DES MOINES, Iowa —
“I didn’t know what to do. I was overjoyed,” said the 21-year-old Duncan, who won three straight NCAA 200 outdoor titles at LSU. “I’ll take that time, windy or not.”
It was a busy day to finish nationals, with one final after another in rapid succession. Other winners included Alysia Montano (800), Jennifer Simpson (5,000), Duane Solomon (men’s 800), Ryan Wilson (110 hurdles), Bernard Lagat (5,000), Erik Kynard (high jump), Riley Dolezal (javelin), Evan Jager (3,000 steeplechase), Dalilah Muhammad (400 hurdles), George Kitchens (long jump), Ryan Whiting (shot put), Gia Lewis-Smallwood (discus) and Tim Seaman (20,000 race walk).
Olympic pole vault champion and indoor record holder Jenn Suhr cruised to a national title, setting up a showdown with outdoor record holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia.
In Isinbayeva’s backyard, no less.
“I’m inviting as many family members that will go over to Moscow as I can to help cheer for me,” Suhr said. “I think I might be the underdog there. We’re hoping to get a big crowd over there.”
Before climbing into the blocks for the 200 final, Gay took two big breaths, stretched his hip and sipped on some water. When the gun sounded, Gay flew out of the blocks and built up a sizable lead after the curve — just like Gay used to do.
His work wasn’t done, though, as he had to fend off the hard-charging Isiah Young, who finished second in 19.86. Curtis Mitchell, the training partner of Gay, was third to grab the last spot in the 200, while Wallace Spearmon, a three-time U.S. outdoor champion, wound up a disappointing fourth.
“You win some, you lose some, and I lost today,” Spearmon said. “Congratulations to those guys. No excuses. I’m going to go home and work hard.”
To think, Gay almost skipped the 200. Given his recent history with his hip, Gay didn’t want to tax it too much, and that win over Gatlin in the 100 definitely took a lot out of him.