Tianna Bartoletta at the 2015 US Championships (© Kirby Lee)
Long jumper-cum-sprinter Tianna Bartoletta produced the best performance on the third day of the US Championships in Eugene on Saturday (27), flying out to a world-leading 7.12m.
She quickly took control of the competition, jumping a wind-assisted 7.02m with her first attempt to which three-time world champion Brittney Reese responded with 6.97m (-0.1m/s) later in the first round.
Bartoletta, who also finished fifth in the 100m on Friday, then improved in the second round to a personal best and world-leading distance of 7.12m (-0.4m/s) while Reese could go no farther, leaping 6.93m in round five.
Janay DeLoach finished third in the high-quality competition, with no fewer than six women jumping 6.73m or better. The Olympic bronze medallist leapt 6.95m (1.1m/s) on her third jump to make her third consecutive IAAF World Championships team.
A game Harper Nelson prevails
Fireworks were expected in the women’s 100m hurdles after Sharika Nelvis had sped to a stadium record of 12.34 in her heat on Friday. Expectations gathered momentum after Nelvis was the fastest in the semi-finals with a 12.37 run, helped by a perfect 2.0m/s breeze on her back.
The final proved to be anticlimactic as far as times were concerned, although still entertaining as a contest.
The experienced 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper Nelson came through to take the win in 12.55, just edging out Keni Harrison by 0.01 with Nelvis third in 12.59
“I’m a gamer,” said Harper Nelson. “I knew the other ladies were running incredibly fast times, but I believe I’m the best. I’m unbeatable, in my head!”
Jasmin Stowers, who had scorched to some outstanding times earlier in the season including a 12.35 win at the opening IAAF Diamond League meeting of the summer in Doha, will not be in Beijing after only finishing fifth in 12.65.
World champion Brianna Rollins, assured of her place on the US team as a 2013 winner in Moscow, did not start the final.
David Verburg, having impressed in the semi-finals, came through to win the men’s 400m title in 44.63 with 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt second in 44.66.
Allyson Felix took the women’s honours over one lap of the track in 50.19 which means the four-time Olympic gold medallist has a difficult decision to make as she is also qualified for the 200m after winning last season’s Diamond Race in that discipline.
“It’s up to (coach) Bobby (Kersee),” Felix said. “Hopefully he’ll make a decision pretty soon. I feel like I still haven’t reached my potential in the 400m, but I still love the 200m. I wish I’d be out there tomorrow (for the 200m final).”
Natasha Hastings was second in 50.25 and Phyllis Francis was third in 50.67. World indoor champion Francena McCorory was fourth in 50.88, perhaps misjudging how much her world-leading 49.85 in the semi-finals on Friday took out out of her, which means she will have to rely on Felix contesting the 200m in Beijing in order to make it on to the US 400m team for the World Championships.
Centrowitz gets his hat-trick
Two-time World Championships medallist Matthew Centrowitz brought the 10,000-plus fans at Hayward Field crowd to its feet with a dominant 3:37.25 1500m victory after taking the lead with 600 metres to go.
“This is my third one (national title) and it only gets better,” Centrowitz said. “I wanted to win this one the most. With everything going on, I wanted to win this one for our team, the Oregon Project, myself and my family. I wanted it bad.”
Centrowitz has been on an upward trajectory on the World Championships stage with a bronze medal at the 2011 edition in Daegu before improving to a silver medal two years ago in Moscow.
The women’s 3000m steeplechase final provided a chance for defending champion Emma Coburn to test new tactics, pulling away over the final two laps before winning in 9:15.59.
“To be able to be competitive on the world stage, I need to at least be closing as fast as today,” said Coburn. “I’m happy about it.”
Bershawn Jackson captured his fifth US 400m hurdles title, which equals the most wins at the event with Arky Erwin and Edwin Moses.
Jackson narrowly edged out training partner Johnny Dutch after the final hurdle to win in 48.29.
“Last year I doubted myself,” Jackson said. “I was thinking ‘If I don’t run great these first few races I’m in, I’m not going to race any more. If I don’t do great in my first three races, I might have to retire’. You can’t survive without running fast. I kept my faith, I knew I had it in me."
Justin Gatlin was the fastest in the men’s 200m semi-finals with 19.92.
At the US Junior Championships, running alongside their senior counterparts, 2014 Youth Olympic Games 200m champion Noah Lyles smashed his personal best with a run of 20.18 to move up to equal seventh on the world junior all-time list.
Lyles is still only 17 and eligible to run in next year's IAAF World Junior Championships in Kazan, Russia.
The only other 17-year-old to run faster than Lyles was Usain Bolt, when the Jamiacan set the current world junior record of 19.93 in 2004.
Chris Chavez for the IAAF