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Five wins put Team USATF in lead at Athletics World Cup


LONDON - Wins by Clayton Murphy, Ashley Henderson, Jeron Robinson and two relay teams combined with six second-place finishes to put Team USATF firmly in first place Saturday at the inaugural Athletics World Cup at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium.

In an international, team-scoring event that pits Team USATF against Great Britain, Germany, Poland, China, France and South Africa, team scores are determined by awarding 8 points for a first-place finish, seven for second, and on down to one point for eighth.

At the close of Saturday’s 17 events, Team USATF had 109 points, followed by France with 85 and Poland and Jamaica with 77. The final 17 events of the meet will be contested Sunday. Click here for full results.

Murphy gets it rolling

After a bit of a slow start to the meet, the final 90 minutes of Saturday’s competition brought five American victories.

Continuing his 2018 comeback, Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy (New Paris, Ohio) kicked off the victories, winning a men’s 800 meters that closely mimicked the USATF Outdoor Championships. Murphy was shoulder-to-shoulder for the lead after a casual first-lap of 54 seconds. He sprinted to the lead with 250m to go, but 2018 World Indoor champion Adam Kszczot of Poland moved to first shortly thereafter. Murphy came back down the homestretch, winning in 1:46.52 over Kszczot’s 1:46.98.

In the next event on the track, the women’s 100, 2018 USATF runner-up Ashley Henderson (San Diego, California) burst out of the blocks and ran a textbook drive phase, then held off a strong finish by Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica. Henderson finished in 11.07 for the win, followed by Thompson in 11.09.

The U.S. women’s 4x400m team of Brionna Thomas (West Lafayette, Indiana), Jasmine Blocker (New Orleans, Louisiana), Kiana Horton (Waco, Texas) and Courtney Okolo (Austin, Texas) survived a photo-finish with Jamaica in the women’s 4x400. Coming back after a fifth-place finish in the 400 earlier in the night, Okolo held off Jamaica’s Athletics World Cup champion Stephanie Ann McPherson for the win in 3:24.28, just .01 ahead of the Jamaicans.

The men’s 4x100 of Jeff Demps (Mascotte, Florida), Kendal Williams (Jacksonville, Florida), Obi Igbokwe (Fayetteville, Arkansas) and Cameron Burrell (Houston, Texas) closed out the evening’s track events in style. Coming off the final curve in lane 8 in third place, Burrell, the NCAA 100m champion who anchored Houston to a collegiate record in the relay, brought it home for the win in 38.42. Jamaica was second in 38.52.

2018 USATF Outdoor champion Jeron Robinson (Kingsville, Tennessee) took home a title in the last event of the night. Jumping clean through five heights, he won the competition at 2.30m/7-6.5, then raised the bar to 2.34m/7-8, but he was unable to clear.

Six solid seconds

The first half of the night saw a bevy of runner-up finishes for Team USATF.

2018 USATF Indoor champion Katie Nageotte (Moscow, Idaho) cleared 4.68m/15-4.25 with no misses in the women’s pole vault, missing at three attempts at 4.75m/15-7, and 2018 USATF Outdoor champion and team captain Darrell Hill (Darby, Pennsylvania) had a best of 21.43m/70-3.75 in the men’s shot put.

Rachel Schneider (Flagstaff, Arizona), nearly pulled off an upset in the women’s 1,500. Fourth at the USATF Outdoor championships, she took the lead with 300m to go and placed second in a season-best 4:08.04.

USATF champion Donald Scott (Ypsilanti, Michigan) had a last round, best-round jump of 16.73/54-10.75 for second in the men’s triple jump, while 2018 USATF Indoor and Outdoor runner-up Quanesha Burks (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) was second in the women’s long jump with 6.48m/21-3.25.

In the last women’s field event final, 8-time USATF champion Kara Winger (Colorado Springs, Colorado) sat in first place in the javelin after five rounds of throws with 60.75m/199-3. Sunette Viljoen of South Africa went 61.69/202-4 on the third-from-last throw of the competition to move Winger to second in the final standings.

Also posting podium performances were three-time USATF outdoor champion Devon Allen (Phoenix, Arizona), third in the 110m hurdles in 13.36; and two-time USATF champion Ameer Webb (Phoenix, Arizona), third in the 200 in 20.51.

2018 World Indoor gold medalist Courtney Okolo (Austin, Texas) was fifth in the women’s 400 in 52.09, while Kymber Payne (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) was fifth in the 400 hurdles in 56.41. 2018 USATF champion Reggie Jagers (Solon, Ohio) had a best of 63.15m/207-2 for fifth in the men’s discus.

American record holder Deanna Price (Moscow Mills, Missouri) had a best of 64.82m/212-8 on her only legal throw of the four rounds to place sixth in the women’s hammer.

Athletics World Cup format

One athlete from each team competes in straight-final competition in thirty-four events - men’s and women’s track events from 100m-1,500m, including hurdles; both relays; and all field events. Prize money is awarded only to teams, with the first-place team winning $450,000; second wins $400,000 and third $350,000.

Competition concludes Sunday evening; fans can stream the action live Sunday from 2:00-5:00 p.m. ET (here). A live broadcast will also air Sunday on the Olympic Channel and can be streamed here.

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