Once again, the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships were back at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. From Thursday, July 6 through Sunday, July 9, the nation’s best athletes from the professional to the high school level battled for spots on Team USA to head to the World Athletics Championships in Budapest later this summer.
Here are the highlights from each day of the 2023 USATF championships.
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Sunday, July 9
Twice is nice: Cranny earns second championship of meet
If you read the results of the women’s 5,000 meters, you might have deja vu—the podium is an exact replica of the 10,000 meters, which was contested on Thursday night.
The trio of Elise Cranny, Alicia Monson, and Natosha Rogers separated themselves with just less than a mile to go, with Cranny—the indoor American record-holder in the event—making a decisive move with 300 meters to go. She won in 14:52.66. Monson, who had led since the second lap, and Rogers finished in second and third, respectively, in 14:55.10 and 14:55.39. Josette Andrews, who finished fourth in 15:01.80, would be offered the third team spot if Cranny or Monson relinquish their spots to focus on the 10,000 meters at the world championships.
Fast times in the 200s: Thomas and Knighton come out on top
In the women’s 200 meters, it was anyone’s race with 100 meters left. Then, Gabby Thomas used a powerful last 80 meters to win in 21.60—the fastest time in the world this year and quicker than her own meet record. Sha’Carri Richardson finished second in 21.94 after winning the 100 meters on Friday, and Kayla White placed third in 22.01.
In the men’s race, 19-year-old Erriyon Knighton set a U20 world record en route to taking the crown in 19.72. The world silver medalist from last year, Kenny Bednarek, was second in 19.82. Texas Tech’s Courtney Lindsey was third (19.85).
Abdihamid Nur takes control with 1K left, wins men’s 5,000 meters
Despite racing the 5,000 meters only once this season, Abdihamid Nur showed why he is one of the best in the country, winning his first national title in 13:24.37. He darted around the large pack with 1,000 meters to go and never relinquished his lead, holding off a surge from Paul Chelimo, who would finish second in 13:24.90. Sean McGorty, who placed third in the 10,000 meters on Thursday, finished in the same spot in the 5,000 in 13:25.98.
This is Nur’s second time making the World Championships—he finished 11th in the world final last year. Chelimo, a two-time Olympic medalist in the event, has been in good form lately in his first year running for the French brand Kiprun. This will be the 32-year-old’s third world championship team. McGorty will need to run the world standard of 13:07.00 by July 30 before he is officially selected for Team USA. Joe Klecker, who finished fourth and has the world standard, would be offered the third spot if McGorty doesn’t achieve that mark.
Bryce Hoppel wins a physical men’s 800 meters
It’s rare to see a “yellow flag” in a distance race, but on the backstretch of the opening lap of the men’s 800 meters, a race official raised a warning flag after Isaiah Harris tried to squeeze his way between two runners, bumping Bryce Hoppel and Clayton Murphy. It didn’t affect Hoppel ultimately, as the 25-year-old repeated as the U.S. 800-meter champion, running 1:46.20.
Harris was shortly behind in 1:46.68, and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Murphy rounded out the top three in 1:46.82. Harris and Murphy have until July 30 to achieve the world standard of 1:44.70. Hoppel has already locked up his spot in Budapest.
Nia Akins times her kick perfectly to win women’s 800 meters
Thanks to a strong final 50 meters, Nia Akins walked away with a U.S. championship in the 800 meters, breaking the tape in 1:59.50. In second place was Olympic and world medalist Raevyn Rogers (1:59.83), who crept to the front with 200 meters remaining but couldn’t fend off a charging Akins. Kaela Edwards placed third in 2:00.52. Both Rogers and Edwards lack the world championship standard of 1:59.80.
Akins, who trains with the Brooks Beasts Track Club, has quietly put together an impressive 2023 campaign. In February, she won the national indoor title in the 800, and she’s undefeated in the outdoor 800 in four races.
Saturday, July 8
Rooks overcomes big fall to win men’s steeplechase
Similar to the women’s steeplechase, the men’s event in the U.S. has been monopolized in recent years: Hillary Bor and Evan Jager have won every USATF title since 2012. Neither runner, however, was entered this year, opening the door for a new champion. Kenneth Rooks ultimately filled the void—but it wasn’t without hiccups.
