SHORE AC ATHLETES DO VERY BIG THINGS AT OLYMPIC TRIALS. THANKS/THANKS/THANKS TO ALL HELPED THE TEAM CAUSE!!!
Dear Shore AC Friends and Teammates:
I'm back home now after eight great days at the USA Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon...
The Trials were held at the magnificent new $275 million Hayward Field that will also be the site of
next year's World Championships, the global extravaganza which will be coming to the USA for the
very first time and just the second time ever to North America ((Edmonton had hosted in 2001.)
Heat conditions were intense, and specially so the final weekend….110 and 111 degrees ! .
But let me tell you that the entire 10-athlete Shore AC delegation was red-hot, too.
They turned in a series of superb, clutch performances in USA's biggest meet in five years!!
Of course/of course the Trials, along with the Olympic Games, are a year late due to the pandemic
but our Shore AC athletes were right on time, right on the button !!.
We set PBs (personal bests) and SBs (seasonal bests) all over the Trials landscape, at both Hayward Field,
and the downtown area of Springfield, where the 20K racewalk was held on the final Saturday.
It was a Trials which saw our wonderful alumna and 11-time National Champion Ajee' Wilson
(who has been such a huge source of pride for us ever since her days competing in Shore AC
summer all-comers meets, and then at Neptune High School) advance to her second Olympic Games
and such good NJ-NY friends as Sydney McLaughlin, Rudy Winkler, Noah Lyles, Athing Mu,
Curtis Thompson and Keturah Orji come through with brilliant triumphs and earn trips to the Tokyo Games.
The Shore AC Varsity Team did so many fine things and here's a rundown:
Josh Awotunde, fifth in the men's shot put with a PB of 21.84 meters/ 71 feet, 8 inches.
Take note: Josh is now 44th in the history of the sport and at age 26 getting better all the time!
AJ Gruttadauro, fifth in the men's 20K racewalk at 1:37:51.
Sam Allen, sixth in the men's 20K walk at a SB, PB of 1:37.59.
James Plummer, seventh in the men's discus at 59.73 / 195 ft, 11 inches..
Scott Houston, seventh in the men's pole vault with an SB of 5.75/ 18 ft, 10 ¼ inches.
Amina Smith, seventh in the women's high jump with an SB of 1.87 / 6 feet, 1 ½ inches.
Chelsea Conway, 10th in the women's 20K racewalk with a SB, PB of 1:54.25.
Erin Taylor-Talcott, 11th in the women's 20K racewalk, at 1:54.48.
Michael Mannozzi, 12th in the men's 20K racewalk at SB of 1:44.35.
(Michael was also competing for US Air Force and teammate
Kris Kornegay-Gober, in the men’s HJ for the US Coast Guard.)
And thus Shore AC, which has a wonderful history dating all the way to the 1930s and saw its
first athletes (John Borican and John Grimek) compete in the Olympic Trials as far
back as 1936, continued to add to its incredible heritage.
Be it known that USA Track and Field, the national governing body for the sport, lists a dozen teams as the "long standing/traditional" clubs registered with USATF at least prior to Jan.1, 1980,
and thus “grandfathered” in for special recognition and special status at the Trials. Just five
of them were represented at the 2021 Trials and the performances of our tremendous 10
again put us at the forefront of the sport.
So let me say "truly well done" to all these oh-so-worthy athletes and say
"thank you/thank you/thank you" to all who gave their support and made
these great performances possible.
Shore AC Lifetime Trustee
USA Olympic Team Melbourne 1956..
Watch out, Energizer Bunny! There is a new electric power source in town. His name is Rick Lee, and this Shore AC rookie can motor!
EUGENE, OREGON - Temps had dipped from the downright dangerous 110 vicinity to the merely uncomfortable mid-90s by the time they ran off the final finals of the star-spangled, steadily-sizzling USA Olympic Trials Sunday night at the smashingly stunning $275-million Hayward Field Sunday night.
And what a windup session to the eight-day Trials this one turned out to be.
Ju'Vaughn Harrison scored a totally unprecedented Trials double in the high (7-7 3/4) and long (27-9 1/4) jumps.
