15. Hall held second until succumbing to Areson on the homestretch. Simpson is skipping the World Indoor Championships, and Areson has not achieved the qualifying standard, leaving Hall as our lone representative in Istanbul.
The feature race of the night was the men's 3000 meters, expected to be a ding-dong battle between Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp. Rupp led more or less from the gun, hitting laps in 31 seconds each (low-7:50 pace). Only Lagat and Lopez Lomong went with him. But at 2000 meters, his pace began to lag a bit, Lagat took over, and soon Rupp was off the back and gassed. With a bit over 150 meters to go, Lagat shot away in a display of power reminiscent of Peter Snell. Unpressed, his last 200 meters were covered in 25.4 seconds. Both ran under the World Indoor Championships standard, with Lagat in 7:47.54 and Lomong in 7:51.75, so presumably both will represent the USA.
Be sure to watch tomorrow's action in Albuquerque live on Runnerspace.com live from 2:00 PM (Eastern time) and on ESPN at 7:30 PM (Eastern time). To see my analysis of the VISA Championship Series jackpot race, go to my blog at tracksuperfan.com.