Tracking The Trials: June 21, 2012


They are staging a sequel of sorts to “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

Call it “Fast Times at High-flying Eugene, Ore.” Instead of Spicolo and Stacy and Rat, characters in the stoner movie that toasts its 30-year anniversary this year, the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials features Tyson and Justin and Carmelita and Allyson.

They are among the sprinters supreme in events where Americans again expect to demonstrate that speed kills, in a competitive sense. The U.S., which easily won the overall and gold medals count at the latest World Championships, are gearing up for more fast times in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it syle of racing.

Tyson Gay doesn’t care if he is hip, only that a surgically fixed right hip, which shelved him for almost a year, will help maintain his distinction as world’s fastest non-Jamaican man. Former Olympic champion Justin Gatlin will shadow, if not outstep, him in the 100-meter dash. Walter Dix could double in the 100 and 200, while LaShawn Merritt is back from a drug suspension to burn rubber in the 400. In the 110 hurdles, the stars should align for Aries Merritt.

On the women’s side, Carmelita Jeter, 32, has shown little wear and tear. She will match strides in the 200 with the fleet Allyson Felix in the 100 and 200. Sanya Richards-Ross, the 400 favorite, will be inspired to keep up with husband Aaron Ross, cornerback with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Though not as deep in distance races, the U.S. anticipates fast times from a few standouts, including Alysia Johnson Montana in the women’s 800 and Bernard Lagat — a naturalized citizen from Kenya, the mecca of lengthy runs — in the men’s 5,000.

Should decathletes Bryan Clay, Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton finish 1-2-3, in no particular order, in Eugene, they also could occupy every level of the medal stand in London. As in every Trials event, however, athletes must place no worse than third to move on.

That means only three of a fearsome foursome of shot-putters will qualify, though do not expect Reese Hoffa to get buried like Jimmy (no relation). Christian Taylor should fly farthest in the triple jump.

For the ladies, the ironically named Chaunte Lowe likely will soar above all others in the high jump. Brittney Reese could rip apart the long jump field . . . into Reese’s pieces, an appropriate snack for the original “Fast Times.”

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