Stars shine brightly for USATF Golden Games at the Mt. SAC Relays
Outstanding performances produced, including five world leaders, five Hilmer Lodge Stadium & Mt. SAC Relays records and one national record
By Karen Rosen for World Athletics
WALNUT, Calif. — Fast times – some with the help of a breeze – and one speedy turnaround highlighted the USATF Golden Games at the Mt. SAC Relays at historic Hilmer Lodge Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
However, the second stop in the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold series wasn’t as blustery as the first in Bermuda last weekend. In the final race of the meet, Fred Kerley had a legal tailwind to prevail in the highly anticipated men’s 200 meters.
With the wind gauge reading 1.6m/s, Kerley, the Tokyo Olympic 100m runner-up, chased down compatriot Michael Norman and clocked a world leading and stadium record time of 19.80 to eclipse his previous best this season of 20.04.
Norman, who had an excellent start, was second in 19.83 followed by Olympic 400m hurdles silver medalist Rai Benjamin in 20.01.
“I came in pretty confident,” said Kerley, who has also clocked times of 44.47 for 400m and 9.99 in the 100m so far this year. “The race felt good and I finished strong. I got the ‘W’.”
Kerley, whose time was four-hundredths off his lifetime best, said he has only one goal leading into the rest of the season: “Win.”
“The whole part of track is competing and that’s what I love to do,” he added.
Norman, a gold medalist in the 4x400m in Tokyo, said he understood what he did wrong in the race. “I kind of got excited and let the race plan leave my mind,” Norman said. “I didn’t run a great race, but it was a good opener so I just need to make the adjustments.”
Gabby Thomas won the women’s 200m a mere 24 minutes after placing third in the 100m.
Thomas, the Olympic bronze medalist from Tokyo, ran 22.02 (1.9m/s), another stadium record and just off the world leading mark of 21.96 run by Favour Ofili a day earlier in Florida. In the 100m, Thomas ran a wind-aided 10.86 (3.3m/s) to finish behind Twanisha Terry at 10.77 and Aleia Hobbs in 10.80.
“I didn’t expect (the turnaround) to be that quick,” said Thomas, who had been chatting animatedly in the gap between events. “I think I just got a little distracted with the media and talking to my coach and my agents, but it was a good warmup for the 200m and good preparation mentally.”
Thomas also competed in Bermuda and said she was feeling fatigued after a tough week of travel. How much faster could she have gone if the 200m had been her only race instead of her third of the day? “Oh gosh, hard to say,” Thomas said. “I would have liked to have dipped under 22, but you get what you get.”
Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah ran the preliminary race of the 100m with a world leading time of 10.89, then opted not to run the final.
Terry was content to claim that win with her fastest 100m, to beat her previous wind-aided time of 10.79 at the U.S. Olympic Trials last year.
“At least it was at my back this time!” Terry said of the wind, which was in her face when she ran in the 200m in Bermuda, placing seventh. “I told myself to stay patient and everything else would fall into place.”
Micah Williams of the University of Oregon – who hopes to star at the World Championships on his home track later this summer in Eugene – won the men’s 100m with a wind-aided time of 9.83 (2.5m/s), with Brandon Carnes second in 9.93.
Michael Cherry powered to victory in the men’s 400m, posting a world leading time of 44.28, also a stadium record. Alison Dos Santos, the Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medalist, was second in a big PB of 44.54 with Bryce Deadmon third (45.13) and Kenny Bednarek, the Olympic 200m runner-up, taking fourth (45.37).
“I’ve been training super hard, so I’m glad I can come out and show it off today,” Cherry said. “Just to see that I know the sky’s the limit the rest of the season. When you have confidence, it’s so hard to knock it down. I just believe in myself.”
Continue reading at: worldathletics.org
Complete USATF Golden Games at the Mt. SAC Relays results HERE.
NOTE: Allyson Felix, legend, ambassador & LA native, did not compete in the Golden Games, but did run the second leg on the meet record-setting women’s 4x400m Relay (3:25.35); her last race on the Mt. SAC oval.
CREDIT: Kirby Lee / Image of Sport