Oregon freshman - can he be "the new Pre?" - Cole Hocker (3:35.28) ran down defending Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz (3:35.34) to win the 1500.
Noah Lyles turned in a statement win - yes, he was again the pre-Tokyo 200 favorite - by dashing the
half-lapper in 19.74.
Athing Mu celebrated her new status as a Nike pro athlete by lowering the women's 800 Trials record to 1:56.07 and outperforming veteran greats Raevyn Rogers (1:57.55) and Ajee' Wilson (1:58.39.)
But the race they'll be talking about for eons was the women's 400 hurdles which saw Sydney McLauglin fight off reigning world and Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad over the final two barriers and go on to a world record 51.90 win.
Muhammad wasn't going to abdicate her reign without a battle. But McLaughlin was simply unstoppable.
No one can tell you the McLaughlin story better than Mike McCabe, her high school coach at Union Catholic of
Fanwood, N.J. He's seen the former Dunellen (N.J.) resident who now calls Southern California her home base
grow from likely prospect to queen of her global realm.
McCabe - whose Union Catholic athletes will be competing at the Nike Scholastic Nationals next week at Hayward Field - flew into Eugene a few days early to catch the sight of his Sizzling Syd chasing the world mark at Trials. And his star alumna more than lived up to every expectation.
"We knew that Syd was going to get it (the WR) sooner or later," said McCabe, who's been coaching at UC for
17 years. Well, sooner it was.
"She was almost flawless tonight. She ran the perfect race. She got out well, and finished strong.
"I guess there can't be a greater thrill for any coach than to see his athlete run to a world record.
"And it's doubly great to see her make the Olympic team."
These days she trains at UCLA under the guidance of the famed Bobby Kersee, whose best previous pupil was his wife, the former Jackie Joyner whose status as the greatest-ever of all female track athletes has never been challenged. Now Sydney McLaughlin will head to Tokyo as the most solid selection to do something sensational all over again.
Speaking to the slender crowd - many fans simply didn't return to Hayward after the
long postponement - McLaughlin spoke with an eloquence far beyond anything you'd expect from a
"It's such a great honor to represent my nation and my family," she said, to rounds of applause.
It's that single word "family" that really speaks volumes in the McLaughlin story.
Her dad, Willie McLaughlin, had been a brilliant 400-meter runner at Manhattan College, fast enough, talented enough to race his way into the semifinals of the 1984 Olympic Trials.
Her mom, Mary McLaughlin, had been a high school track athlete, but found herself without a team to
run for once she got to Manhattan, which then did not field a women's varsity squad,
But Mary still found Willie on the Manhattan Jaspers' campus in the Riverdale section of
the Bronx, New York.
Their romance bloomed. They'd marry and bring four children into the world. (One of them, big brother and Michigan grad Taylor McLaughlin, was a Big 10 400 hurdles champion and an entry into these Trials, too, until knocked out by injury.)
Willie and Mary McLaughlin also happen to be an interracial couple, but have never let their differences stand in the way of a solid marriage.
I'd like to suggest to some execs high up on the several national networks' decision-making chain that they
give Willie and Mary McLaughlin some major interview time.
Want a poster couple to discuss the hot-button issue of race that seems to be pulling the nation in too many painful directions these challenging days?
My nominees: Willie and Mary McLaughlin.
"It just stinks," McCabe says of all this intolerance besetting the nation.
But then he shifts focus to the amazing Olympic daughter of Willie and Mary McLaughlin
and realizes it's not all doom and gloom on the American amity front.
Reply Reply All Forwardt wishes,
writing from Portland airport...
John Kuhi almost won the race until he pulled a hamstring. He was leading with 200 to go. Pictures don't lie.
Great effort put in by John Kuhi at the Big Bang Mile!
See all RESULTS HERE.
DAY 5 BLOG
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON - The name on his birth certificate reads King Alfonso Jennings
but no one who has known this man in his 75 years on this planet has ever accused him
of assuming regal airs.
He's just "Al" to those of a track and field inclination and he's perfectly all right
with that two-letter appellation.
