10 Takeaways From The 2024 USATF Indoor Championships

By David Melly

February 18, 2024

The 2024 USATF Indoor Championships were this weekend, and if you weren’t watching (or were busy attending a friend’s wedding, like I was on Saturday) you missed some truly fantastic running, jumping, and throwing.

The two-day meet format, and only one or two rounds of competition depending on the event, means that the indoor championships are densely packed with action from start to finish. Not only did the meet serve as a selection event for the World Indoor Championships coming up in two weeks in Glasgow, Scotland, but three world records were set and 26 national titles were awarded. Below, we break down all the best moments complete with reflection, analysis, and commentary on another great weekend in track and field.

Full results from all events can be found here.

Noah LylesNoah Lyles

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Lyles v. Coleman Showdown Lives Up To The Hype

The marquee event heading into the competition was a head-to-head matchup between Noah Lyles and Christian Coleman over 60 meters, and boy oh boy did it deliver. Coleman entered as the reigning world record holder with both gold and silver World Indoor medals, but Lyles was the world leader with a 6.44 season’s best and seemed to be getting better and better at his start (the last weakness in the 100m World champion’s toolbox) every race.

Each man won his prelim easily, with Coleman running 6.49 and Lyles 6.52, setting them up for side-by-side center lanes in the final. And they managed to cram about as much drama as possible into a six-second race. Coleman got out like a bullet then Lyles methodically tracked him down, passing his rival in literally the final step of the race to take the title 6.43 to 6.44. Always the consummate showman, Lyles was ebullient and explosive as he celebrated (stylish nails and all), whereas the typically subdued Coleman looked, frankly, pretty pissed.

It’s inevitable that for some fans, Coleman gets a bit of a “villain edit” following his 2020 suspension for whereabouts failures. Meanwhile Lyles has undeniably attained media darling status; he always gives the crowd a good show and embraces the spotlight.. Based on your taste and preferences, one could argue that Coleman is the humble underdog taking on an over-the-top performer – it all depends on your perspective. Bolt vs. Gatlin was always the most thrilling matchup of the 2010s, and nothing quite brings eyeballs to TV screens like having someone to root for and against. The real winner is not just Lyles, but the sport as a whole.


Johnny Pace / @PacePhoto

Tia Jones Has ARRIVED

Of the three world records set at this year’s championship, Tia Jones’s 7.67 performance in the first round of the women’s 60m hurdles had to be the most surprising – and arguably the most impressive. While she technically only equaled Devynne Charlton’s one-week old record – and remember, sprint times are slightly aided by Albuquerque’s 5,300 feet of elevation – Jones’s time was still a huge step forward for the 23-year-old former World Junior champion who’d never made a senior U.S. team until this weekend. And for good measure, Jones followed it up with a 7.68 win in the final, proving her first race wasn’t a fluke and becoming the first woman in history to run under 7.70 twice.

With Keni Harrison skipping the indoor season entirely, we won’t get to see a matchup between Jones and the six-time U.S. champ until a little later this year, but we will be in for an epic showdown between Jones and Charlton, who represents the Bahamas, at World Indoors. It’s entirely possible that the current world-record mark may not last very long…

Grant HollowayGrant Holloway

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Holloway Sets The Record Then Skips Final

There’s little left for Grant Holloway to accomplish in the 60m hurdles. The reigning World Indoor champion is also the world record holder and the only man ever to break 7.30, and he’s never actually lost a 60m hurdles race at the professional height. But it’s nevertheless still exciting to see the GOAT continue to improve as he lowered his own WR from 7.29 to 7.27 in the prelim. That was the fastest mark of qualifying by 0.19 seconds, a massive margin in such a short event.

There is one small complaint, however: Holloway, with a bye into World Indoors as the World Indoor Tour champ, opted to make Friday a one-and-done, skipping the final and teeing up a Trey Cunningham victory instead. While Holloway clearly has nothing to prove and is presumably making strategic decisions with World Indoor gold and a successful Olympic year in mind, it’s still always a bummer to see the sport’s biggest stars skipping out on racing finals. And Holloway only has one indoor U.S. title, so it’s not like he’s been on top of the podium dozens of times already. Surely all will be forgiven if and when Holloway brings home the gold in Glasgow, but it still stings a little to start the meet with such an electric performance then leave the fans wanting more.

