By Chris Chavez
June 22, 2022
Track and field’s postseason is finally here! I’ve made it to Eugene, Oregon and the rest of the CITIUS MAG squad is coming through in the next 24 hours.
We’ll have a full team of boots on the ground for every minute of the action in and around Hayward this weekend, so make sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and YouTube for expert analysis, live commentary, post-race interviews and more.
Most importantly, we’re excited to be launching CHAMPS CHAT, a daily podcast through the CITIUS MAG feed giving you an inside look at the championships with fan favorites like Kyle Merber, Mac Fleet, Jasmine Todd, and Dana Giordano. Hit subscribe so you don’t miss it!
If you’re in Eugene, join us for our morning runs from the Adidas Hub at 1440 E 19th Ave. We’ll be running at 9 a.m. on Thursday and Friday and then at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. We’ll be giving away some t-shirts, shoes and more. If you want to buy us coffee or beers for our coverage, our Venmo is @CITIUSMAG.
Here’s a complete preview of every men’s event at this weekend’s USATF Outdoor Championships. The meet will be broadcast live on CNBC (Thursday 10 pm-12 am EST), NBC (Friday 4-6 pm EST, Saturday 4-5 pm EST, Sunday 2-3:30 pm EST) and USA (Saturday 5-6 pm EST). You can also follow along with entries and live results, streaming info, and the meet schedule online.
My colleague David Melly and I put together the following in-depth feature on the athletes and storylines to watch across all the events taking place this weekend. The women’s preview is coming soon.
Men’s 100 Meters (1st round Thursday, 8:40 p.m. EST):
Oregon’s Micah Williams is looking for redemption on his home track after finishing seventh in the NCAA 100m final. He’s the fastest American on the year with a 9.86 season’s best but we’ll see how he fares against the pros. Olympic silver medalist Fred Kerley enters with a 9.92 season’s best that he ran at altitude in Nairobi, Kenya in April. Trayvon Bromell wants to go back-to-back with his U.S. titles and has run 9.92 in Puerto Rico to win the American Track League and 9.93 at the Prefontaine Classic (despite being one of the last men added to the field). Bromell has looked great and has proven himself on the championship stage.
Christian Coleman is the reigning world champion and, as such, has his spot secured. He told the media at the NYC Grand Prix that he still intends to compete hard and try to win his fourth national title.
Men’s 200 Meters (1st round Saturday 2:45 p.m. EST):
The men’s 200 is overwhelmed by American talent. Last year’s Olympic final in Tokyo saw Kenny Bednarek, Noah Lyles and Erriyon Knighton go 2-3-4. This year, six American men have already run faster than 20.00. Only Lyles is locked in for a spot at Worlds as the reigning champion. His season’s best of 19.61 is No. 2 in the world, behind only Knighton, the 18-year-old phenom.
Knighton made global headlines with his 19.49 in his 200m season opener back in April to move into No. 4 on the all-time world list and No. 2 in U.S. history. CITIUS MAG got to spend some time with him earlier this month as he made some final preparations and he was vocal about his desire to win and earn some hardware.
Fred Kerley and Christian Coleman are both entered for the 100m and 200m double. Kerley the third-fastest time of the year by an American with a 19.80 from April’s USATF Golden Games, where he just edged out Michael Norman’s 19.83 (Norman is only running the 400m). Kerley attempted the double at last year’s Trials, finishing fourth in the 200m, so he focused on the 100m for Tokyo and came away with a medal. Never doubt what Kerley puts his mind to.
NCAA championship runner-up Matthew Boling is the top collegian entered with a 19.92 best. The Georgia star, who turned 22 on Monday, looked a little flat at NCAAs, and with so much talent in this event, just making the final may be a big victory.
Men’s 400 Meters (1st round Thursday 10:36 p.m. EST):
Michael Norman running 43.60 to win the Prefontaine Classic in world-leading fashion was a flash of the 2019 form that put him in the medal conversation heading into the last world championships. From the looks of it, he’s gotten much stronger and it’s paying off. He’s the only man under 44 seconds on the season.
Last year’s Tokyo Olympic team featured Randolph Ross, whose 44.13 from the NCAA Championships is No. 3 in the world right now, and Michael Cherry, who has a season’s best of 44.28 for the No. 5 spot in the world.
