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Walnut, USAIn a season holding no special international importance for US athletes, perhaps it was not surprising that marks at this year’s Mt SAC Relays, the 52nd edition, should be somewhat off their usual mark. That fact notwithstanding, five world-leading performances still emerged from the three-day fixture contested among the rolling hills east of Los Angeles.
The most significant of these list leaders came from a European preparing for this summer’s Barcelona Championships. Slovak hammer thrower Libor Charfreitag, the Osaka bronze medallist, twice pierced through the benchmark 80-metre level, first with 80.54m and then with 80.59m, to win the event. The Dallas-based thrower had nearly a five-metre advantage over Kibwe Johnson’s second-place 75.70m.
Demus checks her speed in flat 400m
Lashinda Demus, runner-up in the women’s 400m Hurdles at last year’s World championships, used this weekend’s competition as a chance to check her speed in the flat event. Coming off the final curve, Demus caught Ebony Collins with 100 metres remaining and nicked the year’s best by 0.02 with 51.40, not far off her PB 51.24 from eight seasons ago. Collins meanwhile coasted home in second with a PB 52.03.
Jeshua Anderson also eked out a world-leading performance with 49.11 in the men’s 400m Hurdles, shaving 0.01 off this year’s previous best. The 20-year-old reigning World junior champion let two-time Olympian Bayano Kamani set the pace for the first 250 metres before charging ahead for the win. Reggie Wyatt of USC slipped past the fading Kamani right before the end to snare second, 50.45 to 50.61.
The highlight of the traditional Mt SAC Distance Carnival, now spread over two evenings, was the world-leading 5000m win by Kenyan Sally Kipyego, now training with Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene. Before two kilometres had gone by, Kipyego and Molly Huddle were in a two-person battle, as they left the rest of the field behind. Just after the halfway point, Kipyego moved solidly in front en route to an outdoor PB 15:02.83. Huddle found some reserve strength in the final lap as a burst of speed produced a 15:05.71 time, also a career best.
The men’s 5000 was won by Dan Huling in a lifetime best of 13:24.72 with a sprint off the final curve, as Brent Vaughn followed in 13:26.05.
It was a good day for Giovanni Lanaro in the men’s Pole Vault. Competing in his home stadium, the Mexican had no real competition and came away with a 5.70 win.
The two sections of the women’s hammer saw notable results. In the elite section, Amber Campbell heaved the implement past her previous personal best on three attempts, surpassing 71 metres for the first time with 71.04m, as Berlin finalist Sultana Frizell of Canada finished second with 69.70m.
In the open division, 19-year-old USC student Lauren Chambers twice surpassed her own American junior record, which now stands at 62.93m.
Mt SAC has always been a successful venue for American long jumper Akiba McKinney, the winner here three times in the last four years. It would have been four in five, had it not been for a countback at 6.81m against Beijing finalist Funmi Jimoh. McKinney’s second-best of 6.45m lost out to Jimoh’s backup jump of 6.53m.
The men’s long jump went to Norris Frederick with 8.03m, the day’s only leap past eight metres, while Luis Rivera of Mexico held second at 7.93m.
A pair of Berlin finalists held the top spots in the men’s discus, as Jarred Rome’s leadoff 63.77m proved to be insurmountable for Casey Malone, who ended in second with 62.50m. Using the event for a workout, Olympic decathlon champion Bryan Clay saw his only legal throw measured at 46.70m, as he also false-started out of the 110 hurdles earlier in the afternoon.
The men’s javelin saw Berlin finalist Sean Furey produce an excellent series with three flings past the 78-metre mark. His second-round 79.31m was the best of the day, and the consistently high level Furey maintained throughout the competition may well have been the inspiration for 21-year-old Juan José Méndez of Mexico to throw a PB 76.50m for the runner-up spot.
The men’s 800m went to Tyler Mulder who slipped past Duane Solomon on the inside over the last fifty metres and came away with a PB win in 1:46.44. Solomon held second in 1:46.83 ahead of Karjuan Williams (1:47.14).
