SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tianna Bartoletta was already guaranteed a spot in the world track and field championships no matter what she did Saturday.
That comes with being a defending world champion.
Didn’t matter. The Elyria High graduate had one thing on her mind … winning.
And that’s what she did, jumping 23 feet, 1 3⁄4 inches to win the long jump title at the U.S. outdoor track and field championships at Sacramento State’s Hornets Stadium. Brittney Reese was second with a jump of 22-10 3⁄4.
Asked about taking all six of her jumps even though her spot at worlds was secure, Bartoletta had a simple response.
“I don’t care about the wild card,” Bartoletta said. “I’m looking at winning championships. There’s no bigger stimulus than this. Brittney makes me remain present for every moment because she can always unleash a huge jump.”
Bartoletta, who won the 2015 world title in Beijing to go with the one she one in Helsinki in 2005, will defend her title in London on Aug. 4-13.
She even managed to surprise herself Saturday, not with the win but with how she pulled it off.
“I usually don’t jump well on my first attempt, but today I hit 7.01 (meters, 23-0 feet) on my first. I learned something about myself today and got the win with it.”
In other action, the Olympic 100-meter hurdles gold medalist didn’t race and the bronze medalist couldn’t make the team.
Still, they’re thinking a red, white and blue sweep in London. Just shows the depth of the hurdles.
World-record holder Keni Harrison used a strong start to win her first U.S. outdoor track and field championship.
Nia Ali, the silver medalist at the Rio de Janeiro Games, was second and Christina Manning took third. Because Harrison already had a wild-card berth into worlds in August, 2008 Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson also made the hurdles squad courtesy of her fourth-place finish.
“Everyone in this event is really strong,” said Harrison, who finished in 12.60 seconds to beat Ali by a 0.08 margin. “These girls are going to represent and get that sweep like last year (at the Olympics).”
In Rio, the 1-2-3 hurdles finish was led by Brianna Rollins, who received a one-year suspension in April for repeated failures to disclose her whereabouts to anti-doping officials. Rollins’ suspension is retroactive to Sept. 27, 2016, the date of her last missed whereabouts report. Also missing from the world team will be Kristi Castlin, the bronze medalist in Rio who wound up sixth in the final.
“To make this (hurdles) team, you have to work for it and earn it,” said Harper-Nelson, who drew a three-month suspension that began in December for a positive test. She told anti-doping officials it was caused by blood pressure medication. “That just shows you how strong our team is.”
Harrison went all out despite already having a safety net to worlds thanks to her Diamond League title. She needed the work after breaking her left hand while warming up for a hurdles race this spring.
“To come from breaking a hand to winning, it means everything,” Harrison said. “My confidence is where it needs to be.”
Did you see that?
Pole vaulter Sam Kendricks became a member of the six-meter club (19 feet, 81⁄4 inches) in his win. He even waited through a roughly 20-minute delay while officials filled the water pit for the steeplechase.
“Every great jumper in history had at least one six-meter jump under their belt,” said Kendricks, an Army reservist. “I wanted to be part of the club, the very prestigious club.”
No double desire
LaShawn Merritt and Allyson Felix both ran the 200 simply to stay race sharp, with no plans to double in London. They each have automatic entries into worlds in the 400.
Justin Gatlin won’t double, either. The winner of the 100 the night before, Gatlin didn’t take the starting line for the 200. He’s been dealing with nagging quad/groin injuries.
Former University of Colorado runners Jenny Simpson (1,500) and Emma Coburn (steeplechase) earned national titles. Another former Buffalo,
31-year-old Sara Vaughn, finished third in the 1,500.
“We have an enormous school pride,” Simpson said.
Under the weather
Olympic gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz recently recovered from a viral infection and an adductor injury that left him wondering how well he would be able to compete in the 1,500. He made the team, but couldn’t catch Robby Andrews down the stretch.
“It feels great to win a race again,” Andrews said. “I’m not gonna lie, it’s been awhile since I’ve won.”
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