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Misplaced hurdle irks runners

Outside the track at Home Depot Center, American sprinter Angelo Taylor paced along the athletes’ bench where his competitors packed their bags in silence.

But he couldn’t stay quiet.

“Whoever is in charge of putting up the hurdles needs to be fired,” Taylor said. “I came all the way out here and the hurdles are in the wrong spot. I could’ve stayed home.”

In a statement, meet director Mark Wetmore said, “we have confirmed a hurdle was misplaced in the men’s 400 m hurdles,” which discounted Kerron Clement’s winning time of 48.38 seconds. Taylor (48.70) and the Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez (48.95) finished closely behind. Wetmore said officials with the Southern California Assn. of USA Track & Field determined the hurdles’ placement.

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Every competitor in the men’s 400-meter hurdles at the Adidas Track Classic on Saturday was upset about his race after noticing the eighth hurdle was placed too close to the seventh, which Taylor estimated to be 15 meters apart. Meet officials didn’t say how far apart the eighth hurdle was, but hurdles are supposed to be placed 35 meters apart.

Even Clement understood the frustration.

“It affects the races and their times,” he said. “The eighth hurdle was kind of off, but I didn’t let it affect me at all.”

Other than the controversy in the men’s 400 hurdles, runners treated the third meet of the Visa Championship Series as preparation for the IAAF World Championships at Berlin in August.

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Three-time Olympic medalist and former USC sprinter Allyson Felix finished first in her first 200 this season in 22.66. Despite her joy in performing in front of a home crowd, Felix wasn’t thrilled with her performance.

“The speed was not there today,” Felix said. “We still have to get to speed work, so I knew it wasn’t going to be anything fantastic, but it shows where I really need the work.”

Hazel Clark, whose time of 2:01.40 in the 800 set a meet record, pledged not to worry about breaking any records. She feared it would “add a lot of pressure.”

“Sometimes, I just get stressed out about it,” said Clark, who ran the fourth-fastest time in the 800 this year. “I’ll say my goal this year is to do truly my best after every race. I don’t want to walk off the track with any regrets. That puts me where it puts me.”

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Other top performers included men’s Olympic 400 gold medalist LaShawn Merritt winning the 200 in 20.07 and Olympic 400 silver medalist Jeremy Wariner winning the 400 in 44.66.

Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper won the women’s 100 hurdles in 12.78 and Carmelita Jeter won the women’s 100 in 11.09 seconds.

World champion Bernard Lagat eased through the men’s 1,500 in 3:36.38.

Jenn Stuczynski, who has set women’s American records in the pole vault six times, including 16 feet 0 3/4 in last year’s Classic, didn’t set a record this time.

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The silver medalist at the Beijing Olympics last year won with a vault of 15-7 1/4 .

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mark.medina@latimes.com


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