Give Track A Chance ⏱️

Supported by New Balance

Lap 173: Supported by New Balance

CITIUS MAG will be heading West in just a few days and we’re popping up with New Balance for the most thrilling 10 days of track and field in America. We’re servin’ track and field scoops with our coverage. Catch us at the CITIUS MAG Scoop pop-up right next to Prince Puckler’s Ice Cream at 19th Avenue and Agate Street (just a two-minute walk from Hayward Field).

We’re hosting three shows a day on the CITIUS MAG YouTube channel. Good Morning Track and Field will start your day with some takes and updates from Eugene hosted by Eric Jenkins, Mitch Dyer and Karen Lesziewicz at 8:30 a.m. PT. CITIUS MAG LIVE From Eugene! will bring you daily interviews with athletes, coaches and notable folks in town at noon PT. You know the New Balance roster is stacked and so we’ll certainly have some of their top stars on. TRIALS TALK – our hit daily podcast series from 2021 – returns on The CITIUS MAG Podcast feed + streaming live immediately post-race to unpack all of the action immediately following the meet.

If you want daily newsletter updates of all the best interviews, content + more from Eugene, we will be sending out daily newsletters to CITIUS MAG Newsletter subscribers. We didn’t want to overwhelm The Lap Count faithful who are used to one weekly newsletter!

Stay tuned for more details on the CITIUS MAG social channels as we’re planning to share our group run + merch + giveaways very soon.

Will The Grand Slam Be A Slam Dunk? 🤔

Well, the wait is over. I now fully understand why Kyle left the newsletter business behind and hasn’t looked back. As I watched today’s press conference and pored over the explainer section of Grand Slam Track’s website, I felt a ghostly apparition of Kyle’s head floating behind me, nodding proudly… knowingly.

Before Kyle left to work for Michael Johnson and GST, I edited 160-something of his newsletters. That’s hundreds of thousands of words Kyle wrote about track & field, and I’d wager that a quarter of those could be boiled down to a few key sticking points around what track was lacking as a consumable, fan-supported enterprise, and what should be done to address it.

Chris wrote a nice summary of what we know about Grand Slam Track. But the gist is:

  • The same top athletes will race each other in four condensed meets, or “Slams,” so it’ll be easy to follow

  • Notably, the first athlete to sign on was Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone – that’s how you lend early legitimacy to your project (nice job, Kyle)

  • The prize money is legit – way more than the Diamond League’s

  • The focus will be on racing, rather than time – no pace lights or rabbits

  • There’s opportunity for newcomers to make a splash, but the league is ultimately driven by the sport’s biggest names

  • On the topic of big names, there seems to be an emphasis on showcasing these big names’ big personalities

  • One Slam location has been announced: Los Angeles, a huge city with track history and an international airport – a great start

  • Athletes still represent their sponsors, with league revenue coming from broadcasting rights, among other things business-y things I don’t personally understand

It’s essentially the organizational manifestation of the 95 theses Kyle nailed to your inbox every Wednesday morning. I was immediately impressed. But then again, maybe I had internalized too many of Kyle’s thoughts over the years and became incapable of developing any of my own. To see if that was the case, I did something you should generally never do: visited the comments section.

I dusted off my old Twitter log-in and even visited the LetsRun message boards, and lo and behold… track fans are… excited? Do you know what it takes to make track fans excited? People in general are averse to change. Track fans in particular loathe it. But this announcement seems to be the sort of shakeup that even the biggest curmudgeons alive can get behind. 

Even those critical of the lack of field events conceded they are still fired up about the overall concept. The most negative responses I’ve seen so far have been about GST’s early big spending. But hey, if you are convinced something is going to go belly up but in spectacular fashion, at least you’re going to tune in to watch – leave the accounting to the bean counters!

It’s extremely early, but it feels like GST has grabbed the unblinking eyeballs and relative support of the sport’s faithful with what it’s revealed about itself thus far. Great. That’s half the battle. You need the people willing to make regular pilgrimages to Eugene in your corner. Now let’s see how the upstart league goes about winning over more casual fans, or new fans entirely. GST clearly aims to tap into the mounting track-based excitement as we reach the peak of the Olympic cycle hype. It’s time to see how achievable that is with the sort of funding we’ve been clamoring over, in the hands of the sorts of people we’ve been hoping would take on the initiative.

