This is the day 3 story of the 2023 USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and this so happens to be David Hunter’s feature of aforementioned day.
Superior Performances Highlight Day Three
July 8th, 2023
Day Three of the 2023 USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships was a roller coaster ride of euphoria, disappointment, confusion, and surprises that kept the athletes and the spectators on their toes and holding their breath.
Perhaps the day’s most anticipated event was the women’s 400m final featuring the highly-talented track athlete and quick learner Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone. Everyone in attendance suspected – correctly – the outcome, but were nonetheless in excited suspense as the multiple-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 400m hurdles blasted from the blocks of the 400m final, breezed by her talented competition, and pushed it down the homestretch to cross the line in 48.74 – and absolutely stunning clocking by an athlete who only recently took up the often-cruel one-lap event in earnest earlier this year. Consider this: only two other American women (Sanya Richards Ross and Valerie Brisco) have ever clocked sub-49.00 in the open 400m. And Sydney is still learning the ropes… Collegiate record-holder Britton Wilson (49.79) and Talitha Diggs (PB 49.93) join Sydney with the final two automatic qualifiers and the ticket to Budapest.
Sydney McLaughlin ran 48.74, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
m400m: Bryce Deadmon peaked at just the right time as he controlled the final of the men’s 400m final, crossing the line first in a new personal best of 44.22. Just behind Deadmon was seasoned relay veteran Vernon Norwood (SB 44.39), who earned the opportunity to compete in an individual event in Hungary. Earning the final world championship 400m berth was 4th place finisher Justin Robinson (PB 44.47), who has the automatic standard.
Bryce Deadmon, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, by Kevin Morris
w1500m: A star-studded final field emerged after early rounds saw the best athletes survive: indoor 1500m champion Nikki Hiltz; the veteran Cory McGee; Heather MacLean; Sinclair Johnson #8 on the US all-time list; and two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist Athing Mu. As the race got underway, a tight pack lead the athletes through the early stages, crossing 800 meters in a cautious 2:12. The top athletes weaved their way to the front of the pack just before taking the bell at 3:04. At the top of the backstretch the diminutive Hiltz pulled up alongside the towering Mu as the real racing began. As the pace quickened, Hiltz, in a perfect position, struck hard with 150 meters to go as they raced on to the home stretch. Hiltz got to the line first in 4:03.10, fending off Mu, who finished 2nd in 4:03.44, as McGee captured the 3rd and final spot in 4:03.48. Armed with automatic qualifiers, this trio will represent the USA in Budapest.
Nikki HIltz, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
m1500m: A broad spectrum of top-flight middle-distance athletes – from a young Hobbs Kesslers to a seasoned Matt Centrowitz – nervously towed the line in anticipation of the men’s 1500m final. As the starter’s pistol cracked, Yare Nuguse, the pre-race favorite, dashed to the front to control the early going. Passing the 400m in 58.4, Nuguse was joined by Kessler, Eric Holt, Cole Hocker, and Henry Wynne. The pace remained honest as 800m was clocked at 1:58.87 and at 2:55 at 1200m. Washington’s Joe Waskon made the first early move at 200m remaining, quickly covering Nuguse. Nuguse then stormed to the front to take control as the drive up the homestretch was underway. Nuguse hit the line first in 3:34.90, followed by an exuberant Waskom (2nd in 3:35.32) and then Hocker (3:35,46) to round out the trio headed to Budapest. Centrowitz, an Olympic gold medalist in this event, finished 10th in 3:37.23.
