Last year we came to Eugene for the World Junior Champs and shared our favourite moments in the TrackTown Wrap (I, II and III). This year we returned to Historic Hayward Field for the US Outdoor Champs. Here's what we learnt.

Kids got pace

 

Kaylin Whitney ()

 

Baylor wonderkid Trayvon Bromell wowed the Hayward crowd with a 9.84 in the 100m prelims to become the fourth fastest US sprinter of all time and the fastest teenager ever. In the final, the 19-year-old finished second behind Tyson Gay (age 32) to become the first US teen to qualify for a world champs in the 100m.

Even younger but just as precocious is Kaylin Whitney. She’s only 17, but already she’s at home among the seniors. She cruised through the prelims, matching her world youth best of 22.49 on the way. Last year's world junior champion finished fourth in the final, but a 22.47 time gave her a PB and an improvement on her own world youth best.

Everybody clap yo’ hands

 

Tianna Bartoletta ()

 

There’s nowhere like Hayward Field for getting a rhythmic clap going. The pounding of middle-distance runners’ feet on the red hot track was matched by the smacking of palm on palm in the stands.

On the jumps runways, the claps propelled Tianna Bartoletta to a 7.12m personal best world leading jump, and Marquis Dendy to the national long jump title to go with the NCAA double he scored in the same venue two weeks ago.

Over on the high jump pit, local boy Jesse Williams cleared his best height in 25 months, while Erik Kynard came within a whisker of breaking the American record and joining the 2.40 club. Needless to say, the pair both manipulated the Hayward clap potential to maximum effect.

Hats ON

 

Trey Hardee USATF Outdoors ()

 

 

Apparently the climate in Oregon is temperate. Not this last week. The midsummer sun gave as good as it gets, and while the temperature gauge headed relentlessly up, in the stands we pulled the brims of our hats endlessly down in an effort to maximise the shade potential.

The hot track proved fast for the sprinters and punishing for the middle distance runners. Meanwhile, the steeplechasers had to endure a hot spring of a water jump. "Slimy" is how Stephanie Garcia described it. Nice.

Allyson is the boss

 

Allyson Felix ()

 

Allyson Felix has a lot of strings to her bow. Raw pace is one of them; versatility is another. The quadruple Olympic gold medallist has a bye to the world champs for the 200m as last year's Diamond Race winner, so at the USAs she chanced her arm over 400m.

With 200m to go in the final it looked as if she wouldn't have enough to overhaul world leader Francena McCorory and triple world gold medallist Natasha Hastings ahead of her. But Felix reminded us that another thing she has buckets of is guts. She found another gear, picked off her rivals one by one and took the win.

“Coming off the curve, I just buckled down and went for it,” she said. The outcome gave her a chance to show us another thing Felix has in her locker: a smile as wide as the Willamette.

Gators be jumpin’

 

US jumper Marquis Dendy (Getty Images)

 

Recent Florida University alumni include Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor and 2012 world indoor triple jump champ Will Claye. Adding to the southern school’s stellar roster is 23-year-old leaper Marquis Dendy.

In the long jump, Dendy opened up with a huge (though windy) 8.68m that no one in the field could respond to – not even Taylor and Eugene’s favourite son Ashton Eaton (both with world champs wildcards in their favoured events). Dendy's final jump was a wind legal school record 8.39m.

In the triple, another Gator, Omar Craddock, leaped out to 17.53m to ensure both parallel jump titles went to sons of the Sunshine State. With Claye in second, Dendy in third and Taylor already qualified, four Florida men will be present at the world champs in Beijing in August.

Dendy was coy about the Florida recipe for success: “I guess I got to keep that secret with us. If you want to know it, just come here!”

Hurdles cause heartbreak

 

Hurdles ()

 

The standard in the women’s 100m hurdles in Eugene was quite frankly silly. The final featured five of the ten fastest women in the event this year, and the pace proved just as punishing as the baking heat.

Just one tenth of a second separated the top five, led by 2008 Olympic champ Dawn Harper-Nelson in 12.55, closely followed by second place Kendra Harrison and Sharika Nelvis in third (she clocked a wind-legal 12.34 in the heats to become the all-time seventh fastest woman in the world).

It meant devastation for Queen Harrison and Jasmin Stowers, who were both tipped to book their place on the world champs team. The crazy high standard is nothing new, and is no doubt a major reason why the US has produced more female sprint hurdle world champions than any other nation in history.

 

Experience counts

 

Nick Symmonds ()

Ten years after winning world championship gold, Bershawn 'Batman' Jackson (32) chased down second fastest this year Johnny Dutch in the final 50m to get a hugely popular win in the 400m hurdles – his fifth national title. Chaunte Lowe (31) scored the win in the high jump, a decade after claiming world champs silver.

Nick Symmonds (32), after barely competing over the distance the last two years, made jaws drop with a stunning burst down the home straight to win the 800m, extending his eight-year run of making US champs teams. 

Trey Hardee (31) scored a world-leading 8725 points in the decathlon with one of the highest second day scores (4356) in history. On the podium he explained his strong form: “I’m like a fine wine. I get better with age.” We'll need a glass of that.

Mum's the word

 

Alysia Montano ()

 

And a year on from competing while pregnant at last year's champs, Alysia Montano won her sixth national title to book her plane ticket to Beijing.

“I honestly had no limits on myself, but I'm so, so surprised,” Montano said as she stood atop of the podium, stars'n'stripes in one hand, baby in the other.