DES MOINES, Iowa — Just 21 years old, Brianna Rollins already is running faster than some of the best hurdlers in history.
Rollins set an American record in the 100-meter hurdles at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on a sweltering Saturday, one of several big performances by less-than-familiar names.
Rollins, a standout at Clemson before turning pro this month, finished in 12.26 seconds to break Gail Devers’ mark from 2000. It was the fastest time in a 100 hurdles race in 21 years.
“I don’t think about records,” Rollins said. “I came out here and did what I have to do.”
Not to be outdone, 17-year-old Mary Cain took second in the 1,500 to earn a spot at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in August in Moscow. She was edged at the line by training partner Treniere Moser.
Cain is the first high-schooler to make the world team since Allyson Felix almost a decade ago. Cain hardly could contain her enthusiasm after an almost flawless race.
This after being petrified at the prospect of running against an elite field with so much at stake.
“I called my mom the other day crying and was like, ‘I’m just a little kid. I’m so scared,’ ” Cain said, holding a stuffed yellow duck for comfort. “She’s like, ‘Mary, I know you. If I could take you away right now, I would. But you would be kicking yourself for the rest of your life if you weren’t in that final.’ I let the nerves take over me for a minute. Then, I pushed them out.
“Getting to wear a Team USA uniform is amazing. I really wanted to get a uniform.”
Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross was slowed by a surgically repaired right big toe and didn’t qualify for worlds.
Plenty of big names performed well, with LaShawn Merritt capturing the 400 crown, and Olympic champion Ashton Eaton, a former Oregon standout, taking the decathlon title.
Washington star Jeremy Taiwo finished third behind Eaton and Gunnar Nixon to secure his spot at worlds.
“It was an OK two days,” Eaton said. “It’s very difficult to compete in the heat.”
Yet in the heat, three American records were set. Michelle Carter set a mark in the shot put with a throw of 66 feet, 5 inches.
Later, Amanda Bingson broke the U.S. mark in the hammer throw with her toss of 248-5.
Other winners included Nicole Bush (3,000 steeplechase), Brigetta Barrett (high jump), Janay DeLoach Soukup (long jump), Matthew Centrowitz (1,500), Maria Michta (20,000 race walk), Michael Tinsley (400 hurdles) and Natasha Hastings (400).
One thing is for sure: The world team definitely will have a different look.
“In the U.S., someone is always up and coming,” said Merritt, who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games. “These championships were very important to get a feel about the rounds, so when we get to Moscow, it won’t be new to anyone on the team.”