Deanna Price

Allyson Felix set for ninth world championships team, first as a mom

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DES MOINES — Allyson Felix finished sixth in the USATF Outdoor Championships 400m, which will likely put her in a ninth straight world championships. And her first as a mom.

But a fifth Olympics, not a ninth worlds, are at the front of her mind.

Felix made that clear after racing three times in as many days in her first meet since having daughter Camryn via emergency C-section at 32 weeks on Nov. 28.

The top three go to worlds in Doha in two months in the individual 400m. The top six are generally taken for the 4x400m relay pool.

This will be the first time in Felix’s 16-year pro career that she will not be going to the Olympics or worlds in an individual event. Unsurprising given she said before the meet, her first in more than a year, that she was “far from” her best.

Felix said she will talk with her coach, Bobby Kersee, and consider her fitness before deciding whether to accept a potential relay invitation.

“It’s bigger than world championships,” said Felix, who had four and a half months of good training before this meet, shorter than she would normally prefer. “I would love to be running for an individual spot at world championships, but where I’m at in my career — I’m grateful for all my experiences at world championships — I want to be back at the Olympics. I want that more than anything. I want to go out on my terms.”

Felix was sixth in 51.94 seconds, 1.73 seconds behind winner Shakima Wimbley. In three rounds here, she ran 52.50, 51.45 and 51.94, well off her personal best of 49.26 and her routine ability to get close to 50 flat, and usually break it, at major meets from 2011 to 2016.

Felix, the most decorated female Olympic track and field athlete with nine medals and six golds, has made every U.S. Olympic and world team dating to 2003, when she was 17 years old.

This was her toughest team to make yet. Camryn and husband Kenneth Ferguson wore “Felix the Cat” clothing in the Drake Stadium stands.

“I did this off very little training, so that gives me a lot of hope,” she said.

USATF Outdoors conclude Sunday with finals including the men’s and women’s 200m.

USATF OUTDOORS: TV Schedule | Full Results

In other events, Michael Norman was upset in the 400m by Fred Kerley, who clocked a personal-best 43.64 to become the sixth-fastest man in history. Norman, undefeated the previous two years, was second in 43.79 to make his first world team. Norman revealed afterward that he didn’t practice the previous two weeks because of an unspecified strain.

“Originally, I wasn’t supposed to run,” said Norman, has run 43.45 this year. “I made [the decision] the day of racing. I warmed up and said I could do it.”

Paralympian and double amputee Blake Leeper was fifth, which would normally be enough to make worlds in the relay (like Felix), but he is facing a legal battle with the IAAF.

World-record holder Keni Harrison won the 100m hurdles in 12.44 and will be joined on the world team by Olympic gold and silver medalists Brianna McNeal and Nia Ali.

Shelby Houlihan repeated as U.S. 1500m champion, clocking 4:03.18 to relegate Jenny Simpson to second place by overtaking the Olympic bronze medalist on the last curve. They’re joined on the world team by Nikki Hiltz. Simpson, 32, has made 10 straight Olympic/world teams.

Two American records fell: DeAnna Price broke her own mark in the hammer (78.24 meters). Sam Kendricks broke Brad Walker‘s 11-year-old mark in the pole vault, clearing 6.06 meters. Only Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka has cleared a higher height outdoors.

Vashti Cunningham, daughter of retired NFL All-Pro quarterback Randall Cunningham, took her third straight high jump crown. Cunningham, who ranks third in the world this year, cleared 1.96 meters.

Hillary Bor won the men’s 3000m steeplechase that lacked Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager, who will miss worlds due to a foot injury.

Rio gold medalists Tianna Bartoletta (long jump) and Kerron Clement (400m hurdles) will not be going to worlds after finishing last in their finals. Bartoletta jumped off her opposite foot following an injury last year, NBC Sports’ Paul Swangard said. Clement’s streak of 10 straight Olympic/world teams ends.

In non-finals, Noah Lyles and Christian Coleman moved closer to a showdown in Sunday’s 200m by advancing to the semifinals. Lyles is the fastest 200m runner in the world for two straight years. Coleman is the fastest 100m runner in the world for three straight years.

