By Miranda Mitchell and Gary Smith, World-Track
EUGENE — Lashinda Demus came back strong in the closing metres to win the women’s 400m hurdles finals with a world-leading 53.78 and collect her third outdoor title at these U.S. Championships at the Hayward Field on Saturday.
Stronger in the close
Fighting with the wind in the opening section of the race, the 2005 world silver medallist pulled away from Sheena Tosta, who finished second in 54.45 and defending champion Tiffany Williams (55.18) with a strong finish for third.
“It was tough to run in the wind, but we had to rounds to run in it so I was prepared,” Demus said.
“I am in good shape, so I will be doing some speed stuff and some fine tuning and I’ll be ok,” she added.
The men’s semi-final one saw Johnny Dutch finishing strong to beat a wayward looking Angelo Taylor, who again had problems off the final flights of hurdles.
The NCAA second place finisher, Dutch, clocked 49.24 to take the heat, while Taylor, after looking like he would take an easy win found himself having to run back from fourth place to finish second.
Bershawn Jackson, the world-leader and 2005 world champion won the second semis in 48.80 and advancing the quickest.
“I am happy with the win,” he said after the race. “The wind was very strong on the back straight and with me being so short I had to do extra work, but I can finish strong so I didn’t worry about it.”
NCAA champion Joshua Anderson was second in an impressive 48.89.
Richards, Merritt claim 400m titles
Meanwhile Sanya Richards and LaShawn Merritt won the men’s and women’s 400m crowns.
Richards, the Olympic bronze medallist eased to victory in 50.05secs to defeat Debbie Dunn, second in 50.793 and NCAA star Jessica Beard (50.8). Former champion Natasha Hastings was fourth in 50.89.
Despite not going as fast as she would liked, Richards was still happy to win another national title and make the team to Berlin.
“I don’t think this was one of my best races, just by looking at the time, but the wind has been tough at Hayward all week,” she said.
“I just wanted to run smart and make sure I brought it home to win. Now I’m ready to move on and focus on Berlin.”
Merritt so relax in Wariner’s absence
Merritt ran another well relaxed race to finish comfortably in 44.50sec, equaling his world best for the year.
“I played it smart today,” he said. “I didn’t want to race hard the whole way. Because I knew the wind, I ran in it these past two days.
“I got through it – I got on the curve. Worked it and finished up strong.”
Gil Roberts of Texas Tech ran home second with 44.93, while hurdler Kerron Clement clocked 45.14 for third.
Payne comes back to win
In the men’s 110m hurdles, Olympic medallist David Payne came from behind to out-lean favourite Terrence Trammell to win his first national crown in13.12.
“This means that I am someone to be reckoned with, and now I don’t have to find out at the last minute whether or not I’m going to
Berlin,” Payne said.
Trammell copped second in the same time, while Aries Merritt took third with 13.15. The in form Dexter Faulk lost his way midway in the race and finished last in 13.77.
Early sprint rounds
Shawn Crawford led all qualifiers in the men’s 200m with a time of 20.19seconds, running with a following wind of 4.0m/s. Chris Lawson (20.39), Xavier Carter (20.51), Wallace Spearmon (20.53) and Charles Clark (20.54) were also heat winners.
World 400m champion Jeremy Wariner, who is targeting speed for the 400m ran 20.77 and is also into the semis.
The women’s 200m heats were also helped by the wind with reigning world champion Allyson Felix leading the way with a time of 22.56.
Muna Lee, the 100m runner up, LaShauntea Moore Charonda Williams, Porscha Lucas, Marshevet Hooker and Bianca Knight have also moved on.
The 100m champion Carmelita Jeter, who slammed to the track with cramps last night after her close victory, withdrew from the event.
Damu Cherry won her heat of the women’s 100m hurdles in wind-aided 12.49.
Also looking impressive were Tiffany Ofili, who clocked 12.57w to beat Michelle Perry and Lolo Jones and Olympic champion Dawn Harper (12.68) (1.4m/s).
Joshua McAdams won the men’s 3,000m steeplechase in 8:29.91, while Shannon Rowbury took the women’s 1500m in 4:05.07.
Back in good form, Dwight Phillips sealed the men’s long jump with a 8.57m (+2.2) jump.