Al Jennings has been coaching track and field for at least a half-century and anyone who has followed
the continuing excellence of his teams from the New Jersey capital city knows the wonders this
man has done. His Trenton Central High School runners have been duking it out with the best for
a long, long time and Trenton fans have forever appreciated all the hardware his illustrious teams have brought home
from meets everywhere - the New Jersey state circuit, the Penn Relays, the high school Nationals,
etc, etc etc.
But he stepped away from the Trenton Central post a few years ago for a very good reason - Trenton had produced a very special athlete who needed his personal attention.
Her name is Athing Mu - and the Mu is pronounced as "Moe." She marked her 19th birthday on June 8 and if she's not running in the Tokyo Olympic Games next month a lot of track experts will be genuinely shocked.
A newly-signed Nike contract professional - the terms are said to be extremely lucrative - she has said goodbye to college track after a single dazzling year at Texas A&M and is now free to run the world circuit
without paying attention to collegiate priorities.
And now - after winning everything in sight on the NCAA level - she's off and running in the Olympic Trials and just two more big races away from clinching the Tokyo trip. Coming into the Trials armed with a 1:57.73 PB (personal best) which is also an NCAA record and better than the Olympic Games qualifying standard, she sizzled in Thursday's opening round of the women's 800.
Strolling home in 2:00.69, she advanced into Friday's semifinals, which will determine the entries in Sunday's eight-runner final. But nothing is ever certain on this level and Ms. Mu is surely aware that clinching the Tokyo trip will not be easy.
It so happens that two of the best women's 800-meter runners in the world hail from hometowns just some
40 miles apart. It's Ajee' Wilson - a product of Neptune, N.J., a town located just a county away from Trenton, and a town that's the owner a proud track tradition, too - who now looms directly in Mo's upcoming path,
An 11-time National champion, 2016 Rio Olympic semfinalist and world ranked-number one of 2019,
Ajee' Wilson is prepared for the battle of her life. Or should we say battles - not just here at the
Trials but in Tokyo as well.
(Oh yes, there's another A. Wilson in the Olympic Trials mix. Monmouth University graduate
Alexandra "Allie" Wilson is coming on like gangbusters and cannot be disregarded, either.)
Ex-world indoor champion Chanelle Price was quickest of all qualifiers out of the opening round in
1:59.86, with Sage Hurta next best at 2:00.08, followed by Ajee' Wilson at 2:00.05, Mu at 2:00.69 and Allie Wilson at 2:00.71.
Lurking, too, were such notables as Raevyn Rogers (2:00.75), Kate Grace (2:00.81) and Nia Akins (2:00.82.)
But the spotlight is surely on the Mu-Ajee' Wilson challenge.
Of course, we all know who Al Jennings is rooting for.
Bernice Mitchell was Mu's first age-group coach, then became her co-coach with Jennings.
By age 10, they knew they had a special talent on their hands. But they were smart enough not to
overwhelm her with adult-sized workouts and keep her motivated to take it one step at a time.
"We've all seen so many promising kids burned out," said Jennings. "That was the last thing we wanted to see with Athing. "We did it with natural progressions, taking it nice and easy every step of the way."
And so Mu stayed healthy and motivated and determined to do bigger, better and more phenomenal
"I really think she's destined to break the world record," said Jennings. "I:53, 1:52, that's not impossible
Nothing is, eventually. This young lady is that good. No question about it."
The king has spoken.
DAY 4 BLOG
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON - The Curse of Bobby Smith lives.
For the third time in the last four USA Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field - the old Hayward and the glittering new
$275-million Hayward - the men's javelin throw champion is being made to jump through hoops (not an Olympic event) if he actually wants
to compete at the Games.
Let me tell you it all began at the 2008 Trials with Bobby Smith, a student at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J. (which, truth in track-writing
be told, happens to be my hometown.) Bobby, also an oft-injured and miraculously-repaired running back on the Monmouth football
team, unleashed a throw of 76.06 meters/ 249 feet, 6 inches, for the best performance of his jav-throwing life.
But it wasn't good enough for the USA team selectors, mired in the requirements of the Olympic standards-makers. So also-rans Mike Hazle and a different Smith, Leigh (no relation), wound up going to Beijing. They'd been clever enough to get their qualifying marks (their cherished Q's)
in earlier, better-weathered, wind-favored meets.
