Sandi Morris wins US pole vault title; Olympic champions Crouser and Allman also win

Sandi Morris wins the Women Pole Vault during the 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field on June 24, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon

A chance broken pole prevented Sandi Morris from competing in the women’s pole vault final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games last summer. She’s not letting anything stop her so far this season.

The 29-year-old from Greenville, South Carolina has won every competition she entered in 2022. She entered the USATF Outdoor Championships this weekend in Eugene, Oregon with the best height in the world.

And Friday night, she continued on her way.

Morris cleared 4.82 meters – beating her record from the previous season by a centimeter – to claim her fourth US title, beating reigning Olympic gold medalist Katie Nageotte. Aline McDonald and Nageotte each cleared 4.65 meters, although McDonald took second place via a tiebreaker.

This year’s US Championships also serve as the main qualifier for the World Championships which will be held on the same track at Hayward Field in three weeks. From July 15-24, these world championships will be the first in the event’s five-decade history to be held on American soil.

Any top-three finisher this weekend who has also achieved world championship standard will qualify, although there are other ways to qualify. Notably, all reigning World or Diamond League champions receive an automatic spot in the World Championships.

Morris, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and two-time world championship silver medalist, and Nageotte are expected to be the top contenders for the world pole vault title.

Two Olympic champions from Tokyo also won national titles on Friday, the second of four days of competition at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.

Ryan Crouser, an Oregon native who is also the world record holder in the men’s shot put, won the event with a throw of 23.12 meters, the best in the world.

Joe Kovacs, a two-time world champion who also won silver medals at the 2017 world championships as well as the last two Olympics, placed second behind Crouser with a season-best 22.87 meters, while Josh Awotunde took third in 21.51.

Crouser is the reigning two-time Olympic gold medalist and won a silver medal at the 2019 world championships. He had a 27-game winning streak in competition when he finished second at the world indoor championships in March , but has since won four consecutive outdoor competitions.

In the women’s discus throw, reigning Olympic champion Valarie Allman continued her dominance with a winning throw of 66.92 metres. Allman, who also set a new American record earlier this year, has the highest rating in the world this season. The former competitive dancer could face Croatian Sandra Perkovic, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion, next month. The two have traded victories in the last two Diamond League encounters.

Laulauga Tausaga-Collins took second place with a personal best 64.49 meters followed by Olympian Rachel Dincoff at 62.14 meters.

An early showdown between Christian Coleman and Fred Kerley in the men’s 100 meters will have to wait until the world championships after Coleman was eliminated late. As the reigning world champion, Coleman has an automatic bid for the world championships.

In his absence, Tokyo silver medalist Kerley pulled away from the pack to win in 9.77 seconds. It was a hundredth of a second slower than his time in the semi-finals, which is by far the fastest time in the world this year.

2016 Olympian Marvin Bracy-Williams was second with a personal best 9.85, followed by two-time Olympian Trayvon Bromell at 9.88. Bromell is a bronze medalist at the 2015 world championships in this event.

The women’s 100m was less predictable.

Two weeks after finishing eighth on the same track at the NCAA championships, Melissa Jefferson won her first US title in 10.69 seconds, edging Olympian Aleia Hobbs by three hundredths of a second. Twanisha Terry finished third, cruising just five hundredths behind Jefferson. All three are heading to their first world championships, although Hobbs won a silver medal in the relay with Team USA in Tokyo.

“If I had done what I did today at the NCAA, I might not be here today,” Jefferson said, “so I’m grateful.”

As a junior at Coastal Carolina, Jefferson’s only major title before tonight was in the NCAA indoor 60 yards earlier this year.

Vashti Cunningham won the women’s high jump at 1.93m to secure her place at the world championships. Cunningham was also the top American runner-up in Tokyo, tied for sixth place. She won a bronze medal at the 2019 world championships.

Rayvon Gray was the other American champion crowned on Friday, with the LSU All-American winning the men’s long jump with a personal best 8.19 yards.

Among several heats also contested on Friday, Allyson Felix, the most decorated woman in track and field history, advanced to Saturday’s final in the women’s 400 meters. Félix, 36, plans to retire after this season.