Highlights and Lowlights of the 2024 US Olympic Track and Field Trials + How to Make the Team

The Olympic Trials That Were

Now that we’ve had a few days to recover from the 2024 US Olympic Track and Field Trials, which ended with six championship records run in the span of an hour during the final six track events, we thought we’d put out this piece taking a broader look at the Trials and what it all means.

How to Make an Olympic Team

The illusion of the Olympic Trials is that anyone has a chance to make the team on the right day. The reality is that only a few athletes in each event enter the Trials with a legitimate chance to make the team. And most of them share some key characteristics: they are in their 20s, and they were very good in college.

There were five mid-d/distance events contested at the 2024 US Olympic Trials, which means a total of 30 Olympic spots. Twenty-eight of those 30 spots (93%) will be going to athletes in their 20s — Woody Kincaid and Marisa Howard (both 31) are the only exceptions.

In sports like baseball and football, the step up from the NCAA to MLB and NFL is significant. The best collegians do not always become the best professionals. That is not the case in track & field. Most of the top professional runners were superstars in college.

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Ten of the 15 men’s Olympic spots (67%) were claimed by athletes who won a NCAA Division I title — and that doesn’t count Matthew Wilkinson in the steeple, who was a two-time NCAA DIII champ. And James Corrigan of BYU could end up as an NCAA champion one day — he still has two years of eligibility remaining.

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On the women’s side, eight of the 15 spots (53%) were NCAA DI champs. That means 18/30 (60%) of Olympians were NCAA DI champs (we’re counting Parker Wolfe, who doesn’t have the standard, as an Olympian in this exercise, but even if you counted 4th placer Graham Blanks instead, the data would be the same as both are NCAA champions).

That still means 12/30 Olympians weren’t NCAA DI champs. But eight of those 12 (75%) finished in the top five at NCAAs during their careers. And two more of those spots belong to Hobbs Kessler — who was so good that he turned pro straight out of high school.

The only others who never finished in the top 5 at NCAAs were Corrigan and Emily Mackay. Mackay’s best finish at NCAAs? 6th.

Men’s top-3 finishers at 2024 Olympic Trials

Name Event Age College Best NCAA finish
Bryce Hoppel 800 26 Kansas 1st
Hobbs Kessler 800 21 None N/A
Brandon Miller 800 22 Texas A&M 1st
Cole Hocker 1500 23 Oregon 1st
Yared Nuguse 1500 25 Notre Dame 1st
Hobbs Kessler 1500 21 None N/A
Grant Fisher 5K 27 Stanford 1st
Abdihamid Nur 5K 25 Northern Arizona 1st
Parker Wolfe 5K 20 North Carolina 1st
Grant Fisher 10K 27 Stanford 1st
Woody Kincaid 10K 31 Portland 5th
Nico Young 10K 21 Northern Arizona 1st
Kenneth Rooks Steeple 24 BYU 1st
Matthew Wilkinson Steeple 25 Carleton/Minnesota 1st D3/5th D1
James Corrigan Steeple 22 BYU 9th

Women’s top-3 finishers at 2024 Olympic Trials

Name Event Age College Best NCAA finsih
Nia Akins 800 25 Penn 2nd
Allie Wilson 800 28 Monmouth 4th
Juliette Whittaker 800 20 Stanford 1st
Nikki Hiltz 1500 29 Arkansas 2nd
Emily Mackay 1500 26 Binghamton 6th
Elle St. Pierre 1500 29 New Hampshire 1st
Elle St. Pierre 5K 29 New Hampshire 1st
Elise Cranny 5K 28 Stanford 2nd
Karissa Schweizer 5K 28 Missouri 1st
Weini Kelati 10K 27 New Mexico 1st
Parker Valby 10K 21 Florida 1st
Karissa Schweizer 10K 28 Missouri 1st
Val Constien Steeple 28 Colorado 5th
Courtney Wayment Steeple 25 BYU 1st
Marisa Howard Steeple 31 Boise State 2nd

Which Pro Teams Had the Best Trials?

