Day 3 included finals for the high jump, 400, and 100.
The high jump finals kicked off the events for the women. The favorites going into the day were the youngster Cunningham and American record holder Lowe. By the third round only six ladies remained, including the favorites. Cunningham and Lowe were next to each other in the order, both making each height look easy while one after another of their competitors missed.
Inika McPherson passed on the opening height and stayed in the competition until she missed three times at 6-4 ¾, nabbing third place and a spot on the Olympic team. McPherson did not have the Olympic standard coming into the competition. This year athletes are not permitted to chase standards after the trials, so McPherson had a big day to not only make the team, but also get the standard. She has only been competing for a short time this season since her competition ban only just ended. At the 2014 National Championships she tested positive for cocaine. Her coach said that she had jumped the standard at two meets prior trials but that one meet was not USATF sanctioned and the other had fewer than five competitors so USATF would not accept the marks.
Lowe and Cunningham thrilled the crowd for two more rounds with Cunningham going out at 6-6 ¼. Lowe took the bar up one more spot and cleared 6-7 on her second attempt, but packed it up after that clearance. Afterwards she said that she was being cautious and did not want to aggravate anything prior the Olympics. Lowe appeared equally excited to make her fourth Olympic team as her first. She explained that things have been tough recently due to some health difficulties with one of her children. They have gotten past it and she is ready to take the podium in Rio.
The ladies in the 100 meter dash first had to battle through a semi-final in which the top two from three heats plus the next two fastest advanced to the final. There were no big surprises as the final field included Gardner, Bartoletta, Bowie, and Prandini. The final was lightening fast with five going under 11.00; Gardner, Bartoletta, and Bowie went 1-2-3. Bowie was the fastest third place finisher in history for this meet.
The field for the 400 meter final included (from lane 1-8): Hayes, Francis, Ellis-Watson, Okolo, McCorory, Felix, Hastings, and Spencer; an exciting race of youth versus experience. Okolo, in lane 4, would be able to see McCorory, Felix, and Hastings from the gun. Okolo, who just turned pro (Texas), came to Eugene with the fastest time this season (49.71). She would need to improve her reaction time from the semi’s (0.602) to make the team as it was the slowest of the day by a large margin. Ellis-Watson, a recent Arkansas graduate, entered the meet with a season and personal best of 51.54, but got to the final with a huge personal best in the semi-final (50.60).
On a day that saw Merritt go 43.97 to win the men’s 400, the women’s final was equally impressive. Despite an ankle injury that curtailed her training coming into Trials, Felix crushed the second half of the race to win in 49.68, the fastest time in the world this year. She was followed by Francis (49.94), and Hastings (50.17) who threw herself over the line. The youngster Ellis-Watson ran another personal best (50.25), taking almost 1.3 seconds off of her PR in Eugene despite a 0.602 reaction time, and finished 4th. McCorory was 5th and Okolo a disappointing 6th.