Only two athletes per event will get to don the red, white and blue at World Indoors in Portland on March 17 (except for the men's 60m, women's 60m hurdles and men's triple jump, thanks to the wild card victories by U.S. athletes) and for some contenders, this could be their first World Championship team.
Here are the young guns who have a chance to make Team USA.
Boris Berian, 800m
Boris Berian ran under 1:44 twice in 2015. It’s incredible when you consider his best time before last year was 1:48.89. After failing to make the U.S. Outdoor final in the event, Berian now has a year of professional experience under his belt and is one of two Americans (Berian and Donavan Brazier) with the IAAF standard.
He has two races to his name in 2016. An 800m victory of 1:46.00 at the Portland 'House of Track', and a 1:15.51 600m win at the New Balance Grand Prix. He made 1:46.00 look soo smooth, and because he is the only one entered with the standard (Brazier is running NCAAs), he will go on to represent the U.S. at the World Indoor Championships.
Berian after his 600m victory in February, where he talks about being unsponsored (Someone sponsor this man!!)
Vashti Cunningham, High Jump
Vashti Cunningham may still be in high school, but the road to Portland 2016 is looking pretty darn good. The 18-year-old senior has cleared 1.95m four times in 2016 in the high jump. Yes, she’s made a U.S. Junior squad before, but in this exciting Olympic year, Cunningham will look to be the youngest member of Team USA.
Cunningham owns both high school national records indoor and outdoor (1.96m) and shared the 1.95m indoor clearance with three-time Olympian Chaunte Lowe in Albuquerque on February 6. Cunningham beat Lowe, the American record-holder, on a countback. She isn’t just a favorite to make the team, she’s the favorite to win her first U.S. senior title. But you should really do more reading on the superstar high school senior HERE.
Laura Roesler, 800m
2016 has been good to Laura Roesler. The former Oregon NCAA Champion has bounced back from a season-ending injury that sidelined her throughout 2015. Her progression this season, 2:05.25, 2:04.04, 2:03.27, 2:02.18 and 2:00.49, proves that she is back to competing with the best in the country. Good news for Roesler is World bronze medalist Brenda Martinez, who finished directly in front of her at the Millrose Games, is opting for the 1500m in Portland.
Roesler speaks after running 2:00 for third place at the Millrose Games after a year of injury
Eric Jenkins, 3000m
This is by far one of the most difficult teams to make with Olympians, U.S. champions and Team USA members entered. Nike Oregon Project member Eric Jenkins, however, is looking to make a splash in his second U.S. Championship as a pro. Jenkins comes in with the third-best seed time, 7:39.43, behind U.S. champion Ryan Hill and World Champs 10k qualifier Hassan Mead. Of course he’ll have nearly the entire Bowerman Track Club after him (Hill, Evan Jager, Andy Bayer, Lopez Lomong) but Jenkins has proved to close with the best, only finishing less than a second behind Hill and Mead at the Millrose Games.
Jenkins' only loss of 2016 (besides his third place at Millrose) came to U.S. Army team member Paul Chelimo, who could be a dark horse to make Team USA. The 25-year-old Portland resident ran 7:44 and 3:42 at the House of Track and showed off his kick by beating Jenkins on January 22.
Watch Jenkins and Chelimo battle it out over 3000m
Amanda Eccleston, 1500m
Amanda Eccleston has been flying under the radar since graduating from the University of Michigan in 2013 (where she anchored the NCAA winning distance medley relay and finished fifth in the outdoor 1500m) but has chosen 2016 as her big breakout season. She lowered her 3000m (8:59) and mile (4:26) personal bests, and finished third in the prestigious Wanamaker Mile. Yes, she didn't make the U.S. final during 2015, but this indoor season has been about big racing for Eccleston. Just take a look at her mile win at this February's BU Valentine Invite.
Eccleston grabbed a huge personal best and victory in the mile at the BU Valentine Invitational