Day eight of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Track & Field was packed with competition, as just over 21,000 fans showed up to cheer on the athletes at Oregon’s Hayward Field.
The headliner was the final of the women’s 3000m Steeplechase, an always exciting event that requires athletes to clear 28 ordinary barriers and seven water jumps over the course of the race.
University of Colorado star Emma Coburn led from the start and won decisively in 9:32.78.
“I’ve had this goal since last year. This was a goal that I was hungry to receive. It’ll be great to run in London with these girls,” said Coburn, who is also the current U.S. champion in the event.
Bridget Franek was second in 9:35:62. Now a member of the Oregon Track Club, Franek was a dominant runner at Penn State, winning the 2010 NCAA Division I title.
“I definitely sensed at different points in the race that there were people behind me. I was just praying people were as tired as I was,” Franek said. “I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet that I am going to London on the U.S. Olympic team.”
NCAA Steeplechase champ Shalaya Kipp, also of the University of Colorado, charged hard to catch Franek in the final lap, and ended up third in 9:35.62. Kipp needed to run the Olympic “A” standard to qualify for the Olympic team, which she did by almost eight seconds.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it or not. I have summer school starting in a week,” said Kipp. “When I saw Emma cross at 9:32 I think it was, I thought I am going to get it.”
The final of the women’s shot put was also held on Friday. American Record holder Jill Camarena-Williams threw 19.16 meters (62 feet and 10.5 inches) in the third round, earning a trip to London and her third career U.S. outdoor title.
“I am so happy I made it through. I did it and I am so excited to get to go out to London,” Williams said. “Last year I injured a joint in my hand and occasionally it’ll still slip but it is always a little tough on the first throw. But I can acclimate for the next five throws pretty well.”
Defending Trials champ Michelle Carter finished second with a 18.57 meter toss (60 feet and 11.25 inches) on her fifth attempt.
“I’ve been working a lot on technique. Lately, I’ve been pulling left, so I need to really go look back and fix it before London.”
Oklahoma University’s Tia Brooks, the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Shot Put champ, held an early lead and finished third, making her first Olympic team with a throw of 18.34 meters (60 feet and 2 inches).
“I’m younger and this is my first Olympic Trials. Seeing all the glitz and glamor has made me nervous,” Brooks said.
Hyleas Fountain, the 2008 silver medalist in the women’s heptathlon, is in first place with 3,948 points after four events. She leads Sharon Day, a 2008 Olympian in the high jump, by 151 points.
“Today went pretty good. I did a few bad things but with the heptathlon that’s how it goes,” Fountain said. “I’m excited for day two. As long as I get through this and make it to the games I’ll be good.”
In the semifinal rounds of the women’s 200m, Sanya Richards-Ross, Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter all moved on to the final. Richards-Ross, the 400m Trials champ, was the top qualifier with a time of 22.15.
“I was pleased to see that time. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll go even faster and put together another great race to win it,” said Richards-Ross.
Jeneba Tarmoh, who finished the 100m final in a dead heat for third with Felix, also made it through to the finals.
Wallace Spearmon was the top qualifier in the semifinal of the men’s 200m, winning the first heat in 20.17.
“It was a good run. We ran faster than I wanted to,” said Spearmon. “I didn’t want to run that hard in the first round, but you have to do what you can to make the team.”
Aries Merritt, the 2012 world champ in the 60m hurdles, and Jason Richardson, the 2011 world champ at 110m, had the fastest qualifying times in the men’s 110m hurdles, each running 13.13.
“I felt fine. I just kept everything the same,” Merritt said. “There were some nerves involved and I just have to stay focused.”
Former Oregon star Matt Centrowitz, the 2011 World bronze medalist, and 2008 Olympian Leonel Manzano, were the top qualifiers in the men’s 1500, each running 3:41.90.
“It was good. The competition was good. I just came to qualify and give myself a good position,” said Centrowitz.
In the women’s 1500m, 2011 U.S. champ Morgan Uceny was the top qualifier for the final with a time of 4:08.90. World Champion Jenny Simpson was second in 4:09.12.
“One of the great things about us is we are both at our peak but we earned our stripes along the way,” said Simpson.