Sunday, June 23, 2002

Jones, Greene win national titles in 100

AP Sports Writer

        STANFORD, Calif. — Maurice Greene silenced his top challenger in the men's 100 meters — just barely. Marion Jones still has no American rival in the women's 100.

        Greene edged Tim Montgomery on Saturday night to win his third national title in the 100. Twenty minutes earlier, Jones raced to her fourth U.S. title at that distance.

        Greene's time of 9.88 seconds would have been the best in the world this year, but the wind was just over the allowable limit. Montgomery was second in 9.89 and Jon Drummond was third in 10.04.

        Greene got an excellent start and barely held off Montgomery, who was the fastest man in the world this season while Greene recovered from a hamstring injury.

        “That probably was the best start I've ever had. Actually it startled me. I didn't believe I got out that well,” said Greene, the world record-holder at 9.79 and the defending Olympic and world champion. “I felt him come up on me. I just tried to stay calm, stay sharp, and that carried me through.

        “I rise to every occasion. Tim challenged me, and I welcome every challenge.”

        It was yet another close loss for Montgomery, who had irritated Greene with his bravado and by questioning Greene's supremacy. After Saturday's final, Montgomery promised, “I'm going to stop talking.”

        In Friday's semifinals, Greene beat Montgomery by a comfortable margin and turned over his left shoulder to stare at his rival as he crossed the finish line. Montgomery said Saturday he had no problems with that gesture.

        “Dang, I was close again. I can't take all these close ones,” he said. “I'd probably have taken my clothes off if I had won today.”

        Jones won the women's 100 in 11.01 seconds. Chryste Gaines, a Stanford graduate and the defending national champion, was second in 11.05 and Kelli White was third in 11.22.

        “It wasn't my best race. I thought I'd run faster,” Jones said. “Overall, I'm happy with the fact that I won.”

        Jones, the defending Olympic champion in the 100, has not lost to an American at that distance in nearly five years.

        That loss, on July 2, 1997, to Gail Devers in Lausanne, Switzerland, is the only time Jones has lost to an American in a 100 final since she turned pro earlier in '97.

        Jones' only loss to anyone in the 100 since the end of 1997 came last summer at the world championships, where she was edged by Zhanna Pintusevich-Block of Ukraine. That broke a winning streak of 42 straight wins in 100 finals for Jones.

        “She has been the dominant sprinter the last five or six years. We can't take anything away from that,” Gaines said. “But she can't run fast by herself. Someone's got to push her. Without us, she couldn't run fast.”

        The 100 was not the end of Jones' evening. Two hours after winning, she easily won her semifinal heat in the 200 — a distance at which she has not lost a final to anyone since May 7, 1995.

        Jones is the four-time defending national champion in the 200. The final in that event is set for Sunday.

        Saturday's events were run on a warm, breezy night at the three-day U.S. Championships, a stark contrast to the chill on Friday's opening night.

        Breaux Greer won his third straight U.S. title in the men's javelin, Adam Nelson won his second national title in the men's shot put, Yuliana Perez won the women's triple jump and Joanne Dow won the women's 20-kilometer walk.

        Mebrahtom Keflezighi nearly added the men's 5,000 title to the 10,000 crown he captured Friday night, but lost to Alan Culpepper. Keflezighi was trying to become the first to win both events since Frank Shorter in 1970.

        Marla Runyan pulled away from Deena Drossin on the final lap to successfully defend her national title in the women's 5,000. Kris Kuehl won the women's discus and Jeff Hartwig won the men's pole vault.

        Devers, who has been the top American 100-meter hurdler for the past decade, won her first-round heat with a time of 12.56 seconds — best in the world this year. The semifinals and final are set for Sunday.

        “I didn't hit any hurdles,” Devers explained. “That's my nightly prayer now.”


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