Fear and Loathing from Eugene, Day 2, June 22, 2024, Stories from the 2024 Olympic Trials, deep thoughts, semi-deep thoughts, kind of deep thoughts, Sha’Carri takes the 100m title! 

Eugene, Oregon

Well, hello, sports fans.

This is Larry Eder. It is day 5, an off day. I have spent much of the day trying to catch up on stories from our writing team and great photographs from Chuck Aragon and Kevin Morris.

I wanted to provide you with a synopsis of the championships day by day and explain why the Olympic Trials (my eleventh) and the Olympics (my tenth to cover, eighth to attend) are two of my favorite assignments.

This is Fear and Loathing from Eugene, Day 2 (yes, with homage to Hunter S. Thompson)

The second day, a warm Saturday, had a good crowd: about 11,800 paid. Add the coaches, athletes, volunteers, and security folks, and you are probably around 15,000.

That is a pretty darn crowd, considering the challenges for the average fan in getting here: Expensive air travel, hotel chains that want to make crazy money, and restaurants that do not stay open past 9 p.m., no matter what.

Add that up, and the folks who get here, some coming longer than me, are here because they love the Olympic Trials. The locals also have their challenges, and some seem to be staying away.

That is sad, as Tracktown USA organizes this meet well and is doing its best to reign in the hoteliers and restaurants. However, about the only thing that they can control is the event at the House that Phil and Penny built (Phil and Penny Knight and the House-Hayward Field). And the event, and staging is wonderful.

I thought day 1 was pretty awesome, well day 2 rocked! Here is what I saw and experienced (and heard).

1. In the Women’s triple jump, we have a bit of the changing of the guard. Jasmine Moore won the TJ in 14.26 meters or 46 feet, 9.5 inches. Jasmine is getting close to medal contention globally. Keturah Orji took the silver in 14.22 meters or 46 feet, 8 inches, while Tori Franklin took bronze in a subpar, 13.82 meters, 45 feet, one-quarter inch! Orji and Franklin have battled for over a decade, both coming close to medals, as they help bring respect to US women triple jumpers.

Jasmine Moore gets some air in the Women’s Triple Jump, photo by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun

2. The Men’s shot put was an incredible event—miraculous! No, hear me out. Larry is not eating Cheech and Chong gummies again!

Ryan Crouser pulled out of the Nike Pre-Classic just a month ago. I asked a friend in the know about Ryan’s not competing, and he told me, “ Oh, Ryan tore a pectoral muscle, then overcompensated and hurt his elbow, and he needs to train for the Trials. He will put it all on at the Trials.”

Translating that Ryan is hurt had me worried. I would have been terrified if I had known what was happening.

Ryan Crouser faced nemesis Joe Kovacs, who led the world with throws of 23.13 meters and 23.03 meters.

Ryan opened up with 22.44 meters, or 73-7 1/2. Joe retorted with 22.43 meters, or 73-7 1/4 inches. Ryan improved to 22.51 meters, to which Joe Kovacs fouled. Mr. Crouser, remember he had a torn pec and a sore elbow? Well, his next throw was 21.66 meters (71 feet and 75 inches), then BOOM, 22.84 meters, around which Joe Kovacs threw 21.80m, 21.36m, fouled. Ryan Crouser threw 22.56 m in round five and fouled in throw six. Joe Kovacs threw 22.34m in the sixth round, and Payton Otterdahl threw 22.26m or 73 feet and one-half inches.

Ryan Crouser was not sure he would throw just twelve days ago, but won his third Olympic Trials! by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun.

The US team going to Paris in the shot put should take two medals, as they are competing against Italy’s Leonardo Fabbri, who has gone 22.95m.

As I was heading to the mixed zone, Ryan Crouser’s agent, Paul Doyle, told me, ” Twelve days ago, I did not know if Ryan Crouser would be able to compete here.”  Now, that completely discombobulated me. Our man, Ryan Crouser, diety of the shot put, almost missed his destiny in Eugene. Then, Bud Greenspan whispered, “Larry, remember, Al Oerter was hurt before all 4 of his gold medals.”

As one challenges their limits, injuries bring even world record holders back to reality.

3. The Decathlon is one of my favorite events. I fell in love with the Dec watching Bud Greenspan, the Olympic filmmaker, do his homage to the great ones, Jim Thorpe, Bob Mathias, Bill Toomey, you name it. Actually, here’s a better and more accurate story. In the spring of 1975-1976, I met Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn) at San Jose City College. Bruce told me he did the decathlon, and I asked him what the hell that event was. After that, I began watching Bud Greenspan.

In Doha in 2019, I was sitting in the medal presser for the decathlon. I asked Niklaus Kaul, the German wunderkind who won in Doha, who his hero in the ten-eventer was. He said, quite soberly, “He is sitting behind you.” Behind me was one Ashton Eaton and his lovely wife, Brianna. Decathletes keep the tradition of the sport going.
Heath Baldwin gambled on winning the OT decathlon! photo by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun

Heath Baldwin won the OT decathlon with a PB score of 8,625 points (10.85 for 100m, 7.46m for LJ, 16.52mm for SP, 2.13m for HJ, and 48.58 for 400m. at the end of day 1, Heath was at 4,508 points, and in the lead. On day 2, Heath went 13.77 for the 110m Hurdles, 43.67m for the discus, 4.85m for the pole vault, a massive 66.69m for the javelin, and 4 41.87 for the 1,500m, scoring 8,625, the fifth best score in world in 2024.

Sha’Carri Richardson won heat 1 on Day 1, despite an untied spike, photo by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun.

Zach Ziemeck made his third Olympic team (Zach, a former Badger, is also a WC bronze medalist from 2022), scoring an SB of 8,516 points. Harrison Williams scored 8,384 points in the third, with all three going to Paris. I think that we have a fighting chance for one medal, possibly two.

4. The Women’s 100 meters lived up to all the hype. Sha’Carri Richardson came to the city of Eugene fit and primed to race. She stumbled in the first two steps with an untied track spike in her first round but stayed focused, won her heat, and ran a leading 10.88. In the semi-final, Sha’Carri ran 10.86, again the fastest, and her boisterous, take me if you can attitude fascinates many in the audience.

Sha’Carri Richardson won heat 1 on Day 1, despite an untied spike, photo by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun.

The final was exhilarating as Sha’Carri burst out of the blocks, took control, and won in 10.71, a seasonal best. Melissa Jefferson, Sha’Carri Richardson’s training partner, was silver in 10.80, and Twanisha Terry was bronze in 10.89. Left out of the top three were Tamari Davis (4th), Aleia Hobbs (5th), and a resurging Candice Hill (7th), the first high schooler ever to run under 11 seconds.

I sat in the stands with our intern, Olivia Miller, and asked her what she thought of the women’s 100 meters. She liked it and was fascinated with the grand theatre that accompanies any race by Sha’Carri Richardson.
Sha’Carri Richardson is numero uno in Eugene, photo by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun

The second day was perfect for track and field, and I know the Olympic Trials will improve. The challenge is how to reach more fans and share the stories of the sport and the athletes with more so they can see just what we do—that track and field is the only sport!

Stay tuned for Day 3 in Fear and Loathing from Eugene.