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Wariner big winner, track big loser

7 May 2006

Jeremy Wariner won the 400 meters in 44.84 in the 65th Modesto Relays at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, Calif. on Saturday, May 6, 2006. (Image of Sport) Jeremy Wariner won the 400 meters in 44.84 in the 65th Modesto Relays at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, Calif. on Saturday, May 6, 2006. (Image of Sport)

By Jeff Faraudo

The Modesto Relays turned 65 on Saturday, and Northern California's most prominent track and field senior citizen showed a few creaks.

Olympic and world champion Jeremy Wariner decisively won the 400-meter dash, then groused a bit that the 26-year-old track at Modesto Junior College has lost its bounce and needs resurfacing.

After Christian Cantwell won the shot put with a lackluster effort, the world leader complained about a lack of atmosphere, adding, "It seems like there's no energy here."

There were a few happy folks. Olympic silver medalist Toby Stevenson, the Stanford grad, won the pole vault for the third straight year. And Jenny Adams clocked the second-fastest time in the world this year, winning the 100-meter hurdles in 12.68 seconds.

Wariner was the headliner, and he bolted out of the blocks quickly to remove any suspense in the 400. His time of 44.84 was far off his world-leading 44.12, but dusted a strong field by more than a second.

"To run 44.84 on this track and in this wind is exceptional," said Clyde Hart, Wariner's coach. "(The track's) wore out. It's flat. (Wariner) said he felt like he was running on asphalt. ... The track is getting to be a little bit of a problem."

Meet officials have said there are plans to perhaps resurface the track within two years. That would be OK with Wariner.

"It feels like it's not as fast as it could be, probably as it used to be," Wariner said. "It should be a lot faster than it is."

Cantwell, who threw 72 feet, 61/4 inches last week at the Drake Relays, needed a mark of 68-8 on his final attempt to pull out a victory. He said it was the second year in a row he performed poorly at Modesto, where the shot put area is at the far end of the infield, out of the primary view of much of the crowd.

"I do think it's a great meet, but not for us (shot putters). It's strange. Talking to everybody else, they feel the same," he said. "This place is cursed to me. Thank God they don't hold USA Championships here."

Not everyone went away grouchy.

The always effervescent Stevenson needed a third-attempt clearance of 18-1/2to stay in the vault competition, then won by scaling 18-101/4. Two years ago at Modesto he became just the second American to clear six meters (19-81/4), and now he wants the American record of 19-91/4.

"That's what we're all going for — I'm trying to be patient," Stevenson said. "I'm going to jump high this year, real high."

Adams won a quick early-season 100 hurdles race, missing her five-year-old personal best by just .05 seconds.

"That's what happens when you focus on technique," said Adams, who beat Perdita Felicien. "I'm working on keeping my speed and moving through the hurdles."

Jason Smoots, a 25-year-old product of North Carolina Central had quite a day. He won the 100 in a lifetime-best time of 10.04, and held off Maurice Greene on the anchor leg of the 400 relay, helping his USA Blue team to victory in 39.00.

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