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Publication Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2002
TRACK & FIELD

Helping Helping (June 26, 2002)the bid process

Success of USA meet at Stanford a boon to BASOC hopes

by Keith Peters

The city that will be selected to represent the United States in the bid to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to this country won't be named until November. And the host country for those Games won't be known until 2005.

Those athletes who participated in the 2002 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and those 22,490 fans who filled Stanford's Cobb Track & Angell Field over three days to watch America's finest know this: the Bay Area's bid to host the Olympics is a good one.

"I think there's a really big community here that supports track and field, which is the focus of the Olympics," said Regina Jacobs, a 1986 Stanford grad who won her 11th national title Sunday by capturing the women's 1,500 meters. "I love all the other sports, but track and field, that's it right there.

"This is a great setting," added Jacobs. "They put on a great meet. And I think the crowd will definitely be there in 2012."

The crowds certainly were there last weekend for the meet, the first appearance of the U.S. track and field championships at Stanford since the Olympic trials in Stanford Stadium in 1960. Saturday's evening session drew a facility-record 7,178 to Cobb Track & Angell Field, with Sunday breaking that record with 7,564 spectators.

"Every meet that I've been here, and I've been to a lot," said Jacobs, "it just builds and builds and builds to this - where they were only letting people in when people left. That just speaks for itself."

The success of the national championships this year and next, when they return to Stanford with berths in the World Championships at stake, is crucial to the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee's (BASOC) bid for the 2012 Olympics. Thus, last weekend's meet was like a dress rehearsal for perhaps a much bigger show.

Anne Cribbs, President and CEO of BASOC, was on hand both Friday and Sunday and confirmed the importance of hosting the national championships.

"You sit there and see that Stanford is so beautiful and that the crowd is so terrific and knowledgeable," Cribbs said. "It just underscores what we're trying to accomplish. The athletes love to come here and compete here. It's clearly the choice of the athletes . . . It's great for the bid."

Added Jacobs: "It was a good dress rehearsal."

The athletes certainly did their best to impress last weekend as they produced one American record (women's javelin), 26 stadium marks, two world leaders, nine U.S. leaders and three championship meet records.

"I am confident that we provided the athletes with a great competitive atmosphere and the spectators were treated to quite a show," said Vin Lananna, Stanford's director of track and field. "From all indications, it was a success story."

Said Marion Jones, who won the 100 (11.01) and captured her fifth straight 200 (22.35) crown: "This has been a wonderful national championships. I'm glad it's back here next year."

While the meet endured cool and windy conditions Friday night and blew over the allowable during the men's 100 final on Saturday - Maurice Greene won in a wind-aided 9.88 -- the weather improved each day. Sunday proved to be pretty ideal, to the delight of the spectators, athletes alike and national television audience.

Among the many highlights from the three-day meet:

Serene Ross, a 24-year-old Purdue senior and 2002 NCAA champion, set her second American record in three weeks in the women's javelin with a throw of 197-0.

"I was not expecting a record, but I felt another throw coming," said Ross. "I felt I had to work for this record. ... I think a world record is obtainable for the U.S. Two-hundred feet is my next goal."

Stacy Dragila broke her own meet record in the women's pole vault with a meet-record clearance of 15-3. She nearly set her third world record at the Stanford facility - she twice broke the record here in 2001 - taking three strong attempts at 15-9 3/4. They were her only misses of the competition, as she was flawless at all six of the heights she cleared en route to winning her sixth U.S. outdoor crown.

Jacobs extended her phenomenal career as queen of the women's 1,500 by winning her 11th career title in the event and 22nd overall national championship (indoor and outdoor track and cross country). She sprinted away from Suzy Favor Hamilton (4:11.31) and Sarah Schwald (4:11.40) to win in 4:09.57, the fastest time by an American this year.

Jones won her fifth straight U.S. 200 title with a time of 22.35, holding off Kelli White in 22.50. Jones' time was the second fastest in the world in 2002 behind her own 22.32 and was her second win of the meet after her 100-meter win on Saturday.

The acknowledged rulers of hurdling won the women's and men's sprint hurdles. Three-time world champion Gail Devers won the eighth 100 hurdles title of her career with a world-leading time of 12.51. Allen Johnson, also a three-time world champion, won his fifth U.S. crown in 13.08, the second-fastest time in the world this year behind his own 13.04.

