Provided by: USATF
Photos by: @JswiftSports
STATEN ISLAND, New York — Twelve more champions were crowned, including world leads, meet records as well as another national high school record broken, on Day 2 of Toyota USATF Indoor Championships at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex.
In an afternoon stunner, the first of two final heats for the Nike Men’s 2 Mile ended up resulting in a new USATF Indoors record and world lead for Drew Hunter (Purcellville, Virginia). Hunter was out by himself in a dominating performance but at the time wasn’t confident that his 8:25.29 would get the job done. Several hours later, in the final event of the day, the second heat went out hard but was ultimately unable to snatch away the title. Eric Avila (Chula Vista, California) won his heat and earned runner up overall with a 8:32.41 finish.
In a post-race interview, Hunter called watching the second heat a “very stressful 8 ½ minutes. It was very unique way to win a U.S. title but I couldn’t be happier.”
Vashti Cunningham (Las Vegas, Nevada) made history by becoming the first woman to win four consecutive USATF Indoors titles in 50 years when she clinched the Women’s High Jump victory. Cunningham, who was also the youngest U.S. Olympic Team qualifier in 2016, defended her title by clearing 1.96m/6-5.
Nick Christie (El Cajon, California) broke John Nunn’s 2016 USATF Indoors 3,000m race walk record of 11:37.1 by clocking in 11:35.34.
Chocolate Milk Women’s 300m champion Brittany Brown (Upland, California) pushed through a difficult round to claim the meet record and world lead in 35.95 during her first appearance at Indoors.
Powerhouse and French braid aficionado Colleen Quigley (St. Louis, Missouri) ran a fast Toyota Women’s 1 Mile from the gun, determined to outpace teammate and defending champion Shelby Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa). Houlihan has been unstoppable as of late, most recently earning the USATF Cross Country Championships win earlier this month. Quigley maintained position throughout today’s race with Houlihan on her shoulder preparing for a classic kick on the bell lap. Instead of surging to the front to usurp the lead, Quigley held on with a strong push to win her first national title in 4:29.47 to Houlihan’s 4:29.92.
In the men’s shot put, reigning Olympic champion Ryan Crouser (Redmond, Oregon) put on a show against Olympic silver medalist Joe Kovacs (Dublin, Ohio) and Josh Awotunde (Franklinville, New Jersey). Crouser led from the first throw of 21.41m/70-3 and peaked on his fourth with a title-winning 22.22m/72-10.75.
Andrew Irwin (Fayetteville, Arkansas) of Arkansas Track Club bested defending champion Scott Houston (Winter Springs, Florida) and cleared 5.80m/19-0.25 in a solid competition. Jordan Downs (Merrillville, Indiana) earned his first national title in the Men’s Long Jump by clearing 7.73m/25-4.5.
Two-time NCAA champion and American Junior Record holder Kate Hall (Casco, Maine) won the Women’s Long Jump. After fouling on her first jump and then a leap of 6.24m/20-5.75 on her second jump, Hall took over the lead with a leap of 6.47m/21-2.75 on her third jump. She never looked back, eventually winning her first USATF title with a leap of 6.51m/21-4.25.
After clocking the fastest first round time of 33.34 in Xfinity Men’s 300m, Dontavius Wright (Conyers, Georgia) returned to win his first USATF title with a time of 32.81 in heat two of the final. Following disqualifications of three athletes, Manteo Mitchell (Shelby, North Carolina) finished second with a time of 33.54, just ahead of third place finisher Brycen Spratling (Webster, New York) in 33.59.
In a stellar display of consistency, Tim Ehrhardt (Addison, Illinois) won the Men’s Heptathlon with 5,868 points having only won the pole vault. His vault of 5.30m/17-4.50 was more than a foot better than the second place vaulter. Solomon Simmons (Murrieta, California) finished second with 5,766 points and Jack Flood was third with 5,701 points.
First rounds set the stage for exciting Sunday finals
16-year-old Athing Mu (Trenton, New Jersey) was already a star on the rise before she stepped on to the track today. The high schooler won silver at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and was eager to compete against the top professionals in her field after qualifying for 2019 Indoors. On her way to securing a spot in tomorrow’s Michelob Ultra Women’s 600m final, Mu made her mark by running the fastest qualifying time and breaking the national high school indoor record in 1:26.23.
In the Xfinity Women’s 1,000m, phenom Ajee’ Wilson (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) set a new meet record in the qualifying round with a time of 2:37.96. On the men’s side, Clayton Murphy (New Paris, Ohio) punched his ticket to the Garden of Life Men’s 1,000m final Sunday with a highest-qualifying time of 2:20.23. Click here for full results of Saturday’s competition.