Bruce Jenner Track Meet : Joyner-Kersee Ties Devers’ Record; Slaney Wins the 3,000

Times Staff Writer

There was still another twist to the plot involving Gail Devers and Jackie Joyner-Kersee in their ongoing assault on the women’s American record in the 100-meter hurdles.

They’ve been exchanging the record recently, and it was Joyner-Kersee’s turn to improve on Devers’ time of 12.61 seconds set a week ago Saturday in the Pacific 10 Conference track and field meet at UCLA.

Joyner-Kersee couldn’t break the record Saturday, so she did the next best thing. She tied it at the Bruce Jenner meet at San Jose City College.


So, for the present at least, the women share the record at 12.61, which is gratifying to Bob Kersee inasmuch as he’s Jackie’s husband and also coaches Devers as a member of the UCLA women’s track team.

Joyner-Kersee said she did not feel that she was running that fast, adding that her form was sloppy over the last three hurdles.

The wind gauge reading was only 0.11 meters per second, well under the allowable of 2 meters per second.

While Joyner-Kersee was equaling a record, two veteran runners, Mary Decker Slaney and Steve Scott, had races that were encouraging.

Slaney, who hasn’t been competitive since the summer of 1985 due to the birth of her daughter, Ashley, and injuries, ran away from the 3,000 field in her inimitable style. Her time of 8 minutes 49.43 seconds didn’t threaten her U.S. record of 8:25.83, but it easily qualified her for the Olympic trials.

It was Slaney’s first 3,000 race since she set the record Sept. 8, 1985 in Rome.

Scott, 32, who was considering moving up to the 5,000 after a disappointing 1987 season, displayed a strong finishing kick in winning the 1,500 in 3:37.79, roughly equivalent to a 3:55 mile.

As for Ron Brown, he was slightly disappointed with his comeback. Brown, who gave up a career as a wide receiver for the Rams to return to track, closed fast in the 100 meters but was beaten by Brian Cooper.

It was Brown’s first competitive 100-meter race since he finished fourth in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Cooper, formerly of McNeese State College in Louisiana, was timed in 10.22. Brown was second at 10.27.

Joyner-Kersee, the world record-holder in the heptathlon and co-world record-holder in the long jump, will be limited in her opportunities to break the deadlock in the hurdles with Devers.

She will only run the hurdles in heptathlon competition of the Olympic trials July 15-23 in Indianapolis.

Devers will get her chance to lower the record in the National College Athletic Assn. meet starting Wednesday at Eugene, Ore., and again in the Olympic trials.

Canada’s Julie Rocheleau was the early leader in the hurdles, but she hit the fourth barrier and fell--just after Joyner-Kersee passed her. Curiously, it was Rocheleau who won the 60-meter hurdles in The Athletics Congress indoor championships last February when Joyner-Kersee hit a hurdle and fell.

“I learned from that race,” Joyner-Kersee said. “Instead of trying to go faster, you should relax.”

The wind, which didn’t affect Joyner-Kersee’s race, was a factor in the women’s 3,000, but it apparently didn’t disturb Slaney. She broke the wind with her usual front-running tactics, winning by about 50 meters. Mary Knisely, who was America’s best 3,000 runner during Slaney’s absence, decided not to challenge Slaney and was content to get second in the time of 8:58.43. Slaney said that she wanted to run between 8:35 and 8:45, but that the wind affected her to a degree and the fact that she hadn’t raced competitively since 1985 except for a tune-up 1,500 meter race earlier in the month.

Slaney had originally planned to run only the 3,000 in the Olympic trials, but she said there’s a possibility she might try to also qualify in the 1,500.

“However, I would rather run one race and be healthy then run two and get injured,” she said.

Slaney said she’s impatient to run faster but realizes her main concern is to avoid the injuries that have plagued her. “My 8:49 time today is not a big deal,” she said, “but it’s early in the season and, at least, I’m on the track.”

Scott, who out-kicked Kenya’s Kip Cheruiyot in the last 30 meters to win the 1,500, said he felt relaxed during the race.

Scott will compete in a mile race next Sunday at the Pepsi Invitational before meeting an international field in Oslo, Norway, July 2. Then, he’ll be able to determine whether the 1,500 meters is still in his Olympic plans.

Track Notes

Ron Brown said that he keyed his 100-meter race off veteran Olympian Harvey Glance. But Glance, who later said he was suffering from a virus, wasn’t a factor in the race, finishing sixth. Brown was lost in the pack until he made his late charge. “I didn’t expect to be chasing people at 60 meters. There were a lot of shirts in front of me,” Brown said. “Then, I started charging, but I ran out of track.” . . . However, Brown was reasonably satisfied considering his long layoff as a sprinter. “As soon as the race was over, I wanted to do it again,” he said. “I knew I made some mistakes.” He’ll get his opportunity next Sunday at UCLA against such world-class sprinters as Carl Lewis and Mark Witherspoon.

It was a day for old favorites. James Robinson, 33, had his usual Silky Sullivan-like finish to win the 800 in 1:45.50. . . . Mike Conley won the triple jump with a wind-aided mark of 55-5 3/4, and Ron Backes had a creditable effort of 68-11 3/4 inches in winning the shotput. Andre Phillips, the former UCLA star, won the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 48.81, second best time in the world this year. . . . Mishaps: Three runners took a spill in the 1,500 and Henry Marsh, the U.S. record-holder in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, tripped and fell on the water jump with 1 1/2 laps remaining.