EUGENE—At the halfway mark of the two-day, ten event decathlon, Newport HS & University of Washington graduate Jeremy Taiwo (above/photo by Howard Lao) is on track to make his first US Olympic team.
Taiwo, who has made two career world championship teams, but has never contended for an Olympic team, stands second after five events at the US Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon Saturday, with a first day, and career best score of 4478 points, 82 points behind first day leader, reigning Olympic champion, and world record holder Ashton Eaton of the Nike Oregon Track Club Elite.
Taiwo got his day started by finishing second in his heat of the 100 meters, running 10.94 to get 874 points.
In the long jump, Taiwo nearly scored a personal best with a mark of 24-9.5 (7.55m), worth 947 points on the scoring tables.
In the shot put, he came close to a personal best with a toss of 48-11.75 (14.93m), to earn 782 points and move up to fourth place.
The high jump was where he made his move, as he cleared an American record tying mark of 7-3 (2.21m) set by Tom Pappas 16 years ago, a mark that would have qualified him for the open high jump later in this meet. That mark gave him 1002 points, and moved him into the lead over Eaton by a count of 3605-3567.
In the 400, he ran 48.76, the fourth fastest time of the day, to score 873 points, while Eaton ran the fastest time of the day in the same heat, 46.30, to retake the lead with 4560 points.
Recapping his day, he said that in the 100, he ran about the same time that he did in Götzis, Austria in late May.
“In the long jump, I was feeling like I was getting some pop off the board to get within 2 centimeters of my personal best. In the shot put, I was just about 5 centimeters off of my PR.”
“From there I told myself that I was in a good place, so let’s keep performing. In the high jump, I was feeling good, but I wasn’t feeling as springy as Götzis. The track started to feel mushy because of the heat, and I could feel myself slipping at 2.24 (7-4.25), and I figured that’s about as high as I’m going to jump.”
“In the 400, I was glad to have more than 15 minutes of rest compared to Götzis. I just wanted to compete and get a time around 48 seconds, maybe sub-48.”
Looking forward to the second day, he said that if he can be around his personal bests in the hurdles (14.16) and the vault (16-4.75/5.00m), that he should be set up for a great score.
In other events Saturday, Michael Berry (m 400), Cas Loxsom (m 800), Phoebe Wright (w 800), and Norris Frederick advanced to the finals in their events.
Oregon alum Berry from Rainier Beach HS ran 45.63 to get fourth in his heat and advance to Sunday’s final. Tacoma’s Marcus Chambers of Oregon was seventh in the same heat as Berry in 47.12.
Cas Loxsom of the Brooks Beasts ran 1:45.93 to take third in the first semi-final and advance to Monday’s final. Beasts teammate Brannon Kidder was eighth in that semi in 1:48.76. In the other semi-final, new Beasts member Shaquille Walker was a non-qualifying fourth in 1:47.93, and teammate Drew Windle was seventh in 1:55.75.
Seattle’s Phoebe Wright was fifth in her semi-final in 2:01.39 to advance to Monday’s final, while in the other semi-final, Seattle Pacific alum McKayla Fricker took the lead early but could not hold it over the last 200 meters, finishing sixth in 2:03.95.
Two of the late adds to the meet—Washington alum Norris Frederick and UW redshirt junior Carson Fuller, advanced to the finals in their respective events. Frederick jumped 26-3.75 (8.02m) in the long jump to go to Sunday’s final, while Fuller threw the javelin 232-5 (70.85m) to get the 11th of 12 spots in the finals that will be contested Monday.
It was a disappointing day for pole vaulters Brad Walker and Levi Keller, as both failed to clear a height, with Walker, the two-time Olympian and American record holder, going out at 17-8.5 (5.40m), and Keller missing twice at 18-0.5 (5.50m), then passing and missing in his lone try at 18-2.5 (5.55m).
The women’s discus finals saw Montesano native Tera Novy finish 11th with a mark of 181-3 (55.26m), while in the women’s 10000, University of Washington alum Lindsay Flanagan was 18th in 34:17.25.
Sunday will be a light day of competition for athletes with Washington ties, with only Taiwo, Frederick, and Berry competing. The schedule is below.