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Fear and Loathing from Eugene, Day 2, , Stories from the 2024 Olympic Trials, deep thoughts, semi-deep thoughts, kind of deep thoughts, Sha’Carri takes the 100m title! by Larry Eder, photos by Chuck Aragon

Eugene, Oregon

Well, hello, sports fans.

This is Larry Eder. It is day 5, an off day. I have spent much of the day trying to catch up on stories from our writing team and great photographs from Chuck Aragon and Kevin Morris.

I wanted to provide you with a synopsis of the championships day by day and explain why the Olympic Trials (my eleventh) and the Olympics (my tenth to cover, eighth to attend) are two of my favorite assignments.

The second day, a warm Saturday, had a good crowd: about 11,800 paid. Add to that the coaches, athletes, volunteers, and security folks, and you are probably around 15,000.

That is a pretty darn crowd, considering the challenges for the normal fan in getting here: Expensive air travel, hotel chains that want to make crazy money, and restaurants that do not stay open past 9 p.m., no matter what.

Add that up, and the folks who get here, some coming longer than me, are here because they love the Olympic Trials. The locals also have their challenges, and it seems that some are staying away.

That is sad, as Tracktown USA organizes this meet well and is doing its best to reign in the hoteliers and restaurants, but about the only thing that they can control is the event at the House that Phil and Penny built (Phil and Penny Knight, and the House-Hayward Field).

I thought day 1 was pretty awesome, well day 2 rocked! Here is what I saw and experienced (and heard).

1. In the Women’s triple jump, we have a bit of the changing of the guard. Jasmine Moore won the TJ in 14.26 meters or 46 feet, 9.5 inches. Jasmine is getting close to medal contention globally. Keturah Orji took the silver in 14.22 meters or 46 feet, 8 inches, while Tori Franklin took bronze in a subpar, 13.82 meters, 45 feet, one-quarter inch! Orji and Franklin have battled for over a decade, both coming close to medals, as they help bring respect to US women triple jumpers.

2. The Men’s shot put was an incredible event—miraculous! No, hear me out. Larry is not eating gummies from Cheech and Chong again!

Ryan Crouser pulled out of the Nike Pre Classic just a month ago. I asked a friend in the know about Ryan's not competing, and he told me, “ Oh, Ryan tore a pectoral muscle, then overcompensated and hurt his elbow, and he needs to train for the Trials. He will put it all on at the Trials.”

Translating that Ryan is hurt had me worried. I would have been terrified if I had known what was truly going on.

Ryan Crouser faced nemesis Joe Kovacs, who led the world with throws of 23.13 meters and 23.03 meters.

Ryan opened up with 22.44 meters, or 73-7 1/2. Joe retorted with 22.43 meters, or 73-7 1/4 inches. Ryan improved to 22.51 meters, to which, Joe Kovacs fouled. Mr. Crouser, remember he had a torn pec and a sore elbow? Well, his next throw was 21.66 meters (71 feet and 75 inches), then BOOM, 22.84 meters, around which Joe Kovacs threw 21.80m, 21.36m, fouled. Ryan Crouser threw 22.56 m in round five and fouled in throw six. Joe Kovacs threw 22.34m in the sixth round, and Payton Otterdahl threw 22.26m or 73 feet and one half inch.

The US team going to Paris in the shot put should take two medals, as they are competing against Italy’s Leonardo Fabbri, who has gone 22.95m.

3. The Decathlon is one of my favorite events. I fell in love with the Dec watching Bud Greenspan, the Olympic filmmaker, do his homage to the great ones, Jim Thorpe, Bob Mathias, Bill Toomey, you name it. Actually, here's a better and real story. In the spring of 1975-1976 I met Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn) at San Jose city college. Bruce told me he did the decathlon and I asked him what the hell that event was. After that, I began watching Bud Greenspan. 
Heath Baldwin won the OT decathlon with a PB score of 8,625 points (10.85 for 100m, 7.46m for LJ, 16.52mm for SP, 2.13m for HJ, and 48.58 for 400m. at end of day 1, Heath was at 4,508 points, and in the lead. On day 2, Heath went 13.77 for the 110m Hurdles, 43.67m for the discus, 4.85m for the pole vault, a massive 66.69m for the javelin and 4;41.87 for the 1,500m, scoring 8,625, the fifth best score in world in 2024. Zach Ziemeck made his third Olympic team (Zach, a former Badger, is also WC bronze medalist from 2022), scoring a SB of 8,516 points. Harrison Williams scored 8,384 points in the third, with all three going to Paris. I think that we have a fighting chance for one medal, possibly two.

4. The Women’s 100 meters lived up to all of the hype. Sha’Carri Richardson came to the city of Eugene fit and primed to race. In her first round, she stumbled in first two steps, with a untied track spike, but stayed focused, won her heat and ran a leading 10.88. In the semi-final, Sha’Carri ran 10.86, again fastest and her boisterous, take me if you can attitude fascinates many in the audience.

The final was exhilarating, as Sha’Carri burst out of the blocks, took control, and won in 10.71, a seasonal best. Melissa Jefferson, Sha’Carri Richardson’s training partner, was silver in 10.80, and Twanisha Terry was bronze in 10.89. Left out of the top three were Tamari Davis (4th), Aleia Hobbs (5th), and a resurging Candice Hill (7th), the first high schooler ever to run under 11 seconds.

I sat in the stands with our intern, Olivia Miller, and asked her what she thought of the women’s 100 meters. She liked it and was fascinated with the grand theatre that accompanies any race by Sha’Carri Richardson.

The second day was a perfect day of track and field, and I know the Olympic Trials will just get better. The challenge is how to reach more fans and share the stories of the sport and of the athletes with more so that they can see just what we do, that the sport of track and field is the only sport!

Stay tuned for Day 3 in Fear and Loathing from Eugene. 

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