New Jersey flexed its remarkable firepower on Saturday night when Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Curtis Thompson, and Nia Ali all captured titles in spectacular fashion with eye-popping performances at the U.S. National Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
The electrifying McLaughlin-Levrone, a 2017 graduate of Union Catholic, produced yet another mind-blowing performance when the 23-year-old simply destroyed a loaded field in the women's 400-meter run, stopping the clock in a sizzling 48.74!! That is a meet record, the No. 2 time ever by an American, the No. 10 time in the history of the world, and the fastest time in the world this year. She finished more than a second ahead of runner-up Britton Wilson, second in 49.79. Talitha Diggs, the daughter of NJ legend Joetta Clark, was third in 49.93.
McLaughlin-Levrone, who split 23.24/25.51, just missed the American record of 48.70, which has stood since Sonya Richards-Ross ran that time to finish first at the 2006 World Cup Championships in Athens, Greece.
There is a good chance that McLaughlin-Levrone will take down the American record when she competes for Team USA at the World Championships, scheduled for August 19-27 at the National Athletics Centre, in Budapest, Hungary)
McLaughlin-Levrone, the world record holder in the 400 hurdles, a 2-time Olympic gold medalist and the reigning World Champion and Olympic Champion in the 400 hurdles, decided along with her legendary coach, Bobby Kersee, to focus on the flat 400 for the first time this year. The results have been stunning, but given McLaughlin-Levrone's times in the 400 hurdles, and her immense talent and work ethic, it really shouldn't be surprising to anyone. Anything is possible with McLaughlin-Levrone. Every time she steps on the track, she seems to throw down something jaw-dropping!
"The greats always push themselves, and I want to be one of them, so I have to push myself and get out of my comfort zone," McLaughlin-Levrone told Lewis Johnson on the CNBC broadcast after her race.
CAPTAIN CLUTCH GETS THE HAT TRICK
Curtis Thompson (Florence High-Class of 2014) has a knack for coming up with his biggest throws when it matters most.
The 2020 Olympian year-old did it again in Saturday night when he launched the spear 265-6 on his final throw to rally for the victory in the men's javelin. It's the third US National Championship for Thompson, who also won U.S. titles in 2018 (249-3) and in 2021 at the Olympic Trials when he won on his final throw with a 271-7!!
Thompson moved into second-place with his 256-7 fifth throw before overtaking Capers Williamson, who led with his second round throw of 258-10, on his dramatic last attempt. Thompson improved on every throw. His series was 242-1 (third place), 244-3 (third place), 244-4 (third-place), 248-9 (third-place), 256-7 (second-place), and the 265-6 to secure the win.
According to some great research by South Jersey track and field reporter and historian Reuben Frank, Thompson is one of only seven men in the 116-year history of the U.S. Championships to win three javelin titles, and he's just the third to win three javelin titles since 1950.
Thompson's victory qualified him for the World Championships. Last year, he placed 11th at the World Championships at Hayward Field.
ALI DELIVERS KNOCKOUT SHOT
Ali got a great start and took the lead for good at the third hurdle on her way to a world-leading 12.37, the second fastest time in her remarkable career and No. 4 in the world this year. Ali, whose PR of 12.34 9 (No. 12 in the history of the world) came when she won the World Championship in 2019, edged Kendra Harrison, second in 12.42. Harrison is No. 2 in world history with a 12.20, won the silver medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
MU-VING ON TO THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Athing Mu (Trenton High-Class of 2020) also earned a spot in the World Championships by placing second in the 1500 in 4:03.44, finishing just behind Nikki Hilz, who finished first in 4:03.10.
Mu, the 2020 Olympic gold medalist in the 800 and the American outdoor record holder in the event, proved that she was more than capable of moving up in distance and running with the top American miler. Since Mu is the defending World Champion in the 800, she automatically qualified for that race in Budapest. Mu said she hasn't decided yet if she will defend her 800 title. Stay tuned!
MORE NJ HIGHLIGHTS
Jessica Woodard (Cherokee High-Class of 2013), finished fifth in the women's shot put with a mark of 60-3.25. Woodard has now finished in the top 10 at the US Championships six times. Last year, she unloaded a PR of 63-7.75 to place third to qualify for the World Championships, where she placed eighth.
Taylor McLaughlin nj (Union Catholic-Class of 2015) earned a spot in Sunday's men's 400 hurdle final on time with the 49.30 he ran to place fourth in his semifinal heat. McLaughlin, Sydney's older brother, will race in the final on Sunday at 9:42 p.m.