Nikki Hiltz, Emily Mackay, and Elle St. Pierre all trained in Flagstaff

The Olympic Trials does not have team scoring like NCAAs, but we still have “teams” at the professional level in the form of training groups. Which groups had the best Trials? We’ve broken down all 30 top-3 finishers from the five mid-d/distance events at the Trials (800, 1500, 5k, 10k, steeple) by coach/training group. Here are the results:

Groups with 4 top3 finishes
Mike Smith – Woody Kincaid, Abdihamid Nur, Nico Young, Nikki Hiltz

Groups with 3 top3 finishes
New Balance Boston/Mark Coogan – Emily Mackay, Elle St. Pierre x2

Groups with 2 top3 finishes
Very Nice TC/Ron Warhurst – Hobbs Kessler x2
Brooks Beasts/Danny Mackey – Brandon Miller, Nia Akins
BYU men/Ed Eyestone – Kenneth Rooks, James Corrigan
UA Dark Sky/Stephen Haas – Matthew Wilkinson, Weini Kelati
Mike Scannell – Grant Fisher x2
Bowerman TC/Jerry Schumacher – Karissa Schweizer x2

Groups with 1 top-3 finish
On Athletics Club/Dathan Ritzenhein – Yared Nuguse
UNC men/Chris Miltenberg – Parker Wolfe
Florida women/Will & Sam Palmer – Parker Valby
BYU women/Diljeet Taylor – Courtney Wayment
Amy/Andrew Begley – Allie Wilson
Mark Wetmore/Heather Burroughs – Val Constien
Stanford women/J.J. Clark – Juliette Whittaker
Pat McCurry – Marisa Howard
Jarred Cornfield – Elise Cranny
Michael Whittlesey – Bryce Hoppel
Ben Thomas – Cole Hocker

By brand:
Nike 11
adidas 4
New Balance 3
Brooks 2
On 2
Under Armour 2
Lululemon 1
Tracksmith 1
College/no pro deal 4

A few observations:

Flagstaff had an incredible Trials. The group with the most Olympians (Mike Smith’s group, which has no official name but is sometimes called Death Row TC), is based in Flagstaff, the birthplace of LetsRun.com. The group with the second-most, New Balance Boston, does its altitude training in Flagstaff. Bryce Hoppel started altitude training in Flagstaff this season with Hobbs Kessler and has had a career year. The Flagstaff-based Dark Sky had two Olympians and even Grant Fisher spent some time training in Flagstaff earlier this year even though he lives in Park City.

On Athletics Club took a step back after a breakthrough 2021 Trials. OAC was formed in 2020 and made a splash immediately, putting Joe Klecker and Alicia Monson on the team at the ’21 Trials, and signing ’21 Olympian Yared Nuguse a year later. This time around, Klecker and Monson were hurt and Nuguse was the team’s only US Olympian.

Nike, as usual, had the most top-3 finishers. But what’s interesting is that Nike’s two professional groups — the Bowerman Track Club, coached by Jerry Schumacher, and the Union Athletics Club, coached by Pete Julian — combined for just two top-3 finishes, both by BTC’s Karissa Schweizer.

Bowerman TC’s decline is particularly notable. We noted this after the 2023 USAs, but BTC put five athletes on the 2016 Olympic team in the track events, plus Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg in the marathon. In 2021, they had six. In 2024, it was just one. Meanwhile three former BTC athletes (Woody Kincaid, Grant Fisher, Elise Cranny) all made it under new coaches.

BTC track athletes on US Worlds/Olympics team

2016: 5 Evan Jager (steeple), Shelby Houlihan (5k), Emily Infeld (10k), Courtney Frerichs (steeple), Colleen Quigley (steeple)
2017: 6 
Ryan Hill (5k), Jager (steeple), Houlihan (5k), Frerichs (steeple), Quigley (steeple), Infeld (10k)
2019: 7 
Matthew Centrowitz (1500), Lopez Lomong (10k), Karissa Schweizer (5k), Houlihan (1500/5k), Marielle Hall (10k), Frerichs (steeple), Quigley (steeple)
2021: 6
 Elise Cranny (5k), Karissa Schweizer (5k/10k), Grant Fisher (5k/10k), Woody Kincaid (5k/10k), Frerichs (steeple), Centrowitz (1500)
2022: 8 
Cranny (5k), Schweizer (5k/10k), Sean McGorty (10k), Fisher (5k/10k), Kincaid (5k), Jager (steeple), Frerichs (steeple), Josh Thompson (1500)
2023: 2 
Cranny (5k/10k), McGorty (5k/10k)
2024: 1 (Schweizer 5k/10k)

Jerry Schumacher (r), Shalane Flanagan (l) in 2021. Photo by Tim Healy for TrackTown USA.

Does this mean Jerry Schumacher suddenly forgot how to coach? Of course not. The team’s move to Eugene cost it a ton of US talent and that has yet to be replaced. Just two years ago, BTC qualified eight athletes for Worlds. Five of those eight have since left the team, with most citing the team’s move to Eugene at the end of 2022 and a desire for more freedom/flexibility in training as their main reasons for leaving.

