Falling stars, a broken world record and a brewing rivalry highlighted the four-day U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon over the weekend.
The event served as a qualifying meet for the world championships, which will be held in the United States for the first time in July, as well as in Eugene. Athletes who had yet to earn a ticket to the championships raced to finish in the top three of their event to represent the country.
The encounter ended Sunday night with Daniel Roberts winning the 110 meter hurdles championship; Trey Cunningham of Florida State University and Devon Allen, the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver who continues his exploits in both sports from his days at the University of Oregon, finished just behind him. They will join Grant Holloway, who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics and automatically qualified as the reigning world champion.
Here’s a look at each of the biggest story lines:
Sydney McLaughlin lowers her own world record in the 400m hurdles.
The race was over before it even really started. Sydney McLaughlin, running down lane five, quickly caught up with the other hurdlers and started racing against the clock. She crossed the finish line with a new world record of 51.40 seconds, beating her previous world record, 51.46, set in 2021 at the Tokyo Olympics.
To put that time into perspective: McLaughlin’s run, over hurdles, would have qualified her for the 400m final. McLaughlin will likely double his load at the world championships with the 4×400 meters relay; she helped the United States win gold in this event at the Tokyo Games.
Dalilah Muhammad, former world record holder in the 400 hurdles and McLaughlin’s fiercest competitor, did not compete. Muhammad hasn’t beaten McLaughlin since winning the world title in 2019, when she clocked a then-record time of 52.16 seconds.
Sha’Carri Richardson did not qualify for the World Championship team.
Sha’Carri Richardson will not represent the United States at the world championships after failing to make the 100 and 200 finals. Richardson entered the trials with the fourth-fastest time in the 100m in the United States, but she seemed a long way off to be at his best this weekend, running 11.31 seconds in the 100m to finish 23rd out of 31 athletes who finished the event. In the 200m, Richardson qualified for the semifinals, but was eliminated after finishing fifth in her heat with a time of 22.47.
Richardson’s personal best in the 100m is 10.72 seconds, still the sixth fastest time achieved by a woman.
The rivalry between Noah Lyles and Erriyon Knighton intensifies.
As 18-year-old Erriyon Knighton sprinted around the first curve of the 200 sprint – passing 2019 world champion Noah Lyles – it looked like the race was over. But as Knighton – who ran the fourth-fastest 200 ever in April – headed straight for the final, Lyles started to climb back into the race. Lyles passed Knighton just before the finish line, stuck his tongue out and smiled pointing at Knighton. Lyles finished in 19.67 seconds, just ahead of Knighton in 19.69.
“Erriyon got the better of me on the corner,” Lyles said while standing next to Knighton in a post-race interview. “I saw him hit his top speed, and I said, ‘mine’s faster.'”
“The job is not done, it’s never done,” Knighton said in response.
Lyles and Knighton have the two fastest 200 times among active runners heading into the world championships.
Allyson Felix misses an individual spot at the world championships.
Allyson Felix finished sixth in the 400m with a time of 51.24, meaning she will not compete in an individual event at the world championships. However, she will still participate in the world championships as part of the women’s or mixed 4×400 relay.
“I’m happy to have no more 400 open,” Felix told reporters with a smile after the race. Felix, the most decorated American athlete in history, has announced that 2022 will be his last season. She said she came to the competition with the goal of forming a relay team at the world championships, so qualifying for an individual event was not disappointing. “The 400m is tough for me,” Felix said. “It’s not a natural passion, so it was always something I challenged myself with.”