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Rupp, Lowe win VCS titles

Chaunte Lowe

Chaunte Lowe

Galen Rupp and Chaunte Lowe claimed the 2012 Indoor Visa Championship Series titles on the final day of competition at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships. The near sell-out crowd witnessed an American record by Lowe  in the women’s high jump and another world-leading time from Sanya Richards-Ross in the women’s 400m.

The fourth and final stop on the indoor Visa Championship Series, this championship also selected the athletes who will represent Team USA for the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey March 9-11.

Both the men’s and women’s championship titles remained in question until the day’s final events. Rupp first appeared on the leader board after his American Record effort in the two mile at the USATF Classic, and he was able to protected his lead to pull out a narrow win over Trell Kimmons. Meanwhile, Lowe needed every centimeter of her American high jump record of 2.02m/6-7.5 Sunday to grab the three-point win over Amber Campbell.

With the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, the New Mexico Sports Authority, University of New Mexico, the city of Albuquerque and USATF New Mexico all as official hosts, this is the third consecutive year the Albuquerque Convention Center has hosted the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Sunday’s attendance equalled 2,480.

Women’s high jump
The largest roar from the crowd Sunday came in the women’s high jump. On her final attempt at the height after two narrow misses, Lowe established a new American record of 2.02m/6-7.5. It is the second best jump in the world this year. Lowe then made three attempts at 2.04m/6-8.25, which would have been the seventh best jump in history. Inika McPherson won a tie-breaker to place second ahead of Rebecca Christensen at 1.87m/6-1.5.

Women’s 400m
Today was a big day for Sanya Richards-Ross who not only celebrated her birthday and anniversary, but also won the USA indoor title in the women’s 400m. Richards-Ross set a meet record of 50.71 to win by nearly a second over runner-up Natasha Hastings (51.66).

Chasing the American record from the gun, Richards-Ross narrowly missed Francena McCory’s all-time American best of 50.54 she ran in 2010. Richards-Ross ran the third fastest time in American history and now owns the two fastest times in the world this year.

Men’s 400m
Gil Roberts cruised from the second of two finals heats to claim the USA Indoor title in the men’s 400m. Roberts tied his season best of 45.39, which currently sits second in the world this year and behind only reigning world champion Kirani James of Grenada. Robets pulled away from the rest of the field to finish ahead of Calvin Smith (45.96) and Frankie Wright (46.07).

BMW Men’s 60m
Trell Kimmons ran the third fastest American time ever and a world-leading time of 6.45 to claim a national title in the 60m. It was a personal best time for Kimmons as well as runner-up Justin Gatlin (6.51). This was Kimmons first ever USA Championship title.

Nike Men’s 60m hurdles
Aries Merritt survived a pair of false starts by Dexter Faulk, who ran under protest following his first false start, to win the men’s 60m hurdles in a time of 7.43. Merritt bested a stellar field that included Kevin Craddock, who placed second in 7.46; two-time World Indoor gold medalist Terrence Trammell and American outdoor record holder David Oliver.

Nike Women’s 60m
Tianna Madison continued her dominance in the 60m this year by claiming the USA Indoor title and equalling her world-leading time of 7.02. Madison now owns the three fastest times in the world this year and currently sits fifth all-time in American history. Barbara Pierre placed second in 7.06 and Lakya Brookins was third in 7.14.

Women’s 60m hurdles
Few had left the building before the final race of the 2012 USA Indoor Championships to see Kristi Castlin run a world-leading time of 7.84 and claim a national title in the women’s 60m hurdles. Vanniesha Ivy placed second at 7.93 while Gabrielle Mayo took third in 8.04.

Nike Men’s 1,500m
Leo Manzano came into the final straightaway in third position, but was able to out-kick Matthew Centrowitz and Galen Rupp to claim his first USA Indoor 1500m title. Manzano’s winning time was 3:48.05. A pedestrian pace early on brought the leaders through 800 meters in 2:11. Rupp then attempted to accelerate the pace, which led to a three man foot race over the last 100 meters. Centrowitz, the 2011 World Outdoor Championships 1,500m bronze medalist, placed second in 3:48.16 and Rupp placed third in 3:48.44.