The women’s race was won in much the same way by Canada’s Diane Cummins, a two-time World championship finalist, who kicked past leader Angee Henry for a 2:03.25 victory. Staying close to Cummins in the final steps was Laura Januszewski, who pipped Henry for second, 2:03.35 to 2:03.63.
Both of the invitational 4x100 relays had close, exciting finishes. The Kersee All-Stars, featuring Allyson Felix on the closing carry, powered past the West Coast All-Stars, whose fortunes were in the legs of Miki Barber. Felix, the reigning World 200m champion, accelerated strongly after the final handoff and pulled out a 43.64 come-from-behind victory over Barber’s quartet, timed in 43.84.
It was much the same script in the men’s relay, as David Neville brought his team, composed mostly of 400m runners, to the finish line first in 39.90, ahead of the Arizona State squad, with Ray Miller on the finishing segment, clocking 39.97.
In the men’s 400m, Joey Hughes outlegged Britain’s Martyn Rooney over the final metres to claim a 45.37 win, as Beijing finalist Rooney ended with 45.85, ahead of Donald Sanford (46.16).
Rubin Williams withstood a last-gasp effort from Egypt’s Amr Seoud, running on the extreme outside, to hold on for a wind-aided 20.49 win in the invitational section of the men’s 200m. Seoud, whose PB is 20.52, clocked 20.50w to easily best Norwegian Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (20.77w). Seoud also won the 'Olympic Development' section of the 100m in 10.22, setting a new Egyptian record. The ‘Olympic Development’ section of the 200m saw Greg Nixon take advantage of the wide curve in his outside lane to defeat world 400m Hurdles champion Kerron Clement, 20.60 to 20.85.
Miki Barber eked out a narrow win over Mindy McClurkin in the women’s half-lap race, 23.42w to 23.43w.
Crystal Manning used a PB 13.96m Triple Jump to win against the 13.90m of Olympian Erica McLain, while Haiti’s Samyr Laine saw his leadoff 16.92m outlast Kenta Bell’s 16.80m to win the men’s event.
The high jump titles became the property of Mexico’s Romary Rifka (1.90m) and Tora Harris (2.25m), the latter winning in a countback against Keith Moffatt.
Haitian hurdler Dominique DeGrammont won the 110m event with 13.58 over Kai Kelly (13.71), as Indira Spence’s 13.13 was barely enough to defeat the 13.17 of Letecia Wright in the women’s hurdles.
Emerging with wins in the 100 metres were Ahmad Rashad (10.08w) and ChaRondra Williams (11.28).
Abdulai tops 6000-mark in Heptathlon
Along with the four world-leading marks set at the main part of the Mt SAC Relays, a further year best was registered at the Mt SAC Multievents Championships in nearby Azusa two days before the programme in Walnut. Canada’s Ruky Abdulai, known primarily as a long jumper with a 6.74m best, attempted the heptathlon for the first time and came away with this season’s top score of 6086. Personal bests in the shot put (10.46m), javelin (41.37m), and 800m (2:14.53)—plus a solid 6.67w in her specialty—were instrumental producing the noteworthy final score for the Ghana-born Abdulai.
The decathlon featured a close battle between two University of Missouri teammates. First-day leader Lars Vikan Rise of Norway successfully withstood a last-gasp attempt by Nick Adcock to post a narrow 7693 win as Adcock fell 21 points short, still in a PB 7672.
Ohuruogu opens with 52.30 in Azusa
Concurrent with the Mt SAC competition was the Bryan Clay Invitational held on Friday, also in Azusa. Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu, the Beijing women’s 400m champion and former World champion, ran a relaxed 52.30 in her season opener. Her 17-year-old sister Victoria—in what appeared to be a first-ever outdoor one-lap race—won the second section in 56.10.
Doha sprint finalist Samuel Francis of Qatar led all competitors in the 100m with 10.27 against a slight headwind of 0.4, just before former European 400 champion David Gillick of Ireland clocked a solid 10.71 (1.4) in a rare appearance in the short sprint. Both runners tangled several hours later in the same section of the 200, with Francis’ 20.89 pulling a PB 21.20 from Gillick as a 1.1 wind nudged them along. Competition honoree Clay finished fourth in 21.48, missing his goal of bettering his 21.34 PB.