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Team USATF Preview - IAAF World Relays Preview

5/10/2019
 

Men's 4x100

Two World Relays veterans are included in the U.S. squad, along with last year's top-ranked 200m runner and the 2018 NCAA 100m champion. Justin Gatlin and Mike Rodgers have helped Team USATF to gold in the past two editions, with Rodgers leading off and passing to Gatlin on the 2015 quartet that equaled the American record of 37.38. Rodgers moved to the backstretch in 2017 as Gatlin anchored the foursome to a 38.43 victory.

 

Dominant in his primary event, the 200m, Noah Lyles also clocked 9.88 for the 100m last season and won the USATF title in Des Moines. Houston's Cameron Burrell won the '18 NCAA dash crown in 10.13 and clocked a PR 9.93 in the heats at Des Moines, while Chris Belcher was the bronze medalist at the '17 USATF and NCAA championships.

 

Men's 4x200

The third and fourth legs from 2017's silver medal team return in Isiah Young and Ameer Webb as Team USATF looks for its first gold in four attempts. Webb won the 2018 USATF 200m title by more than a quarter-second in 20.47 into a stiff wind after clocking a season-best 20.13 in the heats, but Young opted for the 100m, where he ended up fourth in 10.00.

 

Bryce Robinson, the World University games silver medalist in 2015, has a best of 20.41 this season and ran on the USATF High Performance 4x100m relay team that won Texas Relays in 39.19. Better known as a 400m runner, with a pair of World indoor and outdoor 4x400m relay golds to his credit, Vernon Norwood has a windy 20.46 this year, and Remontay McClain has run 20.62. McClain was a 4x100m relay gold medalist at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

 

Men's 4x400

Undefeated in World Relays competition, Team USATF will seek a fourth straight gold with a strong lineup. Last year's USATF runner-up Paul Dedewo and bronze medalist Michael Cherry will be joined by sixth-placer Josephus Lyles, along with brothers Fred Kerley and My'lik Kerley. Fred Kerley set the collegiate record at 400m in 2017 with a 43.70 for Texas A&M, and he had Diamond League one-lap wins at Rome, Birmingham and Zurich in 2018. My'lik was the NCAA indoor runner-up in 45.16 in '18 and anchored the Aggies' 3:01.39i 4x400.

 

Dedewo was the World Cup champion at London last year in 44.48 and lowered his PR to 44.43 at the London Diamond League meet to place second. He ran third leg on Team USATF's winning 4x400m relay at the World Cup, helping the quartet to a 2:59.78. A three-time World indoor and outdoor silver medalist, Cherry led LSU to NCAA indoor and outdoor relay crowns in 2016. He picked up gold in 2018 on the Team USATF NACAC 4x400m relay and has a PR of 44.66. Lyles, the brother of 4x100m member Noah Lyles, sports a PR of 45.09.

 

Women's 4x100

After winning the inaugural World Relays gold in the sprint relay in 2014, Team USATF picked up silver in 2015. This year's speed-laden squad features Tori Bowie, a gold medalist at the World Championships and Olympic Games. Bowie anchored the U.S. to gold at London in '17 in 41.82 and brought the team home in 41.01 at Rio '16. She set her 100m PR of 10.78 at the '16 Trials.

 

Aleia Hobbs achieved a sprint double last year, capturing the NCAA gold in 11.01 for LSU before romping to USATF victory in 10.91. She anchored her team to a 42.25 at the NCAA meet for the win in the 4x100m relay. Owner of one of the world's fastest 100m times this season at 11.10, Jenna Prandini was the USATF bronze medalist last year in 10.98 and won the NACAC gold in 10.96. She also anchored Team USATF to NACAC gold in the 4x100m and was on the winning Americas team at the Continental Cup. In 2015, Prandini earned silver on the U.S. 4x100m relay at the World Championships.

 

Two-time World Junior 4x100m gold medalist Dezerea Bryant set her 100m best of 10.99 in 2018 and ran third leg on Team USATF's NACAC gold-winning 4x100m relay. Ashley Henderson, the USATF 100m runner-up at Des Moines last year, set her PR of 10.96 in that race.

 

Women's 4x200

Hoping to add a gold to the Team USATF 2014 win and a bronze in 2017, a pair of collegiate record-holders at 200m are the heart of the two-lap relay, led by 2017 NCAA champion and 2018 USATF bronze medalist Kyra Jefferson. Jefferson ran a 22.02 to win the collegiate title in '17 and followed up with a fifth-place finish at the USATF Championships. She improved to third last year. Thomas surprised with a 22.38 to win the NCAA indoor gold for Harvard in 2018 and was the outdoor silver medalist. She ran a then world-leading 11.10 for 100m in April after placing second in the 300m at the USATF Indoor Championships.

