The Ultimate 2022 USA Sprint Countdown: From #10 To #1, We Preview & Rank The Sprint Events For You At The 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships

By Robert Johnson & Jonathan Gault
June 22, 2022

The 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships start on Thursday in Eugene. The track and field will be hot as usual but it helps if you know what you are watching. And let’s be honest, you can’t always trust the announcers to fill you in correctly so that’s why you come to LetsRun.com to get informed.

We’ve already previewed the distance races for you so now it’s time to preview the sprints.

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And the US sprints are loaded. A year after the US men didn’t win a single track gold in Tokyo, it’s possible (but unlikely) they could win gold in all five sprint events in 2022. For the women, Allyson Felix will look to make one last team while Abby Steiner will look to win her first US title and Sha’Carri Richardson will go for her first official US title after losing last year’s after testing positive for marijuana. Plus Sydney McLaughlin is always hunting for a world record. We’ve ranked all 10 sprint events in order of our excitement level from least (#10) to most (#1). The top five are all must-see races.

Before you read the previews, make sure you take five minutes to fill out your picks in the $200,022 LetsRun.com USA Outdoor Track and Field Prediction Contest. Then get your friends to enter. It’s totally free to enter, you can play in your own group, and the winners receive a free pair of On shoes plus a LetsRun.com Supporters Club membership.

#10. Women’s 100 hurdles: Can unheralded Alaysha Johnson keep it going?

Top Entrants

Name Affiliation Entry Mary SB Notes
Alaysha Johnson More Sports MG 12.40 12.4 Breakout star of 2022. Has run 12.50 twice and 12.40 last time out. Prior to this year never run under 12.69
Tonea Marshall NIKE 12.46 12.46 5th at Trials last year
Tia Jones adidas 12.53 12.53 Had never run under 12.86 until this year
Alia Armstrong Louisiana State University 12.55 12.55 NCAA champ for LSU
Kendra Harrison adidas 12.47 12.56 World record holder, won in Doha, 8th at Pre
Gabriele Cunningham 12.53 12.56 7th in Olympics last year
Nia Ali NIKE 12.59 12.59 Defending world champ doesn’t have to run all the rounds
Christina Clemons adidas 12.51 12.68 5th at Worlds in 2017, made Olympic team last year

2019 world champ Nia Ali missed the Olympics as she had her third child but she’s back and has a wild card into Worlds. You always want a wild card in this event in the US as the US is always very good at it.

Ali is just the 8th fastest American of 2022 at 12.59 but that ranks her 13th in the world. The US leader is unheralded Alaysha Johnson. The 25-year-old, who ran at Oregon for four years before doing a year at Texas Tech, came into the year with just a 12.69 pb but has run 12.50w, 12.50, 12.59, and 12.40 in her four races this year. She was never higher than 4th at NCAAs in college so top 3 here would be a big step up in class.

World record holder and Olympic silver medallist Kendra Harrison was only 8th at Pre after picking up wins in Tokyo and Doha.

#9. Men’s 400 hurdles: Is Rai Benjamin healthy?

Top entrants

Name Affiliation Entry Mary SB Notes
Rai Benjamin NIKE 46.17 47.49 The man to beat. Ran 46.17 for Olympic silver last year
Quincy Hall adidas / Ultra Sports, LLC 48.10 48.10 3rd at Pre, 1st NYC
Khallifah Rosser 48.10 48.10 2nd at Pre and 2 wins in Europe since then
Quivell Jordan University of Houston 48.72 48.72 5th at NCAAs
Trevor Bassitt 48.80 48.82 DII star got World indoor silver at 400m
Isaiah Levingston University of Oklahoma 48.82 48.82 3rd at NCAAs
David Kendziera 48.38 49.20 Made Olympic team last year
Aldrich Bailey Jr. 48.55 49.25 Former UT star

Rai Benjamin is the 2nd fastest man in history (46.17) and the second man on the 2022 world list (47.49) but his health is a big question. He hasn’t raced since May 13 and was a no-show at the Prefontaine Classic, which is normally a required race for people sponsored by Nike, as is the case with Rai.

