But it is the aging Gatlin, former Olympic and world champion, who will get the lion's share of press.
And rightly so. He's got a good story.
He's the crafty veteran, fighting his way back, making up for lost time during a four-year drug suspension. Incrementally, he's been lowering his 100-meter times back down—legally this time—close to his drug-tainted 9.77.
Then, making good on his promise to return to the Olympics.
On the other end of the pundit's palette you've got Ryan Bailey, the unknown quantity, the youngster from Salem, Oregon, who has already been written off in several accounts as being irrelevant. Yet, he somehow got that coveted third spot, running from a tough lane-one assignment.
And right there in the middle is the No. 2 guy who never draws attention to himself, Tyson Gay, in a place I think he's OK with—for now.
After all, it's a mantle he's reluctantly worn since he began running in the shadow of Usain Bolt.
When just days ago we were wondering if Gay would even be able to toe the line, he has produced a 9.86. This, in only his second (some might argue first) go-for-broke race.
Even more important than the swift time, Gay looked good technically, and had no apparent physical problems.
And remember, the last time we saw a completely healthy Gay, he was a triple gold medalist at the 2007 World Championships.
Now that he's in, he's bought himself some time to really prepare for what he does best—run real fast.
Sure, like any competitor, Gay would have preferred a win. The US Olympic Trials are, after all, the de facto national championships.
"I always like to win," Gay said. "I came in second. But at the end of the day, it was about making the team... For me to start training in March and make the team is a beautiful accomplishment."
And the beautiful thing about the US Olympic Trials is that it's a means to an end, and not the end in itself.
Gay, now safely tucked within the Team USA fold, can relax a little and concentrate on the new task at hand—a luxury his chief rivals, the Jamaicans, have yet to experience. Their trials begin this week.
Under the radar, away from the spotlight, quietly going about the business of getting ready. That's the Tyson Gay style. And that's why I think he doesn't mind being the man in the middle—for now.
And come to think of it, right there—in the middle lanes of the track—isn't that where the best of the best always line up?