The same team could repeat unless we see Florida’s Champion Allison (44.29 PR in the NCAA semifinal) and Elija Godwin (44.50 PB for third at NCAAs) sneak on.
Men’s 110m Hurdles (1st round Saturday 3:35 p.m. EST):
Over the last few years, when a professional field of 110-meter hurdlers line up, all eyes are on Grant Holloway. The reigning world champion and defending U.S. champion has the No. 2 all-time mark in the event at 12.81. He was so dominant in 2021 that “only” winning silver in Tokyo was seen as a huge upset. But this year, Holloway is heading into the meet as the third-fastest hurdler in the U.S. as two other big stars have emerged on the scene.
Devon Allen isn’t new to the sport, having competed in both Rio and Tokyo for Team USA, but after many assumed that his signing with the Philadelphia Eagles meant that his elite hurdling days were over. Instead, he’s quickly putting together the best year of his career. He has won seven of his eight races at the distance in 2022 and ran 12.84 seconds in New York for the third-fastest 100-meter hurdle mark of all time.
Over in the NCAA world, Florida State’s Trey Cunningham absolutely dominated the collegiate scene this season. He won NCAAs in 13.00 (tied for No. 2 all-time in the NCAA) without so much as breaking a sweat. Perhaps his most impressive performance was running 13.07 into a -1.5 m/s headwind in the rain. Cunningham hasn’t raced many professionals since he ascended to another level this spring, so we can’t wait to see him throw down against Allen and Holloway.
Holloway has an auto-bid to worlds and Allen and Cunningham look like safe bets for two of the other three spots. The third spot is wide open. If Daniel Roberts returns to his 2019 form, he could snag it. But any of a half-dozen others could step up as well.
Men’s 400m Hurdles (1st round Friday 9:35 p.m. EST):
Olympic silver medalist Rai Benjamin should have no problem navigating the U.S. competition. His season’s best of 47.49 is the only sub-48 mark by an American this year. However, he hasn’t competed since May. After withdrawing from the Prefontaine Classic, his health has come into question. With Norwegian world record holder Karsten Warholm battling injuries of his own, the 400-meter hurdles are starting to look a lot wider open on the men’s side than they did last summer. We’ll get more clarity on Benjamin’s form this weekend.
Behind Benjamin, who should be able to land on the team even if he’s not in top form, Quincy Hall and Khallifah Roster have identical marks of 48.10 on the descending order list. They can’t get too comfortable, however, as 6 other men in the race have broken 49 seconds and a single hurdle can make or break this tricky event. U.S. indoor 400m champion Trevor Bassitt is entered here, in his specialty event, and he’s on the hunt for his first outdoor team as well.
THE DISTANCE EVENTS
Men’s 800m (1st round Thursday, 7 p.m. EST):
Unlike the women’s race, narrowing down the men’s 800m to a clear top three is tough. Donavan Brazier is the reigning world champion and has a spot secured but has been dealing with a foot injury. He plans to race but his status for the world championships is unclear.
Bryce Hoppel is the U.S. leader and probably the safest bet to make the team (haven’t seen any odds to be able to legally bet on the races) as he’s won six of his nine 800m races this year, including the U.S. title indoors. In one of the races he didn’t win, he picked up a bronze medal in Belgrade at the World Indoor championship.
Two-time Olympian Clayton Murphy has had more of a mixed year. He has run sub-1:46 in the 800m twice but struggling in the Bowerman Mile at the Pre Classic. He knows how to make teams better than anyone else on the starting line. He’s made four of the last five global championships – going all the way back to 2015 when he was still in college. As for the third spot, there are six other men who’ve broken 1:46 this year on the starting line, including Tokyo Olympian Isaiah Jewett, U.S. indoor runner-up Isaiah Harris, former NCAA champion Brandon Miller and seasoned veteran Erik Sowinski. Which one ends up snagging that third ticket to Worlds is anyone’s guess.
It will also be fun to watch high school phenom Cade Flatt race a field of talented professionals, and although he likely won’t be a factor in the final, he could finally crack Michael Granville’s 1:46.45 high school best after coming close twice already this season.