#8. Women’s 400: Can Allyson Felix make one last team?

Top Entrants

Name Affiliation Mark Status Declaration
Talitha Diggs University of Florida 49.99 49.99 NCAA champ and daughter of Joetta Clark-Diggs
Kennedy Simon University of Texas at Austin 50.68 50.45 3rd at NCAAs
Allyson Felix Athleta 49.46 50.71 Allyson’s swan song has to go out with a top 3 right?
Alexis Holmes University of Kentucky 50.71 50.71 4th at NCAAs
Kendall Ellis New Balance 50.10 51.00 Veteran, 3-time NCAA champ
Lynna Irby adidas 50.35 51.03 Former NCAA 200/400 star. Ran 49.80 in 2018
Wadeline Jonathas adidas 50.03 51.71 Made Olympic team last year
Kaylin Whitney NIKE 50.29 51.89 On Olympic 4×400 team. Former teen 100 star
Quanera Hayes NIKE 49.78 NM Won Trials last year but injured and hasn’t raced outdoors

Allyson Felix, 36, has had a an amazing career and this is her last USAs. She’s won nine US outdoor crowns (200 in ’04, ’05, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’12 and 400 in ’11, ’15, ’16) but none since 2016 so don’t expect that to go to double digits. The real question is can she sneak herself onto another US team?

At 50.71, she is tied for #5 on the 2021 US list but two of the people ahead of her aren’t running so she’s got a good shot. And remember, she won the Olympic bronze medal less than a year ago.

The 10 Fastest US Women of 2022 at 400
1 49.99 Talitha Diggs
2 50.05 Britton Wilson – running 400 hurdles
3 50.42 Athing Mu – running 800
4 50.45 Kennedy Simon
5 50.71 Allyson Felix
5 50.71 Alexis Holmes
7 50.89 Tierra Robinson-Jones
8 50.94 Shae Anderson
9 51 Kendall Ellis
10 51.03 Lynna Irby

With the 5-time Olympian Felix on the way out, it’s only appropriate that the US bring in someone to replace her. And there is a great prospect for someone to take her place with a long career — 2022 NCAA indoor and outdoor champ Talitha Diggs of Florida. Diggs is the daughter of four-time 800m Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs.

Last year’s champ Quanera Hayes has only run 53.29 this year but she has a bye as the DL champ. Last year’s third placer Wadeline Jonathas has only run 51.71 this year.

#7 Women’s 200: Does Abby Steiner take down an Olympic medallist and win US title #1?

Top Entrants

Name Affiliation Entry Mary SB Notes
Abby Steiner University of Kentucky 21.80 21.80 Ran super fast to win NCAAs
Gabby Thomas New Balance / The Buford Bailey Trac 21.61 21.98 Ran super fast 21.61 to win Trials. Bronze at Olympics
Brittany Brown adidas 21.99 21.99 Surprise silver at last Worlds
Kynnedy Flannel University of Texas at Austin 22.23 22.23 4th at NCAAs
Anavia Battle The Ohio State University 21.95 22.26 3rd at NCAAs. Ran 21.95 last year to make Olympic team
Sha’Carri Richardson Star Athletics TC 22.38 22.38 Probably will just run 100 but we’ll see
Jenna Prandini PUMA 21.89 22.45 Ran 21.89 last year. Made Olympic team in 100/200
Tamara Clark adidas 21.98 22.62 4th at Trials last year, 2nd at NYC meet
Dezerea Bryant NIKE 22.24 22.92 Made Worlds team in 2019

Harvard grad Gabby Thomas won the Olympics Trials last year and went on to win Olympic bronze. This year she started red hot (21.69, +3.1 on March 26) but only ran 11.31 in her last race in Birmingham over a month ago. The red-hot woman now is Kentucky’s Abby Steiner, who won NCAAs in a meet record of 21.80 which also is the world leader.

#6 Men’s 400: Can Michael Norman stay hot?