– Paul Snyder

TLC’s “Impress Your Casual-Fan Friends” Guide to the U.S. Olympic Trials 🏆

As a Lap Count reader, we don’t need to tell you to watch the action unfolding this week and next week in Eugene. 

You’ve already blocked off your calendar, batch-prepared several hundred pigs-in-a-blanket with little American flags on toothpicks poking out of them, and hopefully coerced some of your more casual track fan buddies to join you.

So in the interest of helping you convert said casuals into diehards ahead of the Olympics, here is the storyline for each event that you should parrot to the room for maximum buy-in. (Think of it as your “pocket guide to the Trials,” if you are wearing your most roomy pair of JNCOs.)

If you want a true, in-depth breakdown of every single event on the docket, we’re releasing event previews all week on the CITIUS website. The comprehensive sprints preview and distance preview are already out, and look out for the field events to drop today or tomorrow.

A year ago, the Noah Lyles 100m experiment was in full force. Now he is the force. (Photo by Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto)

100 meters

Men: Noah Lyles, the reigning World champ, squares off against last year’s Diamond League champ, Christian Coleman. ALSO: the third fastest entry is high schooler Christian Miller. He has the wheels, but – this is how you equivocate and always look smart – how will he navigate the rounds?

Women: Sha’Carri Richardson’s in this race and wants to make a statement here en route to defending her global 100m title. The race for the other two spots will be tight, with national stage newcomers Jacious Sears and McKenzie Long, along with seasoned pros like TeeTee Terry, Aleia Hobbs, and Melissa Jefferson in the mix. 

Gabby Thomas will take on the 200/400m double at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials. (Photo by Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto)

200 meters

Men: This is Lyles’s best event. “Kung Fu” Kenny Bednarek looks like a lock after a steadily speedy season. We haven’t seen global medalist Erriyon Knighton race since indoors – can he make this team at less than 100%? And Courtney Lindsey is waiting in the wings!

Women: The women’s short sprints are a buzzsaw! Richardson wants to qualify in her secondary event but will have to get past the likes of last year’s World silver medalist Gabby Thomas, Long, the NCAA champ, Tamara Clark, Brittany Brown, and Abby Steiner.

The return of Michael Norman has been a bright spot in the U.S. sprints this year. (Photo by Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto)

400 meters

Men: The U.S. men have historically been strong over 400m, but right now we’re in a bit of a lull. World champ Michael Norman is back in form, but he’ll have stiff international competition if he makes the team. Don’t sleep on the experience of Quincy Hall, Bryce Deadmon, or Vernon Norwood. There are a lot of collegians in the mix, but also, even though he’s a long shot, it’ll be fun to watch high school phenom Quincy Wilson take on the big boys.

Women: Startle the room by letting out a mighty “Woo Pig Sooie!” then calmly explain that the University of Arkansas women just went 1-2-3-4 at NCAAs and very well could dominate the Olympic podium as well. The American Razorbacks to watch are Kaylyn Brown and Rosie Effiong. Also of note: SEC rival Aaliyah Butler – who didn’t make the NCAA final – then Gabby Thomas, who’s attempting a tough 200m/400m double. 

Bryce Hoppel feels like a safe pick to make the team. Then it’s wide open.
(Photo by Justin Britton)

800 meters

Men: Bryce Hoppel is the class of the field. There are other pros with a good shot to qualify here, but it’ll be more fun to zero in on the college kids. Shane Cohen and Big Bob Whitmarsh both looked great at NCAAs… but truly impress your friends by mentioning DII champ Wes Ferguson’s long-shot bid at a team! 

Women: Athing Mu hasn’t raced an 800m yet this season. But when she finally shows up on the start line, she’ll still be a big favorite. Nia Akins and Sage Hurta-Klecker have demonstrated consistent form and Stanford’s Juliette Whittaker has showcased fine closing speed and championship-racing instincts.

1500 meters

Men: Yared Nuguse is the favorite, especially if the pace is hot from the gun. He can close, but if things are left to the final 150m, dial in on Cole Hocker. Behind them, any of a half dozen guys has a shot – just do your best Mac Fleet impression. Regardless of where Matt Centrowitz lands, shake your head ruefully and say “Man, I’m gonna miss watching that guy race.”

