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Best qualification day yet for Team USA

DAEGU, South Korea - Team USA enjoyed its most productive day yet in qualifying rounds, advancing 15 athletes into the next round of competition during the Thursday morning session of day six at the IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Seven performers, who have combined for 21 World Outdoor Championship individual medals, including 12 gold, led the list of qualifiers.

Carmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix, who earlier earned gold and silver medals in the 100 and 400, respectively, on Monday night, began the quest for their second individual medal by advancing through the first round of the women’s 200-meter dash.

Adam Nelson, Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell, who have won the last three World Outdoor Championship gold medals in the men’s shot put, advanced to the finals again.

Three-time gold medalist Dwight Phillips and two-time gold medalist Bernard Lagat, moved into the finals of the men’s long jump and men’s 5,000m, respectively.

Men’s Shot Put
For the second time ever, the 12-man final of the shot put will include four Americans. As the defending World Champion, Christian Cantwell (Columbia, Mo.) received an automatic bid to the championships allowing Team USA to fill the roster with four shot putters. One throw is all it took for Reese Hoffa (Athens, Ga.) to advance to the finals. Hoffa stepped into the ring and let loose a 20.96m/68-9.25 throw to surpass the automatic qualifying mark of 20.60m/67-7. Cantwell qualified from his second throw of 20.73m/68-0.25.

In his first World Championships, Ryan Whiting (Tempe, Ariz.) also took two throws to earn his way to the final with a best of 20.77m/68-1.75. Adam Nelson (Watkinsville, Ga.) did not meet the automatic qualifying mark, but made his way to the finals by having the 11th best throw of the day in 20.23/66-4.5.

Men’s 4x400m Relay
Led by Michael Berry’s (Eugene, Ore.) sterling 43.83 split on the third leg, Team USA posted a world leading time of 2:58.82 to lead qualifying into Sunday night’s final. Running out of lane six, Team USA exchanged the baton first when Greg Nixon (Long Beach, Calif.) handed off to Jamaal Torrance (Raleigh, N.C.). South Africa broke to the stagger first before Torrance gave Team USA a lead with 220 meters left that it maintained throughout the race. LaShawn Merritt (Suffolk, Va.), coming off a silver medal in the 400m on Wednesday, ran the anchor leg for Team USA to win the heat.

Women’s 800m
All three women of Team USA advanced to the semifinals of the 800m. Alysia Montano (Canyon Country, Calif.) finished third in a heat that featured four women dipping under the 2-minute mark. Montano’s mark was the third fastest of the day in 1:59.62. Alice Schmidt (San Diego, Calif.) was fourth in her heat in 2:01.11 to automatically advance to the final. Maggie Vessey (Seacliff, Calif.) qualified by taking the runner-up spot in the first heat in 2:01.32.

Men’s 5,000m
In the heats of the men’s 5,000m, as it often does, the pack stayed together for the first 4,600m and then the fight to qualify for the finals took place over the final 400m. Bernard Lagat (Tucson, Ariz.) closed in 55 seconds and took the lead with 200m to go and didn’t look back as he won the heat in 13:33.90. Galen Rupp (Portland, Ore.) advanced as well when he came off the final curve and swung wide as he kicked for the line to finish in fifth place in 13:34.91.

Andrew Bumbalough (Portland, Ore.) finished ninth in the second heat in 13:44.38 but did not advance to the finals. Bumbalough had the second-fastest time that did not make it to the final.

Women’s 200m
Carmelita Jeter (Gardena, Calif.), coming off a gold medal in the women’s 100m, posted the third fastest qualifying time of 22.68 seconds to lead Team USA into the semifinal round. Shalonda Solomon (Orlando, Fla.) had the fourth fastest qualifying time of 22.69 to win the fourth heat. Allyson Felix (Santa Clarita, Calif.) opened defense of her fourth World Championship title in the 200m by finishing second in the third heat with her time of 22.71 ranking sixth overall. Jeneba Tarmoh (San Jose, Calif.) was sixth in heat one in 23.60, failing to advance.

Men’s Long Jump
Defending World Champion Dwight Phillips (Snellville, Ga.) fully avenged his tenth place showing at the U.S. Outdoor Championship by landing a season-best mark on his first jump of the day. Phillips’ mark of 8.32m/27-3.75 well surpassed the automatic qualifying mark of 8.15m/26-9 and sent him on to the finals. Will Claye (Phoenix, Ariz.) was able to advance on his second attempt with a mark of 8.09m/26-6.5.

Marquise Goodwin (Austin, Texas) and Trevell Quinley (San Jose, Calif.) were unable to advance to the finals. Goodwin was agonizingly close as his mark of 8.02m/26-3.75 is the best ever mark to not advance to the finals of the World Championships. Quinley had difficulty with his steps due to the changing winds, and he only recorded one mark of 7.09m/23-3.25. into a 2.3 mps headwind.

