Stevens is golden in Sacramento

6/26/2017
 
Results:  Open   Junior

The 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships concluded Sunday (25-Jun) on the campus of Sacramento State University in Sacramento, Calf. The championships which began on Thursday (22-June) were marked with unusually high temperatures during the first two days of competition with highs hitting 106 degrees on Thursday and 97 on Friday.  
 
The event was a combined open (professional) and junior (under 20) championships.  The open athletes were vying for Team USA spots for the IAAF World Championships (London, UK; August 4-13) and the juniors were looking to secure the right to done the Team USA uniform at the Pan American Junior Games (Lima, Peru; July 21-23).  For the open athletes a finish in the top three in Sacramento (plus meeting the IAAF standard) secured their spot on the team.  For the juniors a top two finish in their event was their ticket to Peru.
 
Thirty eight (38) athletes from New York competed in the open championships and twelve (12) competed in the junior championships.  Seven (7) earned spots to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Championships and two (2) will don the Team USA uniform at the Pan American Junior Championships.
 
The story of the meet for the locals was 2016 Olympian Deajah Stevens (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) winning the 200m and finishing second in the 100m to earn her spots on Team USA for London.  Three other New York members won national titles and additionally four others finished second or third to secure Team USA team spots. In the 100m Stevens, a 2014 graduate of Benjamin Cardozo High School, ran 11.08 to only trail the 10.94 turned in by Tori Bowie of Mississippi.  In the 1st round Stevens stopped the clock at 11.01, the second fastest time in her career.  In the 200m Stevens drew lane 9 thus running blind the entire way.  While she was not favorite to win she held the lead, provided by the staggered start, through the curve and never relinquished as she crossed the line in 22.30; .29 seconds ahead of Kimberlyn Duncan and .30 seconds ahead of Bowie.   “It’s hard to run from the outside because you can’t really see anybody,” Stevens said, “so when you feel people start pulling up on you, you’ve got to pull away again. And I just ran my race.”
 
Joining Stevens on the top platform of the awards podium to receive gold medals and national titles were a trio of New York Athletic Club teammates; Gia Lewis-Smallwood (Alexis, IL) in the discus throw; Gwendolyn Berry (Oxford, Miss.) in the hammer throw, and Emmanuel Corvera (San Diego, Calf.) in the 20 km race walk.  Lewis-Smallwood and Berry will compete in London but unfortunetly Corvera has not met the IAAF standard.
 
Miranda Melville (Chula Vista, Calf; Skechers / New York AC) joined Stevens in winning a silver medal as she finished second in the 20 km race walk.  Melville, a 2016 Olympian, crossed the line in 1:37:00 to make her third consecutive world championship team. Maria Michta-Coffey won the race in 1:33:20.  “I wanted to win today, but it just wasn’t in my legs today,” Melville stated after the race. “I had a great taper and I was feeling good but I just didn’t have enough today. I’m so happy to finish top 3 and officially go to Worlds. It’s been a tumultuous year. I’m still slowly bouncing back from a lot of things. I think it’s hard to come back from Rio, but I had two teammates on the men’s side who PR’d and one of them won, so I couldn’t be happier for them.”
 
Third place finishes were turned in by John Gregorek (Tarrytown, N.Y.; Asics) in the 1500m; Michelle Carter (Ovilla, Texas; Nike/NYAC) in the shot put; and Deanna Price (DeSoto, IL / NYAC) in the hammer throw.
 
Gregorek, who trains under Frank Gagliano in Westchester county, used a furious late race kick to grab the final Team USA spot at the last possible moment.  With 200m to go Gregorek was in 11th place and had was 20m behind behind Craig Engels who held the third, and final, position for the world championship team. Entering the straight-a-way with 100m had moved up to sixth place but still trailed Engels by 10m. Over the last 100m he slowly narrowed the gap and used a well timed lean to take the third position at the last possible second. He stopped the clock at  3:43.99 with Engels .02 seconds back.  “I had a surreal out of body experience, and when I looked up at the board I asked myself if that really just happened,” offered an elated Gregorek after the race.  “All I can do is my best and not worry about the other guys. They’re just bodies on the track that I’ve gotta get around.”
 
2016 Olympic gold medalist and 2009 Benjamin Cardozo high school grad Dalilah Muhammad won the deepest 400m hurdles ever as three women broke 53 seconds for the first time and six broke 54 seconds.  Muhammad’s time of 52.64 is the sixth fastest ever in the event. She now lives and trains in California.
 
In the junior championships, Alexandra Harris (Stony Point, N.Y.) and Cameron Thompson (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. / Univ. of Connecticut) each finished second in their events to earn Team USA spots for next month’s Pan American Junior Championship in Peru.  Harris ran 10:25.80 in the 3000m steeplechase; making her the fourth fastest prep all-time in the event. Despite coming in with only the fourth best entry mark, Thompson was able to secure the final Team USA spot with a throw of 64.81m (212-7).  His best mark came in round one and he was able to hold second place but not without some uncertainty as on the last throw Jacob Wickey came within 3 inches of Thompson’s mark.

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