And so Bobby Smith became the first man in U.S, track and field history to win at the Trials and not go to the Games.
The Curse continued in 2012 with Texas A&M's Sam Humphreys, whose 2012 Trials-winning toss again lacked that "Q." Similarly deprived was second-placer Sam Crouser. Craig Kinsley, Sean Furey and Cyrus Hostetler, the 3-4-5 placers, wound up going to London.
Things improved marginally at the 2016 Trials when winner Hostetler actually reached "Q" status at Hayward. But the 2-3 finishers, Curtis Thompson and
Riley Dolezal, again fell short, and Rio Olympic berths went to Sam Crouser (in fourth) and (would you believe this? ) 11th-placer Sean Furey.
But Curtis Thompson, the former New Jersey high school pheenom at Florence High School and then NCAA champion at Mississippi State, wasn't about to
be flummoxed out of another crack at the Trials, and so he was there yet again, Monday afternoon, June 21st, 2021, ready to give it
his best shot all over again.
He delivered a sensational series - by American standards - winging his spear, in order, 80.34/ 265-3, 74.27/ 243-8, 79.36/ 260-4, 80.08/ 262-9, 79.15/ 259-8, and on his very last attempt, the best yet, a clutch, big-time 82.78 / 271-7 chuck.
But guess what? The 82.78 still wasn't Q-worthy.
Second and third-placers Michael Shuey (79.24/ 260-0) and Riley Dolezal (77.07 / 252-10) weren't masters of their Olympic fate, either.
The Olympic Games javelin standard is a mighty performance of 85 meters, or 278-10. Trouble is that mighty few men on earth are up to that standard. The 2021 world list is topped by Germany's Johannes Vetter at 96.29 meters, which translates to 315 feet, 10 inches, which translates to one complete American football field and just 50 inches shy of two end zones.
Even without the automatic Q, there's a good chance Thompson will get to throw in Tokyo. He ranks 18th in the world for 2021 and that, as the decision-makers of World Athletics, the global governing body of the sport, get to work, should get him the Olympic opportunity denied him so frustratingly four years ago. Shuey (36th on the world list) and Dolezal (43rd) are much longer shots for Tokyo..
To backtrack, however, why put these valiant spearmen through such aggravation in the first place?
A lot of fingers can be pointed at the Hayward architects/engineers/designers.
The "new Hayward" javelin runway heads south to north, just as it was at "old Hayward."
"The dynamics of it all don't seem to add up," said veteran Hayward track enthusiast Frank Ratti, a man who has seen it all, as an athlete
(who once hoped to get into the U.S. Olympic marathon trial), official, fan, volunteer, expert analyst and amateur anenometrist.
"The best throwers need a tailwind to get their best throws.
"Today, they were throwing into the wind, which probably cost them a lot of meters.
"It's been like that at Hayward - forever. "
Had Thompson, et al, been throwing north to south, the numbers on the results sheets would have been very very much larger..
But such is life with these wielders of the ancient weapon.
They take the conditions they're given. They don't bitch and moan.
Bobby Smith certainly didn't in 2008. He got on with his life, and now directs a busy, growing, successful physical therapy practice in
Ocean Township, N.J.
He surely wishes fellow New Jerseyan Curtis Thompson the very best if and when the list-makers add him to the roster of the
Tokyo javelin field.
It's a clear case of "c'est la vie" all over again.
DAY 3 OLYMPIC TRIALS BLOG
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON - High above Cayuga's waters, they've obviously got one heck of a webmaster.
Literally moments after Rudy Gabe Winkler, Cornell University '17, had whirled around the ring at Hammer Stadium - the event-specific venue for the ball-and-wire competition created on the north fringe of Hayward Field - and sent his implement on a shocking ride of of 82.71 meters, or 271 feet, 4 inches - to obliterate all previous records for (a) all of the Western Hemisphere, (b) the United States of America; (c) the USA Olympic Trials, the news had been recognized. cheered and properly e-denoted all the way across the nation in Ithaca, N.Y.
