Daigle stuns crowd, wins women’s Visa Championship
BOSTON - Forget the Oscars. The USA Indoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday provided one-stop shopping for epic drama in the race for USA Track & Field’s women’s Visa Championship at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center.
Angela Daigle, who prior to Sunday had just one professional victory to her credit - at the 2005 Millrose Games - blasted out of the blocks in the women’s 60 meters to run a stunning time of 7.09 seconds. Tied for the fastest time in the world this year and a huge personal best for the 28-year-old Pan Am Games gold medalist in the 4x100m relay, Daigle’s winning time gave her 1,203 points and the title of women’s Visa Champion.
With that title came a $25,000 payday - plus $2,500 in prize money for the U.S. win - and a trip for two to a premiere Visa-sponsored event.
John Godina’s winning throw from Saturday’s men’s shot put of 71 feet, 7.5 inches (1,230 points) was never challenged on Sunday. The three-time world outdoor champion, three-time world indoor champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist took home the men’s half of the combined $50,000 jackpot and prize package.
Drama, drama, drama
Daigle had never been considered a contender for the Visa Championship. Although she had looked strong at Millrose on February 4, her personal best of 7.21 seconds was nowhere near the 7.10 that she needed to surpass Visa Championship leader Erin Gilreath’s 1,199 points. With Daigle running out in lane 8, the possibility of a fast time seemed even more remote.
But she delivered a Hollywood ending.
With a phenomenal reaction time of .124 seconds out of the blocks, Daigle threw down a time of 7.09. It was no runaway victory, however, as 2004 Olympic 200m finalist Muna Lee was close behind in second, in 7.11. Lisa Barber finished third in 7.18.
A teary-eyed and slightly stunned Daigle happily accepted her $25,000 Visa Debit card from Paul Tsuchiya, Vice President, Event & Sponsorship Marketing for Visa USA.
Entering Sunday’s competition, all eyes were on hurdler Danielle Carruthers.
Needing a time of 7.94 seconds to win the Visa Championship, Carruthers ran 7.95 seconds in the Nike women’s 60-meter hurdles on Sunday to miss knocking off Gilreath by the narrowest of margins.
Although Carruthers had led the Race for the Championship throughout the Visa Championship series, Gilreath’s toss of 24.46 meters/80 feet, 3 inches in Friday’s weight throw competition gave the outdoor American record holder the lead with 1,199 points, surpassing Carruthers’ previous leader of 1,191 points for her 7.98-second time at the Powered by Tyson Invitational on February 11.
When Carruthers crossed the line .01 too slow, in the penultimate women’s event of the day, the Race for the Championship was over … everyone thought.
Everyone was wrong.
Trotter, Jackson get first titles
The 60 hurdles was not the only event on the track, however. Dee Dee Trotter, the 2004 NCAA champion and Olympic 4x400m relay gold medalist, won her first USA title in the 400 with a dominant performance. Trotter ran 52.01 to post the fastest time at the USA Indoor Championships since Jearl Miles-Clark ran 51.97 to win in 1999. Mary Danner was second with 53.25, with Maisha Pinkard third in 54.35.
2003 USA outdoor 400m hurdles champion Bershawn Jackson won his first national crown on the flat oval in the men’s 400 dash. The former NCAA Division II hurdles champ led from start to finish, holding off James Davis to win in 46.05. Davis was second 46.75 and Ashton Collins third in 47.26.
Two-time Olympian Hazel Clark won her second career indoor 800m title in 2:01.98. Alice Schmidt of the University of North Carolina was second in 2:02.32, followed by Kameisha Bennett in third in 2:02.77.
Kevin Hicks of Florida A&M University was an unexpected winner in the men’s 800 in 1:48.73, with Richard Smith second (1:48.80) and Joel Legare third (1:48.86). Pre-race favorite Derrick Peterson, the 2002 USA indoor champion and 2004 Olympian, fell with 400 meters to go.
Walter Davis easily won the men’s triple jump. His leap of 17.31m/56-09.50 gave the two-time Olympian and 2002 USA outdoor champion his first U.S. indoor title. Fellow 2004 Olympian Kenta Bell was second (16.86m/55-03.75), with Chris Hercules third (16.83m/55-02.75).
More first-time winners
2002 NCAA champion Mardy Scales, 2003 Pan Am silver medalist, won a very close men’s 60 meters with a time of 6.61. He out-leaned Joshua Norman in second (6.62) and Aaron Armstrong in third (6.64).
A two-time PAC-10 champion and 2002 NCAA runner-up for the University of Washington, Brad Walker won his first national title in the men’s pole vault with a clearance of 5.65m/18-06.50. Tommy Skipper was second (5.55m/18-2.5) and Paul Litchfield third (5.45m/17-10.5).
Amber Antonia was a somewhat surprise winner in an eventful women’s 3,000-meter race walk in 12:55.69 after Jolene Moore, who crossed the finish line first, was disqualified. Defending champion Joanne Dow was second in 13:09.62, with Deb Huberty third in 13:26.03.
Shani Marks won the women’s triple jump with a best mark of 13.65m/44-09.50. Nicole Whitman (13.23m/43-05.00) and Simidele Adeagbo (13.19m/43-03.25) placed second and third, respectively.
Former NCAA All-American Joel Brown was the winner in the men’s 60-meter hurdles in 7.60, followed in short order by Anwar Moore 97.63) and David Payne (7.64).
For complete results and athlete quotes, as well as more information on the Visa Championship Series, visit www.usatf.org