Olympic bronze medalist Tori Bowie and two-time U.S. champion Jenna Prandini scratched their 200m first-round heats. Both Bowie and Prandini also scratched out of the 100m, meaning Prandini will miss worlds.

Bowie can still compete at worlds in the 100m, where she is defending champion, because she competed in the long jump later Saturday. Defending champions have byes into worlds if they compete in at least one event at nationals.

Sha’Carri Richardson, who last month won the NCAA 100m in 10.75 seconds to become the ninth-fastest woman in history, missed the 200m semifinals by .001. The 19-year-old will likely miss the world team after placing eighth in the 100m on Friday.

All the favorites advanced in the 110m hurdles (Grant Holloway, Daniel RobertsDevon Allen) and 400m hurdles (Dalilah MuhammadSydney McLaughlinShamier Little).

MORE: Noah Lyles responds to Usain Bolt question

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Matthew Centrowitz redeems, Jenny Simpson upset at USATF Outdoors

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Matthew Centrowitz never doubted — and, based on post-race comments, other top American milers didn’t, either — but after a dreadful year that followed his Olympic breakthrough, and moving across the country, his fifth national title had unique significance.

“Satisfaction out there,” Centrowitz told Lewis Johnson on NBC after winning the 1500m at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. “A little sense of relief, get back on top.

“I wouldn’t say it was my best race since the Olympics, but it was a step in the right direction.”

Centrowitz regained best American miler status 55 minutes after Jenny Simpson‘s run of four straight 1500m titles ended in Des Moines on Saturday.

Centrowitz, who in Rio became the first U.S. Olympic 1500m champion in 108 years, won in typical fashion, moving toward the front on a 57-second penultimate lap and outkicking the field on the home stretch.

He crossed in 3:43.37, just .04 faster than his runner-up time a year ago and a comfortable .26 ahead of Izaik Yorks. Centrowitz, whose past celebrations included odes to Cam Newton and J.R. Smith, this time held his right hand to his ear to mimic a phone.

“I was calling 911,” Centrowitz said, “report a murder.”

It marked Centrowitz’s first win on this kind of stage since Rio. Last year, Centrowitz was unable to get more than two straight weeks of healthy training all season due in part to adductor issues and an ER visit with a viral infection. It showed at nationals, where Olympic teammate Robby Andrews beat him. It was clearer at worlds, where a listless Centrowitz finished last in his first-round heat.

Centrowitz announced in January he relocated from Portland, Ore., to work with his dad, a former competitive runner, in the D.C. area but would still be coached from long distance by Alberto Salazar. Then at the Pre Classic last month, Centrowitz was not the top finishing American in the Bowerman Mile for the first time since 2013 (though he missed the meet in 2016 and 2017).

Didn’t matter Saturday. Other U.S. milers still deferred.

“When you get into these big races with Matt, it’s like when you get into a big race with [four-time Olympic gold medalist] Mo [Farah], these guys, you kind of let them do things that you wouldn’t let someone you know you’re better than get away with,” third-place finisher and Nike Oregon Project teammate Eric Jenkins said. “They do what they want. They get into position. They take what they want. It comes with being as good as they are.”

Andrews, bounced in the first round Thursday, texted Centrowitz congratulations. Centrowitz is now one U.S. title shy of Steve Scott‘s post-World War II record. That’s on his mind.

“At this point in my career, I want to keep checking off boxes to leave my mark in the 1500m in the U.S,” said Centrowitz, whose personal best from 2015 of 3:30.40 makes him the third-fastest American all time behind Bernard Lagat and Sydney Maree.

With no world championships or Olympics this season, Centrowitz still has motivation. He would like to win a Diamond League race (no U.S. man has done so in the 1500m) and finish the year ranked No. 1 in the country.

“My dad always calls it the three Hs,” Centrowitz said. “I’ve got to be happy, healthy and hungry. …. Relatively speaking, I’ve been healthy since Jan. 1, and I was hungrier than ever today.”

USATF Outdoors conclude Sunday on NBC (4-6 p.m. ET) and NBC Sports Gold (12:30-6 p.m.), highlighted by 200m, 5000m and 110m hurdles finals.

