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December 29, 2022

The Best of 2022 In Track And Field: CITIUS MAG Staff Picks

This was a good year to cover track and field. Although CITIUS MAG was founded in 2017 as a blog, it only really started one year ago when Chris left his post at Sports Illustrated to fully commit to this thing. The team watched a lot of track this year, maybe too much! And we tried plenty of new things along the way. But it feels like we are starting to carve out a nice little niche for ourselves, while still actively finding our place in the sport.

When it isn’t a newsletter, podcast, interview, or live show, we are constantly talking about the sport in what is easily my most active text group. Admittedly, we are fans first. We had a lot of fun covering the sport this year and to recap it, I asked the team their opinions on handing out superlatives.


Best Race 🏆

 

The men’s 100m final at Worlds. It was the first time I felt the new Hayward Field was jam-packed and the whole crowd knew we could be in for something special. Kerley dropped that 9.76 in the semis and made us all wonder what he had in store for the final, or if anyone would pull off the upset a la Marcell Jacobs in 2021. We ended up with a U.S. sweep – we knew Kerley won right away but we didn’t know the next two spots so everyone was scoreboard-watching as the results trickled in. We went nuts. — Chris Chavez

Men’s 1500m final at World Champs. All the big players in it with 600m to go, huge upset with Jake over Jakob. — Mac Fleet

The last lap and final straightaway of Gidey vs. Obiri in the 10,000m at Worlds is about as much as you could ever ask for in a race. — Kyle Merber

It wasn’t a race but Kara Winger winning the Diamond League final, setting the American record after medaling at World Championships! 🔥🔥🔥 — Jasmine Todd

Sharon Lokedi’s surprise victory in her New York marathon debut was one of the most dramatic, unexpected performances of 2022. Other folks may have run faster or won by smaller margins, but Lokedi’s victory in NYC was a special combination of defying expectations, providing sustained drama, and occurring on one of the largest stages in road racing. It was essentially up for grabs for most of the last 10 kilometers, and some of the sport’s heaviest hitters trading surges over the Central Park hills made for gripping television. That the least credentialed of the major players ending up on top made it all the sweeter in the end. — David Melly

Sydney running the WR at Worlds, or Jakob Ingerbrigsten in the prelim when he was goofing off on the homestretch. — Katelyn Hutchison

Aaron Sahlman winning NXN is fresh in my mind, but it’s hard not to point out how incredible it is. Imagine the significance of winning your first-ever high school cross-country race. Now make that race the biggest event in the sport for high schoolers. That’s exactly what Aaron Sahlman did. He ran an incredibly well-executed race, making two signature moves when he needed them most to take down the deepest cross country field in high school history. — Gary Martin

I know this is a CITIUS favorite but it has to be the men’s 1500m final with Jake Wightman taking down favorite Jakob Ingebrigtsen. The drama! The shock! The family ties with Jake’s Dad on the call! Everything I love about sport. — Dana Giordano


Best Celebration 🎉

The infamous tackle celebration from the World Champs Men’s 100m Final — Jasmine

Noah tearing his shirt off after winning the 200 at Worlds. — Katelyn

World Record, World Champion, and a backflip! Mondo does it all just one centimeter at a time iykyk. —Dana

Absolutely has to be TeeTee Terry and the women’s 4x100m after taking gold in Eugene. — David

Noah Lyles hawking down Erriyon Knighton in the homestretch and then looking across at him as he crosses the line. You’ve gotta love a good rivalry, right? — Gary


Most Underrated 🤐

Kenny Bednarek. Olympic silver medal, DL final winner, World Champs silver medal, 6 x DL winner. — Mac

Tori Franklin after winning first medal for the U.S women’s triple jump. — Jasmine

Alison Dos Santos: while he is the 2022 World Champion in the 400mH there is a target on his back with a full-strength Karsten Warholm. Look out for the world record to fall again in 2023. —Dana

Chase Ealey. Has to be the best season by a female U.S. thrower in recent memory – maybe ever! World indoor silver, undefeated outdoors, World champion, Diamond League champion, and 8 competitions over 20 meters despite entering this year with a 19.68m personal best. The throws got more and better coverage this year than they have in the past, but they deserve more! — David

