The Ultimate 2022 USA Sprint Countdown: From #10 To #1, We Preview & Rank The Sprint Events For You At The 2022 USATF Outdoor Championships
June 23, 2022 to June 26, 2022
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.
- 2022 USAs Women’s Distance Previews: Can Katelyn Tuohy Join Fellow 20-Year-Old Athing Mu On A World Championship Team?
- 2022 USAs Men’s Distance Previews: Hocker vs Teare, Fisher vs Chelimo, & Can Jager Make One More Team?
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?
|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?
|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?
|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?
|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?
|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|
|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?
|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|
|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
|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?
|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
|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|
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
|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.
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.
More: Complete 2022 USATF Outdoor Coverage
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