The past and the future of the Heps Nation shone of the big stage of the USA Outdoor Championships on Friday, headlined by the advancement to national finals for Donn Cabral (steeplechase) and Kate Grace (800m run) and the Junior championship of incoming Cornellian Rudy Winkler (hammer).
Grace passed three runners on the final lap and blazed home in the final 100 meters after Coach Frank Gagliano of the NJ/NY Track Club simply yelled, “Hit it.” Columbia grad Kyle Merber, a new recruit to NJ/NY, sucked up to Gags on Twitter by replying that it appeared to be “great coaching.” Grace finished in 2:00.96.
Cabral ran 8:38.06 to advance to the final. He admitted that since the Olympics his training has been “a lot of good, a lot of bad.” Cabral elected to move to Bellingham, Wash., to train with his high school coach, but has been without training partners.
Winkler broke Walter Henning’s New York State record with a tremendous heave of 245-5 on Saturday to win the national junior title by a wide margin. “It felt pretty good,” he said. “I felt like I could have gone bigger throwing if I had really connected on it, but I was really only here to compete. There are very few meets I just come to compete, and this is one of them.”
Elsewhere, Cornell sophomore Stephen Mozia was the only other Hepster competing in a senior event. He finished 14th in the discus (183-11).
Among the Juniors, Penn rookie Gabby Cuccia was eighth in the 800m finals (2:14.11) and three others qualified for finals.
Brown freshman Lily Harrington advanced in the 1,500m while two Crimson hurdlers — freshman Autumne Franklin and incoming Jade Miller — will be among the finalists in the intermediates. Miller, a native Californian, ran the top time in semis (58.52). When told that her mark was No. 1 in the nation among high schoolers, she responded, “That’s national leading? That’s sweet!”
Princeton’s Brett Kelly closed the night with a 15th-place showing in the 10k (33:48.23) while teammate David Pugliese and Penn rookie Clark Shurtleff did not advance in the 1,500m run.
Today in Des Moines, temperatures are expected to soar into the mid-90s while the winds could be in the 20-mph range. Hardly ideal for any track meet and completely predictable. May this be the final time USA Track & Field selects Des Moines as a host venue for such an important summer-time meet.
It will be 80 degrees in both Eugene, Ore. (Hayward Field) and New York (Icahn Stadium) today.