The latter issue is always going to be something a team like BTC must deal with — it’s not uncommon for pros to seek a new stimulus or more freedom as they age. The bigger issue is replacing that talent. BTC enjoyed ridiculous success in the 2010s in part because it was bringing in ridiculous talent — 1-2 NCAA champions per year. Since Fisher in 2019, the team has signed just two NCAA champions in the last five years. One is Charles Hicks, who represents Great Britain. And the other is Cooper Teare, who left the team after just one season. Technically, Justyn Knight is also an NCAA champion, but he joined the team well into his professional career and has not raced since 2021.

So far in 2024, BTC’s only signing is Kaylee Mitchell of Oregon State, who signed in March and has a best finish of 6th at NCAAs in the steeple. Though BTC has Nike’s backing, it is tougher to convince athletes to move to Eugene than Portland, and there is more competition for top recruits than five years ago. Among the top recruits in this year’s class, Nico Young is staying in Flagstaff with Mike Smith, which has become a popular choice for NAU alums. Maia Ramsden, Olivia Markezich, and Ky Robinson, all top-5 prospects, signed with OAC. Joe Waskom is staying with his college coach Andy Powell.

The big fish remaining is Parker Valby, but would her unique cross-training regimen really fit in Schumacher’s intense, structured program?

The other thing to factor in is that NIL is starting to dictate which brands athletes sign with. Many NIL deals offer the brand the chance to match pro contract offers — note that Young, Ramsden, Markezich, Robinson, and Waskom all signed with the same brand as their NIL.

Part of Schumacher’s thinking when he took the University of Oregon job was that it would give him a chance to start working working with future BTC pros earlier, and there is a lot of talent on the Oregon roster. Maybe in a few years, Schumacher can re-establish the Chris Miltenberg-to-BTC pipeline and sign Parker Wolfe and Ethan Strand, then add UO’s Elliott Cook, Simeon Birnbaum, and Connor Burns. That would give BTC a nice group to work with.

Stat of the Week I

3.2 million — average viewership (combined TV and streaming across NBC & Peacock) of the 2021 US Olympic Track & Field Trials.

4.5 million — average viewership (combined TV and streaming across NBC & Peacock) of the 2024 US Olympic Track & Field Trials — a 38% increase from three years ago.

The most-watched track meet of 2024 before the Trials was the NYC Grand Prix on June 9, which drew 1.37 million viewers on NBC (though that does not include streaming numbers). That shows you the power of the word “Olympic.” 

The US Track Trials also outdrew the US Swimming Trials, which had an average viewership of 3.4 million per night). Day 3 of the Track Trials (Sunday, June 23, men’s 100m final) earned an average viewership of 5.2 million — the most-watched Track Trials broadcast since the final night of the 2012 Trials — though still behind the final night of the 2024 Gymnastics Trials (7.6 million).

Stat of the Week II

176,972 – total attendance across eight days at the last non-COVID US Olympic Track & Field Trials held in Eugene, Oregon, in 2016.

95,411 – total ticketed spectators across eight days at the 2024 US Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene.

46.1% – Percentage drop from 2016 to 2024.

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That certainly is a precipitous drop, but those numbers are a bit misleading. When the rebuilt Hayward Field opened in 2021, TrackTown USA stopped reporting “total attendance” — which includes accredited personnel and instead began reporting “ticketed spectators” — which does not.

TrackTown USA CEO Michael Reilly told LetsRun.com the organization switched to reporting “ticketed spectators” in an attempt to be more honest and transparent about spectator numbers. That said, TrackTown USA reported 11,227 ticketed spectators for day 1 of the 2024 Trials and it was clear that there was no point during day 1 where there was anywhere close to that many fans in the stands at the same time. Does that mean the number is wrong?

Not necessarily. The main session of day 1 lasted five hours and featured 13 different events. A significant portion of fans at the Trials are friends and family members of the athletes, and many of those fans will leave once their favorite athlete is done competing. Plus many fans with tickets on the back stretch (where there is no cover from the sun) will choose to watch from a different section, and at any given time there are a bunch of fans on the concourse buying food or drink.

It’s also worth noting that the new Hayward Field is significantly larger than the old Hayward Field. The University of Oregon used to list old Hayward’s capacity at 10,500 but The Oregonian‘s Ken Goe counted in 2018 and found it was more like 8,500. Oregon lists the new capacity as 12,650.

