U.S. Olympic Trials: Six more men earn tickets to Tokyo, Allyson Felix still alive in women's 200m

·Yahoo Sports Columnist
·4-min read
Hillary Bor and Benard Keter celebrate after the Men's 3000 Meters Steeplechase Final during day eight of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 25, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Two of the six men who earned spots on the U.S. Olympic team on Friday now get to say they are repeat Olympians, highlighting the slate of events on Day 8 of the Track and Field Trials.

Hillary Bor won the men's 3000 meter steeplechase in 8:21.34 after his runner-up finish at the 2016 Trials, and in men's discus Mason Finley, who finished 11th in the event at the Rio Games, gave himself another chance on that global stage with an event-best throw of 63.07 meters (206 feet, 11 inches).

Bor will be joined by Benard Keter (8:21.81) and former NCAA champion Mason Ferlic (8:22.05). Bor and Keter were both born in Kenya and came to the United States to run as college athletes, Bor at Iowa State and Keter at Texas Tech. They became American citizens by joining the Army and running through its World Class Athlete Program (WCAP)

Finley, Reggie Jagers (62.61m, 205-5) and Sam Mattis (62.51m, 205-1) are the trio that will represent the U.S. in discus. Mattis, an NCAA champion at Penn and a graduate of the university's prestigious Wharton School of Business who turned down a lucrative job offer with JPMorgan Chase to chase his dream of being a professional athlete, recorded his best throw on his first throw, and fortunately it held up.

Finley's winning throw came on his fifth of six attempts, and Jagers clinched his ticket on his last throw, jumping from fifth place to second and a trip to Tokyo.

The hurdles events were marred by a ridiculous number of false false-start callbacks in preliminary round heats. At this level, starting blocks are pressure sensitive, so if someone is deemed to react too quickly and jump the gun, the race starter is signaled in their headphones and athletes are signaled to start over. The World Athletics rule for a false start is unforgiving: if it's deemed that you indeed false-started, you're out. No second chance. 

In the fourth heat of the men's 110m hurdles, runners heard the double-gun four times before the race went off cleanly. Initially it appeared that Trey Holloway, the older brother of current world champion Grant, might have gone early, but officials showed a green flag, meaning he was safe and it was a technical issue. However, they did end up sending off Samuel Brixey, who just finished his senior year at Washington State, on the fourth double-gun.

Shortly after, in the first heat of the women's 400m hurdles, which featured young American star Sydney McLaughlin, there were three technical false starts before the race went on. The crowd at Hayward Field gave a mock cheer when it was clear that it would finally be run. 

Unfazed by the repeated delays, McLaughlin ran a smooth 54.07 seconds, jogging to the finish line and still recording the best time in the qualifying heats by a full second. World record holder and reigning Olympic gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad had the fourth-best time on the day, 55.51s.

Elsewhere, Louisiana State's jumping wonder, JuVaughn Harrison, is on track to achieve an exceedingly rare double: qualifying in long jump and high jump. The disciplines are quite different; one is a horizontal jump and the other vertical, and Harrison is the only athlete in NCAA history to win both at one national championship, which he did both indoors and outdoors this year. Fortunately for Harrison, he only jumped three times on Friday, helping to preserve his legs for Sunday, when the finals for both will be held. 

Harrison fouled on his first long jump attempt, then went 8.06m (26-5.5) on his second. When it was clear that would be enough to get him into the 12-man final, he passed on his third attempt to head to the high jump apron.

There, he passed on the opening height of 2.14m (7-0.25) and cleared the next, 2.19m (7-2.25) on his first attempt. That was all he needed to get into the final.

After looking a bit uncomfortable in her preliminary 200m heat on Thursday and getting into the semifinal on time, Allyson Felix looked tremendous on Friday, running 22.20s to finish second to Jenna Prandini (21.99s) and easily move on to the final on Saturday night. Gabby Thomas, who is studying for her master's in public health from Harvard while training, had the top time on the day, a lifetime best 21.94s.

However, if Felix does finish top 3 and earn a 200m Olympic spot as well, she'll have a choice to make: the schedule in Tokyo is such that it's impossible to compete in both the 200m and 400m. 

Chicago Bears receiver Marquise Goodwin, jumped 7.57m (24-10) in the long jump preliminary, which was 19th. An Olympian in 2012, he will not move on to the final.

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