Athing Mu, Ajee' Wilson, and Curtis Thompson are all headed to the finals at the World Championships after the trio from New Jersey turned in impressive qualifying performances at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Thompson, a 2014 graduate of Florence High and a 2020 Olympian, became just the eighth man from the U.S. to ever qualify for the javelin final when he threw 268-1 in the qualifying round on Thursday night. That was the eighth best throw of the competition and landed him a spot in the 12-man final tonight (Saturday) at 9:35 p.m.
According to South Jersey T&F historian Reuben Frank, Thompson's 268-1 is No. 4 all-time among American's at the World Championships. Only Breaux Greer (285-5), Bob Roggy, a Holmdel High grad who threw 282-8, and Tom Petranoff (281-1) have thrown further than Thompson at the World Championships.
Thompson has a great chance to surpass all three of those American stars in the final, and he has legitimate shot at a medal. He unloaded a 287-9 at the JavFest earlier this month in East Stroudsburg, Pa., which placed him No. 3 in U.S. history and No. 7 in the world this year.
The women's 800 final could be dominated by NJ's dynamic duo of Athing Mu and Ajee' Wilson., who both easily advanced to Sunday's final, scheduled for 9:35 p.m.
The 20-year-old Mu (Trenton High), who set the American record when she won the Olympic gold in Tokyo last summer, won her semifinal heat on Friday night in 1:58.12, the fastest of the 12 finalists.
Wilson (Neptune High-Class of 2012) ran 1:59.97 to finish second in her heat to get the auto qualifier. Wilson, a 2-time Olympian, won the 800 at the World Indoor Championships in March.
The 800 final could be another epic clash between Mu and Wilson!
At the U.S. National Championships last month at Hayward, Mu edged Wilson for the title, 1:57.16 to 1:57.23. Mu, who ran 1:57.01 last month in Italy, and Wilson (1:57.23) own the two fastest times in the world this year.
In their showdown at the U.S. Championships, Mu, who turned pro last year after a one and done year at Texas A&M, led the race through 400 meters in 57.25, and she came off the final turn with about a one-step lead over Wilson. Wilson pulled even with Mu with less than 20 meters to go and even had a slight edge for an instant, but Mu, was able to dig down deep and find just enough to edge just ahead of Wilson right before the line to win in 1:57.16. Wilson was second in 1:57.23 in a race run with the temperature reading 93 degrees!!
Nia Ali (Pleasantville High grad) will begin defense of her 100 hurdle title in the opening round on Saturday at 2:20 p.m.
Ali ran 12.49 to win her semifinal heat at the U.S. Championships, but scratched from the final. She received an automatic berth in the World Championships because she's the defending champion.
Ali owns a PR of 12.34 when she won the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar., which is No. 7 in world history. She also won the World Indoor Championships in the 60 hurdles in 2014 and 2016, and she earned the silver medal in the 100 hurdles at the Olympics in Rio in 2016.