Yared Nuguse, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
w3000SC: This final proved to be most improbable. As the field of 13 got underway, it had all of the markings of yet another Emma Coburn victory. Courtney Wayment rushed to the early lead to keep the race honest, while Coburn slid into the third position to keep an eye on her rivals. The pace remained tepid, suggesting that Coburn may be headed toward her 11th USATF national championship. After 2 laps to go – split at 6:54 – Coburn was winding up and eventually swung into the lead with 500 meters remaining. Shortly before Coburn’s spurt, unheralded Kriss Gear suddenly picked up the pace, and the charge was on. Did Gear have enough time and real estate to get back into this race? Shortly after the bell passed at 8:04, it was clear that Gear had a chance. And the crowd went into a frenzy just past the final water jump. Gear passed the defending champion with 25 meters to go and hit the line first to win the race (9:12:81) and – just as importantly – to secure the necessary automatic qualifier needed to make the Budapest team. The new champion was ecstatic. The 10-time national champion (9:13.60) was gracious in defeat. And Wayment grabbed 3rd in 9:14.63 to round out the trio headed for Budapest.
Kriss Gear, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
m3000SC: Another dramatic race occurred in the men’s steeplechase final. As the race began, the field of 14 bunched up as the pace unfolded. Air Force athlete Dan Michalski went right to the lead to ensure a workman-like pace, followed by Anthony Rotich, Mason Ferlic, and Duncan Hamilton. Early on in the race, Ken Rooks took a spill and lost meaningful ground as the remaining athletes pushed on. Rooks popped up and began the task of catching his fellow competitors. Meanwhile, the race chess match continued as Ferlic, Rotic, Michalski, and others jockeying for position. All the while, Rooks was slowly gaining ground. Could Rooks catch the field? And would he have any energy left if he did? Ferlic took the lead at the bell, with others in tow and Rook closing in. After the final water jump was cleared, Rooks was in the mix along with others while the crowd roared. The critical moment took place over the final barrier as Bernard Keter clipped the barrier, stutter-stepped, and lost a few strides as Rooks burst into the lead and raced on for the win in 8:16.78. Keter (8:17,19) crossed in 2nd while Ferlic, finishing 4th in 8:18.75 but with the automatic qualifier, grabbed the final ticket to Budapest.
Kenny Rooks, Mason Ferlic, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
w100mH: As dusk was closing in, the day’s final event was ready to get underway. The final of the women’s 100m hurdles once again appeared to be a showdown between former world record holder Keni Harrison and world champion Nia Ali. The race was close, but Ali’s superior closing speed was the difference as Ali crossed first in 12.37, with Harrison a close 2nd in 12.42. Masai Russell (12:46) and Alysha Johnson (12.46) grabbed the next two spots. With Ali, the reigning world champion, and the remaining three, each with automatic qualifiers, the USA can send all four ladies to the Budapest World Championships.
Nia Ali, Keni Harrison, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023
/ Dave Hunter /
mHT: Rudy Winkler captured his 6th national hammer throw championship with a best mark of 79.04m/259’4”. NYAC’s Daniel Hough finished 2nd in 77,24m/253’5” with Alex Young grabbing 3rd in 75.87m/248’11”
Rudy Winkler, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
mPV: The pole vault trio that will represent the USA will be Chris Nilsen (5.91m/19’4¾”); Zach McWorter (a PB 5.86m/19’2¾”); and Zack Bradford (5.81m/19’03/4”). Pre-vault favorites Sam Kendricks 5.81m/19’0¾ and new American record holder (6.07m) KC Lightfoot tied for 4th and won’t be competing in Budapest.
mLJ: Marquis Dendy – with a best jump of 8.14m/26’8½” – will be joined by standard-bearing athletes Jeremiah Davis (9th in 7.83m/25’8¼”) and Mississippi States Cameron Crump (12th in 7.70m/25’3¼”) as only 3 long jump competitors had the required standard for Budapest competition.
Maggie Ewen, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
wSP: Maggie Ewen captured the shot put crown as the former Diamond League champion got the ball out 19.92m/64’4¼ for the win. Filling out the USA shot put contingent will be the runner-up and recent Ohio State graduate and Olympian Adelaide Aquilla (19.02m/62’5”); 4th place finisher Chase Ealey (18.62m/61’1¼”), the reigning shot put world champion and automatic qualifier snagged the final world championship berth.