ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico -- World bests in the men’s 300 meters and women’s 20-pound weight throw highlighted an action-packed Saturday at the USATF Indoor Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Lyles becomes world’s fastest at 300m
Teenage sensation Noah Lyles (Alexandria, Virginia) romped to a world record in the 300 meters, clocking 31.87 to shave .01 off Wallace Spearmon’s 31.88 from 2006. The 19-year-old needed every bit of the WR to hold off Paul Dedewo (Bronx, New York), who recorded the third-fastest time in history with a 31.92 in second. Lyles won the World Junior 100m title in Poland last summer, and set an American Junior record of 20.09 in the 200m at the Olympic Trials to place fourth.
Berry breaks weight throw world best
Gwen Berry (St. Louis, Missouri) set a world best on her final attempt in the weight throw, adding four centimeters to the previous best with a 25.60m/84-0. Berry shattered the meet record on her first throw, launching the weight 25.22m/82-9, and added a 25.21m/82-8.5 on her third throw. It was the greatest weight throw competition in track and field history, with four women over 24 meters. DeAnna Price (Moscow Mills, Missouri) moved up to No. 4 on the all-time world list with her 24.30m/79-8.75 to take second, and Felisha Johnson (Indianapolis, Indiana) took over the No. 6 spot at 24.22m/79-5.5 in third.
Francis surpasses 300m meet record twice over
A second dismantling of the meet record and a late rush to the line gave Phyllis Francis (Queens, New York) the win in the 300 meters in 36.15, the second-fastest time ever by an American and No. 7 on the world all-time list. Francis, who had the fastest qualifying time with a 36.49, made up a two-stride deficit over the final 50m to overtake Joanna Atkins (Stone Mountain, Georgia) at the line, as Atkins too over the No. 3 spot on the U.S. all-time list and the No. 8 world all-time slot at 36.18. It was the first USATF Indoors title for Francis, who holds the American indoor record in the 400m.
Chelimo dominates men’s 2-mile
After taking over the lead on the second lap of the two miles, Olympic 5,000m silver medalist Paul Chelimo (Colorado Springs, Colorado) was an unstoppable force as he ran away from a very deep and strong field to take gold by more than 10 seconds in 8:28.53. Chelimo steadily increased his lead lap by lap, opening up a 60m gap by the end. Not content with just winning, the Army WCAP team member stepped on the gas over the final lap to close in 27.22. The fastest final circuit belonged to Woody Kincaid (Littleton, Colorado), who sped to a 26.01 over the last 200 to outkick meet record holder Ryan Hill (Hickory, North Carolina) and take second in 8:38.66. Hill was third in 8:38.81.
Men’s Pole Vault
Olympic bronze medalist Sam Kendricks (Oxford, Mississippi) picked a great way to open his 2017 season, sailing over 5.85m/19-2.25 on his first attempt to claim his third straight U.S. indoor gold. The only blemish on his record came at 5.60m/18-2.25, where Kendricks required a second attempt. Last year’s World Indoor runner-up, Kendricks has been on active duty with the U.S. Army and has not vaulted in competition since Sept. 3.
Bougard turns in historic double
Erica Bougard is the first athlete since Mike Conley (1986 – long jump, triple jump) to win two field events at USATF Indoors, and the first athlete in USATF history to win both the pentathlon and the long jump.
On the men’s side, a lifetime indoor best of 7.93m/26-0.25 on his first attempt propelled La’Derrick Ward (Alorton, Illinois) to his first USATF long jump title, and four of his six attempts would have been good enough to win.
Moore stuns the field
Adding more than a foot to his lifetime best, Darien Moore (Bakersfield, California) blasted a 20.78m/68-2.25 in round four to win his first national title. Last year’s World Indoor fifth-placer, Jon Jones (Portville, New York), opened the competition with a 20.53m/67-4.25 that held the top spot until Moore’s winning throw.
Kynard and Nunn nab eighth national titles
2012 Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard (Toledo, Ohio) won his eighth consecutive USATF title indoors and outdoors in the men’s high jump, capturing his fourth USATF Indoor crown in a row with his clearance of 2.30m/7-6.50 on his second attempt. Capturing his second straight USATF indoor gold, John Nunn (San Diego, California) won the two-mile walk at 12:38.37. Nunn, the newly-minted USATF Race Walking chair, won by more than 30 seconds.
Houlihan hangs on for mile victory
Shelby Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa) won her first USATF Indoor title in the women’s mile, besting a small but strong field that included training partner and Olympic teammate Colleen Quigley (St. Louis, Missouri), multi-time USATF mile champion Heather Kampf (Minneapolis, Minnesota), two-time USATF Junior champion Alexa Efraimson (Camas, Washington) and NCAA runner-up Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Mississippi). A slow, strategic pace set the stage for Houlihan to make her move on the bell lap, cruising through the line in 4:45.18.
Cato captures first USATF title
After a runner-up finish in 2016 behind Rio Olympian Curtis Beach, Japheth Cato (Crete, Illinois) had his day in the Land of Enchantment, scoring 5,738 points to win his first national title in the men’s heptathlon. Cato captured wins in the 60-meter hurdles (8.04) and pole vault (5.05m/16-6.75) Saturday en route to victory.