Reilly said the larger stadium and the fact that the new stadium has chair-style seating as opposed to bench-style seating makes it easier to recognize when a seat is empty.

“In the old west grandstand, people would just spread out and it would look like the west grandstand was full,” Reilly said.

Reilly told LetsRun that, when using the same “ticketed spectator” metric, the 2023 USATF championships in Eugene actually outdrew any previous USAs (not Olympic Trials) hosted at Hayward during the TrackTown USA era (2008 – present).

But the ticketed spectator number for 2023 USAs was only 5,897 per day. So rather than fan interest plummeting since COVID, maybe track just wasn’t as popular in Eugene as we initially thought?

It may be a bit of both. Let’s return to our initial stat of total attendance of the 2016 Trials (176,972) versus ticketed spectators for the 2024 Trials (95,411). The 2016 number is naturally larger because of accredited personnel, but for the ticketed spectator numbers to be the same in 2016 and 2024, there would have to be more than 10,000 accredited personnel entering the stadium per day to make up the difference. That didn’t happen. And TrackTown USA did not build any temporary bleachers to house extra fans at the 2024 Trials as they did at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Trials and 2022 Worlds.

Based on that, there there does seem to be some Eugene fatigue. We really hope that those in charge at USATF realize this and consider moving the Trials out of Eugene for 2028.

Eugene is a wonderful place to hold an Olympic Trials — it has the best track stadium in America, the crowds that do show up create a great atmosphere, and TrackTown USA does a great job staging the meet. So why move the meet elsewhere in 2028?

  1. There are way too many big meets in Eugene. Omaha, Nebraska, is a wonderful place to hold the college baseball world series but they don’t also hold the the high school nationals, MLB All-Star Game, and World Series there every year. Since Hayward reopened in 2021, it has hosted 12 of the 13 biggest oudoor track meets contested in the US — four straight US outdoor champs/Olympic Trials, four straight Prefontaine Classics, and three of four NCAAs. The 2023 NCAA meet in Austin is the only exception. Moving some of these meets around (apart from Pre) would make Hayward Field feel special and give athletes a chance to experience different parts of the country.

  2. Eugene is not a major city and is hard to get to. Hosting the meet in a more populous area would make it cheaper for most out-of-towners to visit because flights and lodging would be more plentiful and cheaper. You’d also be drawing from a much larger pool of potential spectators. Los Angeles has more than 12 million people in its metro area. Eugene has 380,000 (For the record: LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson thinks the Trials should not be held in LA in 2028. LA 28 will be the first summer Olympics in the US in 32 years. There will be Olympic fever all over the country. Let LA get excited about the Olympics and somewhere else can get excited about the Trials). There is a dedicated core group of a couple thousand fans in Oregon who used to go to every meet in Eugene — a built-in track-specific fanbase that most cities don’t have. But some of those fans have stopped showing up, either because they are upset the old Hayward was torn down, are older and can no longer go, or are priced out and realized it’s easier/cheaper to watch on TV.

  3. The track die-hards from outside of Eugene have Eugene fatigue. It shouldn’t be that hard to get 15,000 people a night for an Olympic Trials. If you could get 5,000 local fans, 5,000 family members/friends etc., and 5,000 track diehards from the rest of the US, you’ve got 15,000. But all of the hard-core US track fans that might have be willing to fly to an Olympic Trials have most likely already been to a Trials/Worlds in Eugene. If you are a track-crazy mom or dad that just used a lot of financial and human capital to get the family to go to Worlds in Eugene in 2022, are you even going to think about trying to go back in 2024? Maybe not. But if the meet was held near Portland, Maine, and not Portland, Oregon, you might do it.

There is another reason why attendance might have been down: an online ticketing snafu. Considering we looked at the ticketing website a few weeks before the Trials and only saw a small number of seats available for most days, it was shocking to see so many empty seats night after night in Eugene. 

Then we got the following email from a LetsRun visitor:

Letsrun Team,

I was out in Eugene for my first ever Trials, and it was an incredible experience. While I could share many stories about my experience, the one that might interest you most is a series of ticketing errors that resulted in my family having multiple free tickets. I wonder if others experienced the same and if this contributed to low(er) attendance.

