Ajee Wilson and Athing Mu cross the finish in the women's 800-meter final at the USATF Outdoor Championships on June 26, 2022 in Eugene, Ore.
In the women’s 800-meter, Athing Mu moved to the front of the field early, as she does. Then, with 40 meters remaining, Ajee Wilson passed her.
Wilson’s push marked a true test for Mu, the 20-year-old defending Olympic champion. And she answered. The New Jersey native pulled ahead once again in the final 10 meters to claim the U.S. title in one of the weekend’s most competitive events, winning in 1:57.16.
Wilson, a two-time world championships medalist, was second in a season-best 1:57.23, followed by Tokyo Olympic bronze Raevyn Rogers in a season-best 1:57.96. All three should be medal favorites next month.
Last year, Chase Ealey missed her first Olympic team when she finished fifth in a competitive women’s shot-put field at the Olympic trials, also at Hayward Field. She has since won a world indoor championships silver medal and all six outdoor events that she has entered this year — including the national championships.
Her winning throw of 20.51 meters Sunday not only set a meet record and personal best, but it also put her in the driver’s seat heading into the world championships with the best mark of the year so far. Adelaide Aquilla, a 2020 Olympian, placed second at 19.45 meters, followed by Jessica Woodard at 19.40, a personal best. Raven Saunders, the Tokyo silver medalist, threw a season-best 18.95 but just missed the world championships, finishing fourth.
Rai Benjamin cleared the final hurdle and pulled so far away from the field that he was able to spread his arms in celebration upon comfortably winning his third straight U.S. title in the men’s 400-meter hurdles.
The defending world and Olympic silver medalist in the event, Benjamin won in a world-leading 47.04 seconds. Trevor Bassitt finished second in 47.47, followed by Khallifah Rosser in 47.65. Both Bassitt and Rosser posted personal bests.
“I knew it was going to be fast today, so I wanted to make sure I got out right so that I had enough coming home,” Benjamin said. “That was my goal today.”
The rematch between Benjamin and Norway’s Karsten Warholm will be one of the most anticipated races at the world championships. Warholm, the defending world and Olympic champion, is the only man in history to have run faster than Benjamin.
Daniel Roberts won the other hurdles event Sunday, taking the men’s 110-meter event in a season-best 13.03 seconds. Trey Cunningham was second in 13.08, followed by Devon Allen in 13.09.
Allen, a finalist in the event at the last two Olympics, played wide receiver for the University of Oregon before giving up that sport to focus on the hurdles. He’s signed with the Philadelphia Eagles for this fall, but first he will go for a world title back at his college track. Allen holds the world-leading time this year at 12.84. No other men’s high hurdler this season has broken the 13-second mark in 2022.
Don’t count Emma Coburn out yet.
Coming off uncharacteristic struggles in Tokyo and a slow start to the season, the 31-
year-old showed she’s still the one to beat in the world in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, winning Sunday in a season-best 9:10.63.
After winning the 2016 Olympic bronze medal, Coburn won the world title the following year and took the silver medal at the 2019 world championships. Considered a medal favorite again at the Tokyo Games, Coburn was off from the start, crossing the finish line in 14th place. However, she was later disqualified for going out of bounds.
When it really mattered this weekend, though, she was back at her best. The Colorado native created a wide gap down the stretch to cruise to her 10th U.S. title — and eighth in a row. Courtney Wayment, the defending NCAA champion from BYU, took second in 9:12.10, followed by Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Courtney Frerichs in a season-best 9:16.18.
Three women’s finished within a second of each other in the 5,000, which opened the day. Elise Cranny held off her Olympic teammate Karissa Schweizer, 15:49.15 to 15:49.32. Emily Infeld, a 2016 Olympian and former worlds medalist in the 10K, was third in 15:49.42. Schweizer previously qualified for worlds as the U.S. 10K champ last month.
Tokyo Olympic teammates Grant Fisher and Woody Kincaid finished 1-2 in the men’s 5K as well. Fisher broke away from the field with four laps to go and won in a meet record 13:03.86, with Kincaid next in a season-best 13:06.70. Abdihamid Nur took third in 13:08.63. Paul Chelimo, the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist, finished 11th.
Olympian Bryce Hoppel led much of the men’s 800-meter race and claimed the U.S. title with a season-best time of 1:44.60. Jonah Koech, a member of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, was second with a personal best time of 1:44.74, followed by Texas A&M runner Brandon Miller in 1:45.19.
Two-time Olympian Clayton Murphy, the 2016 bronze medalist, just missed the world championships team, finishing .03 behind Miller.
In the men’s triple jump, Olympian Donald Scott claimed his third U.S. title with a season-best 17.07 meters, which held off longtime stalwart Will Claye, who jumped a season-best 16.93. Claye, 31, has won a triple jump medal in each of the last three Olympics as well as at four world championships.
Claye’s teammate Christian Taylor, a two-time Olympic champ and four-time world champ, has often stopped Claye from reaching the top spot on the podium.
Taylor missed a chance to win another Olympic title last year when he ruptured his Achilles prior to the Games. Now well into his comeback this year, Taylor finished fifth on Sunday, but he has a bye in the world championships and the defending champion.
Shelby McEwen won the men’s high jump by clearing 2.33 meters, tying his personal best and in the process meeting the world championships standard. Fellow Olympian JuVaughn Harrison is also headed to the world championships after clearing a season-best 2.30 meters. Both reached the final last summer in Tokyo.
In the women’s 200-meter, reigning NCAA champion Abby Steiner of Kentucky won with a world-leading time of 21.77, which was also a personal best. She edged Tamara Clark (21.92) and Olympian Jenna Prandini (22.01) to round out the Olympic team.
Ethan Dabbs, the NCAA runner-up representing the University of Virginia, won the men’s javelin on his final throw at 81.29 meters. However, he does not yet have the world championships standard.