NASSAU, Bahamas - Team USA had brought their “A” team to the 2015 IAAF World Relays, and the results Saturday were undeniable and powerful. Team USA dominated Jamaica in the men’s 4x100 and the women’s distance medley shattered a world record as Americans won three of four finals.
World Record Run
Team USA’s women’s distance medley had their sights set on a world record, and the team of Treniere Moser, Sanya Richards-Ross, Ajee’ Wilson and Shannon Rowbury overdelivered, running 10:36.50 to destroy the IAAF’s previously listed world best of 10:48.38, run by Villanova in 1988. It was also markedly better than the fastest-ever time of 10:42.57, set indoors at Boston in February.
The six-nation field ran tightly packed through the first two laps of the 1,200m lead-off leg. Kenya, the U.S. and France separated themselves, with France’s Renelle Lamote a somewhat unexpected leader at the first exchange. Moser split 3:18.38.
From there it was all Team USA. Richards-Ross quickly went to work on her 400m leg, taking over first place 100m into her leg and running a 50.12 split before handing off to Wilson with a 2.5-second lead on Kenya. Wilson (2:00.08) kept the pedal down for her 800m, running alone in front and handing off to Rowbury six seconds up on Kenya. Coming off an outstanding indoor season that saw her win national titles in both the mile and 3,000m, Rowbury (4:27.92) was clearly fit. She did not disappoint, cruising to the win ahead of Kenya in second, nearly 7 seconds back in 10:43.35. Poland was third in 10:45.32.
In the most highly anticipated race of the meet, Jamaica and the United States went head-to-head with heavy hitters in the men’s 4x100. Both countries ran the same lineups in qualifying and the final, with the U.S. featuring Michael Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey. Jamaica had Nesta Carter, Kemar Bailey-Cole, Nickel Ashmeade and Usain Bolt.
In qualifying, the Jamaicans ran a then-world leading 38.07 to easily win heat 2 as Bolt jogged across the line; Team USA followed up by winning heat 3 in 37.87 for a new world leader.
The final looked to be anyone’s game on paper, but it was the U.S.’s race from the gun. Rodgers held a very slight lead on the first leg. Gatlin blew it open on the second leg and Gay lengthened the lead. As Bailey took the baton with a sizable advantage over Bolt, the crowd roared with anticipation, expecting a burst from Bolt.
But the U.S. lead was too much even for Bolt, and Bailey hit the line first in 37.38, with Jamaica second in 37.68 and Japan third in 38.20. According to transponders used in the batons at this meet, Bailey split 8.83 and Bolt 8.65. The U.S. time tied the second-fastest ever by an American team and set a meet record and world lead.
4x800 Men Dominate
Team USA’s Duane Solomon, Erik Sowinski, Casimir Loxsom and Robby Andrews turned in a dominating performance in the first final of the night, the men’s 4x800 meters.
Kenya’s Alfred Kipketer led Solomon (1:47.60) by a step on the first leg. Sowinski then tucked in behind Nicholas Kipkoech for the second leg and used a powerful kick to take the U.S. from second place at the 200m pole to leading by close to 15 meters at the second exchange as he split 1:44.75.
Loxsom stretched the lead to nearly five seconds heading into the anchor leg with a 1:45.59. On the last lap of the anchor, Jeremiah Mutai of Kenya looked to be gaining ground on Andrews, but in the final 100, Andrews (1:46.90) finished with a flourish, sprinting to a meet record of 7:04.84, easily eclipsing Kenya’s previous record of 7:08.40 and improving upon the United States’ third-place showing here in 2014. Kenya crossed the line second but was disqualified for starting outside the exchange zone, putting Poland second in 7:09.98 and Australia third in 7:16.30.
4x200 Women Tumble
The lone disappointment of the evening came in the women’s 4x200m final. A tightly contested race, Nigeria led through most of the race and was ahead of the U.S. after the first two legs, which were covered for the U.S. by Shalonda Solomon and Kimberlyn Duncan. Third leg Jeneba Tarmoh moved strongly down the backstretch and appeared to get to the exchange zone first, but the handoff from Tarmoh to Allyson Felix never transpired as both women tumbled to the track. Nigeria went on to win in 1:30.52. It was a race rife with miscues, with the Bahamas disqualified from a podium position and France a DNF. Jamaica was second in 1:31.73, with Germany third in 1:33.61.
American 4x400s Advance
In Saturday’s qualifying events, the women’s 4x400m team of DeeDee Trotter (52.16), Natasha Hastings (50.73), Phyllis Francis (49.74) and Jessica Beard (51.42) dominated the qualifying round, their heat 3 time of 3:24.05 serving as a world leader and more than two seconds ahead of next-fastest Jamaica, from heat 2 (3:26.41).
The men’s 4x400m team of David Verburg (46.20), Kyle Clemons (45.96), Jeremy Wariner (44.87) and Brycen Spratling (45.78) won the second heat in 3:02.81 to advance to Sunday’s final. Trinidad & Tobago posted the fastest time of the night, winning heat 3 in 3:02.09, while the Bahamas won heat 1 in 3:02.18. Team USA enters Sunday’s final with a #5 seed, behind Trinidad & Tobago, the Bahamas, Brazil (3:02.23) and Belgium (3:02.41).
Sunday’s competition includes the women’s 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800m finals, and the men’s 4x200, 4x400 and distance medley relay.