Top 3 leaders in heptathlon after each event
60m Hurdles: Cato 4161, Bahner 4054, Hopkins 3940
Pole Vault: Cato 5087, Bahner 4949, Vildosola 4523
1000m: Cato 5738, Bahner 5640, Hopkins 5417
In preliminary competition, top performances included Ajee’ Wilson’s (Neptune, New Jersey) 1:26.57 in the 600m, missing her own meet record by .01, and Erik Sowinski’s (Waukesha, Wisconsin) 1:15.51 in the men’s 600, a lifetime best and the equal seventh-fastest time in history. Andrew Wheating (Norwich, Vermont) had the fastest time in the men’s 1,000m at 2:21.56, .01 ahead of Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy (New Paris, Ohio). The best time in the women’s 1,000m came from Charlene Lipsey (Hempstead, New York) at 2:41.86. Sammy Watson (Henrietta, New York) set a high school record with her 2:43.18 to win heat two.
Action concludes Sunday at 1:00 p.m. MT with the men’s weight throw on USATF.TV +PLUS. Fans can follow along at #USATFindoors on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.
Broadcast and Webcast Coverage (all times MT)
Sunday, March 5
Sunday, March 5
NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Live Webcast on USATF.TV +PLUS
"I didn't know what I had in me today. I really injured [my back] four weeks ago, and two weeks ago I wasn't even going to come [to USATF Indoors] but, I fought it out and my coach told me I was in good shape despite my injury. I just came out and fought. I can't describe it.
I knew I could go over 80-feet but - the world record - you know, I've dreamed about it this whole year but after my injury I really didn't think I had it in me but, you just never know for real."
"I feel great. I just came to compete really [well]. I was just hoping that I could do what I know I can do. I didn't feel as good at first because of the altitude, and just the weeks of training leading up to this, but I knew that once I got here and got in the groove I'd be able to put a good jump together. I'm just happy to be able to win today."
"It's a super amazing feeling. I haven't won first place since like, junior year of college [at Wisconsin]. I've always been second... sometimes it's a little daunting. It's like, there's just one person that's always better than you or there's something about yourself that you just can't finish in first place. But now, I can finally say that I finished in first place and it feels amazing.
Now I go back to phase one, just keep a level head. I believe if you go into anything with the mentality that you are number one, like 'I got this,' and you don't do well, your mentality and morale will drop so low. So whatever I do, I'll just keep putting my head down and keep having fun because I just love track."
"It was good. Indoors is always so much fun... It's fun to come here as part of the track and field family in such a relaxed setting compared to USATF Outdoors or the Olympic Trials where everyone's tension is really high trying to get things done so, it's just fun to battle and go for a national championship."
"I really like to lead and I wanted it to be fast but, my coach ingrained in me to wait until 800m to go... They went out really slow and I didn't really like that but it kind of played into my hands a little bit.
I hammered the last 800m and I knew with two laps to go that it was actually the bell lap of 400m so I kind of took off there. I could still feel [the competition] right on me and I was just running scared the last 200m."
"I've been training at altitude and I just wanted to come out here make an honest race. As I was running, I was watching and making sure I opened up the lead slowly by slowly just to surprise [the competition]. I just didn't want to open a faster lead, that would wear me out. I wanted to make sure I ran a progressive race because at altitude, you gotta make sure you run progressive otherwise you're going to struggle."
"My goal today was 5.85m and that's why I put the bar specifically there, because that's what won the European championships and I want to be on par with those guys. Those are going to be the guys we compete with at Worlds. We had a great competition over here and I kind of wanted to match them across the ocean a little bit."
"I definitely felt like I was coming in here really ready to run. My coach and I have been doing a lot of endurance and speed work and truthfully, I just felt ready in all my practices so I was really confident in what I could do.
Coach always says keep your composure and I know if I [do that], the competition might die out. I have really good confidence in my endurance so I knew if I just pumped hard and kept my stride for stride, I'd be good."
"It was fun, a little nerve-wracking but it was great. I enjoyed myself - the competition, everything, the environment... [Coming to USATF Indoors] was kind of a spur of the moment kind of thing but it was fun.
[Candace Hill] is amazing. She's so young, she has so much talent and I can't wait for what the future holds for her."
"Altitude takes a toll on me a little bit but overall it was a good competition. I was able to go out there and compete, secure a victory so I'm satisfied.
I can look to take on the world on any competitive stage, and I need to secure my responsibility here in America first... I don't want to give anybody else any room to breathe as far as winning a U.S. title, whether I'm in great shape or looking to compete at a high level indoors or not. I just look to come here, be competitive and once I turn the light switch on for that, I can take care of it."
"It's been a long time coming. I've been flirting around with 66-68 feet with fouls all in the last two years so, it was the right time to hit it I guess...
Actually on my second throw, I hit one big. I knew it went past 20 meters and I looked at it and I kind of reached over the board and it fouled, but I knew I had enough power in me [despite my injured shoulder] to try to make it happen."
"I really didn't expect to win, I just wanted to get out there and have fun so that's what I did. I popped it off on my first jump, though. I didn't even expect to jump that far but my long jumps yesterday [in the pentathlon] that I fouled - I fouled twice - my coach said they were easily 21-feet.
On the last jump, I put it in my head to dream big, believe in God. I said that and gave it all I had."