2016 Trials: Near Misses

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Autumne Franklin (Harvard ’16) had a spectacular run in the women’s 400m hurdles.  Even though she was featured as a passing comment from time-to-time by NBC throughout the rounds, not many track experts anticipated the Harvard graduate the make the final.  But Franklin made it through the rounds by taking automatic berths and proved she deserved to be in the final.  Franklin was given lane 4 for the final, with event favorite Dalilah Muhammad in lane 5 in front of her.  The race started and Muhammad was easily making up the stagger on the outside lanes, giving the appearance that Franklin was falling behind.

But it wasn’t until the middle of the second turn when we could tell how close Franklin was to the rest of the race.  Muhammad was easily 10m ahead of the rest of the field, but there was a near-perfect line of second through seventh as the runners came onto the final straightaway.  Franklin was among those contenders, and the spread only got tighter as the field approached the finish line.

While Muhammad ran 52.88 to claim the US Title, the second through seventh finishers all ran between 54.02 and 54.99 seconds.  Franklin finished sixth in 54.65 – a new personal best by 0.26 seconds, but 0.5 seconds away from making Team USA as Ashley Spencer (54.02) and high schooler Sydney McLaughlin (54.15)will join Muhammad on Team USA for Rio.  Franklin ended up as the top collegian in the final, but hopefully, we will continue to see her compete at future national championships.

Earlier in the meet, Justin Frick (Princeton ’10) competed in the 14-person men’s high jump final.  The opening height was 7-01.  While Frick has cleared this height in the past, he was not able to tonight as his brushing on his final attempt knocked the bar off.  Technically, he was a ‘no-height’ in the final as only nine men cleared that opening height.

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