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Team USATF three-peats at World Relays, takes home third straight Golden Baton

4/23/2017
 

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Team USATF won the Golden Baton for the third time in the three-year history of the IAAF/BTC World Relays, dominating competition Sunday at Thomas A. Robinson Stadium.

 

Strength of lineups carried the U.S. to the overall 2017 World Relays team victory, winning five of nine races. Team USATF finished with 60 points to win the Golden Baton over Jamaica with 39 points.

 

4x800m thriller over Kenya

Kenya and the U.S. both brought quality lineups to the men’s 4x800, and the raucous race did not disappoint.

 

The NCAA record holder and 2017 USATF runner-up indoors at 1,000m, Brannon Kidder (Seattle, Washington) ran most of Team USATF’s first leg behind 2014 World Junior Champion Alfred Kipketer of Kenya, then sprinted down the last 100m to hand off to teammate Erik Sowinski (Iowa City, Iowa) with a half-stride lead.

 

2016 World Under-20 champion Kipyegon Bett then went to lead with Sowinski, the 2016 World Indoor bronze medalist, on his shoulder. The two men took off with 400 to go. Bett had a four-stride lead, but Sowinski kept the race close enough for U.S. indoor 600m record holder Casimir Loxsom (Seattle, Washington) to quickly close the gap on Kenyan 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Kutum, running a half-stride off Kitum’s shoulder on the third leg.

 

Ferguson Rotich of Kenya, the 2016 Diamond Race winner and fifth at Rio, and Clayton Murphy (Akron, Ohio), the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, both proceeded to jog upon getting the baton for the final leg. Murphy tucked in on Rotich’s shoulder and made his first move with 250 meters to go in the race, but that move was rebuffed. When Murphy moved again on the final curve, Rotich’s form faltered as Murphy won the two-man footrace. He crossed the line first in 7:13.16, with Rotich and Kenya second in 7:13.70. Poland was third with 7:18.74.

 

U.S. women dominate 4x400

A strong first leg of 50.42 by Rio 4x400 gold medalist Phyllis Francis (Bryan, Texas) gave the U.S. the lead at the opening handoff. Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medalist Ashley Spencer (Austin, Texas) broke it open by the time she hit the stagger, and that gap only increased with each American successive leg.

 

After a 50.92 split by Spencer, 2016 World Indoor bronze medalist Quanera Hayes (Minneola, Florida) went 50.66, and and two-time Olympic relay gold medalist Natasha Hastings (Round Rock, Texas) strode a 52.36 to bring the U.S. home in a world-leading time of 3:24.36, with Poland second in 3:28.28 and Jamaica third in 3:28.49.

 

USATF Men’s 4x400m wins thriller with Merritt’s killer kick

The U.S. men had finished second to Trinidad and Tobago in their 4x400m qualifying race Saturday night. With a reordering of the lineup and veteran LaShawn Merritt (Portsmouth, Virginia) taking the reins on Sunday’s anchor leg, Team USATF came home with gold.

 

Saturday night’s anchor, David Verburg (Gainesville, Florida) opened the final fairly even with Jamaica and Great Britain. Two-time Olympic medalist Tony McQuay (Clermont, Florida) took the lead on the backstretch of the second leg and handed off to Kyle Clemons (Lawrence, Kansas) with a stride on Trinidad, which had edged the Americans on Saturday night when Clemons led off.

 

Clemons handed off to Merritt with a one-stride lead. With Botswana, Trinidad and Jamaica giving chance, it was a crowded lap for the 11-time World and Olympic gold medalist. Botswana’s 18-year-old anchor leg, Karabo Sibanda, made Merritt work hard for the gold, but the 30-year-old Merritt came home first in 3:02.13. Botswana was second in 3:02.28 and Jamaica third in 3:02.86.

 

Canada comes back in men’s 4x200

Canada entered the men’s 4x200 with something to prove after a DNF in Saturday’s 4x100, but Team USATF made them earn a win. Running in lane 7 with the Canadians far inside in lane 3, USATF’s Noah Lyles (Orlando, Florida) ran a solid first leg, and Jarrion Lawson (Fayetteville, Arkansas) got the U.S. a lead.

 

Canadian strategy paid off with Olympic silver medalist Andre De Grasse running third leg, giving them a lead over Isiah Young (Clermont, Florida). When Aaron Brown of Canada got the baton, he had enough of a lead to prevent Ameer Webb (College Station, Texas) from fully closing the gap, winning in 1:19.42. The U.S. was second with 1:19.88 and Jamaica third in 1:21.09.

 

Bahamas takes Mixed 4x4

The mixed 4x400m made its debut at the World Relays Sunday night as each country juggled lineups on a night that saw three different 4x400m finals: men’s, women’s and mixed. It was up to each country to decide which legs were run by men and which by women.

 

The host country clearly put its best foot forward for the final race of the meet as the Bahamas took home its only gold of the relays with a resounding win of 3:14.42, providing the highlight of the meet for the hometown crowd. The U.S. team of Michael Berry (Eugene, Oregon), Jaide Stepter (Long Beach, California), Paul Dedewo (Phoenix, Arizona), Claudia Francis (Gainesville, Florida) finished second in 3:17.29 and Jamaica third in 3:20.26.

 

Women fall in 4x100m

Team USATF’s 4x100m lineup included four Olympians with four Olympic relay gold medals between them. Two-time gold relay gold medalist and world record holder Tianna Bartoletta (Tampa, Florida)  led off in lane 3, but misfortune awaited. As the 2016 long jump gold medalist ran the curve and approached a hand-off with Jenna Prandini (Eugene, Oregon), she slipped and fell while passing Brazil in lane 2, before she could get close to Prandini. Prandini, English Gardner (Los Angeles) and Morolake Akinosun (Austin, Texas) ran to Bartoletta before the team left the track. A jubilant Germany won in 42.84, with Jamaica second in 42.95 and China third in 43.11.

 

For complete results from the 2017 IAAF World Relays, visit www.iaaf.org.

 

Next up for Team USATF is another weekend of relays at the Drake Relays and Penn Relays, April 27-29. Fans can watch both events live on USATF. TV +PLUS throughout the weekend. Saturday afternoon coverage, including USA vs. The World at Penn Relays, will broadcast live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold from 12:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. ET. Fans can follow along with #USATF at the #DrakeRelays, #PennRelays and #USAvsTheWorld on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

 

Interviews: Men’s 4x800m | Women’s 4x100m | Men’s 4x200m prelim | Women’s 4x400m | Men’s 4x400m | Mixed 4x400m

 


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