Friday, February 29, 2008

AT&T U.S. Indoor Track & Field Championships Highlights

Lolo Jones Visa Championship winner

Khadevis Robinson, Lolo Jones, and Christian Cantwell win big!

Besides national indoor titles, roster spots were also at stake this past weekend. The top two finishers in each event go on to compete at the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships for Team USA on March 7-9 in Valencia, Spain.

Many of U.S.A.’s biggest names did not participate in the indoor season because it is an Olympic year. Their absence means the typically much smaller appearance fees paid at indoor meets was not worth the time needed to prepare for the outdoor season.

The indoor national championship meet was marked by low attendance, a shame considering the fabulous facility in Boston. Even with the smaller crowds, there were some impressive performances. And here's why.

Money. Besides national titles and $2,500, $1,500, $500 payouts to the medalists, additional future money was at stake in Boston. Victors in Spain will collect $40,000, and bronze is worth $10,000. Not bad for a day’s work at the office.

The Visa Championship is a points-based system awarded on performances and finishes for men and women. Lolo Jones and Adam Nelson were the winners, and each went home with a $25,000 check.

Lolo Jones is making her case to be the next great American hurdler now that Gail Devers has somewhat retired. Jones, the defending women's 60-meter hurdles champ, won easily. Lolo bested Candice Davis by two-hundredths of a second in 7.88. Her win gave her the 1,194 points on the scoring table to take the women’s Visa Championship’s $25,000 prize.

The men's shot put came in with big expectations. Cantwell, Hoffa, and Nelson have been throwing out of the universe, and at the same time, breathing excitement into the often over-looked field event. A small, but select, field gathered as Christian Cantwell defended his indoor title by defeating Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson, the winner of the men's Visa Championship points’ race.

The men’s sprints were an ensemble of new, upcoming names and faces. In his first professional season, two-time NAIA champion Michael Rodgers won over Leroy Dixon in the 60-meter dash in 6.54 seconds after Leonard Scott, the defending world champion, pulled his right hamstring during his semifinal heat.

David Neville won the men's 400 in 46.34, besting Greg Nixon's 46.72 in the two-heat final.

Jennifer Stuczynski continues to build the case that she is the sport’s new queen of pole vault. She easily won the women's pole vault with a vault of 15 feet, 5 inches over Jillian Schwartz in 14 feet, 9 inches.

The men’s 800-meters was the most exciting event of the two-day meet. KD and Symmonds have big show-downs every time they compete, and this time was no exception.

Four-time U.S. outdoor champion Khadevis Robinson held off a fierce kick down the home stretch by Nicholas Symmonds by a mere hundredth of a second to win the men's 800 meters in 1:46.95. Whew!

37-year-old Allen Johnson was narrowly edged for second place in the men’s 60-meter hurdles. Winner, Anwar Moore, blazed to victory in 7.47 seconds, the fastest time by an American this year.

Rob Myers led most of the way and won the men's 1500 in 3:40.8.

Amy Acuff is so good that she is often over-looked. She won the women’s High Jump with a 6 feet, 3.5 inch leap for her fourth overall and second consecutive indoor national title.

For more information, including complete results and athlete quotes, visit

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

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