U.S. Track and Field Championships offer glimpse of Rio 2016 stars
The U.S.A. Track and Field Outdoor Championships concluded at Hayward Field on Sunday in Eugene, Ore, with the U.S. national team now looking ahead to the IAAF World Championships later this summer. Among those competing in Beijing will be a number of fresh American faces that look set to star both at the World Championships and at next summer's Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Here's a look at a few American athletes that are worth watching ahead of this summer's World Championships and Rio 2016.
Trayvon Bromell, men’s 100-meter dash
Trayvon Bromell, 19, is in the conversation for a medal in Beijing. The Baylor sophomore ran 9.84 (+1.3 wind) for the 10th fastest time all-time in the 100-meter dash. At 5'8", Bromell is a far cry from Usain Bolt’s 6'5" height, but that didn't stop him from first cracking the sub-10 second barrier in the 100-meter dash at 17. Bolt never attempted the 100-meter dash until he was 20, and he posted a 10.03.
Emily Infeld, women’s 10,000-meter run
The Georgetown graduate is one of the most underrated distance runners in America. Injuries have plagued her career, but the 25-year-old has managed to set personal bests in the women’s 5,000-meter run (15:07.18) and 10,000-meter run (31:38.71). She finished third in the 10,000-meter run only behind 5,000-meter American record holder Molly Huddle and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and training partner Shalane Flanagan.
Infeld may be fragile, but with health on her side she will contend for a spot on the Olympic team. Next year’s competition will be tough with 2014 U.S. champion Kim Conley and 2013 World Championship participant Jordan Hasay returning from injuries.
Ryan Hill, men’s 5,000-meter run
Ryan Hill, 25, is off to his second World Championship and has established himself as the best U.S. 5,000-meter talent since Galen Rupp. On Sunday, he defeated Rupp on Hayward Field soil, the site of 16 individual victories by Rupp over the last 10 years. Hill making the team in 2015 is less of a shock than it was in 2013, when he entered the media tent and asked reporters to confirm whether he clinched the final spot. He won the U.S. indoor two-mile championship earlier this year and his latest national title has come as less than a surprise.
“It’s been a wild two years since then,” Hill said. “There were some ups and downs, but ultimately to come back here and win, I couldn’t be happier.”
Colleen Quigley, women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase
Once a model and now an NCAA champion and world championship qualifier, Quigley’s career has rarely had its downs. She was All-America multiple years at Florida State, but she was overshadowed on the national championship stage for years because of Olympian Emma Coburn’s dominance while still in school. Quigley got her moment in 2014 and later battled for the third world championship spot. The 22-year-old set a new personal best of 9:24.92 after holding off 2014 NCAA champion Leah O’Connor, who took an unfortunate tumble on the final water barrier. Quigley could contend for a spot in the World Championship final.
Casimir Loxsom, men’s 800-meter run
The consistency of Casimir Loxsom, 24, helped the former Penn State standout land on his first senior U.S. national team in the 800-meter run. When 2012 Olympian Duane Solomon took the first 400-meters in 49 seconds and warned competitors that he would be taking them to “The Twilight Zone,” Loxsom was right on his heels and hung on while Solomon walked in the final 100-meters. Loxsom set a personal best of 1:44.92 in the semifinal on Friday.
Six-time U.S. champion Nick Symmonds praised Loxsom ahead of the men’s 800-meter final.
“He's got ungodly speed. It's insane," Symmonds said. "He can step on the track and give you a 33 second 300 right now. Not joking. I've trained with over 100 different training partners in my career and I've never met anyone with the speed that Cas Loxsom has.”
Abbey D’Agostino, women’s 5,000-meter run
After finishing fifth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, D’Agostino, 23, continued her success at the NCAA level by adding six more national titles to her resume. The Dartmouth graduate missed her first Olympic team by .19 seconds. Flashes of the Olympic Trials came up again as the top three headed to Beijing were separated by .14 seconds, but D’Agostino nabbed the final spot.
“I’ve replayed that in my mind quite a bit,” D’Agostino said. “I believe that things happen for a reason and that just wasn’t my time. You certainly learn a lot from it. I’m on a team now.”
Aleec Harris, men's 100-meter hurdles
Aleec Harris, 24, has come a long way from a troubled past that included gangs, drugs and violence. Harris qualified for arguably the toughest team to make for the IAAF World Championships, but it won't get any easier. Next year's field at the U.S. Olympic Trials could see the return of 2013 U.S. Champion Ryan Wilson and 2014 U.S. champion Devon Allen. Wilson has seen his share of struggles in 2015, and Allen has missed this entire track and field season due to a knee injury that he sustained while playing wide receiver for Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
This past weekend, Harris' race included the world-record holder and several members of past world championship and Olympic rosters. Harris snuck in with the third spot just .005 seconds ahead of Jeff Porter, a 2012 Olympian. Harris' 2015 campaign already includes victories at high-caliber meets like the Florida Relays, Drake Relays, Mt. SAC Relays and Jamaica Invitational.
Jenna Prandini, women’s 200-meter dash
Prandini ran the fourth-fastest time in the world to claim the U.S. title in the 200-meter dash in 22.20 (+0.4 wind). This came after the 22-year-old led the Oregon Ducks to their first national outdoor title since 1984, with Prandini winning the women’s 100-meter dash and placing second in the 200-meter dash. Much like Bromell, Prandini will be hotly sought after for a professional contract this summer.
“I was a little nervous, but I was confident and relaxed,” Prandini said after this weekend's 200-meter race. “I stuck to what coach (Robert) Johnson said and put it together.”
Isiah Young, men’s 200-meter dash
While Justin Gatlin is above and beyond the rest of the competition right now, Young—Gatlin's training partner—is right behind him. He ran a season’s best of 19.93 (+0.4 wind) to qualify for Beijing. This is also his second U.S. national team appearance after making the semifinal of the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. Throughout the weekend in Eugene, Gatlin gave credit to Young for pushing him in practice.
Jasmine Todd, women’s long jump & 100-meter dash
Todd will compete in the women’s long jump and 100-meter dash at the 2015 World Championships. The Oregon Duck standout has drawn some comparison to Tianna Bartoletta, who has seen success in both disciplines in her long career. Todd just wrapped up her redshirt sophomore campaign and has yet to win an individual NCAA title, though she managed to perform well against top Americans this weekend.