Trey Cunningham put together a pretty incredible season but is a bit overshadowed because the other two best athletes in the world for his event are also from the United States. But looking at his season, Cunningham was undefeated in the 110mH up until U.S. Champs where he took 2nd. He also capped it off with a silver medal at the World Champs final. — Gary

Lay Johnson. —Katelyn

All season long there was this idea that the 800m was wide open, but once again Emmanuel Korir delivered. The Olympic Champion added a World title, the fastest time of the year and another Diamoess nd League final to his resume. He isn’t one to push the pace, but he has the talent and 400m chops to scare Rudisha’s record. —Kyle

I think Joshua Awotunde is here to stay. Before this year’s World Championships, we started getting used to a podium that consisted of some combination of Ryan Crouser, Joe Kovacs and Tom Walsh. Awotunde is just 27 years old. He registered three throws over 22.00m at the World Championships after having only ever done it once before in his life. He got it done when it mattered most and it came as a surprise to many. More trips to get lit at Denny’s may be in his future.— Chris


Most Improved 📈

Abby Steiner dropped her 100m from 11.32 to 10.90 and her 200m from 22.59 to 21.77, then made her first global team and won two relay gold medals. —Mac  

Alaysha Johnson and MaryBeth Sant both stepped away from track and came back running PBs this year and representing Team USA. — Jasmine

Emily Sisson. Sure, she ran 15:12 in the 5000m in college, dominated the 10,000m at the 2021 U.S. Trials, ran under 68 minutes in the half 3 times, and debuted in the marathon with a 2:23:08 6th place finish in London 2019. But she also dropped out of the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, pulled out of New York in 2021 with an injury she picked up in Tokyo, and entered Chicago this year at #9 on the U.S. all-time list behind three other active marathoners. So while Sisson made her 2:18:29 performance in Chicago look easy with a masterclass in patient, well-executed racing, it really was a massive improvement at a distance that had not always been kind to her before this year. — David

Tobi Amusan is my most improved athlete of the year. She rose to the occasion with a huge performance at World Champs, running 12.12 over 100mh and lowering her PR by .28 seconds in the semi-final! This performance also broke the world record of 12.20, previously held by Kendra Harrison. She then proved it wasn’t a fluke by winning her first World Championship and running a wind-aided 12.06 in the final. I may be a distance guy, but even I can see the significance of what Tobi Amusan accomplished this season. —Gary

I’m torn between Sydney McLaughlin improving her personal best in the 400m hurdles by .78 seconds in a year or Eliud Kipchoge taking 30 seconds off his own marathon world record. — Chris


Best Coach ✍️

Mike Holloway, no words needed. —Jasmine

NC State Coach Laurie Henes – not much better than coaching the NCAA Women’s winning team and individual champion in Katelyn Touhy. She has HOW many athletes sub 16 in the 5k??  — Dana

Tokyo 2021 and Eugene 2022 represented a beautiful passing of the torch from one big star to another – Allyson Felix and Sydney McLaughlin – and both are Kersee athletes. And with Athing Mu, Brandon Miller, Keni Harrison, and Jenna Prandini joining his group, it’s entirely possible that the legendary coach will end up being the coach of the year in 2023 as well. — David

I have to go with Dathan Ritzenhein. OAC has a star-studded lineup of elite athletes and they consistently produced some of the best results of the season from American-based clubs. We saw Joe Klecker take home an American title in the 10k, as well as a 9th-place finish at the World champs. Alicia Monson ran the 2nd fastest 5k in American history and placed 2nd at US Champs in the 5k. Geordie Beamish flashed his incredible kick in a huge 3k victory in Millrose games, Ollie Hoare threw down multiple impressive miles (including a 3:47!), and Sage Hurta shaved 3 seconds off her 800m PR en route to 8 sub 2:00 performances and a 1:57 PR. —Gary