Men’s 1500m (1st round Thursday 9:35 p.m. PST):
This is an event where place could matter well past the podium, as only six men have achieved the 3:35.00 qualifying standard for Worlds and a tactical race could yield some strange results. Of those six men, the most likely candidates to make the team are Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare, the Eugene-based pros and former Oregon runners essentially competing with home-field advantage. Teare has the fastest 1500m in the U.S. this year, but Hocker beat him in the mile at the Prefontaine Classic, where they finished 5th and 6th as the top Americans in the race. Barring a truly wild race, we’ll likely see Hocker and Teare get to the front of the pack by 400m to go and try to squeeze the life out of their competition with a fast final lap.
A slower race will favor big kickers like Johnny Gregorek of ASICS and Josh Thompson of Bowerman Track Club, who’ve fared well in tactical races at U.S. championships in the past. A quicker race may benefit the likes of Colby Alexander, the second-fastest racer in the field by personal best, or Yared Nuguse, who finished third at the 2021 Olympic Trials but did not compete in Tokyo due to injury. Nuguse will be making his debut for the On Athletics Club.
Men’s steeplechase (1st round Thursday 9:05 p.m. EST):
The big question in the men’s steeple this year: What is happening with Evan Jager?
Jager, the American record holder and seven-time U.S. champ who missed the 2021 Olympic Trials with a soleus injury, seemed to be healthy and fit this past indoor season. He even hit the World standard in the 5000m with a 13:13.23 at Boston University. But his outdoor campaign has been decidedly un-Jager-like so far, as he’s run 8:34, 8:27, and 8:28 in three steeplechase races and has yet to win a race. Will he peak well for USAs and make his eighth global championship team? Or has he progressed to a different stage of his career, one where 8:00 steeplechase performances are no longer a realistic goal? We’ll find out this weekend.
The three Tokyo Olympians are all back in the race, and Hillary Bor, the Olympic Trials champion, looks to be a safe bet for the team. He notched an 8:12.19 PB earlier this season, which is 6 seconds clear of the No. 2 U.S. mark this year.
Mason Ferlic and Bernard Keter have both shown solid fitness this season and are definitely in the conversation to make the team, but they’ll have to triumph again over Dan Michalski and Isaac Updike, who finished 4th and 5th in 2021. There are also a few familiar faces having breakthrough seasons with Brian Barraza of Tinman Elite and Travis Mahoney of Empire Elite both running sub-8:20 for the first time in their respective careers. The No. 2 and No. 3 marks this year are Duncan Hamilton and Parker Stokes, the NCAA 2nd- and 3rd-placers, but keeping the NCAA momentum going all the way through June is a tall order.
Men’s 5000m (Final Sunday 5:03 p.m. EST):
Much like his OAC teammate Alicia Monson, Joe Klecker, the U.S. leader at 5000m, has scratched from USAs after making the team at 10,000m. If Grant Fisher wasn’t the heavy favorite beforehand, he certainly is now after finishing second in the 10,000m championships and snagging the American record in the 5000m indoors. It wouldn’t be hugely surprising if he doesn’t win, but it would be shocking if he doesn’t finish within the top three.
A crowded field of major contenders includes two-time Olympian Paul Chelimo, who dropped out of the 5000m at the Prefontaine Classic after only five laps but always seems to deliver in championships. Woody Kincaid expects to rebound in this race after dropping out of the 10,000m championships with cramping issues. He can take some confidence knowing that he made this team for last year’s Olympics. Bowerman stalwarts Lopez Lomong and Sean McGorty are also entered. In 2019, Lomong won this
Emmanuel Bor, who made the World Indoors team at 3000m before travel issues prevented him from competing.
A pair of NAU runners, Abdihamid Nur and Nico Young, will test their mettle against the pros. Neither came away with an NCAA title during the outdoor championships. Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare are double-entered, but if either of them makes the team in the 1500m, they likely won’t overextend themselves in a second final. The team will likely end up being Chelimo and some combination of two BTC runners, but when 13 entrants have the World standard, anything can happen.
Men’s Discus Throw (Thursday 8:45 p.m. EST):
Only 5 athletes in the field have the 66.00m World qualifying mark, and only three have done it this year: Brian Williams, Andrew Evans, and U.S. leader Sam Mattis, who hauled a lifetime best of 68.69m in May this year. If he can replicate that performance, he’ll be a shoo-in for the U.S. team and maybe even has an outside shot at a medal at Worlds. Defending U.S. champ Mason Finley isn’t entered and hasn’t competed much this year, so one way or another, we’ll crown a new national champion in this event.
