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Top Ten Performances at USA Outdoors

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   on Jun 30 2014, 09:31 PM

Who Came Up Big in Sacramento?

By Scott Bush

The USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships took place this past weekend, in case you missed it, and what a weekend it was in Sacramento. The best track and field athletes in the United States showed why America has the world’s best track and field team. As the second half of the track and field season starts up for the best in the U.S. over the coming weeks, lets reflect on the top ten performances of this past weekend.

10. Brittney Reese (long jump) – It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Reese won the USA Outdoor long jump title…again. Her win over the weekend in Sacramento was title number six for the Olympic gold medalist. Reese certainly faced strong competition in fellow American Tianna Bartletta, who entered the weekend with the top two best marks in the world with distances of 7.02m and 6.93m. Reese showed no fear, once again, coming away with a huge leap of 6.92m (#3 world) and showing she’ll be a force in the event in the second half of the Diamond League season.

9. Molly Huddle (5,000m) – Arguably the best race of the entire weekend, Huddle edged Shannon Rowbury for the women’s 5k title, 15:01.56-15:01.71. Huddle is simply on fire in 2014, already running sub-15 over in Europe and her big-time performance in Sacramento makes her the only woman in the world with two of the top eleven 5,000m performances on the season. Outkicking 1,500m medalist Rowbury is big and simply adds to the growing momentum Huddle is building.

8. Will Claye (triple jump) – Soaring through the warm air in Sacramento, Claye landed another winning performance, besting friendly rival Christian Taylor for the title. Claye’s 17.75m mark ranks him world #2 and gives the Nike sponsored athlete three of the top six marks of the 2014 season. Claye now holds four huge wins on the season, with Oslo, Rome, Pre and now USAs.

7. Ajee’ Wilson (800m) – Few fields possessed the amount of front running talent and depth as the women’s 800m. Wilson, going toe-to-toe with so many star talents in the event, came out on top. Turning 20 less than two months ago, Wilson continues to prove she’s the current and future leader in the event. She dominated this race, pulling away rather easily with 150m to go and cruising to a world #4 mark of 1:58.70. She’ll be challenged plenty the rest of the season in Europe, but winning a U.S. title in this event makes her an instant threat to win every race moving forward.

6. Jeff Henderson (long jump) – Most events in Sacramento had numerous individuals challenging for the win, but the men’s long jump was simply a runaway (or a leapaway). Henderson recorded three jumps, all farther than his competition could manage. Henderson popped 8.43m on his final attempt, landing him the third best mark of 2014 globally and clearly establishing him as the man to beat over the next two years.

5. Inika McPherson (high jump) – Between McPherson, Brigetta Barrett and Chaunté Lowe, the women’s high jump has three legit medal threats in the two year build-up to the Olympic Games in Rio. Barrett obviously earned some Olympic hardware last time around, but McPherson is the high jumper to watch in 2014. The 27 year old continues to improve, winning her first outdoor national title over the weekend, improving her personal best to 2.00m and proving she’s one of the very, very best in the world. Her winning effort currently ranks her #2 in the world.

4. Devon Allen (110m hurdles) – Allen just finished his freshman year at Oregon and he’s both an NCAA champ and USA champ. Wow! Allen seems to improve every single time he steps on the track and in Sacramento he didn’t just beat the field, he beat a crowded field of many of the most talented, experienced hurdlers in the world. Guys like David Oliver and Ryan Wilson are legit medal threats at World and Olympic events and Allen took it to them. He’ll undoubtedly play football again this fall, but fans are now left wondering if a pro career is not too far away.

3. Francena McCorory (400m) – On the up and up is the only way to describe McCorory at this point. McCorory dominated indoors, winning World gold, and is only continuing the dominance outdoors. She was runner-up three times over 400m heading into the weekend and third place in 2012. However, running a near perfect race, the 25 year old ran to her first outdoor title and the fastest time in the world, as she edged Sanya Richards-Ross 49.48-49.66. Equally as impressive, her mark now ranks her U.S. #4 all-time in the event.

2. Dawn Harper-Nelson (100m hurdles) – Americans are simply destroying the competition in the women’s 100m hurdles this season. Look at the IAAF lists and 18 of the top 20 marks in the world, and 26 of the top 30, are American. It’s a little ridiculous, as Harper-Nelson, Queen Harrison, Brianna Rollins and countless others continue to show the U.S. is simply stacked in the event. With that said, Harper-Nelson showed she’s the best in the world right now, besting the incredible field and currently holding three of the top four marks in the world.

1. Joe Kovacs (shot put) – Similar to the women’s 100m hurdles, Americans are owning the men’s shot put. A few months ago many would have predicted Joe Kovacs place fourth, fifth or sixth at USAs in the event, but what a difference a few weeks makes. Getting a confidence boost by winning his first Diamond League title in Oslo earlier in the month, Kovacs came to Sacramento eyeing his first national title. Not only did he come away with the crown, but he tossed the top put in the world with his 22.03m winning effort. A star is born!

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I like most of this analysis and I am happy to have something to debate (thanks for putting it out there Scott). I only disagree with 1-4-5-6. 6- Henderson is interesting because he has learned to compete well at US meets. If he puts the marks behind him at international meets he becomes a medal threat and possibly gold - big news! Bigger than #6. #5 - unless something seriously changes Barrett is the only threat because the other two aren't jumping consistently over 6-6. #4 Allen would have finished 4th or 5th in a year that mattered. Understand I have drunk the cool-aid, Allen's story is awesome, great guy, and it has been a joy the whole journey but we have all seen what football does to a guy. Allen will likely make bank in
football and track will fall aside.. #1- Kovacs is the real deal. He, Whiting and Roberts are the future. With Vanegas at his side we have seen what Art has done in the past. Kovacs was always part of the top three and the co-favorite with Hoffa coming into the meet. Storl will be the international favorite until he loses.
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