25 May, 2017

Eugene: American Dominance on Display in Women's 100 Hurdles

The world’s deepest pool of 100-meter hurdle talent will occupy an overwhelming 7 of eight lanes in the Prefontaine Classic.

With no restrictions on competitors per country like an Olympics or World Championships, meet organizers have invited the very best available hurdlers in the world, which means that the unquestioned global powerhouse in the event – the Americans-- fills all but one lane in Saturday's race.

Six of the Americans have been in the Track & Field News world rankings the last two years, and the other is on a path that might have an ending in this year’s top 10.

Nia Ali, 28, earned her second World Indoor gold medal last March in Portland but saved her best racing for the summer, running her second-fastest time (12.55) to capture the final spot on the U.S. Olympic team at Hayward Field.  A month later, Ali ran her third-best ever (12.59) to claim the silver in the event’s first Olympic sweep by any country.  The USC alum is one of four former NCAA champions in the race.

Kristi Castlin, 28, also found incredible timing last year, running a lifetime best 12.50 to make her first international team since 2007, the year she burst onto the scene with an American Junior (U20) record 12.91 as a Virginia Tech freshman.  Her Rio Olympic bronze came in the same country where she earned her only other medal, gold in the 2007 Pan-American Juniors in Sao Paulo.  She has three indoor or outdoor NCAA titles, equal to the most in the field.

Dawn Harper Nelson, 33, owns two Olympic medals – gold from the 2008 Beijing Games and silver in London.  At last year’s Trials, the four-time Diamond League winner was a cruel victim of the U.S. depth in this event, missing the final by just one-hundredth of a second.  Still, her season was strong enough to rate her No. 5 in the world by T&FN last year, her eighth straight in the top 5.

Jasmin Stowers, the field’s youngest at 25, can provide even more proof of the American depth.  Last year’s Olympic team was very much in doubt coming up to the last hurdle in the Trials, Stowers prime among the threats.  But the LSU grad crashed the final hurdle and finished last.  She was 3rd in last year’s similarly loaded Pre Classic and ranked No. 3 in the world by T&FN in 2015.

Sharika Nelvis, 27, has the most outdoor wins (four) of anyone in the field this year, including three already in May.  Hayward Field saw her two fastest times – 12.34 and 12.37 at the 2015 U.S. championships, when she made her only national team and ended the year ranked No. 2 in the world by T&FN.  She swept the 2014 NCAA indoor and outdoor titles as a senior at Arkansas State.

Christina Manning, 26, is running her fastest since 2012, the year she swept NCAA indoor and outdoor titles at Ohio State.  Indoors she won four times on the European circuit in February.  Last month she clocked her fastest outdoor time at 12.62.  She was bronze medalist in the 2011 World University Games and added a silver in the 4x 100.

Queen Harrison, 28, was the unfortunate 4th-place finisher in last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials, just two hundredths of a second from making the team.  She made the 2015 U.S. team, taking 5th in the Beijing World Championships.  In 2014 she earned a No. 2 world ranking by T&FN.  A Virginia Tech teammate of Castlin for four years, she won three NCAA titles as a senior in 2010, including the first-ever double in the 100 and 400 hurdles.  She won The Bowerman Award in 2010 as the nation’s best collegiate female athlete.

Two-time Olympian Alina Talay, 28, the Belarusian recordholder, is the only non-American in the field.  The 2015 World Championships bronze medalist has three career gold medals in the European Championships, as well as a pair of silvers.  She was 6th in last year’s Prefontaine Classic.

 

Women’s 100-Meter HurdlesPersonal Best
Sharika NelvisUSA12.34
Jasmin StowersUSA12.35
Dawn Harper NelsonUSA12.37
Queen HarrisonUSA12.43
Nia AliUSA12.48
Kristi CastlinUSA12.50
Christina ManningUSA12.62
Alina TalayBelarus12.63