Cornell, founded by Ezra Cornell back in 1864, of course, occupies Ithaca's idyllic Finger-Laked Ivy League campus located on the south end of Ol' Cayuga.
A quick glimpse of its distinguished alumni list reveals the names of such notable achievers as Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Christopher Reeve, Bill Maher, Gabe Giffords, Adolph Coors III, Harry Edwards, Adolphe Menjou, Ed Marinaro....and on and on...
And maneuver that same website a few more clicks and you'll hit on a hugely impressive list of Cornell Olympians.
And there some very quick surfing will get you to the names of such as John Anderson (discus 1932), Edward Cook (pole vault 1908), Frank Foss (pole vault 1920), Charley Moore (400 hurdles 1952) and Alma Richards (high jump 1912), individual gold medalists all. Oh, and Meredith Gourdine (1952) and
Bo Roberson (1960), who settled for long jump silvers by mere centimeters.
OK, none recently, but that now seems ready for adjustment.
Of course/of course, Rudy Winkler had already qualified for the Cornell alumni Olympians roster by his cameo appearance at the
2016 Rio de Janeiro Games - where he was unable to get past the qualifying round.
But the 2021 Rudy is surely destined for a much bigger role at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
In the past five years, he's made some incredible advances. He earned a Masters degree from Rutgers (where he was able to compete for the Scarlet Knights as a grad transfer.) He's a more robust Rudy now, 26 years old, six-foot-two, 238 pounds. And with those Clark Kentish-spectacles, he's some fans' version of Superman.
He's especially super to Coach Paddy McGrath, the former Irish Olympic hammer-tosser who guides the throwers at Manhattan College, when he's not additionally coaching Winkler.
Rudy has been his pupil for years, ever since his days at Averill Park (N.Y.) High School (in the Albany vicinity) where his precocity and quick learning skills soon set him apart.
But the new Rudy is a class all his own.
"It's kind of amazing," said McGrath, after the 82.71 bomb demolished the previous American record, the 82.52/ 270-9 mark achieved by Lance Deal at Milan on Aug. 7, 1996.
"I'm kind of in shock right now, " said McGrath. "He beat Lance Deal's record. I never thought that I'd coach a guy at that level.
"He showed great poise, great concentration."
(Roman Feldman has also been a member of Winkler's coaching team.)
Rudy Winkler/Clark Kent/Superman had one sensational day in the Eugene ring.
His record-walloping series went this way: 80.75/ 264-11; 82.71/ 271-4, 80.98/265-8, 82.10/269-4, 79,51/ 261-2, 80.28/263-5, No other thrower beat 80 meters.
No American has won the Olympic hammer throw since Boston College graduate Harold Connolly did it in 1956. Oregon's own Deal came close, with a silver medal at the Los Angeles Games of 1996.
Poland's Pawel Fajdek (at 82.98 / 272-3) marginally tops the 2021 year list and will be a formidable foe in Tokyo. The world record still stands at 86.74 / 284-7, by Russia's Yuriy Sedykh at Stuttgart on Aug. 30, 1986.
Given Winkler's rate of progress, nothing seems beyond his potential.
And high above Cayuga's waters, Mr. Website Master knows he'd better be ready to make a few major adjustments.
Cheers again at the Trials for the 10-member Shore AC delegation !!!
Let's hear it for SAC teammate Amina Smiith, who came through with a season-best performance to tie for seventh place in the women's high jump
The former University of Maryland star, and current Terp assistant coached, cleared her "SB" (season best) of 1.87 meters, or 6 feet, 1 3/4 inches
to snare the co-seven spot with Air Force team's Shelly Spires. Celebrated teammate Amina cleared her first two bars of 1.77 and 1.82 on first attempt and then went over at 1.87 on third jump. But she was unable to clear the fourth bar of 1.90 / 6-2 3/4.
HJ winner was Las Vegas resident Vashti Cunningham (daughter of NFL QB great Randall Cunningham) with a clearance of 1.96 / 6-5. Since Cunningham is the lone US HJer to have topped the Olympic standard, she may be the sole USA entry in the event in Tokyo.
Day 2 Blog from USA Olympic Trials...