Top Entrants

Name Affiliation Entry Mary SB Notes
Michael Norman Jr. NIKE 43.60 43.6 43.60 at Pre was form people expected would lead him to Olympic gold last year
Randolph Ross Jr. North Carolina A&T State University 43.85 44.13 2x NCAA champ
Michael Cherry Jr. NIKE 44.28 44.28 6th at Pre, 3rd in Rome
Champion Allison University of Florida 44.29 44.29 2nd at NCAAs
Elija Godwin University of Georgia 44.50 44.5 3rd at NCAAs
Vernon Norwood New Balance 44.59 44.59 Gone sub 45 3 times this year. 2nd in Rome
Bryce Deadmon NIKE 44.81 44.81 declared
Tyler Johnson The Ohio State University 44.95 44.95 8th at NCAAs
Trevor Stewart PUMA 44.75 44.99 4th at USAs and NCAAs last year

With a pb of 43.45, Michael Norman is the co-#4 fastest man in history but he’s never won a medal at Worlds. That streak needs to end this year as the seven other men in history who have run 43.50 or faster have all won global gold while Norman hasn’t won even a bronze.

The 7 Fastest 400m men in history
1 43.03 Wayde van Niekerk RSA
2 43.18 Michael Johnson USA
3 43.29 Butch Reynolds USA
4 43.45 Jeremy Wariner USA
4 43.45 Michael Norman USA
6 43.48 Steven Gardiner BAH
7 43.50 Quincy Watts USA

NCAA champ Randolph Ross of North Carolina A&T/Tennessee has run 44.13 this year and is #3 in the world while Michael Cherry (44.28) and NCAA runner-up Champion Allison of Florida (44.29) are #5 and #6. All three of them plus Norman could conceivably make the team as Cherry has the wild card as Diamond League champ.

#5 Women’s 400 hurdles: Another WR for Sydney McLaughlin?

Top Entrants

Name Affiliation Mark Status Declaration
Sydney McLaughlin New Balance 51.46 51.61 Greatest ever at this event
Britton Wilson 53.75 53.75 NCAA champ for Arkansas has 6 of the top 10 times in the US this year
Dalilah Muhammad NIKE 51.58 53.88 2nd Greatest ever at this event. Former WR holder and defending champ (doesn’t have to run final)
Cassandra Tate 54.81 54.81 Got bronze at 2015 Worlds
Anna Cockrell NIKE 53.70 55.09 Made Olympic team last year but not as good this year
Shamier Little adidas 52.39 55.49 Ran 52.34 last year, 5th fastest ever in world but only 55.49 this year
Ashley Spencer NIKE 55.63 55.63 Olympic bronze in 2016 but is 4 seconds slower than McLaughlin this year

Sydney McLaughlin doesn’t race many 400-meter hurdle finals. But when she does race, she makes them count. After not racing at all in 2020, McLaughlin ran three 400H finals in 2021 and broke the world record in two of them, taking it from 52.16 all the way down to 51.46. And in her only 400H final of 2022 so far, the Olympic champ ran 51.61 – the #3 time in history – even though hurdles 5 and 6 were in the wrong spots, forcing McLaughlin to adjust her stride pattern on the fly. Though McLaughlin withdrew from her last race ahead of USAs after coach Bobby Kersee saw something amiss in her warmup at the USATF NYC Grand Prix, she will be the heavy favorite to repeat as US champion. And McLaughlin’s history says the time should be quick – assuming the hurdles are in the right spot this time.

It can’t be forgotten that Dalilah Muhammad is also an Olympic gold medallist and former world record holder who ran in the 51s last year (51.58). She has had quite a rivalry with McLaughlin over the last three years, but she won’t compete this weekend in Eugene due to injury (though she has received a waiver from USATF in order to use her wild card as world champ to compete at Worlds next month).

