Mack fails to make team in pole vault

Posted: Friday, June 24, 2005

CARSON, Calif. — Olympic gold medalist Tim Mack failed to make the U.S. team in the pole vault and Miguel Pate beat Athens champion Dwight Phillips in the long jump Thursday on a breezy, chilly opening night of the U.S. track and field championships.

Mack finished seventh, clearing only 17 feet, 8 1/2 inches in chilly, windy conditions in front of mostly empty bleachers at Home Depot Center. The top three in each event make the U.S. team for the world championships in Helsinki on Aug. 6-14.

''I thought I could manage a couple more bars,'' Mack said. ''It's kind of been happening all year. I just didn't have a good rhythm. There's always next time.''

Brad Walker won the pole vault at 18-10 1/4. Nick Hysong, the Olympic gold medalist five years ago in Sydney, was second, with Olympic silver medalist Toby Stevenson third. Both cleared 18-6 1/2 with Hysong second because of fewer misses.

Walker, a two-time NCAA champion at Washington and the reigning U.S. indoor champion, said the wind was a problem.

''It was pretty bad early on,'' Walker said. ''It calmed down when we got to some of the bigger heights.''

Pate won the long jump at 27-4 3/4, with Phillips second at 27-2. Brian Johnson took third at 27-4 3/4.

Pate's victory came after two grueling years of rehabilitation. He tore three ligaments in his left knee at the Prefontaine Classic in 2001 and wasn't able to walk without crutches for six months.

''This means a lot,'' Pate said. ''Before my confidence level was real high. I thought I was invincible. My outlook on things was a lot different. I'm out here having fun now. It's not about winning. It's not about the money you make. It's about having fun.''

Phillips wore his trademark smile, but it masked his true feelings.

''I'm very angry right now, but Pate was the better man today,'' Phillips said.

Amy Acuff won the high jump at a relatively low 6-2 3/4. Chaunte Howard and Sharon Day also cleared that height, but Acuff won on fewer misses. Acuff said she had practiced only once, on Sunday, after being sidelined for six weeks with knee and calf injuries in her left leg.

''Just at like noon today, down to the wire, I had people working on it and it felt like I was able to go,'' Acuff said. ''I'm just really lucky I came away in one piece today. I know there are some girls who can jump a lot better, but nobody jumped really high.''

Abdi Abdirahman outsprinted Meb Keflezighi the last 100 meters to win the men's 10,000 in 28:10.38. Keflezighi, the Olympic silver medalist in the marathon, was a close second at 28:10.57. Rebecca Breisch, the 2004 NCAA champion at Nebraska, won the discus on her final throw at 206-5.

Shalane Flanagan, running almost by herself the whole race, won the 5,000 in 15 minutes, 10.96 seconds, nearly six seconds ahead of runner-up Lauren Fleshman.

Through five events of the decathlon, Olympic silver medalist Bryan Clay led with 4,322 points. Ryan Harlan was second with 4,193. Tom Pappas, the 2003 world champion, underwent shoulder surgery a month ago, and is not competing this year.

Earlier, the fabulous 400-meter field eased through the preliminary rounds.

Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner led the men's qualifiers at 45.29 seconds. He eased up over the final 50 meters and said he had plenty left for the next two days.

''The second round is going to be fast,'' Wariner said. ''The finals are going to be even faster.''

Wariner's best friend and former Baylor teammate Darold Williamson, the NCAA champion who has the world's fastest time this year at 44.27, won his heat in 45.58. Olympic bronze medalist Derrick Brew was second-fastest at 45.48. LaShawn Merritt, who turns 19 on Monday, was fourth-fastest in 45.70.

Michael Johnson, Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 200 and 400, watched one of the deepest U.S. 400 fields in the event's history ease through their heats. Americans hold eight of the 10 fastest 400 times in the world this year.

''It happens in cycles,'' said Johnson, who represents Wariner and Williamson. ''We've had times when we've had great 100-meter guys and times when we don't. There's never really an answer for where these guys come from or why we have so many good guys at one time.''

Sanya Richards, part of the women's gold medal 1,600 relay team in Athens, led qualifiers on Thursday at 51.79, followed by Olympic trials champion Monique Hennagan at 51.80.

Allen Johnson, in search of his fifth world 110-meter hurdle championship, qualified seventh in the preliminaries at 13.76. Two-time Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell was the fastest qualifier at 13.37.

Kim Kreiner captured her third U.S. women's javelin title at 193-5. Ian Waltz won the men's discus at 211-9.

The championships were marred before they began by the death of a volunteer who was hit in the head by a shot put during practice on Wednesday. Paul Suzuki, 77, of Los Angeles, was rushed to a hospital, where he died a short time later.

There was a moment of silence in Suzuki's memory, and the USA Track and Field flag was lowered to half staff, where it will remain throughout the competition.

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