Eaton, Rupp Turn in Record Performances at Olympic Trials
The day started off with the 100 meter race for the decathlon. In heat one, Ryan Harlan finished first with a time of 11.26 seconds. The winner of heat two was Curtis Beach, crossing the line in 10.88 seconds. Heat three featured local favorite Ashton Eaton of OTC Elite and 2008 Olympic decathlon champion Brian Clay of ASICS, who has never lost an Olympic trials. Eaton exploded off the blocks for a world record 100 meter decathlon time of 10.21 seconds, even with a steady drizzle falling at Hayward Field. Clay finished second in 10.45 seconds.
Ashton Eaton followed up his world record performance in the 100 meter race with another world record in the long jump. Eaton soared through the air for a jump of 8.23 meters (27 feet), the longest jump in the history of the decathlon. Eaton’s previous best jump was just one centimeter shorter. Brian Clay jumped 7.40 meters, good enough for fourth place in the first round, and sixth place overall for the event.
The first round of the men’s 400 meters got underway Friday afternoon at Hayward Field. Nike’s LaShawn Merritt had the fastest time of all heats, winning heat one in 45.36 seconds. Oregon school record holder Mike Berry finished sixth in his respective heat in 46.29 seconds, missing the cut two advance by two tenths of a second.
In the women’s side of the 400, Francena McCorory had the fastest time out of the four heats, winning her respective race in 51.11 seconds. Also in McCorory’s heat was Oregon’s Phyllis Francis, who surged on the homestretch into third place to automatically advance with a time of 52.82 seconds. Former Duck Keshia Baker, now running for Saucony, finished second in the third heat with a time of 52.02 seconds to advance to the next round.
“All I wanted to do was qualify,” said Francis. “I was a little nervous, but I tried not to stress too much. I could have run faster, but I’m proud of myself.”
Molly Beckwith of Saucony had the fastest time in any heat of the women’s 800 on Friday, winning her heat in 2:00.61. Oregon’s Laura Roesler surged into third in her race to automatically advance as she finished her heat in 2:03.11.
“I felt really good,” said Roesler. “I definitely had a smile on my face and I came here to do what I did, so I am happy.”
Tyler Mulder and Nick Symmonds of OTC Elite had the fastest and third fastest qualifying times respectively. Mulder won his heat in 1:46.81, while Symmonds won his heat in 1:46.94. Oregon’s Elijah Greer had a strong second place finish in his respective heat, crossing the line in 1:47.42 to advance.
“At 300 meters I made a move and finished second,” said Greer. “I made a lot of bad moves, accelerations weren’t needed. Tomorrow, I don’t want to make the same mistakes. The last 200 meters was perfect energy for that round.”
In the women’s 100, Oregon’s English Gardner finished third in her heat in 11.27 to automatically advance to the next round of heats. Tianna Madison of Saucony ran her way to the fastest qualifying time of the day, winning her heat in 11.10 seconds. Gardner used the support of the hometown fans to her advantage.
“I love my home crowd,” said Gardner. “They keep me going. I thank God every day for my fan base at University of Oregon.”
Ashton Eaton continued his dominating day in the 400 meter portion of the decathlon, winning the third heat in 46.70, over a full second ahead of second place. Eaton’s time was the fastest of all heats. The 400 was the final decathlon event of the day as Eaton wrapped up the day with 4,728 points, 17 points ahead of American record pace. On Saturday, Eaton will attempt to take down the American decathlon record of 8,891 points, currently held by Dan O’Brien, a record that has stood since 1992. Eaton will also go after the world record, of 9,026 points, held by Roman Serble. That record has stood since 2001.
“What you’re seeing is a culmination of everyone who supported me,” said Eaton. “I just do not want to let anyone down.”
The men’s 10,000 meter final featured one of the most dominating performances ever, as all three of the qualifiers beat the former Olympic trials record of 27:36.49 seconds. Former Oregon star Galen Rupp used a 4:14 final mile to win in 27:25.33, a new trials record by over ten seconds. OTC Elite’s Matt Tegenkamp finished second in 27:33.94 while Nike’s Dathan Ritzenhein claimed the final spot on the 10,000 Olympic team in 27:36.09. Ritzenhein had not yet reached the Olympic A standard of 27:45, but ran a strategic race with Rupp, a teammate of his at Nike, to easily reach that standard.
“Im extremely blessed,” said Rupp. “I feel like the luckiest guy on earth.”
During the race, the runners were drenched with some summer rain, but that didn’t stop Rupp.
“I wasn’t worried about it,” said Rupp. “I grew up with it and I love running in it. Regardless of the weather, you have to go out and compete.”
The women’s 10K featured a much more down to the wire finish. Leading for much of the way, it was Amy Hastings to cross the line first in 31:58.36 to earn her spot on Team USA. Natosha Rodgers of Texas A&M finished second in a personal-best 31:59.21 while Shalane Flanagan rounded out the top three with a 31:59.69 finish. Flanagan, who already had a ticket punched to London after winning the marathon trials back in January in Houston, has said she will only run the marathon in London. Rogers does not have the Olympic A standard of 31:45, so she will not be on the team despite finishing in the top three. In place of Flanagan and Johnson on the Olympic team will be Lisa Uhl, who finished fourth in 32:03.46 and seventh-place finisher Janet Bawcom (32:17.06). Uhl and Bawcom were the next two finishers that had previously achieved the Olympic A standard.
“I am just so excited that I can’t even express it,” said Bawcom. “I am so happy to be here and to be apart of a great team.”
The action picks back up tomorrow starting at 9:30 am with the continuation of the decathlon. Tomorrows finals include the women’s 100 meter hurdles and women’s 100 meter race.