Tianna Bartoletta

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Five women’s events to watch at USATF Outdoor Championships

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The women’s fields at the USATF Outdoor Championships (Summer Champions Series) feature the most decorated female track and field athlete of all time (Allyson Felix).

They feature the deepest races of the meet (100m hurdles, 400m hurdles).

And two inspiring stories — Gabriele Grunewald contesting the 1500m in between chemotherapy treatments and Alysia Montano in the 800m while five months pregnant.

Then there’s the world-record holder who shockingly missed the Rio Olympics (Keni Harrison) and two strong head-to-head rivalries (noted in events to watch).

The top three finishers per event make the roster, should they reach the qualifying times or marks.

In addition to the top three, reigning world champions from 2015 and Diamond League champions from 2016 receive automatic byes into worlds, should they toe the start line in Sacramento.

The women could well produce the headlines every day at nationals, beginning Thursday on NBC Sports Gold. A full broadcast schedule is here.

Here are five women’s events to watch:

100m
Thursday (first round)
Friday (semifinals, final)
2016 Olympics: Tori Bowie (silver), English Gardner (7th), Tianna Bartoletta (semifinals)
2017 World Rankings: Aleia Hobbs (4th, 10.85), Mikiah Brisco (7th, 10.96), Deajah Stevens (8th, 11.00), Ashley Henderson (9th, 11.01)

Outlook: Hobbs, Brisco, Stevens and Henderson are all collegians and may be hard-pressed to repeat those best times two weeks after the NCAA Championships. Hobbs’ 10.85 was an outlier during a 12-race season where her second-best time was 11.02, according to Tilastopaja.org.

Bowie is just behind them in this year’s rankings but also ran a wind-aided 10.80 in April. She’s the favorite. Less certain are fellow pros Gardner and Bartoletta. Gardner dealt with a reported calf tear this spring and came back to run 11.32 on June 10. Bartoletta may be focusing more on the long jump, her Olympic gold-medal event. Her last three wind-legal 100m times were 11.26, 11.47 and 11.49.

The door could be open for Allyson Felix, who ran 11.07 on May 20, her only 100m in the last two years. She is planning to race the 100m in Sacramento, but with a bye into the worlds 400m, the short sprint may not be in her long-term gameplan.

MORE: Five men’s events to watch

1500m
Thursday (first round)
Saturday (final)
2016 Olympics: Jenny Simpson (bronze), Shannon Rowbury (4th), Brenda Martinez (semifinals)
2017 World Rankings: Kate Grace (17th, 4:03.59), Simpson (19th, 4:04.16), Rowbury (23rd, 4:04.61), Lauren Johnson (34th, 4:05.88)

Outlook: Storylines on both days here. First, Gabriele Grunewald will be magnetic on the opening day in Sacramento, racing in between chemotherapy treatments. The final will likely be a battle between rivals Simpson and Rowbury. Simpson is the three-time reigning U.S. champion. Rowbury is the American record holder. Martinez is only racing the 800m in Sacramento, despite holding the two fastest 1500m times this year among Americans.

400m Hurdles
Friday (first round)
Saturday (semifinals)
Sunday (final)
2016 Olympics: Dalilah Muhammad (gold), Ashley Spencer (bronze), Sydney McLaughlin (semifinals)
2017 World Rankings: Spencer (1st, 53.38), Shamier Little (2nd, 54.44), McLaughlin (3rd, 54.03), Georganne Moline (4th, 54.09)

Outlook: Unquestionably the U.S.’ best event this year — male or female. In only one other event does the U.S. have the top two in the world rankings (men’s triple jump). Americans make up the top four here, and that’s not even including the Rio Olympic champion Muhammad or the Diamond League champion Cassandra Tate, who has a bye into worlds. Two world medal threats are guaranteed to be left off the London team.

