Randy Pench / rpench@sacbee.com

Eric Werskey practices the shot put on the west side of the state Capitol in preparation for today’s competition there. The men’s and women’s shot finals will be contested. The meet resumes Thursday at Sacramento State.

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Good showing by Sacramento could bring USA Track & Field Championships back in 2017

Published: Tuesday, Jun. 24, 2014 - 7:30 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Jun. 26, 2014 - 8:52 am

In a sport of numbers, these speak of the track and field legacy in Sacramento over an eight-year stretch: Two U.S. Olympic Trials, four NCAA Division I championships, one world record, six American records, 13 collegiate records.

Sacramento was the national track epicenter from 2000 to 2007, and the next chapter unfolds this week with the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. It starts today at the steps of the state Capitol with the shot put, free to the public in the shadows of some of the city’s most famous landmarks – the Capitol dome, Tower Bridge and Capitol Mall.

The rest of the meet will be held Thursday through Sunday at Sacramento State, which hosted the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials and set event attendance records. Having invested $1.4 million to resurface the track at Hornet Stadium this spring, and using its history of success as its guide, the Sacramento Sports Commission has been assured by USA Track & Field, the sport’s governing body, that the USA Championships would return in 2017 if attendance and revenue goals are met.

This will be Sacramento’s sixth national track title meet since 1968.

Watching from afar are track officials in Eugene, home of Oregon’s Hayward Field and the center of USA track activity in the 1970s and ’80s. Eugene won a bid over Sacramento for the 2008 Olympic Trials, which led to the 2012 Trials returning to Hayward Field and again in 2016. In a sense, competition is everywhere.

“This is a chance for Sacramento to show once again what a great track fan base we have here,” said John Mansoor, the meet’s co-director. “In some respects, we’re in a rivalry with Eugene. We don’t have the Nike money like they do, but we have a better fan base – and Eugene’s is rabid and knowledgeable, but not as many as what we have. We have larger fan-base numbers and better weather. And we’re going to do innovative stuff to add to the experience.”

That includes holding the shot put competition today at the Capitol, a bold change from its traditional venue. The finals are from 4 to 6 p.m., the height of downtown foot traffic.

“I’m glad to hear (the change in venue) called bold because a lot of people called it crazy,” Mansoor said. “We see the potential to do something unique and crazy and break away from traditional. And the athletes are excited, saying, ‘Wow. I can’t believe the venue.’ They’re loving it because they’re used to throwing in obscurity.”

American women’s shot put record holder Michelle Carter agreed: “I think it’s awesome to have the shot here. Shot putters like to have the moment, too.”

Mansoor said the region is “desperate for big sporting events” and he points out that that track and field has a bit of everything for the curious to the hard-core fan. Be it the Amgen Tour of California, Republic FC soccer games, River Cats Triple-A baseball to the Kings, fans in Sacramento appreciate a good show.

“We’ve seen it in all those sports, including USA Rugby here last week,” Mansoor said. “The exciting thing here is track has so much to offer – the pole vaulters, the big people, the sprinters, jumps, distances, and we have world champions and American champions here, the Olympic team in the making.”

Four story lines to ponder:

Capitol Shot – Using a concrete ring the Sac State engineering department assembled, the shot put was to include three of the most accomplished male throwers in U.S. history. But a late scratch Wednesday morning by defending U.S. champion Ryan Whiting took the world’s 2013 top-ranked putter - and his best throw of 73 feet, 1/14 inches - out of the mix. Remaining, though, are Christian Cantwell, the 2009 world outdoor champion, and Reese Hoffa, the 2007 world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist.

Fast feet – Allyson Felix, owner of four Olympic golds and a record eight golds from the World Championships, takes on her familiar 100 here after a late scratch in the 400. The 400 favorite is 2012 Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, the American women’s record holder (48.70 seconds).

LaShawn Merritt is the reigning world champion in the men’s 400 and the fifth fastest in history with a best of 43.74. The Hornet Stadium record of 43.68 that belongs to 2000 Olympic Trials champion and Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson could fall.

Evan excellence – Evan Jager, the American record-holder in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8 minutes, 6.81 seconds, is in great form. Earlier this month, he ran 8:06.97 in Norway. He won the 2013 U.S. outdoor title and the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Youth movement – This sport isn’t just for the reigning American and/or world champions. It ushers in the next generation, and the collegians competing are impressive: Dedric Dukes of Florida (200), Mac Fleet of Oregon (1,500), Devon Allen of Oregon (110 hurdles), Miles Ukaoma of Nebraska (400 hurdles), Bryan McBride of Arizona State (high jump) and Sam Crouser of Oregon (javelin).


USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships lineup for this week at the state Capitol and Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium:

TODAY

STATE CAPITOL

• 10 a.m.: Women’s shot put qualifying

• 11:30 a.m.: Men’s shot put qualifying

• 4:30 p.m.: Women’s shot put trials and finals

• 6:15 p.m.: Men’s shot put trials and finals

THURSDAY

SACRAMENTO STATE

•  10:30 a.m.: Decathlon, 100 meters

•  11:30 a.m.: Decathlon, long jump

•  1 p.m.: Decathlon, shot put

• 2:30 p.m.: Decathlon, high jump

• 3 p.m.: Men’s hammer

• 4:15 p.m.: Women’s 800 meters, first round

• 4:40 p.m.: Men’s 800 meters, first round

• 5:20 p.m.: Decathlon, 400 meters

• 5:35 p.m.: Women’s triple jump, final

• 5:40 p.m.: Women’s 400 meters, first round

• 6 p.m.: Women’s javelin, final

• 6:05 p.m.: Men’s 400 meters, first round

• 6:30 p.m.: Men’s 1,500 meters, first round

• 7 p.m.: Women’s 100 meters, first round

• 7:25 p.m.: Men’s 100 meters, first round

• 7:50 p.m.: Women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, first round

• 8:20 p.m.: Women’s 10,000 meters, final

• 9 p.m.: Men’s 10,000 meters, final

FRIDAY

SACRAMENTO STATE

• 11:45 a.m.: Decathlon, 110-meter hurdles

• 12:15 p.m.: Heptathlon, 100-meter hurdles

• 1 p.m.: Decathlon, discus

• 1:15 p.m.: Heptathlon, high jump

• 3 p.m.: Decathlon, pole vault

• 3:15 p.m.: Men’s discus, final

• 3:30 p.m.: Heptathlon, shot put

• 4 p.m.: Women’s 400-meter hurdles, first round

• 4:30 p.m.: Men’s 400-meter hurdles, first round

• 5 p.m.: Decathlon, javelin “a”

• 5:05 p.m.: Heptathlon, 200 meters

• 5:25 p.m.: Women’s 100-meter hurdles, first round

• 5:50 p.m.: Women’s pole vault, final

• 5:51 p.m.: Women’s 100 meters, semifinals

• 6 p.m.: Decathlon, javelin “b”

• 6:07 p.m.: Men’s 100 meters, semifinals

• 6:10 p.m.: Men’s triple jump, final

• 6:22 p.m.: Men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, first round

• 6:52 p.m.: Decathlon, 1,500 meters

• 7:03 p.m.: Women’s 1,500 meters, first round

• 7:35 p.m.: Women’s 400 meters, semifinals

• 7:52 p.m.: Men’s 400 meters, semifinals

• 8:09 p.m.: Women’s 800 meters, semifinals

• 8:26 p.m.: Men’s 800 meters, semifinals

• 8:43 p.m.: Women’s 100 meters, final

• 8:52 p.m.: Men’s 100 meters, final

• 9:05 p.m.: Women’s 5,000 meters, final

• 9:25 p.m.: Men’s 5,000 meters, final

SATURDAY

SACRAMENTO STATE

• 7 a.m.: Women’s 20k race walk

• 10:30 a.m.: Heptathlon, long jump

• 11 a.m.: Women’s hammer, final

• 11 a.m.: Women’s 100 hurdles, semifinals

• 11:20 a.m.: Men’s 200 meters, first round

• 11:40 a.m.: Heptathlon, javelin

• 11:45 a.m.: Men’s high jump, final

• 11:50 a.m.: Men’s 110-meter hurdles, first round

• 12:15 p.m.: Women’s long jump, final

• 12:20 p.m.: Women’s 200 meters, first round

• 1:05 p.m.: Women’s 400 meters, final

• 1:13 p.m.: Women’s 400-meter hurdles, semifinals

• 1:29 p.m.: Men’s 400-meter hurdles, semifinals

• 1:56 p.m.: Women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, final

• 2:14 p.m.: Men’s 1,500 meters, final

• 2:25 p.m.: Heptathlon, 800 meters

• 2:42 p.m.: Men’s 400 meters, final

• 2:52 p.m.: Women’s 100-meter hurdles, final

SUNDAY

SACRAMENTO STATE

• 7 a.m.: Men’s 20k race walk

• 11:30 a.m.: Men’s pole vault, final

• 11:30 a.m.: Men’s 200 meters, semifinals

• 11:45 a.m.: Women’s discus, final

• 11:50 a.m.: Women’s 200 meters, final

• Noon: Men’s javelin, final

• 12:05 p.m.: Women’s high jump, final

• 12:15 p.m.: Men’s long jump, final

• 12:25 p.m.: Men’s 110-meter hurdles, semifinals

• 1:05 p.m.: Women’s 400-meter hurdles, final

• 1:30 p.m.: Women’s 800 meters, final

• 1:40 p.m.: Men’s 800 meters, final

• 1:52 p.m.: Men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, final

• 2:09 p.m.: Men’s 200 meters, final

• 2:19 p.m.: Men’s 400-meter hurdles, final

• 2:29 p.m.: Women’s 200 meters, final

• 2:39 p.m.: Women’s 1,500 meters, final

• 2:52 p.m.: Men’s 110-meter hurdles, final


Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.

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