Ryan CrouserRyan Crouser

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Titles Really Adding Up For Veteran Stars

The first national title of the weekend went to Vashti Cunningham in the women’s high jump, but it wasn’t her first. Or even her tenth. Between indoors and outdoors, Cunningham has an astonishing FOURTEEN U.S. titles and for the better part of the last decade has been an unstoppable force atop the ranks of American high jumpers. Ryan Crouser is not far behind her in the men’s shot put, as he picked up his 10th national title with a 22.80m throw, and Keturah Orji picked up her 10th in the triple jump with a 14.50m jump. Veteran athletes adding to their already-sizable hardware collection became something of a theme. Over in the pole vault, Katie Moon grabbed her sixth U.S. title over friendly rival Sandi Morris with a 4.80m clearance and Chris Nilson won his fifth title over his friendly rival Sam Kendricks with a meet-record 6.00m leap. On the track, Bryce Hoppel claimed his sixth title in the men’s 800m, also his fifth straight in a streak going back to indoor 2022.

Predictability can be boring, but consistency is impressive in a highly-volatile sport. And loading up Team USA with experience heading into World Indoors is a good strategy if your goal is maximizing medal chances. With the temptation many top-tier pros face to skip indoors in an Olympic year, the heavy hitters showing up to work is something we shouldn’t take for granted.

Tara Davis-WoodhallTara Davis-Woodhall

Johnny Pace / @PacePhoto

New World Leaders Enter The Gold Medal Chat

Tara Davis-Woodhall took a big leap forward this weekend, both literally and figuratively. The charismatic long jumper improved her season’s best from 6.86m to a world-leading 7.18m, the longest wind-legal jump of her career. She followed up that fifth-round attempt with another 7+ meter jump in her final round, always a promising sign. With Olympic champ Malaika Mihambo back in action at the German champs after missing part of 2023 due to injury, the road to gold won’t be totally clear, but Davis-Woodhall has to be the one everyone else is watching.

In the women’s shot put, Chase Jackson (née Ealey – congrats!) defended her title with a 20.02m throw, a new world lead and improvement on her season’s best by 57 centimeters. Jackson will be looking to upgrade her World Indoor silver from 2022 and pick up a gold to go with her two outdoor titles, and as the only 20m thrower so far this year, she’s got a good shot (no pun intended).

Cole HockerCole Hocker

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Youth Prevails Over Experience In Men’s 1500m

With five of the 12 entrants having won national titles in the past, the men’s 1500m had to be one of the most closely competitive on paper heading into the weekend. In the end, the two youngest entrants in the final actually finished first and second. Champ Cole Hocker looked supremely confident and controlled tightening the screws on the field from the front, running each lap faster than the last from 500m onward and closing his final 200m in 26.76 seconds en route to a surprisingly speedy 3:37.51 victory. Runner-up Hobbs Kessler had to work a little harder to make his first World team, bumping around in the pack before emerging in the final lap and holding off a hard-charging Henry Wynne and Cooper Teare by hundredths.

As an Olympic finalist in 2021, it’s easy to forget that Hocker is still only 22 – especially because his tactical savvy makes him seem wise beyond his years. Kessler looked a little more ill at ease in the pack, and judging by the clearly lip-readable expletive he shouted after the finish, he wasn’t thrilled with his effort. But the 20-year-old has also now run three strong races against some of the best fields in the world, each of the last three weekends, and the best way to get better at racing is to race. Both runners heading to Glasgow have the talent to be medal threats at any level, and as they mature as athletes their chances will only get better.

Nikki HiltzNikki Hiltz

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Nikki Hiltz Makes It Three Straight U.S. Titles

It seemed like 2023 was the Year of Nikki Hiltz, but it’s entirely possible they were just getting started. Coming off two national titles indoors and out and an American record in the mile, the only thing that seemed to evade Hiltz was a World medal. Given that it took 3:57.85 just to make the final in Budapest and 3:56.00 to podium, it’s understandable. Although as they continue to improve, those times don’t seem as far off for Hiltz as they may have at their first World appearance in 2019.

