Will America be a long shot in the long jump?

Three selected for U.S. Olympic team at trials

Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2000

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Collegians Melvin Lister, Dwight Phillips and Walter Davis made the U.S. team in the long jump at the Olympic track and field trials Monday night, but will they be good enough to extend the Americans' domination at the Sydney Games?

The United States has won every Olympic long jump competition since 1964 except for the 1980 Moscow Games boycott.

The streak of seven straight gold medals, including the last four by Carl Lewis and the world record jump by Bob Beamon in 1968, now appears in jeopardy.

Lister's best jump of 27 feet, 3 3/4 inches, was the shortest winning performance at the trials since Larry Myricks' 27-2 in 1980. Lister, the 1999 NCAA champion from Arkansas, of course, was elated, jumping up and down and pumping his fists in the air after he landed.

''I'm the one to beat,'' Lister said, referring to the Olympics. ''I'm a good jumper waiting to happen. A person without confidence might as well stay home.''

But his excitement has to be tempered.

Since Lewis retired in 1997, U.S. long jumping has deteriorated.

Only two Americans were ranked in the top 10 last year -- Erick Walder at No. 4 and Roland McGhee at No. 10, and the United States was shut out of medals at the World Championships. Walder finished sixth and McGhee seventh Monday night.

Phillips, this year's NCAA runner-up for Arizona State, was second at 26-8 1/2, and Davis, the three-time JUCO champion from Barton County, finished third at 26-7 1/4.

Fourth-place finisher Robert Howard was angry, claiming he was robbed of a spot on the team. He contended that his best jump of 26-5 3/4 was improperly measured by seven inches. Howard yelled and screamed at an official for a remeasurement but it was too late; the pit already had been raked.

''That cost me second place,'' Howard said.

As he was talking, a replay of the jump was shown.

''Look at that America, there's proof!'' he said.

Sandra Glover, an elementary school teacher in Houston until this year, ran the fastest time in the world this year in winning the women's 400-meter hurdles in 53.33 seconds.

In the process, she beat world record-holder Kim Batten and the second-fastest ever, Tonja Buford-Bailey.

Glover led all the way in becoming the No. 4 U.S performer ever and making her first Olympic team. Glover was last year's U.S. champion and fifth at the World Championships.

Batten, who set the world record of 52.61 in 1995 at the World Championships, beating Buford-Bailey by 0.01 seconds, finished second at 54.70. Buford-Bailey, returning to competition after a two-year absence to have a family, was third at 54.80.

''I'm faster this year, I'm stronger,'' Glover said, ''so I have to get used to handling the speed.

''I didn't do it at 22 or 23, but I'm here and I'm grateful ... 31 years old and running strong. There were times I didn't have the same confidence tht I have now, and that's going to be huge for me at the Olympics.''

Then, she said to Batten, ''Sorry, Kim, but your record is going down this year.''

Four-time NCAA champion Seilalu Sua of UCLA won the women's discus at 216-2, the second-longest ever by an American and the longest in 14 years, only eight inches off Carol Cady's record of 216-10.

Sua set the American junior record three times in 1997 and has a habit of hitting big throws in championship meets.

''In big meets I know I can turn it on,'' Sua said. ''I'm very competitive.''

Another former UCLA thrower, Suzy Powell, finished second at 211-10, and Kristin Kuehl was third at 202-7.

Lynda Blutreich, the American record-holder in the javelin with the new implement, won the event at 191-2 -- 13 inches short of her mark -- and will be the only U.S. representative at the games if no one else reaches the 'A' standard of 196-10 by Sept. 11.

Blutreich, an assistant coach at Duke, finished third at the 1996 trials, but did not go to Atlanta because she did not meet the qualifying standard.

Kim Kreiner was second Monday at 187-2 and Emily Carlstein third at 186-11.

Regina Jacobs, the women's 1,500-meter champion and the American record-holder at 5,000 meters, won her heat in the longer race at 15:36.09, as 10,000-meter winner Deena Drossin finished second at 15:37.52.

Amy Rudolph, the former U.S. record-holder, took the other heat 15:37.65.

The Hauser twins -- Brad and Brent -- from Stanford finished 1-2 in one heat of the men's 5,000 at 13:43.33 and 13:43.86, respectively. American record-holder Bob Kennedy finished seventh and also advanced to Friday's final.

Jason Stewart took the other heat at 13:40.36.

Tom Petranoff, one of track and field's most colorful characters, was in top form Monday.

After qualifying for Thursday's final in the men's javelin, the 42-year-old Petranoff held court and distributed his Turbo Jav, a throwing implement designed to develop correct throwing techniques.

Breaux Greer, who missed competing in the 1996 Olympics by inches after finishing third in the trials, led the qualifying at 263-1, while American record-holder Tom Pukstys was fourth at 254-9. Petranoff, the former world record-holder, finished fifth at 237-3.

Petranoff, who competed in his first trials in 1980 and made the team that did not compete in the Moscow Games, thinks his chances of making this year's team are slim.

''For me to make this team would be exposing how vulnerable we are in this event,'' the outspoken Petranoff said.

The world record is 323-1 by Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic. Pukstys' American record is 285-10.

''The U.S. used to be the best in the world at this event,'' Petranoff said. ''And right now, frankly, we're maybe as bad as we've ever been. That has to change.''



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