Jacobs takes 1,500 crown for 12th time

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2003

STANFORD, Calif. On a day dominated by youngsters, including teenage sprinting sensation Allyson Felix, the ageless Regina Jacobs put on quite a show Saturday at the U.S. track and field championships.

Jacobs won her 12th national title in the 1,500 meters, pulling away from longtime rival Suzy Favor Hamilton on the final straightaway, with a time of 4 minutes, 1.63 seconds that is the fastest in the world this year.

The Stanford alum earned the right to celebrate her 40th birthday this August at the world championships in Paris.

''It's awesome,'' Jacobs said of her dozen national titles. ''I was very nervous today. I knew Suzy was in great shape.''

Asked recently about the secret to her success, Jacobs joked it was a matter of defying the laws of physics.

''I run around the track in the regular direction,'' she said, ''but I also do a lot of laps in the opposite direction.''

Jacobs has won five straight national titles in the 1,500, and nine of the last 10. Her first U.S. crown in the event came in 1987, when Felix was 1.

Felix, who graduated from Los Angeles Baptist High School on Friday, had the fastest first-round time of 23.19 in the 200 on Saturday after driving most of the night.

Already touted as the next great U.S. female sprinter, she has the fastest time in the world this year with 22.11.

''I was just trying to qualify comfortably and was getting the kinks out and everything,'' said Felix, who was 16-hundredths of a second faster than anyone else in the field.

Felix said she was up all night at a pre-graduation party Thursday, then slept in the back of her father's rented Ford Expedition as they drove north from Los Angeles after the graduation. They arrived at 3 a.m.

''I'll be definitely getting my sleep tonight,'' she said.

Kelli White, who won the 100 on Friday, also easily qualified for the 200 semifinals. The race is considered wide open because of the absence of five-time defending champion Marion Jones, who is due to give birth in July.

Felix, 17, is one of several youngsters who starred Saturday on the next-to-last day of the championships. Sanya Richards, 18, won the women's 400 and her college teammate, Raasin McIntosh, won the 400 hurdles.

Richards, a freshman at Texas, completed an amazing week, adding the national title to the NCAA 400 crown she won the previous Saturday. McIntosh, the NCAA runner-up, is a junior for the Longhorns.

A couple of old-timers shared Jacobs' success.

Gail Devers, 36, had the fastest time of 13.00 in the first round of the 100 hurdles. She already has qualified in the 100-meter dash for the world championships by finishing third Friday.

Olympic champion Stacy Dragila, 32, won the women's pole vault. She has won six of the seven titles since the event was added to the U.S. championships in 1997.

Florida State sophomore Lacy Janson was hospitalized after falling during a vault. She remained conscious and appeared to be moving her hands after the fall.

Maurice Greene qualified for the semifinals of the 200, but finished second in his heat and just 10th fastest overall.

Tyree Washington won the men's 400 in 44.33, the best time in the world since 2001. Allen Johnson won his sixth U.S. title in the 110 hurdles, running 13.37 to beat Terrence Trammell by one-hundredth of a second.

Other men's winners Saturday included Kevin Toth in the shot put, Breaux Greer in the javelin and Steve Slattery in the steeplechase. It was Greer's fourth straight national title.

Other women's winners were Grace Upshaw in the long jump, Briana Shook in the steeplechase and Michelle Rohl in the 20-kilometer walk.

Tom Pappas set a personal best of 4,691 points halfway through the decathlon. He had personal bests in the long jump and 400 meters. Among U.S. decathletes, only American record holder Dan O'Brien has had a better score after five events.



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