EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — One by one, a generation of American track and field's best athletes slowed at the finish, pulled up lame and failed to find their fastest gear. By the time the week was over, Walter Dix was among the few who looked ready to take on the world.
Dix completed the 100-200 double at U.S. track championships Sunday, meaning he'll be the headliner on the American world team that will be missing Tyson Gay, Lolo Jones, Wallace Spearmon and a handful of other regulars.
Dix completed his sprint double by running the 200 in a wind-aided 19.95 seconds for a .03 margin over Darvis Patton. He'll head to worlds in South Korea as America's best sprinter, which puts him squarely on world-record holder Usain Bolt's radar with the Olympics coming up in a year.
Carmelita Jeter's shot at the women's 100-200 double, along with a $25,000 bonus that comes with it, blew up when Shalonda Solomon accelerated past her in the last 50 meters to win the 200 with a world-best time of 22.15. This was Solomon's first win at a major meet, made possible in part because defending world champion Allyson Felix sat out and focused on the 400, which she won.
Dix and Jeter were among the few big-name runners who tried multiple events at an important track meet that, at times, felt more like play time or a visit inside the trainer's room.
Sanya Richards-Ross, the world 400 champion, joined Felix in bypassing her main event to try something new. But Richards-Ross failed to qualify in the 200, finishing seventh, meaning she'll only compete in the 400 at worlds in South Korea in August.
Richards-Ross wasn't the only big name to come up short at this meet.
Jones, hampered by a painful sciatic nerve, didn't make it through the semifinal round of the 100 hurdles, meaning the multiple-time champion and America's biggest name in that event won't join the U.S. team at world championships.
Jennifer Suhr had her five-year streak of national titles snapped in the pole vault. Battling injuries all season, Suhr finished second to Kylie Hutson, who cleared 15 feet, 3 inches.
Hyleas Fountain, America's best at the heptathlon, was fighting through food poisoning and a number of other maladies on her way to sixth.
And that was just on Sunday.
Earlier in the week, Gay pulled out of the 100 with an injury; Spearmon, a multiple-time medalist at worlds at 200 meters, didn't get out of qualifying; former Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner finished second in the 400, where the defending champion, LaShawn Merritt, was still sitting out a doping ban; and former world champion Brad Walker didn't clear a height in the pole vault.