Best Social Media👩‍💻

Every time Eric Jenkins does a monologue. — Mac

If Chris Benard posted more… but he doesn’t so Kenny Bednarek. —Jasmine

TeeTee Terry always has me laughing. —Katelyn

Gary Martin’s Twitter is an absolute gem, and I’m not just saying that because he’s part of the CITIUS MAG blog family now. He’s a funny guy with a bright future in the sport – and Boston and Philly sports fans can always bond over our shared hatred of New York. — David

Keira D’Amato is holding it down and has struck the perfect balance between trying without really trying at all. She is transparent in everything shared and can engage fans authentically so that they feel like they really know her. —Kyle

Scott Fauble has blessed my Twitter feed with countless pictures of quality burritos, as well as thoughtful commentary and ratings of those burritos. —Gary

I’m still laughing at this TikTok/reel posted by Kenny Bednarek. —Chris


Favorite Photo 📸

Johnny Zhang’s photo of Grant Holloway at World Indoor Championships. — Mac

Johnny Zhang was robbed of World Athletics Photo of the Year with his Grant Holloway shot from Belgrade, Serbia. I need that one blown up and signed for my office. — Chris

Johnny Zhang’s photo of Grant Holloway in the 60mH indoors. It’s an incredible shot that perfectly encapsulates Holloway’s dominance over the distance. And I still don’t understand how someone can build that big of a lead over the best in the world over only 60 meters. — Gary

Jenna Prandini passing the baton to TeeTee holding her wrist to make sure the exchange happens. — Jasmine

This Justin Britton photo from Europeans of Gina Lückenkemper gash in her leg. — Kyle

Rai jumping on Trevor. — Katelyn


Biggest Controversy 🗣

Devon Allen’s DQ in the World Championship Final. Reaction time in the blocks needs to be reevaluated asap! — Jasmine

The Devon Allen blocks at Worlds still has me heated. — Katelyn

Devon Allen being DQ’d! I’m still mad and I hope you’re still mad about it too. If punishing an athlete for having too good of a reaction time isn’t controversial, then I don’t know what is. —Gary

USATF salaries by far. — Mac

The saga of Ferdinand Omanyala and other athletes getting their visas approved to make it to Worlds. He flew from Kenya and went straight to his race at Hayward to make it through his prelim. I’ve never not felt like garbage after a flight.—Kyle

It feels like forever ago but Poopgate was 2022 and I don’t think it was ever fully resolved so coming in 2023 will be CITIUS MAG’s first true crime podcast. We’re examining stool samples to get to the bottom of this mystery. — Chris Chavez


2023 Wish 🧞‍♂️

We need more Diamond League races without rabbits or pace lights. — Mac

I want to see more celebrations for wins! I want athletes to enjoy the process and not think about the next race immediately! — Jasmine

I want to see CITIUS take over the world 😎 — Katelyn

Faith Kipyegon finally getting the world record in the 1500m. Kipyegon now has two Olympic and two World titles in the event along with the #2, #5, and #10-13 all-time marks in the event and she’s still only 28 years old. She took a couple of serious cracks at it this year, but it seems like her biggest limiting factor is that she doesn’t often have company in the final laps of the race. With some pressure from other rising stars like Gudaf Tsegay, she could soon become the first woman to break 3:50 in the event. — David

I am most excited to see how to road to OTQ plays out in the marathon – I know this is looking WAY ahead but the steady drumbeat of the chase for athletes both pro and amateur aiming for a spot on the starting line is good for the sport. — Dana

I would love to see Sydney McLaughlin go after a fast 400 time. She’s already proven her dominance over the 400mH and she’s flashed incredible ability in the 4x400m, so it would be super cool to see what she could run if she focused on the 400m for a season. It’s also pretty crazy that Sydney is only 23 and we’re already discussing a switch to another event because she’s conquered her main one so quickly. — Gary

Which meet organizer wants to break the bank on a 400m race featuring Sydney McLaughlin, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Marileidy Paulino, Femke Bol, Sada Williams, Fiordaliza Cofil and Abby Steiner? The track and field community would thank you. This brings together 400m specialists, 200m specialists and 400m hurdle specialists all together to take a huge swing at Marita Koch’s 400m world record of 47.60, which has stood for way too long! (Since 1985!) Find us a billionaire willing to offer $1 million to the winner – maybe that will get some people over their selectiveness when it comes to racing. — Chris Chavez


