EUGENE — Day 3 of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field ended with a local face landing a plane ticket to London.
Ryan Bailey out of Salem’s McKay High School ran a 9.93-second 100-meter dash out of lane one to finish third and earn a spot on this year’s Olympic team. Bailey’s time of 9.93 seconds left him behind only big-name sprinters Justin Gatlin (9.80) and Tyson Gay (9.86) on the same track he won the 2007 6A state titles in the 100 and 200.
“I’m truly blessed right now to be here. I’m just happy I got to run at Hayward Field. It’s like a home track for me. Every time I run here, you feel the presence of the fans. It’s crazy,” Bailey said.
When Bailey saw his name in third place after crossing the finish line, he started leaping for joy upon realizing he earned a spot on the Olympic team.
At 30, Gatlin becomes the oldest male to win the 100 at the Olympic Trials.
A day after setting a new world record in the decathlon, Bend product Ashton Eaton was still a topic of conversation despite not competing on Sunday. In his one long jump attempt during the decathlon, Eaton went 27 feet even. That distance would have tied him for second in the open long jump.
Marquise Goodwin of Texas won the event with a distance of 27’4”. William Claye was second at 27’0” and George Fields Jr. third at 26’11 ¼”.
“I think a big push for us was just seeing Ashton Eaton jump. We saw him out, he’s a decathlete. It’s like he comes out here and jumps 27 feet, we should be able to too. That pushed us and, you know, we was all out there pushing each other. It was just an awesome competition. We don’t get too many competitions like this,” Claye said.
Afterward, Goodwin said he always enjoys competing in Eugene, even if he doesn’t always like the weather here.
“I’ve been pretty successful on this runway, on this field. I love coming to Oregon and jumping here. I don’t know why – the weather’s always not that great, no offense. But, you know, I always have good results. It’s a great crowd, great audience. This is Tracktown, that’s why I love coming here to jump,” Goodwin said.
The weather was cooperative on Sunday. After a couple drops of rain fell during the national anthem, athletes competed under sunny skies the rest of the afternoon.
One of the most impressive complete showings of the day came from shot putter Reese Hoffa. Hoffa was over 70 feet on four of his six attempts, with the best throw measuring out at 72’2 ½”.
That earned him the win, even if he wasn’t entirely satisfied with his performance.
“I wasn’t lifting the ball very well today. That’ll be the main focus over the next two weeks is making sure I can get a little more lift on the ball instead of making it so flat,” Hoffa said.
Two Nike throwers came in second and third, with Ryan Whiting’s throw of 71’0 ¾” taking second and Christian Cantwell’s 69’9 ¾” earning third place.
LaShawn Merritt led a blistering men’s 400-meter final. Merritt’s world-leading time of 44.12 seconds topped a pack of five runners who finished under 45 seconds.
Finishing second and third were a pair of collegiate runners: Florida’s Tony McQuay (44.49) and USC’s Bryshon Nellum (44.80).
Merritt won gold in 2008 in Beijing and is prepared to do so again.
“The plan is to get to London and do a replay of ’08. I got two great guys with me, and we’re going to sweep it, baby,” Merritt said.
The women’s 400-meter dash will also have experience on its side in London. Sanya Richards-Ross won the finals with a meet record time of 49.28 seconds. Richards-Ross will compete in her third Olympic games this year. She finished sixth in the 400 in 2004 and earned a bronze medal in the event in 2008.
“Today was phenomenal. There’s just something so special about competing in Hayward Field. You just feel the importance of the moment,” Richards-Ross said.
She’ll be joined on the team with Dee Dee Trotter (50.02) and Francena McCorory (50.43).
Other finals to take place on Day Three were the women’s pole vault and women’s discus.
Jennifer Suhr won the pole vault, clearing 15’1”. Former Oregon Duck Becky Holliday was second at 14’11” and Lacy Janson was third at 14’9”.
Stephanie Brown Trafton won the discus with a heave of 213’10”. Aretha Thurmond was second (204’2”) and Suzy Powell-Roos third (197’6”). High schooler Shelbi Vaughan nearly earned a spot on the team, finishing fourth at 195’9”. Vaughan attends Mansfield High School in Texas.