The brief version is:

  • The ticketing site was overwhelmed on the first day of single ticket sales, with long wait times, and multiple site crashes / time outs during the purchase process
  • On at least 3 occasions, I had seats confirmed in my basket but the transaction did not go through (I took panicked screenshots, worried I’d go home empty handed)
  • Eventually, I was able to secure seats for all days that I wanted to attend (days 7-10) and paid for 5 seats each day
  • On the first day of my attendance, as I was pulling up my tickets, I was shocked to find that I had access to all of the tickets that had ever been confirmed, including those that I did not pay for.
  • The “extra” tickets worked to gain entry and both sets of seats were open / unused by others on each day (I purchased 20 tickets but received 35.)

    Given the site traffic on the first day of ticketing, numerous site crashes, I would be very surprised if I was the only one who experienced this. It’s very strange that the tickets would be reserved / held / provided without any payment, but that’s what I experienced. I wonder what impact this had on attendance, both in terms of reported sales (do they base that off of payment received or the “reserving” of seats?) and actual number of people in the stands.

Since we had gone to the ticketing website a few weeks before the Trials and saw very few tickets for sale, it was shocking to see so many empty seats on so many nights. Were there really that many no shows? It seemed very odd that there were so many empty seats most nights in Eugene but could this email explain it? If you had something similar happen, post about it on our messageboard:

MB: Olympic Trials fans, did anyone else receive lots of free tickets to the Trials by mistake that you didn’t know about or use?

Biggest Winners & Losers

If you want to know what individual athletes had the best and worst Trials, we devoted most of a 100-minute podcast to that this week: Winners and Losers at Olympic Trials.

We’ll add something we didn’t mention on the podcast. When we’ve talked to neigbhors/friends/family members who aren’t diehard fans but know about the meet, the one person they all brought up was 16-year-old Quincy Wilson, who certainly was a big winner. Christian Coleman finishing 4th twice despite running 9.93/19.89 certainly had a devastating meet despite performing well and 3:32/12:54 man Cooper Teare somehow finishing 10th in the 1500 and 12th in the 5000 was hard to comprehend.

Many may view Athing Mu as a big loser but we don’t view it that way. Given her hamstring injury, she was likely to be only contending for bronze in Paris. America loves a comeback story and now for four full years Mu can think of herself as the underdog. And Mu is super young. Do you realize she could be a 3-time Olympic gold medallist at just a few months past her 30th birthday if she wins in both 2028 and 2032?

What Has Changed in the Last Eight Years?

Eight years ago, we wrote a similar article to this one handing out winners and losers from the 2016 Olympic Trials. We thought it would be interesting to revisit some of the items from that article as many of them are still relevant in 2024.

Here were some of our “winners” in 2016 and what has happened to them since:

Craig Engels: Back in 2016, we were high on Engels because of his cult following and because he finished 4th in the 800 and 5th in the 1500 in his first Trials at age 22. We thought Engels could win an NCAA title in 2017 and find success as a pro. Unfortunately for Engels, two total studs showed up in the NCAA that year — future Olympic champ Emmanuel Korir won the NCAA indoor/outdoor 800s while future world champ Josh Kerr won the NCAA indoor mile/outdoor 1500. Engels remained popular as a pro and won a US 1500 title in 2019 but never made an Olympic team, finishing 4th at the ’21 Trials and 9th at the ’24 Trials in the 1500.

Engels at 2024 Trials Engels at 2024 Trials

-The Future of American Sprinting: We were bullish on US’s sprint prospects because Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Noah Lyles, and Michael Norman had all excelled at the 2016 Trials as high schoolers. That proved a wise prediction. SML is already one of the sport’s all-time greats, Lyles has won four individual world titles and has run an American record of 19.31 in the 200, and Norman was the 2022 world champ in the 400.

-Bowerman Track Club women: We already covered this above so we don’t need to harp on it. Back in 2016, BTC qualified an incredible six women for Rio. This time around, it was just one.

We also noted some “losers” from 2016:

-The Brooks Beasts: None of the Beasts entered at the 2016 Trials made the team, but we weren’t overly critical because the team, then in its fourth year of existence, was not getting the same sort of talent as some of the other brands. Since then, however, the Beasts have been able to attract bigger talents and the results have improved. Since 2016, the Beasts have brought in an NCAA runner-up who might have been an NCAA champion if not for COVID (Nia Akins) and two NCAA 800 champs (Isaiah Harris and Brandon Miller) and two of those three made the Olympic team. Plus they signed a three-time NCAA champ who is now the Olympic favorite in the 1500 (Josh Kerr).

Beasts head coach Danny Mackey is a good coach but also knows the importance of talent. Here’s what he told us back in 2022: “The] athlete makes the coach. There’s no debate about that. If I’m at my best, I’m like maybe [worth] 2%, 3% for Josh [Kerr]… I will likely look like a better coach if we keep signing people like Isaiah [Harris].”