2023 Athlete to Watch 👀

Throwing my bias into the ring I’m most excited to see Heather MacLean have a healthy year. US women’s distance is at its highest level and ready for one athlete to dominate. My prediction is that the 1500m US record of 3:54.99 goes down. — Dana

I am going to keep watching Noah Lyles. — Mac

Jessica Woodard in the women’s shot put! — Jasmine

Athing Mu after making that coaching change. — Katelyn

I’m really excited to watch Hobbs Kessler. In his first full-season pro, he ran some really good races but didn’t quite improve on what he ran at the end of his high school career. He’s one of the most talented young distance runners in the sport though and he’s due for a big year. — Gary

I had a lot of fun watching Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo shine at the World U20 Championships in Colombia, where he celebrated super early en route to gold in 9.91s. He’s reportedly on his way to Oregon in the coming months so maybe we’ll see how other college stars take to his Bolt-esque antics. — Chris Chavez


Favorite CITIUS Moment 📱

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce backyard interview at the CITIUS HQ. — Mac

Running to the CITIUS house in a boot with a cane for an emergency podcast. Amazing that my heel healed! —Jasmine

When we had Grant over sipping wine in our house. And just in general having athletes come in and out of the house all week. — Katelyn

While it is almost impossible to pick one moment, it has to be watching the men’s 1500m final with the CITIUS squad at WCs. —Dana

The “I got lit at Denny’s” line from Josh Awotunde. — Kyle

The CITIUS MAG Live interview with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was an all-time highlight of the best of both CITIUS and track and field. If we could afford her, we would definitely give SAFP her own talk show on our network! — David

Kyle’s rundown of how NCAA qualifying works because it was the first time I finally understood what KOLA points were. — Gary

I didn’t expect there to be so much online chatter about the mixed zone after Sha’Carri Richardson failed to qualify for the World Championships and didn’t stop for long to speak with most members of the media. However, while a 30-second clip is what most people saw, she actually did stop to speak briefly with CITIUS MAG’s Katelyn Hutchison and Jasmine Todd, as well as RealTalk’s Tiara Williams. A few years ago, this stop probably wouldn’t have happened due to the lack of diversity in the track and field mixed zone. It’s encouraging to see that progress is being made, and I’m excited to see Katelyn and Jasmine emerge as leaders in this space. The athletes are super comfortable with them. Katelyn and Jasmine are new to this space and I’m excited to watch them improve and bring their own flair to the way the sport is covered.  — Chris Chavez


Favorite Interview 👥

Errioyn Knighton home visit in Tampa Bay. — Mac

It’s always a pleasure interviewing athletes like Sha’Carri and Athing. — Katelyn

There is nothing better than an in-person interview and I loved speaking with Vanessa Fraser about her transition away from Bowerman TC in Orgeon to starting a new chapter in San Francisco working and running. — Dana

Chatting with Michigan State grad Morgan Beadlescomb as he turned pro was a great time – he’s super fun and funny, and he’s got a bright future ahead of him. I could easily see him taking the Joe Klecker route as a pro – he never got an NCAA title, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a regular fixture of U.S. teams very soon. — David

This is a tough one so I’ll go with two. Michael Johnson at Worlds was maybe one of the best interviews that we put together this year because it was less focused on current events/performances or a look back at his career. We recognized that we could do stuff like that at any other point but while celebrating the sport at its biggest stage of the year, we had an audience and we wanted to float some potential solutions and ideas for the many problems that the sport faces. — Chris Chavez

Talking with Emma Coburn after she won her 10th US title about why it was the most special of them all. — Kyle


The Lap Count is a weekly newsletter delivered on Wednesday mornings that recap all the fun action from the world of track & field. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the sport. There is a lot happening and this newsletter is a great way to stay up to date with all the fun. Subscribe today.

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