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Field events steal show on Day 2 of USATF Outdoors


SACRAMENTO, California -- An American junior record, world leads, a meet record and seven national titles highlighted the second day of action at the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships at Hornet Stadium on the campus of Sacramento State University.


Vashti Cunningham (Las Vegas, Nevada) broke the American junior record in the women’s high jump Friday, turning in a near-flawless performance to make her first IAAF World Outdoor Championships team. Cunningham did not miss a bar until her final clearance of 1.99m/6-6.25, which she surpassed on her second attempt. Joining the World Indoor Champion on the team are Arizona’s Liz Patterson and Rio Olympian Inika McPherson.


Claye claims men’s triple jump

The men’s triple jump saw a repeat Sacramento champion, as three-time Olympic medalist Will Claye (Phoenix, Arizona) turned in a lifetime best to continue his reign as the fourth-best performer in USATF history. Claye leapt 17.91m/58-9.25 on his fifth attempt to shatter his previous best and take home his third USATF title, inching closer to a stellar showdown in London with college, World & Olympic teammate, American record holder and defending World Champion Christian Taylor (Fayetteville, Georgia).


Hardee captures third decathlon crown in four years

Trey Hardee (Austin, Texas) crept his way up the leaderboard on the second day of decathlon action, looking to repeat his luck in Sacramento after winning at Hornet Stadium in 2014. Hardee’s performance did not disappoint, capturing his third USATF decathlon title in four years with a score of 8,225 points, surpassing the World Championships standard. Hardee, who has not competed since the Olympic Trials in 2016, relied on his veteran experience to stay calm under pressure. The London Olympic silver medalist never moved out of the overall top three throughout the 10 events, staving off valiant attempts by Rio Olympian Zach Ziemek (Itasca, Illinois) and Georgia’s Devon Williams (Marietta, Georgia) to knock Hardee off the top of the leaderboard.


Hardee’s performance in the discus throw solidified his position among the top three, winning the discipline with his toss of 48.04m/157-7. Second-place finishes in the pole vault (4.90m/16-0.75) and 110-meter hurdles (13.97) gave Hardee enough of a cushion to where he was assured both a championship title and the London qualifying standard. The two-time World Champion will be joined by both Ziemek and Williams, who finished in the second and third place positions and earned their qualifying standards before the championships.


5,000m finals are day and night under the lights

The women’s 5,000m final was a battle between Rio Olympian Shelby Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa) and 1500m American record holder Shannon Rowbury (San Francisco). The duo, who had 2017 10,000m champion Molly Huddle (Elmira, New York) on their heels, broke away from the pack over the final lap, with Houlihan just edging Rowbury, 15:13.87-15:14.08. Huddle announced her intention to double at the World Championships for what could be her final time following her 15:15.29 finish for third.


On the men’s side, it was the Paul Chelimo Show from start to finish. Chelimo (Beaverton, Oregon) broke away from the pack in the opening lap and never relinquished the lead, coming home in a new meet record of 13:08.62. The battle for the final two spots on Team USATF immediately took shape, with Ben True (North Yarmouth, Maine) leading the quartet of True, Eric Jenkins (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), Lopez Lomong (Beaverton, Oregon) and Ryan Hill (Hickory, North Carolina). With all four known for their ferocious kicks, it was anyone’s spot for the taking. Over the final 400m, Jenkins kicked with 300m and Hill followed, charging toward the finish with True shifting into another gear on the home straight. Jenkins nabbed the second spot on Team USATF in 13:15.74, his first time to make a national team, while Hill held off a surging True to close in 13:16.99 to True’s 13:17.94.


Gatlin wins fifth USATF 100m title at 35

Before the competitors even stepped into the blocks, a showdown was set between Team USATF veteran Justin Gatlin (Pensacola, Florida) and newcomer Christian Coleman (Atlanta, Georgia), both Tennessee Vols in their college days despite 14 years of separation. Coming out of Friday afternoon’s 100m semifinals, Gatlin and Coleman had the top times with Coleman the only man to run sub-10. Gatlin proved down the stretch that he has gas left in the tank, storming to a 9.95 finish in the Nike Men’s 100m final to edge Coleman for his fifth 100m national title. Coleman, who recently announced he was turning pro, finished just behind Gatlin in 9.98. An upset for third saw North Carolina A&T’s Christopher Belcher (Sayville, New York) make his first national team, coming out of lane 8 to steal the final individual spot for London in 10.06.


Bowie takes a bow after cruising to 100m crown

Three-time Olympic medalist Tori Bowie began her double defense, winning the Garden of Life women’s 100m in a scorching 10.94. Oregon Ducks teammates and Rio Olympians Deajah Stevens (Bayside, New York) and Ariana Washington (Signal Hill, California) snatched away the second and third spots away from the other competitors, cruising into the finish in 11.08 and 11.10, respectively. All three competitors are also entered in the women’s 200m, along with Allyson Felix (Los Angeles), who already has a spot on Team USATF by virtue of winning the 2015 World Championships 400m title. Felix finished eighth in the women’s 100m.


In other performances of the day, Keni Harrison (Clayton, North Carolina) looked every part of the world record holder, recovering well from a fractured hand at the Doha Diamond League. Harrison turned in a world-leading time of 12.54 despite running into a -1.4 headwind.


Day 3 of the USATF Outdoor Championships continues tomorrow at 10:55 a.m. PT with the women’s heptathlon 100m hurdles. Watch live without commercials on NBC Sports Gold beginning at 12:45 p.m. PT. Click here for live results.


Fans can follow along with #USATFoutdoors on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.


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