Wallace Spearmon Jr.'s World Best in the 300m and 2006 season bests by Veronica Campbell and Bershawn Jackson were the highlights of the Powered By Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the third stop of USA Track & Field's 2006 Visa Championship Series.
Three dip under previous mark
Competing on his home track, the 21-year-old Spearmon, who finished second in the 200m at last year's World Championships, dashed to a 31.88 victory in the rarely-run event, smashing the previous mark of 32.19 set by Robson da Silva of Brazil in 1989. In a close contest, Kerron Clement and LaShawn Merritt, two of history's fastest indoor 400m performers, finished second and third respectively, with each clocking 31.94, also under the previous best. Spearmon's effort was worth a $25,000 bonus from organisers Tyson Foods.
"I tried to get out strong, eat up the field, see where I was in the back stretch and come home," said Spearmon, whose 19.89 last summer was the fastest 200m performance of 2005. "I talked to one of my teammates before the race, and got real motivated. It got me pretty excited and pretty ready to run."
Assault on 4x400 World record tonight
"My name is in the books," said Spearmon, who also hold the 200m national record indoors, a 20.10 performance set on this same track this year. "And hopefully I can come back strong and get my name in the books again."
He was referring to a planned assault on the World Record in the 4x400m Relay that will cap the second day of the Fayetteville competition. The record, 3:02.83, was set by the victorious U.S. quartet at the 1999 World Indoor Championships in Maebashi.
Spearmon will be part of an all-star line-up (subject to change) along with Clement, World and Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner, and Darold Williamson. Merritt is also making himself available for the effort.
Brisk wins for Campbell, Jackson
The fast Fayetteville oval witnessed other brisk performances in the sprints, led by Veronica Campbell's 7.04 personal best in the 60m. Campbell, the Olympic 200m champion and World Championships silver medallist at 100m, readily defeated Americans Me'Lisa Barber (7.10) and Lauryn Williams (7.16) to equal Russian Mariya Bolikova as the year's fastest in the short dash.
"I'm totally happy," said Campbell, who set her previous best of 7.09 in 2003. "It's a personal best. As long as I'm confident, I can run this well." This was the second consecutive outing that the Jamaican defeated the American duo.
After a phenomenally fast opening half, Bershawn Jackson sped to a narrow 46.00 win in the 400, the year's second fastest.
"They came through [200m] in 20.08," said Jackson, the reigning 400m Hurdles World champion. "That's just stupid fast. But I stuck to my gameplan and executed. It wasn't that I was going slow, it's that the race was so fast."
Bahamian Chris Brown, fourth at last year's World Championships, was second in 46.03.
45.89 World leader for Carter
But Jackson's performance was overshadowed by the earlier university division race, won by Louisiana State's Xavier Carter. The 20-year-old, who has a 20.02 200m outdoor best to his credit, clocked a World-leading 45.89. Carter has a 45.44 outdoor PB, set in 2004 when he won the Florida high school championship.
Terrence Trammell continued his strong competitive streak on the Tyson Centre track, notching an extremely narrow win in the men's 60m in 6.56, the fastest by an American this season. Tyson Gay, the 200m winner at September's World Athletics Final, was credited with the same performance, just shy of his 6.55 personal best.
"It's making up for a great U.S. Championships in a couple of weeks," said Trammell, the two-time Olympic silver medallist in the 110m Hurdles.
Jason Smoots was third in 6.58, just ahead of Olympic 200m champion Shawn Crawford's 6.60.
Cheboiywo impressives - middle & long distances
Boaz Cheboiywo, a former NCAA champion on the track and in Cross Country, won the men's 3000m in 7:35.65, the second fastest performance of the year. It was also a notable improvement for the 27-year-old Kenyan and Eastern Michigan University alum, whose previous best was a 7:38.30 run from his victory at this competition in 2004.
Adam Goucher of the U.S. was second in 7:41.59, nearly five seconds better than the 30-year-old's previous best that dated back to his victory at the 1998 NCAA Championships. Finishing third was Kevin Sullivan in 7:42.17, who lowered his own Canadian record from 7:44.46. European champion and six-time NCAA champion Alistair Cragg of Ireland dropped out of the race with just over three laps to go.
Competing against a domestic field, Two-time national indoor champion Jason Lunn took top honors in the mile with ease in 3:55.87, nearly four seconds ahead of runner-up David Freeman. The 31-year-old Lunn's performance was just shy of his 3:55.49 indoor best, and the season's second fastest.
Jamaican Kenia Sinclair handily won the 800m in 2:01.81, well ahead of Americans Alice Schmidt (2:03.50) and Olympian Hazel Clark (2:03.63). Tiffany McWilliams, the NCAA record holder in the mile, won her speciality in 4:30.60, just ahead of Ethiopian Mestawot Tadesse's personal best 4:30.92.
Elsewhere, three-time Olympian Amy Acuff won the women's High Jump with a third-attempt clearance at 1.95, a facility record. World Championships silver medallist Chaunte Howard struggled, unable to manage better than 1.86 to suffer her first defeat of the season. She finished third behind Gwen Wentland, who also reached 1.86.
Jeff Hartwig, the U.S. indoor record holder, won the Pole Vault with a a 5.70 clearance, ahead of Brad Walker, who managed a second attempt 5.60 effort.
USATF and Bob Ramsak for the IAAF, with additional reporting by Tom Borish