Hopes for a new world record over 60m were met—and then some—on the third day (18 February) of the USA Indoor Championships as Christian Coleman roared to a 6.34* clocking in the dash, cutting a half-second off the previous best.
American Maurice Greene first set the accepted 6.39 mark in 1998 and then tied it at the 2001 indoor nationals. But Coleman’s first final of the 2018 indoor campaign showed the record’s days likely were numbered when he sped 6.37 on January 19.
But that mark, set in Clemson, South Carolina, never would have received record ratification since there were neither wired starting blocks used nor drug testing done immediately after the race.
At the U.S. nationals, staged in the helpful thinner air of 1507m Albuquerque, Coleman showed he had plenty of speed to burn as he clocked 6.46 in Saturday’s heat and then 6.42 in Sunday’s semi-final. He eased back noticeably in the final meters of both his preliminaries. Defending champion Ronnie Baker had taken his semi with a PB 6.45, setting the table for a climactic final.
More than three hours later, Coleman lined up for the title race in lane 5 with Baker to his left in 4 and veteran Mike Rodgers inside both in lane 3. After a false start eliminated one sprinter, the field got away on the second attempt.
Baker got an excellent start, but led for only a few steps as Coleman was right with him. Coleman never surrendered the lead he grabbed and opened distance over the field in the final 10m. He threw his arms wide as he crossed the line, his speed taking care of Greene’s official record as well as settling any questions about Coleman’s own earlier record claim.
The 21-year-old Coleman hopped and skipped in glee as he ran back up the sprint straight before turning to accept the accolades from the Albuquerque Convention Center crowd.
“I wanted to go get it, but it pretty much felt like a blur,” Coleman said of the record. “I just wanted to be the first to get to the finish line. I had put in a lot of work on my start, so it feels pretty good to do it.”
Baker distinguished himself as well, clocking a PB 6.40 to become the third fastest ever. Rodgers claimed third in 6.50, just 0.02 off the PB that won him the 2011 national title, also in Albuquerque.
In the women’s 60, first-year professional Javianne Oliver sped to career-bests in both her qualifying heat at 7.11 and then to claim her first national title with a convincing 7.02 in the final. She trimmed down the 2018 world lead by 0.01 as she came home comfortably ahead of the PB 7.19 for second-placer Destiny Carter. Outdoor 100 champion Tori Bowie didn’t appear for her prelim.
Said Oliver, “Even after getting the 7.11, I just told myself to stay relaxed. I didn’t know what to expect for a time in the final. Now I’ll just go home and train for the indoor Worlds.”
Nelvis hurdles 7.70, third fastest of all-time
Speed also was in abundance over the hurdles, especially on the women’s side. Outdoor 100H World Record holder Kendra Harrison had tied the 7.72 U.S. indoor best earlier this winter and paced the semi-finals at 7.77. Harrison and other semi winner Christina Manning got out together in the final and traded strides the entire race.
But right with the pair was 27-year-old veteran Sharika Nelvis, who had placed eighth over the 2015 outdoor worlds 100 barriers. Nelvis kept bearing down the entire race and off the last hurdle, she leaned sharply to cross the line first—and with a US record of 7.70 as a bonus. Harrison (7.72 to match her PB) and Manning (7.73 PB) followed.
“I’m so excited!” Nelvis bubbled after claiming her first-ever U.S. title, indoors or out. “There were such great women in this race, yet I told myself just to treat it like any other race and not put pressure on myself.”
Nelvis becomes the No. 3 performer in history, trailing only world record setters Susanna Kallur (7.68) and Lyudmila Engquist (7.69).
Over the men’s barriers, 2016 champion Jarret Eaton matched strides all the way with Aries Merritt and Devon Allen before edging ahead off the fifth barrier to win in 7.43, just 0.01 off the 2018-leading time posted by U.S. collegian Grant Holloway. Merritt ran 7.46 for second, his fastest since his all-conquering 2012 season, while Allen cut his PB to 7.49 in third.
Nageotte clears four PBs en route to 4.91m world lead
Vying for attention with all this speed was the leading field event, the women’s pole vault. Olympic and outdoor worlds silver medalist Sandi Morris rebounded from a sore back at the early-February Millrose Games to clear 4.86m on her first attempt. Defending world indoor champion Jenn Suhr had made 4.81m on her first, but missed her initial try at 4.86m, then passed to 4.91m.
But both veterans were trailing new face Katie Nageotte, who had first-attempt makes through seven heights, including an =PB 4.76m and then lifetime highs at 4.81m and 4.86m. The 26-year-old Ohio native then was the only jumper to top 4.91m, again on her first effort.
Then Nageotte had the bar elevated to 5.04m, 1cm above Suhr’s world indoor record from 2016. While that setting proved unattainable, Nageotte had become only the third American ever to top 16-feet (4.88) and only the fourth all-time.
Clay, Reese and Cunningham prevail
In other jumping events, multiple international medalist Will Claye triumphed in his debut competition this winter, bouncing a victorious 17.28m in round 4 to outdistance the PB 17.20m by Chris Carter from the third frame. Omar Craddock also exceeded 17.00m with 17.11m to take third.
In the women’s long jump, outdoor world champion Brittney Reese won her eleventh U.S. title overall, and fourth indoors, as she twice reached a 2018-pacing 6.88m and heads to Birmingham to defend her world indoor title. Another 2016 global titlist who will return to defend is Vashti Cunningham, who high jumped 1.97m to claim her third consecutive U.S. crown.
Back on the track, the two-section format for the 400m finals produced intriguing finishes. First, outdoor world champion Phyllis Francis clocked 51.19 to take the first women’s section, only to see Courtney Okolo just outlean Shakima Wimbley in the second, 51.16-51.17. In the men’s races, Aldrich Bailey clocked a PB 45.59 to take section I, but Michael Cherry claimed the title with his own indoor best of 45.53.
In the 800s, Donavan Brazier became the second-fastest American ever with his PB victory of 1:45.10, while Ajee' Wilson led the entire women’s race to win in 2:01.60, 0.16 ahead of Raevyn Rogers, who had run sub-2:00 in her heat.
Successful 1500/3000 double victories were claimed by 1500 champions Paul Chelimo (3:42.91 from the 3:43.09 by Ben Blankenship) and Shelby Houlihan (4:13.07 ahead of the PB 4:13.21 by Colleen Quigley).