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Opportunity knocked for America’s quarter milers when reigning world champion and first round advancer LaShawn Merritt – reportedly scampering to Lausanne – decided the bow out of the m400 prior to the semi-finals.

While Merritt breezed to an opening day workout-like 45.19 to win his heat, Gil Roberts’ 45.16 was the best first round mark as there were no notable Day One casualties. 

Even with Merritt departed for Europe, the one-lap battles heated up in the semis.  USA indoor 400m champion Kyle Clemons won the first semi in 45.11 while Roberts looked very strong capturing the victory in the other semifinal.  “I’m juiced for the final,” declared Roberts in the mixed zone.

The final – held under baking sun – was The Gil Roberts Show.  Getting out quickly, the former Texas Tech athlete was never headed as his authored a dominating wire-to-wire victory.  With a meaningful lead coming off the final curve, Roberts lifted well down the homestretch to post a PR winning time of  44.53 – 6th on the WL list – and claim his first national championship.  "I just maintained the pace throughout the whole race, came off the second curve strong, and maintained technique the last 100," the 25 year old Roberts explained afterwards.  "I executed it.  I'll get better with each race.  Things are going in the right direction."

Capturing the national 400m title in a final without Merritt was not without merit.  "You can only work at the task at hand," stated the Nike athlete who will now head overseas for the European season.  "When I get to LaShawn, I get to LaShawn.  And we'll hook up then."  Their showdown will be much anticipated.

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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