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON - Question: Is there anyone out there who remembers Lillian Copeland?
Answer: Likely not.
That so, let me tell you (a) Lillian Copeland was the women's discus throwing champion of the 1932 Los Angeles Games, after
she'd taken the silver medal at the historic Amsterdam Games of 1928, where women's track and field was a first-time starter.
She'd have been a top medal candidate for the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, too, but - being of the Jewish faith - would
having nothing to do with traveling to a nation already descending into the massive, murderous depravities of Hitlerian hate.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, she'd surely have written several brilliant chapters in USC's
magnificent sports history, too - if only they'd have allowed her. But there was no such thing as organized women's collegiate varsity competition - with
track, like so much else limited to the male half of the human equation - in those unenlightened days.
Fast-forward to 2008 - and Stephanie Brown-Trafton's epic discus win at the Beijing Olympic Games.
She got right down to it the first time she stepped into the ring and unleashed the throw that would prove to be
the gold medal-winner in the opening round. No rival would come within a meter of her for all the rest of the competition.
Like Copeland, Brown-Trafton had been a California collegian. Her alma matter is Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo.
(Thus, the total of USA Olympic women's disc champs has stood at two for 13 years; unless you bring Olga Fikotova Connolly into the conversation.
She'd won the gold medal for Czechoslovakia in the 1956 Games, was romanced and quickly fell in love with Harold Connolly, the
American who'd won the hammer throw at those '56 Melbourne Games. They'd start a new life in America and Olga would become an American citizen
and then a four-time USA discus Olympian, even carrying the American flag into the opening ceremonies of the 1972 Munich Games.)
So now let's forward again, to June 19, 2021, day two of the USA Olympic Trials at Hayward Field, and a magnificent discus performance
by Valarie (Val) Allman that had some fans (in the crowd drastically limited by Covid protocols) thinking, even dreaming of potential
Whirling around the Hayward Field circle with the grace of a ballerina, Allman whipped her favorite platter out to distances that
now rank her with the very best in the universe and far outranked her leading domestic opponents.
Her series was remarkably consistent: 69.45 meters/ 227-10 in round one, followed the eventual winner, 69.92/ 229-5 in throw two.
Three more great ones followed: 66.35/ 217-8, 68.65, 225-2, 68.46/ 22.47, Only her meaningless sixth throw - the competition already clinched - was a foul.
Micaela Hazlewood (62.54/ 205-2) placed second with Rachel Dincoff (60.21/ 197-6 ) third. Dincoff is likely to be named to the Tokyo-bound team since she'd reached the Olympic standard in a pre-Trials meet, but Hazlewood (without the standard) likely to stay home...Probably in line to be added to the team is fifth-placer Ashley Whitney, also an owner of that all-critical Olympic standard.
Allman even got some fans into the action, encouraging their support each time she stepped into the ring.
"I’m normally a pretty shy person, but today I couldn’t help but lean into it," Allman said. "I felt that helped the performance."
When the pandemic first hit, Allman - like so many - was devastated by the limitations it imposed.
But rather than sulk, she and Coach Zebulon Sion simply amped up every aspect of their training routine.
Allman's winning throw of 69.92 wasn't even her best at these Olympic Trials. She'd blasted it out past the
70-meter mark - with a sensational, and seemingly relaxed 70.01/ 229-8 in Friday's qualifying round.
Looking ahead to Tokyo, she can gaze ahead to fierce competition from the likes of the Netherlands' Jarinda Van Klinken
(the current world-leader at 70.22 / 230-4) as well as Cuba's Yaime Perez, Croatia's multi-titled Sandra Perkovic, and Jamaica's
At 25, Allman is at the peak of her form. But one more question: Is a third American Olympic gold medal - this one by yet another former California collegian, Stanford
grad Allman - in this ancient Grecian specialty in the cards?
Answer: Stay tuned, it's going to be an interesting ride.
PS - Speaking of California collegians, UCLA's Alyssa Wilson (the former star at Donovan Catholic HS in Toms River, NJ)
placed a solid eighth at Trials at 57.64/ 189-1. She returns to Trials action with Thursday's qualifying round of the hammer throw .