#4 Women’s 100: Sha’Carri Richardson returns to USAs in search of first (official) title

Top Entrants

Name Affiliation Mark Status Declaration
Aleia Hobbs adidas 10.83 10.83 2018 NCAA champ is running as well as ever
Sha’Carri Richardson Star Athletics TC 10.85 10.85 Has returned to form but got beat by Hobbs in last race
Cambrea Sturgis adidas 10.87 10.87 2021 NCAA 100/200 champ hasn’t broken 11 since April
Melissa Jefferson Coastal Carolina University 10.88 10.88 Only 8th at NCAAs but NCAA 60 champ
Tamari Davis adidas 10.91 10.91 Only 19. Turned pro as a 16-year-old high school junio in 2020. Last race was 1st of her career sub 11.
Twanisha Terry NIKE / Metro-Dade Track Club 10.94 10.94 Former NCAA Runner-up and World U20 Silver medallist
Marybeth Sant Price FK Elite Track Club 10.95 10.95 Got bronze at Worlds in 60
Teahna Daniels NIKE 10.83 10.99 3rd in NYC

Anytime Sha’Carri Richardson competes, it’s a big deal. From the hair to the nails to the outfits to the otherworldly sprinting talent, the 22-year-old knows how to put on a show. One staff member is so into the show he wanted this race ranked #1, but he was talked off the ledge by another pointing out the winner of this race isn’t likely to battle for WC gold.

Richardson was incredible at last year’s Olympic Trials (windy 10.64 in the semis, then 10.86 into a 1.0 headwind in the final) but her status as US champion lasted less than two weeks as she was DQ’d for testing positive for marijuana.

That means she’ll be looking for her first (official) US title and first global championship berth this weekend in Eugene, and while she’s a strong bet to make the team, she’s not the favorite. That would be fellow LSU alum Aleia Hobbs, the US leader at 10.83 who has beaten Richardson in both of their head-to-head matchups this year. 

#3 Men’s 100: Who wins a loaded race and do they become the Worlds favorite?

Top Entrants

Name Affiliation Entry Mary SB Notes
Micah Williams Oregon Track Club 9.86 9.86 US leader in 2022 only 7th at NCAAs
Trayvon Bromell New Balance 9.76 9.92 Came back from injury last year to run 9.76. Got big win at Pre this year.
Fred Kerley Jr. NIKE 9.84 9.92 Olympic silver medallist. 2nd at Pre. Won Rome DL last time out
Christian Coleman NIKE 9.92 9.92 Defending World Champ, has shown flashes of greatness in return from whereabouts failure
Cravont Charleston Tracksmith 9.98 9.98 9.98 pb last time out
Kyree King NIKE 9.98 9.98 2nd in Rome, 7th at Pre
Elijah Hall-Thompson NIKE RED BULL 10.02 10.02 Won his last 2 races
Marvin Bracy NIKE / Tumbleweed Track Club 9.86 10.03 Ran 9.8X 3 times last year, wind legal. This year has windy 9.80 and 9.91. Not consistent
Kenneth Bednarek NIKE 9.89 10.15 200 is his best bet but ran 9.89 last year

It’s a strange fact that, in a country with Christian Coleman, Trayvon Bromell, and Fred Kerley, there is only one American who has broken 9.90 wind-legal this year and it’s a 20-year-old who finished 7th at NCAAs, Micah Williams of Oregon. Expect that to change this weekend. The warm forecast in Eugene should be good for sprinting and all of the men listed above will be looking to state their case as the man to beat in track & field’s marquee event.

Aside from “Who wins?” and “How fast do they run?” the other big question is who gets the fourth spot on Team USA. Coleman has the bye as defending champ, and Bromell and Kerley should join him on the team, barring disaster. Williams is a humongous talent and was 5th at USAs last year, but he melted down at NCAAs without an explanation (he didn’t speak to media after the race). If he doesn’t bounce back, the fourth spot is wide open.

#2 Men’s 110 hurdles: The top 3 in the world in 2022 and the #2 and #3 in history square off

Top Entrants

Name Affiliation Mark Status Declaration
Devon Allen NIKE 12.84 12.84 How does he handle pressure after 12.84?
Trey Cunningham 13.00 13.00 NCAA champ is at another level this year
Grant Holloway adidas 12.81 13.06 Is he really the underdog? Ran 12.81 (and doesn’t have to race final as World champ)
Eric Edwards Jr. Louisiana State University 13.15 13.15 NCAA pb for 2nd at NCAAs
Daniel Roberts NIKE 13.17 13.17 ran 13.00 in 2019. 2019 USA champ
Jamal Britt 13.22 13.22 4th in NYC
Aaron Mallett Tracksmith 13.33 13.22 won Paavo Nurmi games
Freddie Crittenden III Phoenix Track Club – Tracksmith 13.31 13.31 undefeated in 2 low-key meets this year
Michael Dickson 13.23 13.34

