Saturday, June 22, 2013

Jeremy Taiwo charges onto world championship team with stirring 1500 meter run...

DES MOINES, Iowa--21 seconds seemed like an eternity.

On a hot, muggy Midwestern day in the heartland of America, 21 seconds was what recent University of Washington graduate Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca) needed to beat Gray Horn by in the 1500 meter run to ensure a spot on the plane to Moscow, Russia for the IAAF world track & field championships in August.

After Friday's first day, Taiwo found himself in a bit of a hole, with only a score of 4115 points, and a fourth place spot at the break, 56 points behind University of Florida alum Grey Horn, no thanks in part to what he admitted afterwards as a sub-par performance in the long jump, where he jumped 22-6 1/4 (6.86m), his worst performance in a decathlon in over three years.

Saturday, he started the day with a solid 14.33 clocking in the 110 hurdles for 932 points to make up 12 points on Horn.

In the discus, Taiwo got back another six points on Horn, throwing 129-10 (39.58m), while Horn managed a mark of 128-10 (39.26m).

Horn appeared to turn the momentum in his favor after he cleared a personal best of 16-4 3/4 (5.00m) to take 910 points, while Taiwo, who, like the other vaulters struggled with the headwinds, and only mustered a clearance of 15-1(4.60m) for 790 points.

In the penultimate event, Taiwo gained 27 points in the javelin, throwing 171-5 (52.24m), close to his decathlon PR of 176-2 (53.71m), a mark he set in 2009, while Horn threw 165-5 (50.43m) to set up the fireworks in the final event, the 1500, where Horn had a 7246-7115 lead over the Renton native.

With defending national and Olympic champ and Oregon alum Ashton Eaton, along with world junior champ Gunnar Nixon safely in first and second, and defending world champ Trey Hardee only competing in select decathlon events with a wild card in hand, Taiwo needed to beat Horn by 21 seconds in the 1500 and hope Horn didn't score 8000 points, the B standard needed.

Taiwo said afterwards that having the A standard in his pocket, a mark he accomplished two weeks ago at the NCAA championships gave his confidence a boost entering this meet.

In the deciding 1500, Horn and Taiwo were together in third and fourth, while Eaton and Nixon hung back, their spots on the plane all but assured.

With 600 meters to go, Taiwo made a push to the front and held the lead, until Northern Iowa's Daniel Gooris found another gear in the last straight to take the win in 4:20.08, while Taiwo crossed in 4;20.29, worth 810 points.

In that last lap, Horn started fading back , then in the final straight, stumbled and fell inexplicably.  After an agonizing few moments, he picked himself up and staggered across the line in 4:41.35, 21.06 seconds behind Taiwo, a 138 point differential, equaling a final score of 7925 for Taiwo and a 7918 score for Horn.

Eaton won with a final score of 8291, while Nixon took second with 8198 points, two points short of the A standard but good enough to go to Russia, as countries can take two A standard athletes and one B standard to the world championships.

"I'm glad I got a little luck this time," Taiwo said.  "I'm glad the pressure's off of me from UW and I'm glad that I got to wear the jersey one more time.  Now it's time to go have fun at worlds."

"I was hoping to have a solid meet here, and I didn't feel too bad after the NCAA meet, but after the long jump, I thought to myself, 'here we go again'."

On whether or not competing on one of the world's biggest stages will be intimidating, Taiwo said that it won't be intimidating at all. "I'm gonna go get a good rest in, and get ready to go off in Moscow.  No pressure there."

About the deciding 1500 meters, he said, "I've never been able to jog it like the big dogs.  I'm always gonna have to run it."

In other Saturday finals involving Washington athletes, Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson finished sixth in the 400 hurdles in 49.14.

Husky alum Katie Mackey was ninth in a tactical 1500 meter run, clocking 4:32.10.

In the semifinals of the 100 meter hurdles, Rainier Beach HS alum Ginnie Crawford finished a non-qualifying fifth in a time of 12.67.

Spokane native Britney Henry was fifth in the hammer, throwing 228-3 (69.57m).

University Place native Andrea Geubelle was seventh in the long jump with a best of 20-10 3/4 (6.37m).

In the concurrent junior national championships, Marcus Chambers of the Seatown Express TC won the national title, as the Foss HS grad ran 46.55 to beat University of Illinois freshman Juan Paul Green, who ran 46.64.

UW freshman Hap Emmons was fifth in the 1500, running 3:50.34, while Gig Harbor HS grad Will Drinkwater was seventh at 3:53.73.  Husky frosh Nick Harris was 11th in 4:03.09.

The junior men's javelin saw Husky freshman Carson Fuller take fifth with a toss of 203-4 (61.98m).

In the junior women's 400 hurdles, Cece Jackson of Seatown Express was seventh in 61.61.

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