CHECK BACK HERE DAILY THIS WEEK. ELLIOTT WILL BE SENDING OLYMPIC TRAILS UPDATES FROM EUGENE, OREGON!
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE, OREGON - Randy Barnes knew this day would come,
He just didn't know that "this day" would take - by the roughest calculations of this writer, a once-but-never-wildly-skilled accounting major -13,183 of them.
"This day" was June 18, 2021, Opening Day - yes a year late - of the 2020 USA Olympic Trials, the spectacle of trials-by-fire whose mission to choose the "world's strongest track and field team" that would be headed to the
similarly year-late Tokyo Olympic Games - is universally recognized as "the greatest of all intramurals" in the greatest and most-most-basic-of-all Olympic sports.
"This day" saw not only the erasure of the world record Barnes, the giant West Virginian who'd honed his shot putting skills at Texas A&M, where developing globally-recognized SP titlists has been a steady path, but the
crashing of yet another of this sport's historic barriers.
When already-Olympic champion (2016) Ryan Crouser - alumnus of the University of Texas, A&M's historic antagonist - whirled around the SP ring at the magnificent new (and 275-million-dollared) Hayward Field, and put all of his 6-foot-7, 320-pound musculature behind a mighty effort, and saw the 16-pound iron wall plop down a huge distance away, he instantly realized he'd done something very/very/very special.
And then the numbers popped into the electronic scoreboard and his best estimates were confirmed.
Yes, he'd taken down the Barnes world record - 23.12 meters (or 75 feet, 10 1/4), achieved May 20, 1990, at UCLA,. Yes, he'd joined the 23-meter club (which had just two previous
members, Germany's Ulf Timmermann and Barnes.) And yes, for those fervently clinging to "Imperial" implications - he'd now become the first and only member of the 76-foot club.
On this day that saw - on the other side of North America - the Philadelphia 76ers clinging to National Basketball Association playoff hopes, Crouser had become the greatest 76er of them all.
His mighty/massive/magnificent effort was officially laser-measured at 23.37 meters, which quickly translated
(for those who demand translations) 76 feet, 8 1/4 inches.
Those in the slender, Covid-protocol-diminished crowd immediately went wild. Ryan Crouser immediately went wild, Those who had been predicting these Trials would be just-one-big downer after the
tainted-burrito/drug disqualification of women's distance running great Shelby Houlihan on the
very eve of the event, were silenced.
"I felt really, really confident coming in, but it wasn't an expectation; the times I've come up short it was me just getting a little bit tight, and trying to force it. I stayed loose I stayed relaxed and executed my game plan that I had coming in, and that was the key for me finally doing it." said Crouser.
No quotes were instantly available from Barnes. Likely, he'd have said something on the line of "congrats, Mr. Crouser" and "it was about time."
His own status of world record-holder had been under suspicion for years. The man who'd won Olympic gold at Atlanta in 1996 (following in the OG podium-topping exploits of previous Texas A&M greats Randy Matson and Mike Stulce) was now relieved of his long-questioned WR-status.
Crouser surely has been drug-tested a zillion times over the years and gotten clean bills of health a zillion times.
He'd done a whole lot more than muscle his way into the books. He'd given his sport a reason to relegate
Randy Barnes (who'd been lifetime-bounced from the sport after testing positive for androstendione, the
over-the-counter explanation for Mark McGwire's continuing banishment from baseball's Hall of Fame)
from the top of its charts. And he'd given the whole Olympic Trials entity a very good reason to
be talking about more than the sad story of Shelby Houlihan.
May the next seven days of the Trials have achievements to challenge this one.
Placing a great fifth (but still frustratingly missing the Tokyo team by two places was new
Shore AC member Josh Awotunde, with his own career-best shot put of 21.84 meters/ 71 feet, 8 inches.
In sixth, right behind Awotunde in the SP, was CBA graduate Andrew Liskowitz of the University of Michigan.
UCLA's Alyssa Wilson (the former Donovan Catholic HS/Toms River star) delivered a season best to move into the women's discus final. And Shore AC Teammate Amina Smith cleared 1.87 to advance to the women's discus final.