SportsTrack & Field

Women provide thrills en route to Worlds

The women’s USA Track and Field Championships featured some thrilling finishes and local favorites making the national team that will compete in Berlin in August.

Carmelita Jeter of Nike set a Hayward Field record in the 100 meters and beat out Muna Lee by 0.001 of a second to send the sold-out crowd to its feet.

Jeter’s time of 10.776 seconds beat out the 2008 Olympic Trials champion Lee with a wind-aided time, but both Jeter’s time and Lee’s 10.777 were the fastest this year. Lauryn Williams placed third at 10.96 for the final spot.

“I’m really excited to make the Worlds team,” Jeter said. I didn’t make the team last year and I wanted to get past that. It’s a new year for me in 2009 and I’m really doing well.”

And although Lee finished second, she still made the World Championships, and that’s
a plus.

“It was OK,” Lee said. “I really focused on myself this race. I just went after it. I was telling myself that no one else is better than me in that final.”

That thrilling final was just a part of the overall weekend that saw a few local women qualify for the national team. Portland resident Kara Goucher won the 5,000 meters, and the top two qualifiers in the javelin have Northwest ties.

Kara Patterson, who attended Skyview High School in Vancouver, Wash., won the javelin with a personal-best throw of 209-10 feet. She was the 2008 Olympic Trials champion.

“I expected something pretty big, but I have been expecting that all year,” Patterson said. “I’m really satisfied with the mark, but now I need more consistency.”

But perhaps the biggest story from the event was the second place finisher. Two-time NCAA champion in the javelin and Oregon Duck Rachel Yurkovich beat out a big field with a throw of 194-07. Yurkovich’s qualifying throw marked the third Duck of the meet who made it on to the USA team.

“I feel really good,” Yurkovich said. “I’m really happy with second. I get to go (to Worlds) and it will be fun to go to Berlin. It will be a really good experience.”

Yurkovich was also a four-time Pacific-10 Conference champion in the javelin.
In the 5,000 meters, Goucher, who won the Olympic Trials in 2008, outran a packed crowd in the last laps of the race to win with a time of 15:20.94. However, she will only compete in the marathon in Berlin.

“I would have loved to have gone earlier and kind of soaked it in a little more,” Goucher said. “But all these races were for Berlin and to have confidence that I can finish. I finally executed my plan.”

Jennifer Rhines was second in 15:26.92 and Angela Bizzarri rounded out the top three with a time of 15:33.02. Rhines was in the lead for the majority of the race, but once she made her move from the packed crowd, Goucher followed and chased her down.

“I could see that she was moving out,” Goucher said. “We started coming around the turn with three laps to go, and I saw she was going to make a move and I was like, ‘Oh, thank you’ … I was lucky that I saw that developing and I was able to move right away.”

In the other two long distance races, Amy Begley of Nike won the 10,000 meters with a time of 31:22.69 and Shannon Rowbury won the 1,500 in 4:05.07.

Injuries plagued two other events, with heptathlon leader Hyleas Fountain being carted off on a stretcher after sustaining a neck injury early Sunday morning. She re-aggravated the injury she got in the long jump Saturday during the high jump. She led after four events with 4,038 points.

Then, in the preliminary round of the women’s steeplechase, runner Nicole Bush was going stride-for-stride with winner Jenny Barringer when they came to the wall and the water. The wall had been set higher than the women’s standard of 30 inches, so when Bush came down on the other side, she landed harder than usual — she broke a bone in her right foot.

She still managed to finish in sixth to qualify for Sunday’s final, however, the broken bone set her back 12 weeks and cost her a possible berth to Berlin.

Wrapping up the four-day event were the 800 meters, the heptathlon and the 200 meters. In the 800, Hazel Clark of Nike won in 2:00.79, beating out Oregon Track Club Elite runner Geena Gall by less than half a second at 2:01.01.

In the heptathlon, Diana Pickler won after Fountain dropped out with her injury. Pickler scored 6,290 points, finishing 113 points ahead of Asics teammate Sharon Day.

“This was only my fourth heptathlon this year so I definitely felt it a lot in speed and timing,” Pickler said after her final event. “But I’m just looking at the big picture, really, and trying to focus on what I’m trying to accomplish in the next few months.”

Also trying to do that is 200-meter winner Allyson Felix of Adidas. Felix, who is a two-time Olympic Silver medalist, won in a time of 22.02 seconds, just beating out second-place finisher Muna Lee, who ran a 22.13.

With the field now set for the women’s USA team in Berlin in August, Felix said she’s excited for the sprint team and what they can accomplish.

“I think we are going to be really strong,” she said. “I think everyone’s spirits are up. We’re looking to do a lot coming off a difficult last year. I think that everyone is really excited to get another chance to compete on the world stage.”

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