Early in the race, Rooks (this year’s NCAA champion) stutter-stepped before a barrier to avoid hitting another athlete, forcing him to climb over the barrier and fall face-first on the track. Slowly, Rooks made his way back up to rejoin the group, and he eventually used a 61.55-second last lap to break away from Benard Keter and Isaac Updike, who would finish second and third. None of the three athletes have run under the world standard of 8:15.00.
Upset! Krissy Gear beats Emma Coburn in the women’s steeplechase
Going into the final of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Emma Coburn hadn’t lost a U.S. championship in each of the 10 that she had lined up for since 2011. That changed on Saturday, as Krissy Gear used a ferocious last 200 meters to capture her first national championship. Gear, who didn’t have the world championship standard heading into the race, dipped under the mark en route to a 9:12.81 victory.
Coburn finished just behind her, in 9:13.60, while Courtney Wayment secured her ticket to Budapest in third (9:14.63). Courtney Frerichs, a fixture on the U.S. steeplechase team the past decade, did not start the race after falling in the prelims on Thursday.
The “goose” gets loose in the men’s 1500 meters
Yared Nuguse was the favorite heading into the men’s 1500 meters, and he showed why. Nuguse took charge of the race early, coming through 800 meters in 1:58.96, but the entire field was within striking distance with one lap to go. With 200 meters left, Joe Waskom of the University of Washington took the lead, but Nuguse used his patented kick to pass him on the homestretch, crossing the line in 3:34.90. Waskom held on for second, running 3:35.32 to ward off a charge from Cole Hocker, who finished third in 3:35.46. Nuguse and Hocker have the world championship standard but Waskom doesn’t.
Nuguse, 24, has been on a tear recently. During the indoor season, he set the American record in the 3,000 meters and ran 3:47.38 at the Millrose Games—the second-fastest mile ever indoors. He owns the third fastest time in the world this year in the 1500 meters (3:29.02), which is also an American record (or is it?).
Nikki Hiltz wins an exciting women’s 1500 meters
In a race that went down to the final meters, Nikki Hiltz came out on top in the 1500 meters, earning their first outdoor track championship win in 4:03.10. With 100 meters to go, a group of four emerged, and with only three spots on Team USA up for grabs, Athing Mu (4:03.44) and Cory McGee (4:03.48) nabbed the final spots, with Sinclaire Johnson (4:03.49) just missing out despite diving at the line.
Hiltz has had an impressive 2023 season, winning the USATF 1-mile Road Championships in April and running a PR of 4:18.38 in the mile at the Oslo Diamond League last month. The 28-year-old finished only 10th at USAs last year, but this will be their second time on a world team—they competed at the 2019 World Championships, where they made the 1500 final.
McGee represented the U.S. at last year’s World Championships and at the 2020 Olympics in the 1500 meters, while Mu is the defending world champion in the 800 meters.
Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone dominates the (flat) 400 meters
Although she’s made her name in the 400-meter hurdles, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone proved that she’s a medal threat in the open 400 meters, winning in 48.74—the second-fastest time by an American ever. McLaughlin-Levrone came through 200 meters in a speedy 23.24 seconds and never looked back. Britton Wilson trailed behind McLaughlin-Levrone in second place for much of the race and couldn’t close the gap on the final stretch. She finished as runner up (49.79), with Talitha Diggs (49.93) rounding out the top three.
McLaughlin-Levrone has taken an unconventional approach to racing this season. The world record holder and reigning world champion in the 400-meter hurdles hasn’t contested the event this year. She and her coach, Bobby Kersee, have targeted the flat 400 meters recently, partially as a new challenge. “The greats always push themselves, and I wanna be one of them,” McLaughlin-Levrone told NBC after the race. “So I have to push myself and get out of my comfort zone.”
Sha’Carri Richardson ties meet record in 200-meter prelims
After winning the 100 meters on Friday, Sha’Carri Richardson returned to the track for the first round of the 200 meters. In the second heat of the prelims, she made up the stagger on her competitors quickly and by the 100-meter mark, she was clear ahead of the field, cruising to a new world lead and personal record of 21.61 (+2.6).