200m
Saturday (first round)
Sunday (semifinals, final)
2016 Olympics: Tori Bowie (bronze), Deajah Stevens (7th), Jenna Prandini (semifinals)
2017 World Rankings: Bowie (1st, 21.77), Kyra Jefferson (4th, 22.02), Stevens (5th, 22.09), Allyson Felix (7th, 22.33)

Outlook: Bowie, a sprint medalist of every color in Rio, shaved .22 off her personal best to win the Prefontaine Classic on May 27. She beat the Rio Olympic 200m and 400m gold and silver medalists handily. She is in a class of her own. Felix, who used to own this event, will have to oust either Jefferson or Stevens for one of the other two berths. Felix is 31 years old. Jefferson and Stevens are each 22 but could be at a disadvantage if they peaked for the NCAA Championships two weeks ago.

Pole Vault
Sunday
2016 Olympics: Sandi Morris (silver), Jenn Suhr (7th), Lexi Weeks (19th)
2017 World Rankings: Morris (2nd, 4.84m), Suhr (3rd, 4.83m), Morgan Leleux (9th, 4.65m), Annie Rhodes (15th, 4.61m)

Outlook: Morris and the 2012 Olympic champion Suhr are both near locks to make the world team, but the excitement is in their head-to-head battle. Morris was second to Suhr at nationals in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before breaking out in Rio. Suhr coughed up blood the morning of the Rio final, affected by illness. This year, Suhr and Rio gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece are the only women to clear 4.80 meters both indoors and outdoors.

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MORE: Chemo, then U.S. Champs for distance runner

U.S. women take gold in 4×100 relay, posts second-fastest time in history

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From fearing that they were out of the competition due to a failed exchange, to gold medalists.

That’s the roller coaster the U.S. women’s 4×100 relay team has been on the last couple of days, with the IAAF’s decision to let them re-run their semifinal heat opening the door for the Americans to win another gold medal in the event. Tianna Bartoletta ran the first leg, with Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Tori Bowie following in a race that was run with clean baton exchanges and dominant sprints in between for the Americans.

WATCH: Team USA women defend 4×100 gold

Their time of 41.01 seconds is the second-fastest time ever run in the 4×100 relay, and they beat silver medalist Jamaica by .35 seconds. Having 100 and 200 meter champion Elaine Thompson and 2012 Olympic 100 meter champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as part of their quartet put Jamaica in position to contend for gold before the race began, but the U.S. ran a race that removed any doubt by the time Bowie turn the corner for home.

MORE: USA zips to victory in women’s 4×100

Taking bronze was Great Britain, who at 41.77 seconds was more than four tenths of a second behind Jamaica (41.36).

With the victory Bartoletta, Felix and Bowie all added to their medal totals in Rio. Bartoletta took gold in the long jump, with Felix taking silver in the 400 and Bowie taking silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200. As for Gardner, the gold medal is her first career Olympic medal. Felix has now won a total of eight Olympic medals, and with five being gold she’s won more than any American female track and field athlete.

U.S. goes 1-2 in women’s long jump, Bartoletta takes gold

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Four years after taking gold in the long jump, Brittney Reese was prevented from making it two straight by another American.

Tianna Bartoletta took gold in the women’s long jump with an event-best jump of 23 feet, 6 ¼ inches. Bartoletta’s gold medal-winning jump came on her fifth attempt of the evening, and it stood despite Reese’s best attempt to get into gold medal position. In addition to winning gold, Bartoletta’s gold medal-winning jump is the fifth best in American history.

WATCH: Bartoletta, Reese claim gold, silver in long jump

Reese’s final attempt of the night of 23 feet, 5 ½ inches was close, but not good enough to take the top spot. Taking bronze was Ivana Spanovic of Serbia with a best jump of 23 feet, 2 ¾ inches.

This is only the third time that a country has taken gold and silver in the women’s long jump, with Romania (1984) and Russia (2004) being the other nations to do so. The U.S. has now won three Olympic gold medals in the long jump, with Jackie Joyner-Kersee being the first to do so in 1988.