 

On the heels of a PR 22.47 at the SEC meet in 2017, Shania Collins placed fourth at the USATF Outdoors and then ran second leg on Team USATF's NACAC 4x100m winning foursome. Two-time World indoor and outdoor 4x400m gold medalist Joann Atkins has a lifetime best of 22.27 at 200m, and Mikiah Brisco brings a PR of 22.59 along with an NCAA 100m gold in 2017 and a pair of collegiate 4x100m titles for LSU.

 

Women's 4x400

 

As with the U.S. men, Team USATF is undefeated in the 4x400m at the World Relays. Three of the top four women's 400m finishers at the 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships aim to lengthen that streak, topped by reigning champion Shakima Wimbley. Wimbley blazed to a 49.52 at Des Moines to climb to No. 7 on the U.S. all-time list, and she has four major international 4x400m golds on her resumé.

 

Jessica Beard, a three-time World Championships gold medalist on the 4x400m, ran a PR 50.08 to finish behind Wimbley, and she had one of the fastest 4x400m carries in history with a 49.13 at the NCAA Championships in 2011. Des Moines fourth-placer Courtney Okolo was a member of Team USATF's gold medal 4x400m at Rio in 2016 and boasts two World Indoor relay golds along with four NCAA indoor and outdoor relay titles. Okolo has a PR of 49.71 and won the World Indoor 400m title last year.

 

Also available are Jaide Stepter, who finished in the top six in the 400m at six Diamond League meets last year, including a PR 50.63 at Lausanne, and Jordan Lavender, who set her lifetime one-lap best of 51.53 in April at South Carolina.

 

Mixed 4x400

In the first-ever mixed 4x400m competition at the 2017 World Relays, Team USATF raced to silver in 3:17.29. This year's IAAF World Indoor Tour 400m champ Nathan Strother has a strong supporting cast as the Americans look to move one step up on the podium. Strother, who has a PR of 44.34 from 2018, will have Purdue grad Brionna Thomas, the 2018 NCAA bronze medalist and USATF fifth-placer with a PR of 50.78, and this year's USATF indoor 300m champion Dontavius Wright. Wright's 400m best is 45.12.

 

USATF seventh-placer Jasmine Blocker set her lifetime best of 51.46 at Des Moines '18, while Olivia Baker is better known as a two-lap specialist with an 800m best of 2:00.08 to place sixth at the USATF meet last summer. Je'Von Hutchison, who helped Team USATF to a Penn Relays 4x400m win in 2016, brings a PR of 45.70.

 

Mixed Shuttle Hurdles

One of two new events on the schedule, this one should be a strong one for Team USATF. Reigning USATF 110m hurdles champ Devon Allen and sub-13.30 man Freddie Crittenden will team up with three of the top four women from the final at Des Moines '18. Allen was fifth at Rio in 2016 and won two NCAA outdoor titles for Oregon. He has a PR of 13.03. Crittenden was the NCAA silver medalist in the 60m hurdles indoors for Syracuse in 2017 and has a best of 13.27. Former LSU great Ryan Fontenot improved his PR to 13.35 last summer and is a consistent veteran of the event.

 

USATF indoor champion Sharika Nelvis is the fastest of the U.S. women entered with a 12.34 to her credit and was eighth at the 2015 World Championships. Christina Clemons (neé Manning) was runner-up at Des Moines last summer and picked up silver at the 2018 World Indoors in the 60m hurdles. She brings a PR of 12.54. One of the greatest combination hurdlers ever, Queen Harrison was fourth at Des Moines and has clocked 12.43 in her career. She won the NCAA 100mH/400mH double in 2010 for Virginia Tech and raced to gold in the 100mH at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

 

Mixed 2x2x400

For sheer curiosity value nothing can top the mixed 2x2x400, which is debuting at Yokohama. Team USATF has two of the top 800m runners in the world lined up in Donavan Brazier and Ce'Aira Brown. Brazier set a world indoor best for 600m at the USATF Indoor Championships earlier this year and has already run 1:44.70 outdoors for 800m after a 1:44.41 American indoor record at the Millrose Games. His 400m best is 46.91 indoors, but he has clocked in the 45s on multiple 4x400m relays.

 

Brown has blossomed into a consistent sub-2:00 800m runner, with an outdoor PR of 1:58.01. She also displayed her strength with a 4:07.68 1500m at Princeton in April and was third in the 1,000m at the USATF Indoors.

 





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