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After a two-day rest break, the USA Track & Field Olympic Trials resumed on Thursday night. Though it was a full schedule of events, there were only two finals to determine who would represent the country in Tokyo, in women's shot put and women's 3,000-meter steeplechase.
The shot put final saw the kind of rising-to-the-moment performances you love to see on this kind of stage: on her third throw, 2016 Olympian Raven Saunders threw a lifetime best and Trials record of 19.96 meters (65 feet, 6 inches); in the next round, Jessica Ramsey responded by throwing 20.12m (66-0.25), her own personal best and a meet record, and that stood as the best effort of the competition.
Ramsey and Saunders will be joined by Ohio State's Adelaide Aquilla, who won the NCAA title last weekend. Aquilla threw 18.95m (62-2.25). Maggie Ewen, who finished fourth at the World Championships two years ago, did not qualify after coming in fourth.
In the steeplechase, Emma Coburn breezed to her eighth U.S. title and third Olympic team in a Trials record of 9:09.41. Courtney Frerichs finished second (9:11.79) to earn her second Olympic spot, with Val Constien third (9:18.34) to make it to the Olympics for the first time.
With two laps to go, Leah Falland was in a pack with Coburn and Frerichs that had broken away from the rest of the field, and it appeared that she was the one headed to Tokyo. But Falland tripped coming off one of the barriers — it appeared her lead foot planted wrong, causing a tumble — and she couldn't recover.
Allyson Felix moved on to the semifinals of the women's 200m, but while she was able to secure a berth in the 400m, the current crop of young Americans in the 200m mean she'll have a steep climb to qualify in this event as well. However, the track and field schedule during the Tokyo Olympics is such that it's basically impossible for a man or woman to compete in both the 200m and 400m.
Felix's time of 22.56 seconds qualified her 10th. Harvard graduate Gabby Thomas was the top qualifier in a world-leading 21.98 seconds.
Reigning women's hammer throw world champion DeAnna Price set a Trials record in the qualifying round. Her throw of 77.10m (252-11) cemented her as the favorite to lead the eventual American trio in the event.
A deep field in the women's 800m was whittled down after the opening-round heats. 2019 World bronze medalist Ajeé Wilson, 19-year-old star Athing Mu and '19 World silver medalist Raevyn Rogers are among the 16 women moving on to Friday's semifinals.
On Friday, six more athletes will earn tickets to Tokyo, in men's 300m steeplechase and men's discus throw.
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