PORTLAND, Oregon -- Homestate hero Ashton Eaton (Bend, Oregon) began his two-time title defense Friday, leading the men’s heptathlon through two events with 2,032 points, just 28 points off of his world record pace.
Eaton led the competition in each of the first two events of the day, turning in top performances in the 60 meters (6.81 - 951 points) and long jump (8.08m/26-6.25 - 1,081 points). Teammate Curtis Beach (Albuquerque, New Mexico) sits in third overall with 1,840 points, courtesy of a season’s best 7.65m/25-1.25 (972 points) in the long jump.
All three Americans in the men’s 60 meters advanced through to Friday’s semifinals. Marvin Bracy (Orlando, Florida), Trayvon Bromell (St. Petersburg, Florida) and Mike Rodgers (St. Louis, Missouri) all ran 6.57 to win their respective heats Friday morning. The trio will race in the semifinals at 6 p.m. PT this evening.
Ryan Hill (Hickory, North Carolina) and Paul Chelimo (Portland, Oregon) both automatically advanced to the finals of the men’s 3000 meters, nabbing fourth and third in their respective heats. Competing in their second 3,000m race in a week, both Hill and Chelimo looked to automatically qualify without expending too much energy. Hill easily qualified in the first heat, which ended up being the slower of the two races, nabbing the final qualifying spot with ease in 7:51.13.
The second 3,000m heat was full of drama, as Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku went down while the pack was still tight. Chelimo kept his composure and stayed to the front with the leaders. Ndiku regained his footing and pushed Chelimo to pick up the pace with three laps remaining. As the field began to spread out in the final 400 meters, the American already had prime position for an automatic spot in the finals, staying the course and holding off a surging Ndiku to finish in third in 7:53.
The quartermilers were the first track events on the emerald oval Friday, as Sopot 2014 bronze medalist Kyle Clemons (Jonesboro, Arkansas) advanced on time out of the heats in 46.66. He’ll participate in Friday’s semifinals at 7:45 p.m. PT. On the women’s side, both Quanera Hayes and Ashley Spencer won their heats to automatically advance to Friday’s 7:25 semifinals. Hayes and Spencer won in near-identical times, crossing in 52.98 and 52.96, respectively.
Brenda Martinez (Rancho Cucamonga, California) advanced in the women’s 1500m without too much difficulty, nabbing the final automatic qualifier in 4:09.75.
Heading into the final two events of the women’s pentathlon, 2016 USATF champion Barbara Nwaba and newly minted NCAA champion Kendell Williams (Kennesaw, Georgia) are fourth and sixth after three disciplines. Nwaba has 2,875 points and Williams scored 2,857 points in their first IAAF World Indoor Championships appearances. Anastasiya Mokhnyuk of Ukraine currently leads with 3,007 points, making it anyone’s title to take.
Competition continues Friday evening at 5:15 p.m. PT with the men’s heptathlon shot put and women’s heptathlon long jump, followed by the first track event at 5:35 p.m., the women’s 60-meter hurdles. A full event schedule can be found here.
Tickets are still available on Portland2016.com. Join the conversation with USATF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #Portland2016.
Fans can watch the IAAF World Indoor Championships on NBCSN with USATF.TV’s The Cool Down following daily NBCSN coverage of the morning session.
TV Coverage (all times PT)
5-9 p.m. — NBC Sports Live Extra
9:30-11 p.m. — NBCSN (tape-delayed)
11 a.m.-2 p.m. — NBC Sports Live Extra
5-8 p.m. — NBC Sports Live Extra
6:30-8 p.m. — NBCSN (live)
12:30-3 p.m. — NBC Sports Live Extra
1-3 p.m. — NBCSN (live)
Team USA Medal Table
Jenn Suhr, women’s pole vault
Sam Kendricks, men’s pole vault
Sandi Morris, women’s pole vault
Ashley Spencer, women’s 400m
“My shape today felt better than other seasons. I’m really excited to be here today and I want to do well for my country. Having two rounds today was definitely in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to kill myself.”
Quanera Hayes, women’s 400m
“It felt good. You know, it was my first U.S. Championship and this is my first world team. It feels good to compete against the best in the world, so now I consider myself to be one the best in the world, too. I have a different strategy each race, so I have a different one for semis. This race the plan was to win the heat and move on and that’s what I did. I’m just going to refocus for semis and get out there and see what happens.”
Ryan Hill, men’s 3000m
“(After USAs) I was sore for a couple of days, so that messed with my confidence a bit, but I got a massage and did a light workout and felt good. That race definitely helped with my confidence. There’s still a final coming, so I didn’t want to expend too much energy and give it everything I had, so the plan was to qualify, finish fourth and get out of there, and that’s what I did.”
Paul Chelimo, men’s 3000m
“It felt good, the goal was just to qualify and I did what I needed to do to make it to the finals. (In the finals) my plan is just to sit back, relax and wait until the last four or five laps and that’s when I’ll hit it.”
Brenda Martinez, women’s 1500m
“I wanted to stay in the top three the whole time and stay a contender. Don’t let anyone get in front. I don’t know what my strategy will be (for semis). I’m going to talk to my coaches and reevaluate, see what I need to do going forward.”
Trayvon Bromell, men’s 100m
“I felt good. I was just trying to make it through the phases and make it to the next round easily.”
Marvin Bracy, men’s 100m
“I feel like I executed the race well today. I was a little surprised by Yoshi (Kiryu) next to me, but I was definitely controlling the situation. I wasn’t even trying to shake him off, was just focusing on my race and making it to the next round.”
Mike Rodgers, men’s 100m
“I just felt good, just wanted to get a good start to the afternoon and I did that.”