USATF Outdoors: TV Schedule | Results | Women’s Preview | Men’s Preview

Simpson, the Olympic bronze medalist, was beaten by Olympic 5000m runner Shelby Houlihan for the second time this season. The Sioux City native Houlihan surged past Simpson on the final straight, just as she did at the Pre Classic last month.

“I’m totally bummed, but I guess I have a lot of practice at losing as well as winning,” Simpson told media in Des Moines. “It felt a little weird being at U.S. Championships and getting outkicked.”

Houlihan won in 4:05.48, .73 ahead of runner-up Simpson.

“I feel like she’s way ahead of me,” Houlihan said of Simpson. “She’s someone I’ve looked up to since high school.”

In other events, Deanna Price took the American record back from Gwen Berry with a 78.12-meter hammer throw, the best in the world this year.

Shakima Wimbley and Kahmari Montgomery won their first U.S. titles in the 400m.

Wimbley prevailed in 49.52, lowering her personal best by .66, tying the fastest time in the world this year and torching a field lacking the last two world champions, Phyllis Francis and Allyson Felix. Wimbley showed promise at the Pre Classic last month, finishing third behind Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Francis.

Montgomery clocked 44.58 to win, two weeks after finishing seventh at the NCAA Championships for the University of Houston. The men’s field lacked 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt and Michael Norman, the fastest man in the world this year who opted to race the 200m this week.

World-record holder Kendra Harrison repeated as 100m hurdles champion. Harrison clocked 12.46, off of her world record of 12.20. Olympic champion Brianna McNeal, who beat Harrison in Shanghai on May 12, was not in the field.

World gold and silver medalists Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs went one-two in the 3000m steeplechase. Coburn, the Olympic bronze medalist, earned her seventh national title in eight years by clocking 9:17.70. She pulled away from Frerichs on the last lap to win by .99. Nobody else finished within 15 seconds.

“[Frerichs] gave me a run for my money,” Coburn, who has been beaten by a countrywoman once in eight years, said on NBC. “This is going to be a battle that’s worth watching for years to come.”

In the pole vault, Olympic bronze medalist and world champion Sam Kendricks cleared 5.85 meters for his fifth straight U.S. title.

Vashti Cunningham repeated as high jump champion by clearing 1.95 meters. Cunningham, whose father and coach is retired NFL All-Pro quarterback Randall Cunningham, was 13th at the Olympics and 10th at the world championships.

Darrell Hill upset Olympic champion Ryan Crouser in the shot put, winning with a 21.57-meter throw. Hill improved to 3-17 against Crouser. Crouser came to Des Moines with the top 23 throws by an American this year out of his 24 total legal throws, according to Tilastopaja.org. But on Saturday he had five fouls in six throws. His only legal throw was 20.99 meters for second place.

NCAA runner-up Kenny Selmon won the 400m hurdles from lane eight against a field that lacked Olympic champion Kerron Clement. Selmon clocked 48.21 seconds, three tenths ahead of TJ Holmes, who was fifth at 2017 Worlds.

The favorites advanced to Sunday’s semifinals in the 200m and 110m hurdles, including 400m indoor world-record holder Michael Norman and Olympian Ameer Webb in the 200m and world-record holder Aries Merritt, Olympian Devon Allen and NCAA champion Grant Holloway in the hurdles.

MORE: Lyles, Norman, green teens at Olympic Trials, now stars at USATF Champs

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Polish hammer thrower destroys world record… twice

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Holy smoke, Anita Włodarczyk: Feel free to be impressed with yourself.

The Polish hammer thrower, 31, not only broke the Olympic and World Records during Monday’s final in Rio, she did it with regularity.

Three of her throws were better than the previous Olympic record and two of them topped the previous world record, which now stands at 82.29 meters. That’s less than 2.6 meters from the 28-year-old men’s record.

MORE: Full event replay

She entered her final throw knowing she had won gold, and Wlodarczyk celebrated by nearly topping 80 again.

China’s Wenxiu Zhang (76.75) and Great Britain’s Sophie Hitchon (74.54) took silver and bronze.

USA’s Amber Campbell (72.74) and Deanna Price (70.95) finished 6th and 8th.