Women: This is yet another loaded field, with five or six names who you can and should say deserve to make the squad. Elle St. Pierre is just about the one lock – but even the unstoppable Vermonter might be tired on race 5 of the week (she’s in the 5000m as well, which runs first). Shout out your favorites among Nikki Hiltz, Emily Mackay, Sinclaire Johnson, Cory McGee, and Heather MacLean, then just sit back and enjoy how stacked this event is.

The Olympic 1500m/5000m double is a reality for Elle St. Pierre
(Photo by Justin Britton)

5000 meters

Men: It’s difficult to even predict who will line up for the 5,000m. Several 1500m favorites are declared, but are likely to scratch if they advance. The guys coming back from the 10,000m will be racing on tired legs – or phoning it in if they’ve already secured one team spot. Grant Fisher’s always great, and Cooper Teare is looking strong. Is Nico Young’s greatly improved kick gonna hold up to professional-level scrutiny? Will Parker Wolfe surprise like he did at NCAAs? If Paul Chelimo is fit, he’s a threat; if he’s not, he’ll still likely make it interesting.

Women: Again, this one is likely Elle St. Pierre’s race to lose. After some shaky outings, both Karissa Schweizer and Elise Cranny appear to be back, so you can talk up their season trajectory and seasoning in situations like this. And in both the 5k and the 10k, we’ll get a peek at how NCAA phenom Parker Valby really measures up against the pros.

Grant Fisher has a good opportunity to add two more national titles to his resume.(Photo by Kevin Morris)

10,000 meters

Men: The obvious outcome is that Grant Fisher, Woody Kincaid, and Nico Young run away with this thing as the only sub-27 runners in the field. But who knows what’s up Paul Chelimo’s sleeve, and Olympic Marathon Trials champ Conner Mantz is showing up just to spice things up and keep things honest. If a kicker’s race yields a confusing finish order up top, get ready to do a lot of quick math about World ranking points and brace yourself for the possibility that you’ll have to explain to your friends why the guy in seventh place is going to Paris.

Women: During frequent commercial breaks, feel free to pull up any of the fine CITIUS-produced content on the topic of qualifying procedure, notably around Parker Valby’s chances of making the team. No matter what shakes out, Weini Kelati should remain central to the conversation. If it’s hot and steamy, look out for the runners based out of the South – such as Keira D’Amato and Natosha Rogers – to overperform.

100m Hurdles

The U.S. is incredible at the 100m hurdles. Keni Harrison, Nia Ali, and Alaysha Johnson are the top three seeds and are ranked first, second, and fifth in the world, respectively. Tia Jones is seeded fourth and ranked seventh in the world. Somebody will miss out on making the team here who would have otherwise been a podium threat! 

110m Hurdles

Death, taxes, and Grant Holloway being exceptional. He’ll have his hands full in Paris with a couple of talented Jamaicans, but in Eugene, it’ll likely be him, then Daniel Roberts, Cordell Tinch, and Trey Cunningham battling for two spots. Then again, there are hurdles. They are 42” high. People trip. Anything can happen.

We’ve had a proxy race between Karsten Warholm, Alison Dos Santos and Rai Benjamin all season. What will Benjamin throw down? (Photo by Kevin Morris)

400m Hurdles

Men: Rai Benjamin ought to coast through the rounds and put on a show in the final. Behind him keep an eye on Caleb Dean, Trevor Bassitt, and CJ Allen – who aren’t quite in medal contention on the global level right now, but a smaller-than-expected gap behind Benjamin could be an indicator of big things to come.

Women: When your sport has an enigmatic talent like Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone rewriting the record books, the bulk of your – and NBC’s – attention will focus on the world record holder in her speciality event. But behind her, there’s an interesting battle of youth versus experience with NCAA stars Jasmine Jones and Rachel Glenn taking on experienced vets Shamier Little, Dalilah Muhammad, and Anna Cockrell.

Val Constien’s comeback is one to root hard for. (Photo by Kevin Morris)

3000m Steeplechase

Men: Anything can happen in the U.S. men’s steeplechase these days. Hillary Bor and Kenneth Rooks have displayed the best recent steeple fitness of the bunch, but just behind them there’s a jumble of guys with a reasonable shot. Anthony Rotich comes in with the second fastest seed – but just last week, he only narrowly edged out… that’s right, Evan Jager, who’s out to prove he’s not done yet.