Hiltz was clearly the class of the field in Albuquerque, sprinting to the title thanks to a 28.68 final 200m that only runner-up Emily MacKay came close to matching. American record holder Elle St. Pierre wasn’t in this one as she scratched after winning the 3000m title, but with her teammate MacKay making her first U.S. team, it seems like a win-win for everyone involved.

Yared NuguseYared Nuguse

Johnny Pace / @PacePhoto

Tactics Matter Indoors – Unless You’ve Got Talent To Spare

The conventional wisdom is that the tight turns and quicker laps of indoor track make race tactics paramount, and we certainly saw plenty of strategic racing in the 800m and 1500m. But when it came to the men’s and women’s 3000m finals, the talent at the top of the field meant Elle St. Pierre and Yared Nuguse could simply run away from the competition.

St. Pierre didn’t wait long before making her move, taking off after 800 meters and tearing the field apart before crossing the line in 8:54.40, an 8.7 second margin of victory over runner-up Josette Andrews (a supremely talented runner in her own right) that left no doubt about the outcome. St. Pierre has a silver from World Indoors in 2022, and she’s got to be as good – if not better – as she was then.

Nuguse was a little more patient, not hitting the front of the field until 400 meters remained, but his final lap of 26.10 quite simply can’t be taught, and while his margin was smaller, his win was just as decisive. Nuguse has never run World Indoors before, but the sky has to be the limit for the runner who was taking Jakob Ingebrigtsen to the line as recently as September.

Alexis HolmesAlexis Holmes

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Alexis Holmes Will Get A Rematch With Femke Bol

Alexis Holmes is already a World champion thanks to her anchor-leg heroics in the mixed 4x400m in Budapest, but she’d never won a U.S. title until her dominating performance this weekend in the women’s 400m. She won the race over 2022 U.S. outdoor champion Talitha Diggs in 50.34, a big new indoor PB just off her outdoor best of 50.32. Given the fact that the indoor 400m tends to run significantly slower than its outdoor counterpart, Holmes should be knocking on the door of sub-50 in no time.

Track fans will likely remember Femke Bol’s famous faceplant from that same relay final in 2023; what they might not recall is that Holmes already had Bol fairly securely beaten by the time the fall happened. But she’ll have her work cut out for her at World Indoors, as Bol just broke her own world indoor record with a 49.24 at the Dutch national championships.

Daniel HaughDaniel Haugh

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Weight Throw WR Gets A Big Rewrite

The first day of competition started off with a bang as NYAC’s Daniel Haugh threw a very heavy implement farther than anyone had ever thrown it before. The weight throw is the disrespected indoor cousin of the still-pretty-disrespected hammer throw. World Athletics does not recognize an official world record and Haugh will not get to continue his season in Scotland as it’s not a championship event, but it’s still thrilling to see the 28-year-old former NCAA champ make a little history. Haugh’s fifth-round haul of 26.35m wasn’t just a record-setter; it was also the first time anyone broke 26 meters in the event and shattered Lance Deal’s 1995 mark by a whopping 49 centimeters.

Each of Haugh’s four legal throws were over 25 meters and would’ve been good enough to win the U.S. title, a great sign of consistency – and for Team USA in general. Haugh was one of two Americans to make the Olympic hammer throw final in Tokyo (along with American record holder Rudy Winkler) but only finished 11th. Here’s hoping his leveling-up indoors translates to a similar jump in performance later this summer.

There’s still a little more to the indoor season before World Indoors kicks off on March 1, particularly for the NCAA athletes in the competition, but many if not most of the pros will likely be shutting things down if they didn’t make the team and gearing up for outdoors. But we at CITIUS aren’t done with indoor – after a thrilling weekend of racing, we can’t wait for Glasgow!

David Melly

David began contributing to CITIUS in 2018, and quickly cemented himself as an integral part of the team thanks to his quick wit, hot takes, undying love for the sport and willingness to get yelled at online.