Her time bests the previous fastest all-conditions time in the world—University of Texas sprinter Julien Alfred’s 21.73—and ties Gabby Thomas’s meet record from the 2021 Olympic Trials. Richardson, who was sporting a long green sleeve on her left leg, was the only athlete under 22 seconds in the first round. Richardson will race the semi-finals of the 200 meters on Sunday at 8:45 p.m. ET.
Friday, July 7
Sha’Carri Richardson claims women’s 100-meter crown
Last year, the 23-year-old sprint phenom failed to qualify out of the first round of the women’s 100 meters at the national championships. But this year is a completely different story.
On Friday, Richardson was all business in pursuit of gold. While being introduced to the crowd, she tossed her wig behind her before getting ready in the blocks. Despite a shaky start, Richardson came from behind to break away from the competition and win in 10.82. Brittany Brown finished second in 10.90, and Tamari Davis placed third in 10.99. All three runners will represent Team USA in Budapest.
The victory marks the first time Richardson has qualified for a senior global championship. In 2021, she won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials, but she was not named to the Olympic team for Tokyo after she tested positive for marijuana. She had to serve a one-month ban as a result. Richardson said she used marijuana after learning about the death of her mother.
After the race on Friday, the sprinter from Dallas, Texas, told NBC’s Lewis Johnson she’s been a national champion. “The thing I remember the most, I think I stood here in this stadium with you (Lewis), and I did an interview when I knew I wasn't ready to do one,” she said on the broadcast. “Now I stand here with you again and I'm ready. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, and I'm here to stay. I'm not back, I'm better.”
After running a 10.71 personal best in the first round on Thursday, Richardson is now No. 2 in the world so far this year. Earlier on Friday, Shericka Jackson ran 10.65 at the Jamaican Trials, making for a highly anticipated match-up between the American and Jamaican sprinters at the world championships.
Cravont Charleston upsets two world champions in the 100 meters
Heading into the men’s 100-meter final, most were watching in anticipation to see how fast Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles would run. But Cravont Charleston shocked them all.
In the last event of the night on Friday, the North Carolina State alum beat a hard-charging Coleman, the 2019 world champion, and Noah Lyles, a two-time 200-meter world champion, to the line. Out of lane 6, Charleston won in 9.95. Coleman finished second in 9.96, and Lyles returned from a bout of COVID a week earlier to place third in 10.00.
All three will represent the United States in Budapest later this summer. The meet will mark Charleston’s first senior global championship, a major highlight in a breakthrough year that’s already included a new 9.90 wind-legal personal best.
Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone inches closer to personal best
On Friday, the two-time Olympic champion in the 400-meter hurdles returned to the track and dominated the women’s 400-meter semifinal. In heat 1, McLaughlin-Levrone won in 49.60, just 0.09 seconds shy of her personal best in the event. Looking stronger with each race, the world record-holder will contend for her first 400-meter title in the final, which is scheduled for Saturday at 6:19 p.m. PT.
Anna Hall defends heptathlon title
On Friday, the world championship bronze medalist ran away with the multi event crown by scoring an overall total of 6,677 points, 358 points ahead of runner-up Taliyah Brooks. On day 1 of the competition, Hall ran 13.08 in the 100-meter hurdles, cleared 1.87 meters in the high jump, threw 14.03 meters in the shot put, and ran 23.45 in the 200 meters. On day 2, she cleared 6.40 meters in the long jump, threw 43.90 meters in the javelin, and closed out the competition with a 2:10.91 in the 800 meters.
The 22-year-old won last year’s national championship right after winning the NCAA title while competing for the University of Florida. And she looks poised to improve on her bronze medal in Budapest later this summer.
Thursday, July 6
Elise Cranny stuns with a blazing kick to win the 10,000 meters
The Bowerman Track Club standout made a definitive move with 240 meters remaining in the race to claim her third national title on Thursday night. After letting other competitors set a conservative early pace, Cranny unleashed her 3:59 1500-meter speed to overtake American record-holder Alicia Monson for the victory. Splitting 32.12 over the final 200 meters, Cranny crossed the line in 32:12.30, about five seconds ahead of Monson.
