The Athletics Congress USA Meet : Blanford Hurdles Past Hightower; Heats Canceled Because of Injuries

Associated Press

NCAA champion Rhonda Blanford, running merely a trial heat, produced the fastest time by an American this year in the women’s 100-meter high hurdles Friday night in the USA-Mobil Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

In winning her trial heat and beating American record-holder Stephanie Hightower, the 21-year-old Blanford, of the University of Nebraska, was clocked in 12.95 seconds.

Blanford, from Denver, recently won the NCAA title at Austin, Tex., in a 12.70, but she was aided by a favoring wind and the time was not accepted for recognition. This time, the wind was negligible.

Hightower, who set the American mark of 12.79 in 1982, finished second behind Blanford in their trial heat in 13.03.


Among those joining Blanford and Hightower in the semifinals, were Olympic champion Benita Fitzgerald-Brown, with a wind-aided clocking of 13.17 in winning her heat, and Olympian Pam Page, timed in 13.02, also wind-aided, in winning her heat.

Earlier, Leslie Deniz, the Olympic silver medalist in the women’s discus throw, led the qualifiers in that event.

Deniz, the United States record holder and the first American woman to win a medal in the discus at the Games since 1932, threw 190 feet, 3 inches in advancing to today’s final.

Friday’s scheduled program, which included the women’s 10,000-meter final, was reduced drastically by a series of scratches, resulting in the cancellation of several trial heats.


Among the events canceled were the men’s 100-meter and 200-meter trials, in which Olympic champion Carl Lewis was scheduled to compete. The cancellations gave Lewis an extra day to rest his right hamstring, injured last month while long-jumping at Los Angeles.

The injury still prevents Lewis from long-jumping. Injuries also took their toll on several other athletes, including Edwin Moses, two-time Olympic intermediate hurdles; Valerie Brisco-Hooks, three-time Olympic gold medalist; and Joan Benoit, Olympic women’s marathon champion.

Other absentees, for various reasons, included distance runner Mary Slaney, hurdler Greg Foster, heptathlete Jackie Joyner and sprinters Alice Brown, Jeanette Bolden and Florence Griffith.

The meet, which is being held at the University of Indiana Track and Field Stadium, serves as a qualifier for several American teams this year, including the one that will go to the World Cup at Canberra, Australia in October.


For the 23-year-old Deniz, seeking her third U.S. title--she won in 1981 and 1983--this was only her third meet of the year.

“I took six weeks off and just relaxed,” explained Deniz, who set the American mark of 213-11 last year.

“Next year, I’ll get my BA (Bachelor of Arts Degree) in criminal justice and then will attend the California Highway Patrol Academy.”

Deniz was joined in the final by Olympic teammates Lorna Griffin and Laura DeSnoo.


Carol Lewis, the 1982 and 1983 national champion in the women’s long jump, led the advance through the qualifying and into today’s final.

Carol, the younger sister of Carl, leaped 21-7 1/2.

In a close call, NCAA men’s 400-meter champion Roddie Haley of Arkansas, barely advanced into today’s semifinals.

The 19-year-old freshman from Texarkana, Tex., finished fifth--the last qualifing spot--in his trial heat, beating the sixth-place finisher by only one-hundredth of a second.


Leroy Dixson of Iowa State had the fastest time, 45.78, in the five heats of the 400 trials. Defending champion Mark Rowe and 1983 World Championship silver medalist Michael Franks of Southern Illinois also advanced, but Sunder Nix, the bronze medalist in the World Championships, failed to make it into the semifinals, placing sixth in his heat.

NCAA champion Michelle Finn of Florida State and Jennifer Inniss of Guyana had the fastest times in the women’s 100-meter trials, clocking 11.19 seconds in the same heat.

Also advancing into today’s semifinals of the women’s 100 was Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey-Page, the defending champion. Ottey-Page, who also won the 200 last year, won her 100 heat in 11.24.

In the women’s 1,500-meter trials, leading to Sunday’s final, Diana Richburg posted the fastest time, 4:13.34. Others advancing included Olympian Ruth Wysocki, Oregon’s Leann Warren, and Darlene Beckford, the other heat winner in 4:16.34.