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The Finish Is Different This Time : Women’s 100 Hurdles Race Gets Off to Slow Start, Too

Staff Writer

So much for reunions in the Coliseum. The women’s 100-meter hurdles at Saturday’s ARCO-Coliseum track meet hardly lived up to its billing.

This was supposed to be a replay of the controversial race at last year’s Olympic trials, in which the first four competitors finished within one-hundredth of a second of each other.

It didn’t turn out that way. For one thing, Kim Turner was injured and didn’t run.

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For another, there were three false starts. First Tonja Brown jumped. Then Benita Fitzgerald-Brown. Then Rhonda Blanford.

It was Blanford, the NCAA champion from the University of Nebraska, who shook off the delay, blasted out of the blocks and won the race in 13.02 seconds.

Fitzgerald-Brown was second in 13.24, Tonja Brown third in 13.25 and Stephanie Hightower, who started strong and faded in the middle of the race, was fourth in 13.26.

Hightower, the American record-holder at 12.79, admitted she was tense. It was on this track that Hightower finished fourth in the trials race, denying her the opportunity to run in the Games.

“I don’t think there was any animosity out there,” she said. “I don’t think any of us were thinking about what happened last June. That’s a negative part of my life that I want to throw in a garbage can and put a lid on.”

Blanford’s win was no upset. She won the NCAAs last week with a wind-aided 12.70.

Blanford, like most of the athletes in Saturday’s meet, said she was looking ahead to The Athletic Congress (TAC) national championships at Indianapolis, starting next Friday.

While Blanford just finished her final year at Nebraska, Roy Martin and Joe DeLoach just graduated from high school.

Martin ran for Roosevelt High School in Dallas and DeLoach ran for Bay City High in the suburb of Houston. Both ran in the 200 Saturday.

It was a competitive race. Kirk Baptiste passed DeLoach on the straight and held off Martin to win in 20.21. Martin was second in 20.23 and DeLoach was fourth in 20.24.

“This is the first time I’ve competed in a world-class field,” said DeLoach, whose time was a personal best. “I did better than I expected. I came here to get confidence before the TAC meet.”

Martin appeared disappointed with his second-place finish. Unlike DeLoach, Martin has run on the Coliseum track. He missed making the Olympic team as a 17-year-old when he finished fourth in the 200 at the trials.

Merlene Ottey-Page won both the 100 and 200, setting a stadium record of 10.93 in the 100. The old mark of 10.97 was set by Evelyn Ashford in the Olympic final.

After the 100, Ottey-Page said: “Honestly, I really didn’t feel like running today. It is just too hot for me,” she said. “I got off to a decent start. Not great but not bad. I’m pretty happy with the race. I’m exhausted, really. It’s much too hot for me. I’m not looking forward to the 200.”

Despite her lack of enthusiasm, Ottey-Page, who trains in Los Angeles, came back less an hour later to win the 200 in 22.16. Olympic champion Valerie Brisco-Hooks was scheduled to run in the 200, as well as the 400, but scratched from both. “I felt a twinge high in my left hamstring when I was warming up,” she said. “I didn’t want to take a chance on pulling a muscle one week before the national championships.”


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