The Beasts now have their first 2 US Olympians and a World Champion.

Donovan Brazier Leading at the 2016 Olympic Trials

-Donavan Brazier & Shamier Little: We called Texas A&M stars Brazier and Little losers for failing to make the final at the ’16 Trials despite winning NCAAs, but also winners for turning pro and locking in a contract before the Trials. At the time it seemed impossible to think Brazier and Little would combine to make zero Olympic teams in their career, but barring an unlikely comeback in 2028, that is what is going to happen. Brazier would have been the Olympic favorite had the ’20 Games not been postponed to COVID, and was in 2nd with 200 to go at the ’21 Trials but was running on a broken foot and faded to last. He has barely raced since due to injury.

Little, meanwhile, was 4th at the ’21 Trials in a loaded 400 hurdles that included the last two world record holders, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Dalilah Muhammad. And at the ’24 Trials, Little, the 5th fastest 400 hurdler in history, finished 9th in the flat 400 and 4th once again in the 400 hurdles.

We also include a list of “Things That USATF Should Never Do Again.” First on that list was to run an 800 at the Trials that doesn’t start in lanes (the 2016 men’s 800 final started as a waterfall start because there were nine men in the final and only 8 lanes at the old Hayward). So far USATF has not had to do that again.

Second on that list of suggestions was for USATF to accept more athletes in the 1500. In 2016, there were 27 starters in the women’s 1500 and 30 in the men’s 1500. With 24 athletes advancing to the semis, the first round was basically pointless. We called on USATF to expand the field to a minimum of 36, and to USATF’s credit, they actually did it — there were 38 starters in the men’s and women’s 1500 in 2024. After watching the prelims this year, that still probably isn’t enough (World Athletics takes 45 athletes per sex to the Olympics in the 1500), but kudos to USATF for expanding beyond 30 athletes in the 1500. That does bring up another point, however…

Something Must Be Done About the First Rounds at the Trials

The US Olympic Trials are an incredible track meet, and while that is largely due to the incredible American athletes, USATF deserves some credit. When it comes to team selection, USATF does its best to remove itself from the process and let the results on the track pick the team when possible. That means the Trials create maximum drama and it also results in the fewest complaints when something goes wrong.

But that does not mean the Trials are perfect. In particular, the prelim-heavy days of the Trials (days 1 and 7) feature very little drama. Here’s the track schedule at day 7 of the Trials — the first day of competition following a two-day break:

4:30 p.m.: Men’s 800 first round, 27 of 35 athletes advance (77%)
5:01 p.m.: Men’s 110 hurdles semis, 9 of 26 athletes advance (35%)
5:23 p.m.: Women’s 1500 first round, 24 of 38 athletes advance (63%)
5:51 p.m.: Women’s 200 first round, 27 of 27 athletes advance (100%)
6:23 p.m.: Men’s 400 hurdles first round, 27 of 33 athletes advance (82%)
6:58 p.m.: Women’s 400 hurdles first round, 27 of 34 athletes advance (79%)
7:29 p.m.: Women’s steeplechase final
7:44 p.m.: Men’s 200 first round, 27 of 30 athletes advance (90%)
8:12 p.m.: Men’s 5000 semis, 16 of 30 athletes advance (53%)

So during more than four hours of “action,” viewers saw one final and five preliminary rounds where at least 77% of athletes advanced — including the women’s 200, where all 27 starters made it through. The Trials are great because they are dramatic, but there is very little drama when no one is getting eliminated.

USATF likes its current format because it mimics the Olympics, but USAs does not mimic the format of the World Championships during Worlds years and the US still wins a ton of medals at Worlds. If you want more drama in the first round, you could expand the fields, but that would mean even more prelim races and most of the favorites would still advance.

The better solution is to do what USATF does during non-Olympic years and use two semifinals in every track event instead of three. Right now, USATF uses two semifinals in only the 1500 and 5,000 but three in every other event because that is how the Olympics does it. But if you get rid of the third semifinal in every event, you would go from 27 athletes advancing from the first round to just 18. Suddenly the first round of every event is much more meaningful, and you wouldn’t have to alter the schedule of the meet at all.

Last Week’s Home Pages

This was a slightly different version of our normal weekly recap but past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. You should come to LetsRun each and every day for the latest news but if you miss a day, you can always go to our archive page. If you like our written weekly recap, you’ll love our weekly Track Talk Podcast as well. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.

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