Both Cranny and Monson have hit the world championships standard in the event and will automatically qualify to represent Team USA in Budapest. But final podium finisher, Natosha Rogers, who placed third in 32:22.77, has not yet run the 30:40.00 standard within the qualification period. For Rogers to represent Team USA, she will need to run the standard in the next three weeks or earn a spot based on her World Athletics ranking. Karissa Schweizer, who placed fifth in 32:32.10, is the only other athlete in the field who has run the standard.
Woody Kincaid wins second U.S. 10,000-meter title
Tapping into his lethal closing speed, the Olympic finalist surged past the leaders on the last lap to win the men’s 10,000-meter crown. Kincaid chased American record-holder Grant Fisher, who attempted to run away from the field with three laps remaining, and Joe Klecker before passing both runners just before the final turn. With plenty of room to celebrate, Kincaid finished in 28:23.01 after closing with a 54.76 split for the final 400 meters.
The performance marks Kincaid’s second national title in the 10,000 meters after winning the crown in 2021. Behind him, Klecker finished second in 28:24.50, and Sean McGorty held strong for third in 28:24.96. In an uncharacteristic off day, Fisher faded to fourth in 28:25.61.
Only Kincaid, Klecker, and Fisher have run the 27:10.00 world championships standard in the event. For McGorty to make Team USA, he’ll need to run the time in the next three weeks or earn a spot based on the World Athletics ranking system.
Athing Mu runs a personal best in the 1500 meters
On Thursday, the Olympic 800-meter champion took almost six seconds off her previous personal best in the event. In heat 1 of the first round of the women’s 1500 meters, Mu finished third in 4:10.33 to earn an automatic qualifying spot in the 1500-meter final on Saturday at 6:34 p.m. PT. As the reigning world champion in the 800 meters, Mu has an automatic wild-card bye into the world championships.
Cooper Teare gets knocked out in the 1500 meters
The biggest surprise of the first round took place in the final heat when the 2022 national champion was out-kicked for an automatic qualifying spot in the final. Almost a year after Teare represented the United States at the world championships, the Bowerman Track Club runner finished fourth in his heat at the national meet in a tight finish between race winner Cole Hocker (3:29.23), Drew Hunter (3:39.34), and Henry Wynne (3:39.34). Teare finished just outside of the top three in 3:39.38.
While he won’t advance to the men’s 1500-meter final, Teare still has a shot at making Team USA in the 5,000 meters, which is scheduled for Sunday.
Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone cruises sub-50 in the 400 meters
The Olympic champion in the 400-meter hurdles looked effortless while winning heat 2 of the women’s 400 meters. McLaughlin-Levrone finished in 49.79, the fastest time out of the first round and close to her 49.51 personal best in the event. The world record-holder will return to the track in the 400-meter semifinal on Friday at 8:29 p.m. PT. As the reigning world champion in the 400-meter hurdles, McLaughlin-Levrone has an automatic wild-card bye into the world championships.
Marvin Bracy-Williams doesn’t advance in the 100 meters
The 2022 world championship silver medalist shocked the crowd when he pulled up with an injury in the first round of the men’s 100 meters. Bracy-Williams finished eighth in heat 4, won by 2019 world champion Christian Coleman in 9.95, the fastest time of the day.
In heat 1, Travyon Bromell qualified with a runner-up finish, but the two-time world championship bronze medalist appeared to be limping after the race.
The men’s 100-meter semifinal is scheduled for Friday at 7:29 p.m. PT. Those who advance will compete in the final at 8:54 p.m. PT.
Sha’Carri Richardson blasts world lead in the 100 meters
In one of the first races of the meet, the top American sprinter advanced with ease to the semifinal round of the women’s 100 meters. Richardson won her heat in 10.71, the fastest time of all the qualifiers and the fastest time in the world so far this year. Her performance is a wind-legal personal best.
The 23-year-old will return to the track for the semifinal on Friday at 7:14 p.m. PT. If she advances, she’ll compete in the final at 8:45 p.m. PT. Richardson is also scheduled to compete in the 200 meters, which begin on Saturday.