Sam Fariss has written for RunBlogRun for 3 years now. This is her third column on the USATF Champs, being held July 6-9, 2023.

USATF Outdoor Championships Day 3: Mother of three, underdog, national champion

By Sam Fariss

EUGENE – As the third day of the USATF Outdoor Championships came to a close, the 100-meter hurdlers lined up. Every single woman who entered into the final held the world championship standard. In other words, the winners would be set to represent the United States at the world championships in Budapest, no matter who they were.

Most bets were on Masai Russell, from the University of Kentucky, to take home the national title but in a stunning season’s best, 12.37-second performance, Nia Ali surged to the front of the race to become the new United States champion.

“I’m incredibly blessed, honestly. This is the first US outdoor championship that I’ve ever won so I just feel incredibly blessed. I can only thank God for this,” Ali told NBC after the race.

Nia Ali (@ItsPooda) wins her first national 100m hurdles title!! #USATFOutdoors

— NBC Olympics & Paralympics (@NBCOlympics) July 9, 2023

Ali, a mother of three children, is yet another example of female athletes’ abilities to balance the best of both worlds – creating a family and dominating in athletics. Following the race, she celebrated with her youngest child, Bloom, and shared her joy on social media:

“Thank you, Lord!!!! First U.S. Title after so many appearances. We are headed to Budapest,” Ali said on Twitter.

Ali ran a wind-legal, season-best 12.53 in the first qualifying just to best it in the semi-final heat, running a 12.43 and earning a big Q.

Her championship performance at Hayward puts her in the top-five times for this season, behind only Russell, Keni Harrison; USA, and Jasmine Camacho-Quinn; Puerto Rico. This is Ali’s first national title, and she is expected to represent Team USA along with Harrison and Russell.

Harrison, who has earned five national titles, was gunning to add a sixth to her trophy case but fell just short, finishing second in 12.42 seconds.

Nia Ali, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, by Kevin Morris

“I try to keep my blinders on. I knew that this was gonna be a really close race. I had faith in myself and believed in God. I’m glad I’m making the team,” Harrison said.

Russell, the newly-minted NCAA record holder, was coming off a lengthy but spectacular collegiate season.

“I just trusted my speed every time,” Russell said. “I was crashing into hurdles again, but I’m always gonna trust my speed. I’m just glad to be a part of one of the best hurdle events, so I’m just happy to be here.”

At the NCAA championships, Russell fell into 2nd place, getting edged out of the collegiate title by Arkansas’ Ackera Nugent.

These three women will be facing steep competition in Budapest with athletes such as Nugent, Camacho-Quinn; Jamaica, and Tobi Amusan; Nigeria, set to represent their countries at the World Athletics Championships next month.