The 110 hurdles got a whole lot more interesting on June 12 when Devon Allen ripped a 12.84 at the USATF NYC Grand Prix, knocking .15 off his pb to become the third-fastest man in history. In the process, he took down the second-fastest man in history, Grant Holloway, blowing away the reigning world champion over the final two hurdles.

And as if Allen vs. Holloway wasn’t enough for you, NCAA champion Trey Cunningham of Florida State has run 13.00 this year – just .02 shy of Holloway’s collegiate record from 2019. With the Allen-Cunningham-Holloway trio sitting 1-2-3 on the 2022 world list, whoever wins here will become the favorite to take gold at Worlds next month in Eugene. Holloway has no pressure as he’s got a bye to Worlds.

#1 Men’s 200: Lyles vs. Knighton

Top Entrants

Name Affiliation Entry Mark SB Declaration
Erriyon Knighton adidas 19.49 19.49 18-year-old shocked world with 19.49 in April. Has only raced 10.14 at Pre since
Noah Lyles adidas 19.52 19.61 Reigning world champ was the future of this event but could Knighton pass him by?
Fred Kerley Jr. NIKE 19.76 19.8 100/400 specialists would seem to be suited for 200
Matthew Boling University of Georgia 19.92 19.92 2nd at NCAAs
Christian Coleman NIKE 19.92 19.92 Better at the 100
Kenneth Bednarek NIKE 19.78 20.01 Beat Lyles for silver at Olympics
Kyree King NIKE 20.02 20.02 2nd in NYC meet
Josephus Lyles adidas / Pure Athletics 20.03 20.03 20.20 and 20.03 in his 2 races this year, trending in right direction
Brandon Carnes 20.07 20.07 3rd in NY

What a treat we have in store in this race. In one lane, you’ve got one of the greatest sprint prospects ever, 18-year-old Erriyon Knighton, the world leader and already the fourth-fastest man in history thanks to his 19.49 season opener at LSU in April. In the other, Noah Lyles, the reigning US and world champion who is coming off a 19.61 (#2 in the world this year) in his last race at the USATF NYC Grand Prix on June 12. That was the eighth time that the 24-year-old Lyles has broken 19.7 in his career – more than double anyone else in history not named Bolt.

Athlete Sub-19.7’s
Usain Bolt 14
Noah Lyles 8
Yohan Blake 3
Justin Gatlin 3
Tyson Gay 3

Knighton has only raced once since that 19.49, running 10.14 for 100m at Pre on May 28, so it’s a little hard to know what to expect. He could show up, run 19.3, and blast everyone. Or that 19.49 could wind up being his season’s best. 19.49 is really freaking fast and it’s unfair to expect anyone to reach that level of performance in every competition, let alone someone who is 18 years old.

Lyles, meanwhile, looks as good as he ever has. And, perhaps just as important, he feels good, too. Lyles struggled mightily with his mental health during the pandemic and he began taking antidepressants during the summer of 2020. But that brought its own challenges, as Lyles felt the drugs sapped his energy. Even though he ran 19.52 last year (just .02 off his pb) and earned an Olympic bronze medal, after his race in New York he pointed to a picture of himself from 2021 and described it as “worst-year Noah.”

The joy is back for Lyles in 2022, and now he gets a marquee showdown with Knighton (whom he has never lost to at 200m) as well as Olympic 100m silver medalist Fred Kerley (19.80 sb) and Olympic 200m silver medalist Kenny Bednarek (20.01 sb). Few events at USAs will pack more star power.

What do you think of our rankings of the sprint events? What are you most looking forward to? Tell us on our world-famous messageboard/fan forum.

MB: Which sprint event is your #1 for USAs, we count down and preview our top 10.

More: Complete 2022 USATF Outdoor Coverage
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