Saturday, June 28, 2014
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Hardee has year's best decathlon as winds slow sprints

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[June 28, 2014]  (Reuters) - Olympic silver medallist Trey Hardee scored a runaway victory in the decathlon but headwinds slowed times for 100 meters winners Mike Rodgers and Tianna Bartoletta at the U.S. championships on Friday.

Hardee piled up 8,599 points, the year's best score, for an overwhelming 792-point victory in the 10-event, two-day competition at Sacramento, California.

"There werenít really many good things that happened," the 2009 and 2011 world champion told reporters despite his dominance.

"Like golf, I felt like I had a lot of pars. I was very consistent. Thatís what you want in the decathlon."

Veteran sprinter Rodgers romped to victory in the men's 100, but a headwind wiped out any chance for a super time after officials changed the direction of the race following the semi-finals, forcing the runners to run into the wind instead of with it.

"I was kind of mad that they turned it around, but it was a good time into a headwind," said Rodgers, who clocked 10.09 seconds after a sizzling but wind-assisted 9.80 seconds in the semi-finals.

Olympian Ryan Bailey was second in 10.23 seconds as world silver medallist Justin Gatlin, among others, chose to skip the competition since there are no world championship or Olympic berths at stake this year.

The turnaround also hampered women's winner Bartoletta, who won over Barbara Pierre in 11.15 seconds after clocking 10.92 seconds in the semi-finals.

"I had two great races today. I've got to get ready for the long jump (Saturday)," said the former world champion jumper.

Tori Bowie, the surprise of the Diamond League season with her sprint victories, pulled out of the final after feeling a twinge in her leg in the semi-final where she ran 10.91 seconds.

Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross set the stage for what should be a speedy women's 400 meters final on Saturday as she equaled the year's fastest time of 50.03 seconds in the semi-finals.

World indoor gold medallist Francena McCorory was a mere two-hundredths behind.

But world champion LaShawn Merritt, saving himself for Diamond League races in Europe, pulled out the men's semi-finals after running the preliminaries on Thursday.

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London Olympic champion Jenn Suhr cleared 4.60 meters (15 feet, 1 inch) to win the women's pole vault final, but 2012 Olympic silver medallist Will Claye turned the tables on gold medallist Christian Taylor in a world-class triple jump final.

Claye bounded 17.75 meters (58 feet, 3 inches) to narrowly miss the year's best jump with Taylor leaping 17.37 (57-0) for second.

Age remained no barrier to 39-year-old former world champion Bernard Lagat, who won the men's 5,000 in 13:31.41.

The women's race went to Molly Huddle who edged Shannon Rowbury by a mere 15 hundreds of a second, winning in 15:01.56 to Rowbury's 15:01.71.

Former collegiate champion Queen Harrison, hurdler-bobsledder Lolo Jones, Beijing Olympic champion Dawn Harper Nelson and world champion Brianna Rollins all qualified in the women's 100 metres hurdles.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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