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2023 US Outdoor Track and Field Championships preview from Chris Chavez

Last night was the deadline for athletes to declare their event for the 2023 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will take place in Eugene from July 6-9. At USAs, athletes are allowed to enter multiple events and then make a decision about which event(s) they wish to contest once entries are in, which allows those who’ve achieved multiple qualifiers to be strategic about where they want to concentrate their efforts. The top three in each event who meet the qualifying standards for the World Athletics Championships will go on to represent the United States in Budapest in August.

Reigning World champions have a “bye” to the next year’s Worlds, which means the country they represent gets to send four athletes, not three. Similarly, reigning Diamond League and World Athletics Continental Tour champs earn a bye, but if there is both a World and other champion in the same event, their country still only gets to send one extra athlete.

These complex rules lead many American World champions to make interesting choices about what events they wish to contest at USAs and how hard they want to push while still in the middle of the championship season.

MEN’S SPRINTS

– 100m world champion Fred Kerley has the bye to the world championships and will only run the 200m. Last year, he qualified for the World Championships in the 200m with a third place finish behind Noah Lyles and Erriyon Knighton. He injured his quad in the semifinal of the 200m and was unable to run the 4x100m relay for Team USA. Kerley has a season’s best of 19.92 from his win at the Doha Diamond League.

– 200m world champion Noah Lyles has the bye to the world championships and will only run the 100m. He ran a season's best of 9.95 in his outdoor opener in April. The last time he ran the 100m at a U.S. Championship, he finished seventh at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials final.

– 400m world champion Michael Norman is declared for the 100m and 200m at the U.S. Championships. He ran a wind-aided 10.02 (+3.0m/s wind) at the Mt. SAC Relays in April. He has not raced since a last place finish in the 200m at the Doha Diamond League in 20.65 on May 5.

WOMEN’S SPRINTS

– Sha’Carri Richardson is running the 100m and 200m. She is looking to qualify for her first World championship team. Her season’s best of 10.76 from her victory at the Doha Diamond League is the second-fastest performance in the world this year. Her season’s best of 22.07 from the Kip Keino Classic at altitude in Nairobi is No. 4 on the world list.

Only Gabby Thomas’ 22.05 from the Paris Diamond League is faster this year by an American woman. Richardson, the 2019 NCAA champion, attempted the double at USAs in both 2019 and 2022, where her highest finish was 8th in the 100m in 2019. She has yet to make a U.S. final in the 200m.

– Reigning U.S. champion Abby Steiner is only running the 200m despite qualifying in both the 100m and the 400m as well. She just ran her season’s best of 22.19 to win the NYC Grand Prix.

– As previously announced, 400m hurdles Olympic champion, World champion and world record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone is running the flat 400m. She plans to make a decision after the U.S. Championships whether she will run the flat 400m (if she qualifies) or defend her 400m hurdles title in Budapest.

– NCAA record holder Britton Wilson, who ran 49.14 to become No. 4 on the U.S. all-time list, will only run the 400m and not the 400m hurdles. She hurdled at last year’s World championships and participated in the 4x400m relay.

MEN’S DISTANCE

– This year’s men’s steeplechase team should have a new look. 2016 Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager is not entered in the steeplechase. He has raced just once this outdoor season. Hillary Bor, the reigning U.S. champion who also owns the fastest steeplechase time by an American this year in 8:11.28, broke his foot earlier this spring and will miss the U.S. Championships. This is the first U.S. team he has missed since 2015. The top returner is Benard Keter, who made the Olympic team in 2021 and the World team in 2022, but he is only the fifth-fastest entrant by seed time.

– For the first time, 2021 U.S. 5000m champPaul Chelimo is entered in both the 5000m and the 10,000m. Chelimo, the 3x global medalist at 5000m, has typically only focused on the shorter event, but after his 27:12.73 performance at the Night of the 10,000m PBs in the U.K. earlier this season, he has decided to contest both events. He’s seeded No. 4 by qualifying time in both events behind Grant Fisher, Woody Kincaid, and Joe Klecker (all also double-entered).

WOMEN’S DISTANCE

– 800m Olympic and world champion Athing Mu entered the 1500m, as previously announced with coach Bobby Kersee. She has the bye to the world championships in the 800m. Her personal best of 4:16.06 is well outside the automatic standard of 4:05.00 and was achieved outside the qualifying window for the championships, but USATF rules allow for significant discretion in accepting entries from the Sports Committee chair.

– Josette Norris and On Athletics Club coach Dathan Ritzenhein have decided to focus solely on the 5000m. Norris ran 14:43.36 at Sound Running’s Track Fest in early May. That’s the second-fastest time by an American woman on the year behind her teammate and training partner Alicia Monson’s 14:34.88 at the Paris Diamond League. Monson is entered in both the 5000m and 10,000m after choosing to only contest the 10,000m last year.

– NC State’s NCAA record holder Katelyn Tuohy will only run the 5000m. Tuohy qualified for NCAAs in both the 1500m and the 5000m but ended up only running the 1500m after an uncharacteristically disappointing performance in the final.

– The Bowerman Track Club’s Elise Cranny has declared for the 1500m, 5000m and the 10,000m. The first round of the women’s 1500m is 19 minutes before the final of the 10,000m on Day 1 of the competition, so Cranny will likely scratch one or more events at a later point.

 

(06/30/2023) Views: 585 ‚ö°AMP
by Chris Chavez (Citius magazine)
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