DES MOINES – Among the Minnesotans competing at the U.S. track and field championships, only one — Maggie Ewen of St. Francis — won a medal. Two others, though, joined her in capturing the other big prize at stake on the meet’s final day.
Ewen took bronze in the women’s shot put Sunday at Drake Stadium to earn a place on the U.S. roster for the world championships in Doha, Qatar. Former Gophers runners Hassan Mead and Ben Blankenship also will be part of the U.S. team, thanks to a pair of fourth-place finishes. Both have met the time standard to qualify for the world championships, putting them on the team ahead of medalists who do not have the standard.
Blankenship, who is from Stillwater, was fourth in the men’s 1,500 meters in a time of 3 minutes, 45.60 seconds. Mead, from Minneapolis, was fourth in the men’s 5,000 in 13:28.04.
“Not many fourth places get to go [to the world championships], but these were the cards dealt to me,’’ said Mead, who finished his Gophers career in 2012 as a seven-time Big Ten champion. “Today, fourth place was as good as first place. It was my lucky day.”
Blankenship, a multiple All-America at the U, will compete at the outdoor world championships for the first time. He and Mead were part of the 2016 Olympic team and train together with Oregon Track Club Elite.
“It was a blast,’’ Blankenship said of his race. “It worked out, and I had confidence in the last 100 [meters].”
The top three finishers in each event make the team for the world championships Sept. 28-Oct. 6, provided they have met the qualifying standard. With 11 U.S. women holding the standard in shot put, Ewen almost certainly needed to get on the podium to get on the world team.
Ewen, the defending champion, had a best throw of 60 feet, 6 inches Sunday. Chase Ealey, who often trains with Ewen in Arizona, won with a throw of 64-2¼, and Michelle Carter was second (61-4).
“It wasn’t exactly the distance I wanted, but I can’t argue with making the team,” Ewen said. “I’m excited to get back into training and hopefully do some cool things at worlds.”
Mead kept intact an impressive streak. He will compete at the world championships — held every other year — for the third consecutive time, dating to 2015. That five-year span also includes an Olympic appearance.
Sunday, Mead faced temperatures in the upper 80s, thick humidity and a hot pace that forced him to be patient. Paul Chelimo, Lopez Lomong and Woody Kincaid broke away early at a pace Mead knew they could not maintain. He stayed near the front of the chase pack, then moved up to third at the 3,000-meter mark.
Kincaid passed Mead in the final 400 meters to take third, with Lomong winning and Chelimo finishing second. Among the medalists, only Chelimo has the time standard for worlds.
“I just had to run within myself,’’ Mead said. “I waited until [the leaders] came back, and then made a nice, hard surge and closed the gap.”
Blankenship was immersed in a tight pack through much of the 1,500, but he said he was confident that it would break apart to allow him room to make a move late in the race. When it did, he advanced to fourth and made the team ahead of bronze medalist Josh Thompson, who does not have the world standard.
The meet’s final day yielded a world record. Dalilah Muhammad won the women’s 400 hurdles in 52.20. The previous record of 52.34, set by Russia’s Yulia Pechonkina, had stood for 16 years.
Former Gophers runner Harun Abda of Fridley finished seventh in the men’s 800 in 1:46.98, and the Gophers’ Kiley Sabin was 16th in the women’s shot put with a throw of 49-11¾.
In the semifinals of the men’s 110 hurdles, former Minnesota State Mankato athlete Myles Hunter appeared to take a bad step and pulled up. He walked off the track and did not seem to be seriously injured.