Women’s 1,500m
Jenny Simpson held off Brenda Martinez to claim the women’s 1,500m and her second national title in two days. Simpson also won the 3,000m Saturday. Simpson collected a winning time of 4:15.04 to hold off Martinez, who finished close behind in 4:15.11. Simpson held a sizeable lead into the final 100 meters before Martinez was able to close the gap. For the reigning World Outdoor gold medalist, the winning time today was well off her season best of 4:07.27, which is currently the seventh fastest time in the world.

Men’s Long Jump
Ashton Eaton won his first USA title in an event other than decathlon as he won the men’s long jump with a leap of 8.06m/26-5.5. After winning the men’s triple jump yesterday, Will Claye finished as the runner up. Claye twice jumped 8.02m/26-3.75, but with four fouls on his other attempts, he was unable to counter Eaton’s mark. Norris Fredrick finished third (7.99m/26-2.75).

Women’s long jump
Janay DeLoach twice jumped 6.89m/22-7.25 to win her second consecutive USA Indoor title in the women’s long jump. DeLoach took advantage of four fouled jumps from reigning World Outdoor Championships gold medalist Brittney Reese, who placed second at 6.86m/22-6.25. DeLoach set the standard for the competition by recording the winning jump on her first attempt. She equalled it again on her third attempt. Funmi Jimoh placed third at 6.81m/22-4.25.

Men’s shot put
With four of the top five throwers in the world this season, competition to make Team USA for the World Indoor Championships in the men’s shot put was going to be difficult. Reese Hoffa threw close to his world-leading mark to win the competition at 21.75m/71-4.5. Ryan Whiting finished second at 21.60m/70-10.5. Hoffa and Whiting own the top two throws in the world this year. Christian Cantwell placed third in 21.53m/70-7.75 and Adam Nelson fourth at 20.58m/67-6.25.

Women’s shot put
When competition ended in the women’s shout put Jillian Camarena-Williams embraced her husband and broke into joyful tears. Her fourth throw of 19.56m/64-2.25 gave Camarena-Williams her eighth USA Indoor title in the event. The 2011 World Outdoor Championships bronze medalist stole the early lead grabbed by three-time USA Outdoor champion Michelle Carter, who recorded her best throw of 19.27m/63-2.75 on her second attempt to finish second. Alyssa Hasslen placed third at 17.77m/58-3.75.

Men’s 800m
Duane Solomon lead the men’s 800m from the first lap on, and surged ahead of the pack to win in 1:48.58. It was a close battle for the runner-up position, as Michael Rutt (1:49.90) narrowly beat Mark Wieczorek (1:49.96) by sixth hundredths of a second.

Women’s 800m
Erica Moore left little doubt in pulling away to win the women’s 800m by nearly two full seconds. Moore’s winning time of 2:01.08 was well ahead of Phoebe Wright (2:03.07) and Latavia Thomas (2:04.50). The time for Moore is a season best and the top American time this indoor season.

Men’s pole vault
The American outdoor record holder and 2006 World Indoor Championships gold medalist claimed another USA Indoor title Sunday in the men’s pole vault. It is the fourth USA Indoor championship for Brad Walker, who won the competition with a winning vault of 5.86m/19-2.75. Walker made three attempts at 6.0m/19-8.25, which would have established a new American record. Scott Roth won a tie breaker over Mark Hollis to place second at 5.60m/18-4.5.

Women’s 3,000m race walk
In a thrilling finish, Maria Michta and Erin Gray battled side-by-side down the final straightaway. Michta was able to take the win with the slightest of margins, only four hundredths of a second separated her from Gray. Michta won her third consecutive indoor title in 13:15.31, Gray finished second in 13:15.35, and Lauren Forgues was third in 13:21.94.

Masters 800m
In the masters exhibition 800m, Lisa Ryan won the women’s race in 2:21.58, with hometown favorite Lisa Valle second (2:26.71). In the men’s race, Nicholas Berra took the win in 2:01.61, with Christopher Simpson taking second (2:02.77).

Athlete Quotes

Chanute Lowe, women’s high jump and Visa Championship Series winner
“The record means a lot to me, but it means the most to come back on the world scene and say I’m still valid, after having a child that’s hard to do. I knew [the record] was really possible today, and I was just forcing myself not to make mistakes. It was definitely my best indoor competition ever.”

Galen Rupp, men’s Visa Championship Series winner
“It was a little bit of a tough weekend, but this isn’t a bad consolation prize. I had no idea I was in the running until after Fayetteville. I just couldn’t believe it. I was just focused on running fast and doing what I needed to do, and it was a nice bonus. I’ll be taking my wife out to a nice diner tonight.”