Women: No Coburn. No Frerichs. No clear favorite! Time to rattle off new(ish) names to your friends’ delight! Krissy Gear comes in with the top seed, but it’s Val Constein – back from an ACL tear – and Courtney Wayment who’ve looked best in 2024. Brand new pro Olivia Markezich leads a mighty contingent of 9:1x to 9:2x athletes and is coming off a lifetime best at NCAAs.

High Jump

Men: In an event where a half-bearded Italian and a historically dominant Qatari take up the bulk of the oxygen, American JuVaugh Harrison flies (sorry) somewhat under the radar on the international stage. But not here! Behind top-seeded Harrison, Shelby McEwena former high school dunking prodigy – and Vernon Turner come in ranked in the top-20 globally.

Women: The top seed here is Rachel Glenn. That’s right. The same Rachel Glenn we gave a nod to in our 400H talking points. If you’re thinking “wait, isn’t that a really incredible and unusual double to be attempting?” the answer is yes, yes it is. But stalwart Vashti Cunningham has more U.S. titles than she can count on two hands and will be a formidable opponent for the top of the podium.

Katie Moon enters as the reigning Olympic champion and World leader.
(Photo by Johnny Zhang)

Pole Vault

Men: There’s Mondo Duplantis, then there’s everyone else. Mondo, despite being born in Louisiana, represents Sweden and isn’t gonna be in Eugene, so the names to watch are Chris Nilsen, Sam Kendricks, and KC Lightfoot. They’ve been consistently atop the U.S. ranks in recent years and that doesn’t look likely to change.

Women: Defending World and Olympic champ Katie Moon tops the field, but the field isn’t too far behind her. Bridget Williams, American record holder Sandi Morris, and Rutgers’s Chloe Timberg – fresh off an NCAA Championship meet record – will all be in the mix.

Long Jump

Men: If you’re betting on experience, you’re going to want to talk up Marquis Dendy and his bucket hat, Will Williams, and Jarrion Lawson. But if you prefer youth and recent NCAA exploits, gas up USC’s JC Stevenson, who’s jumped further than any American this year outdoors.

Women: Keep your pals’ attention on Tara Davis-Woodhall. She’s probably going to win, and is just as likely to engage in some grade-A hijinks before, during, and afterward. Quanesha Burks and Jasmine Moore, however, are legit contenders, and would love nothing more than to dethrone the reigning champ.

Triple Jump

Men: The old guard of Chris Benard, Will Claye, and Donald Scott will be looking to put the pieces together and get on the Team USA one more plane, but they’ll have to knock off NCAA champ Salif Mane to do so. And although 2x Olympic champ Christian Taylor hasn’t been the same athlete since picking up an Achilles injury a few years back, he’ll still be out there trying to make one last team.

Women: For the last few years, Team USA has been able to rely on the combination of Keturah Orji, Tori Franklin, and Jasmine Moore to lead the way in this one – and they still will, but this time with reigning World/Olympic champ Yulimar Rojas out for the year with an injury, the best American triple jumper might also have a shot at becoming the best in the world.

Ryan Crouser can quickly dismiss any health concerns on his first throw.
(Photo by Justin Britton)

Shot Put

Men: Ryan Crouser is the best shot putter in the world. However, we haven’t seen him throw this outdoor season. He’s declared, but if Crouser isn’t himself, or winds up scratching, then it’s the Joe Kovacs Show. Hell, it could be a tough battle even with Crouser in full form.

Women: The U.S. has an embarrassment of riches here. Throwers over 20 meters include Chase Jackson, the 2x defending World champ, and Jaida Ross, who just won NCAAs and hasn’t lost a competition all year. Maggie Ewen, Raven Saunders, Adelaide Aquilla, and Mya Lesner are all within spitting distance of that third spot, but they’ll have to get the right throw at the right time to do it.

Olympic champion Valarie Allman has been doing Olympic champion-like things all season long and enters as the heavy favorite. (Photo by Kevin Morris)

Discus Throw

Men: American men aren’t as strong in the discus as in the shot. But we do have seven guys ranking-eligible for the Games, all of whom are throwing within a few meters of one another. Reggie Jagers III is the top seed, but if Sam Mattis rediscovers his 2023 form, he could defend his national title.