As expected, Nicole Teter of Mountain View crushed the competition in the women's 800. A runner on the Stanford-based Nike Farm Team who trains at Cobb Track, Teter let the field run with her until the 600 mark, when she blew the race open and went on to win in a U.S.-leading time of 1:58.83 - third fastest in the world this year.

Anna Norgren-Mahon continued her march through an impressive 2002 by winning her first women's hammer throw title with a meet-record mark of 230-6. On June 8, Norgren-Mahon broke the American record with a throw of 235-0.

Elizabeth Jackson clocked the fastest women's 3,000 steeplechase time ever run on U.S. soil with her winning time of time 9:47.39. The American recordholder, Jackson has won three of the four U.S. titles ever run in the event.

On the men's side Sunday, Alvin Harrison emerged from the long shadow of Michael Johnson (who was in attendance) by winning the 400 title in 44.62. It was the first U.S. title for Harrison, the 2000 Olympic silver medalist behind Johnson and a two-time Olympic 4x400m gold medalist.

Harrison paid homage to Johnson on the awards stand and spoke of becoming the world's premier 400 runner: "I will take this throne," he said, "and assume this throne and be the king I'm supposed to be."

Walter Davis added the U.S. outdoor triple jump crown to his NCAA long and triple jump titles with a stadium record of 57-8 1/2. That made Davis the No. 6 performer in U.S. history.

Nathan Leeper won a tight competition in the men's jump, clearing 7-7 1/4 on his third attempt to win his fourth straight outdoor title.

James Carter was a first-time winner in the men's 400 hurdles with a 2002 U.S.-leading time of 48.12.

The men's 100 more than lived up to its pre-meet billing and the tension surrounding a Greene-Tim Montgomery battle of sprint heavyweights. Greene had dominated Montgomery in Friday's semifinal by using an explosive start to put Montgomery away early. But on Saturday Montgomery was undeterred by another brilliant start by Greene, the world recordholder, world champion and Olympic gold medalist.

The 2001 U.S. champion, Montgomery made big gains on Greene in the final 10 meters but it wasn't enough to unseat the world's fastest human. Greene won in a wind-aided 9.88 and Montgomery was second in 9.89, running with a 2.4 meters-per-second tailwind.

"It was probably the best start I've ever had," Greene said. "This was my third race of the year, and I'm still trying to put things together. Tim gave me a fantastic run, and I hope the fans loved it. I love the crowd here - they're the ones who get us hyped up to run."

Having dominated Friday's first round and semifinal heats, Jones and 2001 U.S. champion Chryste Gaines went head-to-head in the women's 100. The two-time defending U.S. indoor 60 champion, Gaines got out quickly on Saturday and held the lead until the final steps, when Jones overtook her. Jones won in 11.01 seconds running into a slight headwind. with Gaines second in 11.05.

Three men once again went over 70 feet in the men's shot put. As is his convention, three-time world champion John Godina opened with a standard-setting throw, a 71-10 3/4 toss that put pressure on his chief competitors, Kevin Toth and Olympic silver medalist Adam Nelson. Nelson responded in the second round with a throw of 72-7 1/4 to take a lead he wouldn't lose.

Rallying the crowd, Nelson improved on his mark in the sixth and final round with a throw of 72-11 to win his second career U.S. title and establish a meet record. Godina finished second and Toth was third at 70-7 3/4.

The men's long jump provided terrific drama and high-level competition, with 2001 U.S. champion Savante Stringfellow leading three men over 27 feet. Stringfellow's jump of 27-11 1/2 was a hair shy of 28 feet and enough to defeat 2002 U.S. indoor champion Miguel Pate (27-8 3/4).

Defending U.S. champion Marla Runyan followed a perfect race plan to defeat American 10,000 recordholder Deena Drossin in the women's 5,000. A 1,500 finalist at the 2000 Olympics, Runyan used her superior leg speed to propel her to a win in 15:07.19.

Meb Keflezighi, the 2000 Olympic Trials champion, returned to the site of his 2001 American record to win the men's 10,000 in 27:41.68. A last lap of 60.5 seconds pushed Keflezighi past 2001 U.S. champion Abdi Abdirahman (27:42.83).

In the USA Junior National Championships held Friday and Saturday at Stanford, Sanya Richards broke the American junior record in the 400 with a clocking of 50.69 that was faster than the winning time in the Senior women's 400. Elsewhere, Stanford's Sara Bei won the 3,000 in 9:32.98 to earn one of two spots on the U.S. team that will compete in the World Junior Championships next month in Kingston, Jamaica.

E-mail Keith Peters at kpeters@paweekly.com


 

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