Women’s High Jump
Fresh off of her victory at the World University games, Brigetta Barrett (Tucson, Ariz.) was on a roll during the morning’s qualifying session. Barrett came in at the opening height of 1.75m/5-8.75 and jumped six-for-six through each progression of the bar to the automatic qualifying mark of 1.95m/6-4.75. With not a single missed attempt, the 20-year-old Barrett was the youngest competitor to make the finals, joining three other athletes including defending world champion Blanka Vlasic in sharing the first position after qualification.

Inika McPherson (Oakland, Calif.) did not fare as well as she cleared 1.80m/5-10.75 to finish 27th overall in qualification.

Women’s Javelin
Neither Rachel Yurkovich (Eugene, Ore.) nor American record holder Kara Patterson (Chula Vista, Calif.) were able to advance to the finals. Yurkovich was 15th overall in qualification with her best marking of 58.84m/193-0 from her first throw of the day. Patterson’s best mark was on her last throw in 57.14m/187-5 to finish 21st overall. This was the best outing for Patterson at a major international championship.

Reese Hoffa, men’s shot put
“It’s what you have to do. When I stepped in the ring, I knew I had to execute or it could be a long morning. I can’t wait to get back to a freezer-esque room in the athletes village.

“When you compete on the first day it’s like you don’t get that meet excitement. But if you compete later on in the week, you get to see everyone else competing and then it builds up in you and makes you a lot more excited, so when it gets here you barely need a cup of coffee because you’re so jacked up to get out there and throw.

“I’m feeling really good. This has been by far the best medical staff in getting everyone feeling good and getting us prepared. It has been a collaborative effort saying ‘what can we do to make you better so you can compete and get medals.’

Ryan Whiting, men’s shot put
“I felt good. I felt like it was going to be easy, and it was. I've got no pressure on me. It's my first time here, so these guys have to watch their backs.”

Christian Cantwell, men’s shot put
“It’s qualifying, when you’re a professional, it is just about getting through and getting done. You know, walk in the ring, turn it loose and that is it.

“When I won Berlin (2009) I was half as ready as I am now. I’m just hungry, I’m just now hitting my stride. Let’s get it over with, I wanna go. It’s gonna be tough, there are a lot of good guys, four American guys for the first time ever.”

Adam Nelson, men’s shot put
“Tomorrow night is the night that really matters. I’m going out there tomorrow night and be ready to tangle with the big guys. I feel great physically. I’m ready to go.

Men’s 4x400m relay
Greg Nixon, first leg
“It was real relaxed, but it is a pretty fast time for the open. The key for us to get the stick around pretty clean. We’re ready to go.”

Jamaal Torrence, second leg
“Everybody did fantastic, 2:58 first round is real fast. I got a little startled when I saw the South African guy up there on the stagger and I thought ‘I’ve got to move’ but I knew I was strong enough and I was able to get past and bring my teammate the stick in the lead.”

Michael Berry, third leg with 43.83 split
"I wanted to come out hard for the first 60 meters, relax through the backstretch, then go hard the last 175. “

LaShawn Merritt, anchor with 46.0 split
“There were four 400 meter runners who lined up and they were told to just go out there and do their job. Go out there and run a hard 400 and bring me the baton. We are pretty confident we can put four legs together and compete with the best in the world.”

Allyson Felix, women’s 200m
“I felt a little sluggish this morning, but just trying to get my legs moving around and get my speed back. I laid low [the past couple of days], just lots of ice baths, lot of treatment, all that good stuff, lots of movies.”

Carmelita Jeter, women’s 200m
“I feel really good going into the next round. Right now I need to go get worked on.”

Maggie Vessey, women’s 800m
“When you’re preparing and there are four people who run under two minutes in the race and the top four qualify automatically, I want to make a move and be up with the leaders and it played out real well. I felt good because I’ve raced for about five weeks. So it felt good to get out there and get your racing legs back a little.

“I know from training that I have more and I know I’m going to have to get it automatically, there is that element of excitement with nerves and adrenaline at the Worlds that give you that needed burst.”

Alice Schmidt, women’s 800m
“You sit for 40 minutes in the call room before the race and it’s amazing how much you DON’T get cool. So I dunked my whole upper body in the big ice coolers before the race. Everybody deals with the heat.

“I knew that some of the gals would go out hard for 200 meters and it would probably slow down a lot. That’s what always happens in the first round. With 400 meters to go, I was on the shoulder of the British gal {Emma Jackson] who was in the the last turn it was a controlled sprint. Five of us were together.”

Alysia Montano, women’s 800
“I felt great. I just wanted to make sure I made it through the next round. I felt great physically.”

Bernard Lagat, men’s 5,000m
“You can't go into a mindset that you're gonna be top five, especially when you enter the last 100 meters and there's 9 or 10 guys around you, so I didn't want to take the chance; besides I wanted to be in the top 3. I felt good, and didn't feel like I used a lot of energy. Two more days, just rest up and hydrate.

