A youth movement at 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials | PostIndependent.com

A youth movement at 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials

Blake Risner
Special to the Post Independent

We are witnessing a youth movement at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. As I mentioned in Friday’s preview, many fans look forward to seeing all of the stars that have represented the sport that we love for so long. However, it is impossible to stay on top forever.

I felt an emotional drain on Saturday when former Olympic and world champion Jeremy Wariner pulled up in the semi-final of the men’s 400 meters. It was a similar feeling when Sanya Richards-Ross walked off of the track in the middle of her race and when Bernard Lagat dropped out of the men’s 10,000 meters.

A few of the veterans of track and field are managing to stay on top in their respective disciplines. Allyson Felix, LaShawn Merritt, Brittney Reese, Galen Rupp, Justin Gatlin and Chaunte Lowe have all managed to win multiple national championships and earned gold medals this week. But each of these champions were pushed to the limit in claiming their national crown, and none more than high jumper Lowe.

The athlete pushing the 32-year-old Lowe on Sunday was 18-year-old Vashti Cunningham, a high-schooler out of Las Vegas. Cunningham, the daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, has burst onto the scene and found immediate success at the international level.

The 6-foot-1-inch youngster won the World Indoor Championship in the high jump this past March.

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On Sunday, Lowe and Cunningham established themselves early in the high jump competition as the dominating duo by remaining clean through the first five heights. Vashti eventually cleared 6-5½ and narrowly missed the successive height of 6-6¼ with which Lowe won her eighth national championship.

Now, Cunningham will travel to Rio in August as the youngest track and field Olympian in the last 36 years.

Additional examples of the current youth movement at the Trials include Ryan Crouser (23), shot put champion; English Gardner (24), 100 meter champion; Sam Kendricks (23), pole vault champion; Clayton Murphy (21), 800 meter champion; and Boris Berian (23), 800 meter runner-up and world indoor champion. The future looks bright for American track and field, thanks in part to the outstanding young talent on display in Eugene.

For more information on the Olympic Trials, including schedule and results, go to http://gotracktownusa.com/events/united-states-olympictrials/.

For a complete listing of the television coverage, go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/how-watch-us-olympic-track-and-field-trials.

Blake Risner is head coach of the Glenwood Springs High School track and field team.

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