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Sprinter Leads Team to US Record

April 26, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Marion Jones, the world’s fastest woman sprinter, showed why on Saturday.

She was so overpowering that she overshadowed a strong performance by Michael Johnson, the world’s No. 1 men’s long sprinter.

Both ran on relays in the Penn Relays, and Jones’ team set an American record, while Johnson’s team just missed.

Jones’ anchor leg for Nike’s 800-meter relay team was brilliant. She took the baton from Nicole Green six meters behind Adidas’ LaTarsha Stroman and blazed past her easily to win by six meters before a wildly cheering crowd of 44,309, bringing the three-day attendance to a meet-record 90,982.

The time of 1 minute, 29.64 seconds by the Nike team of Tameka Roberts, Inger Miller, Green and Jones, the world 100-meter champion and 1997 Woman Athlete of the Year, smashed the American record of 1:30.20 set by a Nike team here last year. Miller and Green also were a part of that team, along with Celena Mondie-Milner and Chryste Gaines.

This time, the Nike team came close to being disqualified on the exchange between Green and Jones. With Jones taking off quickly, the pass from Green was nearly out of the zone.

``I took off a little too early, and I ran away from her (Green)″ Jones said. ``But we salvaged it. It is very difficult because you only have an hour to practice.″

The world record is 1:28.15 by an East German team in 1980.

Jones also ran on Nike’s 400-meter relay team, which was disqualified for passing out of the zone on the first handoff between Passion Richardson and Jones.

It wouldn’t have mattered because Nike finished second to the Adidas team of Michelle Freeman, Gaines, Beverly McDonald and Sevatheda Fynes, which clocked 42.51, breaking Franklin Field and Penn Relays records.

Along with Richardson and Jones, the Nike team included Miller and two-time Olympic 100-meter gold medalist Gail Devers.

Johnson, running for Nike’s 800-meter relay team, anchored the foursome to victory in 1:19.85, just off the world record of 1:18.68 held by the 1994 Santa Monica Track Club, anchored by Carl Lewis.

``As long as we got a win, that’s all that matters,″ Johnson said after taking the baton with a one-meter lead and winning by nine.

``The handoffs were OK, considering we don’t train together very often.″

This was Johnson’s first competitive race since last August.

Preceding Johnson on the relay were world 100-meter champion Maurice Greene, 1996 Olympic 110-meter hurdles gold medalist and two-time world champion Allen Johnson and Olympic 400-meter runner Alvin Harrison.

Allen Johnson also ran in the 400 relay and helped the Palmetto Flyers beat a Nike team anchored by Maurice Greene in 38.75. Nike was second in 39.28, with a poor handoff between No. 2 Kareem Streete-Thompson and No. 3 Travis Grant possibly costing the victory.

In the day’s big collegiate relay, Arkansas avenged its loss to Michigan in Friday’s distance medley relay by winning the four-mile event, the first time that distance was contested in the Penn Relays since 1975.

Despite running into a strong headwind, the Razorbacks team of Phil Price, Matt Kerr, Mike Power and Seneca Lassiter won by 60 meters in 16:11.65, just off the meet record of 16:10.6 by Villanova in 1975.

The four-mile relay replaced the 6,000-meter relay, which Arkansas had won 12 of the previous 15 years.

``It was definitely a sweet victory because we would have had to go home with our heads down,″ Lassiter said.

Lassiter stepped on the inside of the track just before crossing the finish line and could have been disqualified if he had impeded anyone’s progress.

In other men’s relays, Texas Christian, anchored by Percy Spencer, won the 400 in 38.89, edging LSU by .02 seconds; LSU took the 800 in 1:22.28; Georgia Tech captured the 1,600 in 3:03.58; and Georgetown won the 3,200 in 7:19.96.

Texas won the women’s 800 relay in 1:31.23, breaking the college record of 1:31.29 established by LSU last year. The Tigers, who had won the race four consecutive years, finished second this time in 1:31.27, also under the previous record.

Wisconsin, winner of Friday’s 6,000 relay, took the distance medley in 11:06.88, and Texas won the women’s 1,600 relay in 3:30.72.

The best 1,600 relay of the day, however, was turned in by a Nike International team of Olympian Calvin Davis, Mike McDonald, Jamaican Olympian Greg Haughton and Antonio Pettigrew. The foursome ran 3:00.46, fastest in the world this year.

Shana Williams, a 1996 Olympian, broke Franklin Field and Penn Relays records in winning the women’s long jump at 22 feet, 10 1/2 inches. Texas’ Angie Vaugh, the NCAA indoor 55-meter hurdles champion, set field and meet records in winning the women’s collegiate 100 hurdles in 12.80, fastest in the world this year. Melissa Morrison won the women’s open 100 hurdles in 12.90, No. 2 in the world this year.

Clemson’s Greg Hines won the men’s collegiate 400 hurdles in 50.57 and finished third in the 110 hurdles behind Larry Wade of Texas A&M (13.49).

Former Princeton runner Scott Anderson won the men’s open mile in 4:02.24, upsetting the nation’s No. 1 miler, Steve Holman. Holman finished second in 4:02.43. Cheri Kenah took the women’s open mile in 4:35.77.

Other collegiate winners included Texas’ Jacob Davis in the men’s pole vault at 18-8 1/2, Arkansas’ Robert Howard in the men’s triple jump at 55-7 3/4 and LSU’s Peta-Gaye Dowdie in the women’s 100 at 11.37.

American indoor record-holder Tisha Waller won the women’s open high jump at 6-4 1/4, tying field and meet records, and 1992 Olympian Jud Logan took the men’s open hammer throw at 231-7.

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