Men’s Shot Put (Friday 9:42 p.m. EST):
Two of the safest picks in the whole meet for Team USA are Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs, the reigning Olympic and World champions, respectively. There’s not much we can say about the dynamic duo that we haven’t said already since they’ll almost certainly sail through the competition. Crouser, an Oregon native, is the defending champion and something of a hometown hero, so expect the crowd to get extra loud for him.
The third spot is probably Darrell Hill’s to lose, as he’s got the third-longest season’s best by a good 20 centimeters. But, if Payton Otterdahl returns to the 2021 form that landed him on the Tokyo Olympic team, he could be a threat as well. Fortunately, Kovacs’s bye into Worlds as the defending champion means the U.S. gets to send four athletes back to Eugene, so the top 3 non-Kovacs finishers will all make the team.
Men’s Hammer Throw (Saturday 3:15 p.m. EST):
Trials champion and American record holder Rudy Winkler will attempt to defend his title in Eugene, but he’s not the U.S. leader this year. That distinction belongs to Daniel Haugh, who launched a lifetime best of 79.44m earlier this month and appears to be peaking at the right time. Alex Young, the third-placer from Trials, is the fourth seed behind Sean Donnelly, and they’ll likely be closely matched as they battle for the critical third spot.
Men’s Javelin Throw (Sunday 3:35 p.m. EST):
Javelin is historically not a strong event for the U.S., and only one entrant in the meet, Michael Shuey, has thrown farther than the 85.00m World standard. His PB of 85.67m from last year is well clear of the field, but he’s only competed once in 2022, where he threw 75.25m at the USATF Throws Fest in May. That leaves the door open for a collegian – or two, or three – to make the team, as the top three finishers from NCAAs are all entered and should contend for the podium.
Men’s Long Jump (Friday 8:45 p.m. EST):
The U.S. has assembled a deep field in the men’s long jump, with 12 entrants over 8 meters. JuVaughn Harrison, the double threat who won both the long jump and high jump at the 2021 Trials, has only competed once in the event outdoors this year and the results were unimpressive (7.64m), but he did finish third at the U.S. indoor champs with an 8m+ leap. The U.S. leader outdoors is Brandon Hicklin of North Carolina A&T, but his 8.18m PB may be a bit of a fluke as his next longest jump this season is only 7.86m. Marquis Dendy jumped a wind-aided 8.41m in May and has cleared 8 meters in every meet so far this year, so he may be the favorite in this competition.
Men’s Pole Vault (Saturday 3:00 p.m. EST):
The U.S. gets an extra spot in this event as well as Sam Kendricks, the 2019 World champion, gets a bye into Worlds. He likely wouldn’t need it, as he has made every global championship since 2015 but after a positive test for COVID-19 derailed his Olympic aspirations in Tokyo, it will be a relief to have some breathing room. And health may be a factor, as Kendricks has only competed once outdoors this year. The six-meter vaulter hasn’t cleared higher than 5.71m in 2022. Tokyo silver medalist Chris Nilsen is the U.S. leader at 6.00m this year and will be the heavy favorite to win the competition. The other two spots will be pretty much up for grabs. Six other men are seeded at 5.80m or above, but only two have cleared 5.80m this season.
Men’s Triple Jump (Sunday 3:15 p.m. EST):
With Christian Taylor still on the mend, the U.S. title is up for grabs and the reigning World champion has his spot on the Eugene ‘22 roster already saved. The U.S. will get an extra spot for Worlds and the three men entered with marks over 17 meters – Will Claye, Chris Benard, and Donald Scott – are favored to land on the podium. Chris Carter broke up the top three indoors with a second-place finish at USAs, so don’t be surprised if he plays spoiler again if any of the 17-meter trio falters.
Men’s High Jump (Sunday 3:25 p.m. EST):
Three men have cleared 2.30m this year – Earnest Sears, Vernon Turner, and Darius Carbin – but another three jumped 2.33m within the qualifying window – Shelby McEwan, Darryl Sullivan, and Trials champ JuVaughn Harrison. So really, the crown is up for grabs. Harrison is also the reigning U.S. indoor champion, so he’s probably the best bet in a high-stakes situation, but Sullivan only lost to Harrison on count-backs last year at Trials so he should be in the mix as well.
Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.