Women: We’ve got the defending Olympic champ in Valarie Allman facing up against the defending World champ in Laulauga Tausaga-Collins. It’s going to be a hell of a fight. They’re ranked second and third in the world coming in, and either or both has a shot at an Olympic medal in Paris.

Hammer Throw

Men: Just remember the names Rudy Winkler and Daniel Haugh. These fellas have been the class of U.S. men’s hammering for a while now. No one’s been over 80 meters this year, but at the last Trials, Winkler launched a huge 82.71m American record for the win.

Women: The U.S. has five of the top-10 ranked hammer throwers in the world right now. Janee’ Kassanavoid took bronze and then silver at the past two World Championships. DeAnna Price won Worlds in 2019 and claimed bronze last year. Brooke Andersen won gold in 2022. Since the hammer throwers don’t get a chance to shine on the Diamond League circuit, let their Trials be a chance to crow about American exceptionalism.

Javelin Throw

Men: There’s no easy way to put this: on the international stage, Team USA is… not great in this event. Curtis Thompson has made a few teams and NCAA champs Marc Minichello (D1) and Jordan Davis (D2) are up-and-coming, but no one has the Olympic standard and a medal in Paris is unlikely.

Women: There’s a decent chance the U.S. only gets to send one athlete to Paris as Maggie Malone-Hardin is the only contender with the Olympic standard, but a lot of hoopla and attention will be given to Tokyo silver medalist Kara Winger, who recently pulled a Tom Brady and un-retired in pursuit of a fifth Olympic team. She doesn’t have the 64.00m standard but in only one competition this year she’s less than a meter off.

Anna Hall has been a star since 2022 but enters with a great opportunity to qualify for her first Olympic Games. (Photo by Kevin Morris)


One of the most fun athletes to watch right now, Anna Hall, is gonna command a lot of attention. She’s coming off a late-season knee injury last year that slowed down her spring, so Trials will be an interesting barometer of her comeback, fitness, and potential on the international stage.


During the NCAA season, all our attention was on Texas-based German Leo Neugebauer, and once we get to Paris, he’ll be back on everyone’s mind as he takes on the world’s best. But on the U.S. stage, we’re looking at defending champ Harrison Williams taking on former NCAA champ Kyle Garland and 2022 World bronze medalist Zach Ziemek.

– David Melly

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

– Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce finally opened her season at National Stadium in Kingston, going 11.15. That’s just the 65th fastest mark in the world this year, but you’d be a fool – a FOOL! – to count her out of contention for Paris. (Reaction video)

– Meanwhile, the reigning Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs knocked out a 9.92 to let the world know that his gold medal wasn’t a fluke. A more surprising result was that fellow Italian Chituru Ali finished right behind him in 9.96. (Race video)

– On Athletic Club announced the signing of three recently graduated NCAA stars, all of whom were previously on NIL deals with the brand: Olivia Markezich, Ky Robinson, and Maia Ramsden. Ramsden celebrated by winning the Harry Jerome 1500 (4:05.93) in her new kit.

– Bob Schul, the only American man to win an Olympic gold medal in the 5000m, died at 86 years old. He ran 38.7 for the final 300m of the Olympic final in Tokyo to win gold by .8 seconds.

– Kenya’s Emmanuel Wanyonyi became the third-fastest man over 800m in history and clocked the fastest time since David Rudisha’s epic 2012 London Olympics world record as Wanyonyi won the Kenyan Olympic Trials in 1:41.71. (Final stretch)

– Faith Kipyegon has reinserted herself atop the 1500m and 5000m gold medal conversation with an impressive 3:53.98 and 14:46.28 double for her season opener.

– Over at the Ethiopian Olympic Trials, it took 26:34.93 and 29:50.52 to make the men’s and women’s 10,000m team for Paris. Looks like Yomif Kejelcha, Berihu Aregawi and Selemon Barega comprise the men’s team. Foyten Tesfay, Tsige Gebreselama and Ejigayehu Taye make up the women’s side.

– We mentioned his name above but it’s worth your time to watch Quincy Wilson clock a 45.13 for 400m at New Balance Nationals. Hearing his interview with us afterward only makes you want to further root for the kid to land a relay spot for Team USA.

On a scale of 1-5, how much did you enjoy this week's newsletter?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.