“I talked to my son Miika this morning and he asked how I felt, and I said, 'I feel like a million bucks', and he replied, 'Now go run like a million bucks'.”

Galen Rupp, men’s 5,000m
“I was a little a sore and beat up after the race (10,000 Sunday night). But I felt all right and with a few more days I think I will be okay for the finals...everyone said stay on your feet. That is what everyone in my family said - don’t fall down like you have been all year.

“You’re never going to feel totally comfortable in this humidity. But it’s a lot easier than running 10,000 meters. I was wiped out at the end and it (humidity) definitely played a role then. I was actually looking forward to running only half the distance. The next race is going to be at night so I won’t have to worry about the heat. With a couple of more days I think I’ll be all right.”

Andrew Bumbalough, men’s 5,000m
“It’s not ideal. I’m not gonna lie and say it was awesome to get the call ten days ago. It was cool because I knew it was my chance to represent the team. I had never been more disappointed and more upset than I was after USA’s because I really felt like I was ready. Obviously those three up front are studs and is going to be harder and harder to make the team. The turnaround was good and I feel that it was a great opportunity for me to be here.

“The race was about how I thought it would be, slow and tactical with a big kick at the end.”

Dwight Phillips, men’s long jump
“That was the goal to come out and give it my best to get to the final. I’ve been here six times and I’m looking forward to winning my fourth world championship. A lot of people have underestimated me and didn’t even think I would make the final. Finally I’m feeling good. I haven’t been competing much because I have an Achilles injury. But I’ve been training hard over the last five weeks and feel very confident. Tomorrow should make for a great final.”

Trevell Quinley, men’s long jump
“I felt great during warm-ups, everything was absolutely perfect. Then my first jump I had a negative 2.3 and I really struggled with that, then the next jump I had a positive wind and I was over by two feet. Then the third one coach moved me back to my original mark and it was my best jump, but it was a foul. Unfortunately I just wasn’t able to manage the winds, but it happens. My head is up, God is good, on to the next one.”

Marquise Goodwin, men’s long jump
“I just didn’t have a good day jumping, plain and simple...I’ve come a ways. I’ve been consistent since high school, same marks, just didn’t get it done today. It was a good experience, but this is not my first meet overseas. I should have don way better than I did. It makes me think twice about why I gave up football just to come out here. It is just one of those decisions you have to live with. I’ve just got to get better. I got better. I jumped 13th and they take twelve.”

Will Claye, men’s long jump
“I just kept faith, and I ended up getting in there on my last jump, it was all or nothing. I kept my faith in God and I ended up getting in there. Now I’m just getting ready for the triple jump prelims and then do my best in the finals for the long jump.

“Now that I did that, my triple jump will be a little easier because I get the feel of the runway. I feel triple jump will be easier, I think I can qualify on my first jump.

“I had big goals, these were my goals here, so I just kept faith and they came true, now I just have to finish it out.”

Brigetta Barrett, women’s high jump
“It’s a great repeat of the World University Games as far as being clean and confident. Going in I was told when I came here to not worry about anybody one is going to expect anything out of me because they don’t know me. But the thing is I expect a lot out of myself. Knowing that the other girls are so great and I’m just a baby being on my first senior team ever, it’s an honor to represent America but also putting a lot of work from practice into play is beautiful.

“This is the longest season I’ve ever encountered but like I told my coach the other day, I’m still peaking and I still feel real good. I felt a little mentally tired after nationals, but I was nowhere near physically tired or fatigued. So the fact that I had a personal best and I’ve been healthy every meet since nationals, it gives me confidence going into final.

On meeting world-record holder Javier Sotameyer in lunch room at Athletes Village on Wednesday. “That was the first time I met. It was an honor talking to someone that I study. I watch his videos...Oh, my gosh, I’ve been studying every step you made to help me get here and now I’m talking to you. That was amazing.”

Inika McPherson, women’s high jump
“I looked good the first couple of jumps (1.75m, 1.80m). The second couple of jumps (1.85m) I was trying to work on my tempo. I rushed the third jump and missed it. I felt good. It just didn’t go the way I planned. It was really hot there, humid with lot of sweat.”

Rachel Yurkovich, women’s javelin
“It was the second best throw I’ve this season so you can’t complain about that. I feel really good so good things are ahead. I started a little late this season and I have slowly been progressing. I thought today would be a little better.”

Kara Patterson, women’s javelin
“It was a rough day, but it was better than any other major championship I've been to. That is the positive I'm going to take away from this.

“On my first throw, I wasn't quite ready for this. I wanted to be a little more aggressive, and I thought I was. When you think you're aggressive, you may actually be holding back more. I've struggled in competitions this year, even though I've had great practices. I'm happy with my best finish at a major championship, but I wanted to make a final.”

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