Sanya Richards-Ross, women’s 400m
“I’m happy with it. I really wanted to run a little faster. The American record was my goal. It was a good choice (on running indoors). It’s good for your mentality to get out there and race. It is hard to replicate a race effort in practice.”

Gill Roberts, men’s 400m
“I executed and did what I’ve done all year. I was able to kick it home strong. My main goal was to win. Hopefully in Turkey I’ll execute a better race and improve my time.”

Trell Kimmons, men’s 60m
“I just had to execute and run hard, and stay relaxed. It’s a blessing when I’ve been training hard and I’m able to come out here and win.”

Aries Meritt, men’s 60m hurdles
“It is what it is with the false starts happening, but you have to stay focused and do what you have to do. Every time you run is not going to be perfect. There are going to be distractions, but you just have to race.”

Tianna Madison, women’s 60m
“I’m happy. It always feels good to execute after I’ve trained hard all fall. I will be Istanbul representing Team USA, and it will be an honor to do it. The long jump has been my baby for a long time; since middle school.”

Kristi Castlin, women’s 60m hurdles
“There were a lot of false starts today, but I’m used to it – I’ve even been the victim before. It was a PR for me, and I would say it’s the highlight of my career so far. Hopefully it will catapult me to the Olympic Trials. I will be in Istanbul representing Team USA and trying to bring back the gold medal.”

Leo Manzano, men’s 1500m
“Coming off last year, I didn’t know what to expect. They made a couple of great moves and I was able to cover them. I was blessed to have a good kick.

“Track is one of the hardest sports out there. Coming out and staying healthy and injury free is hard, and being on top is really hard. Hopefully it’s a start to a great year.”

Jenny Simpson, women’s 1500m
“It was tough coming back and there are nerves of things when people are fresh and you have a target on your back. I’m really happy it turned out the way it did. It was a great exercise in pure racing today. I came down the homestretch and the crowd was going crazy.”

Ashton Eaton, long jump
“It was a tough field. I only improved a couple of centimeters, but that equal points. This was a personal best. I was going to Istanbul in the heptathlon that was by invite. I feel good about the series. I know I can go farther. I will just be doing individual events before the Trials and no full events. This year I have been focusing on everything.”

Janay Deloach, women’s long jump
“I’m so excited about it. It is two times in a row [that I’ve won the indoor title], so thank God for that.

“The runway here is awesome. It is so fast, it has the perfect bounce, and you get a great pop off of it. I absolutely love it here.

“I’m excited to represent Team USA at worlds, and I’ll just have to go back to the drawing board and see what else I can improve on.”

Reese Hoffa, men’s shot put
“I felt good. My first three were just okay. I knew I had to do something special with Ryan Whiting and Christian Cantwell coming out strong right away. I’ll definitely go to Istanbul to represent the USA.”

Jillian Camarena-Williams, women’s shot put
“It was a lot of run and very stressful. It makes you step up and you learn about yourself. This one is special because I had to overcome a lot. My technique is a little off. It’s so great to have (Michelle Carter) there. She makes me work so hard. Last year finishing a couple of centimeters behind her at USA Outdoors was frustrating. I had a rough couple of weeks. I had to defend my thesis and had a lot of stress. It’s all worth it now. It’s good to come out here and get a win.”

Duane Solomon, men’s 800m
“It felt very comfortable. Yesterday was tough, but today felt good. I think I still had some at the end and could have gone faster. I actually had a kick at the end – I felt like I was running 200s in practice.I wanted to go wire to wire and dictate the pace.

Erica Moore, women’s 800m
“It was great. Even coming out of the curve I wasn’t sure if I was going to take it, I thought I’d have to fight for it.

“I kept rolling in the third lap and wanted to keep the pace honest, and I was able to bring it home.”

Brad Walker, men’s pole vault
“It was good. It was a good competition. You have to wait around sometimes indoors, and it wasn’t a big deal.

“I’m happy with the way I felt and the way I jumped, but technically there are some things I can work on and improve.”

Maria Michta, women’s 3,000m race walk
“I kind of boogeyed it at the end. The race went out and as the defending champion I thought I should take the lead. The last few laps nobody seemed to want to take the lead. I kept cruising around and apparently that last lap I dropped a 45 (seconds). I never had any doubt.”