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Erik Kynard defends U.S. high jump title

06/29/2014, 12:00am EDT
By BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

Rogers graduate clears 7 feet, 8½ inches

SACRAMENTO — Toledo native Erik Kynard captured the men's high jump Saturday at the U.S. outdoor track and field championships.

Kynard, a Rogers graduate, cleared 7 feet, 8½ inches to win the title for the second straight year. He also won the U.S. indoor championships earlier this year.

He cleared the winning height on his second attempt. He was unsuccessful on three attempts at 7-10 3/​4, which would have been a U.S. record. Nick Ross and Dustin Jonas finished tied for second after clearing 7-5 3/​4.

Kynard, the silver medalist at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, is ranked No. 5 in the world and cleared a personal-best height of 7-9 1/​4 earlier this year.

Francena McCorory had to wait for the replay to see the best race of her life. The U.S. women's 400-meter champion has a tendency to run with her eyes closed.

Not that it mattered much. McCorory finishing in 49.48 seconds to edge Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross.

McCorory had her best career time and the fastest in the world this year. She did it despite running three-quarters of the race with her eyes closed, something the sprinter has done since she first took up running as a 12-year-old.

That McCorory somehow stays in her lane without bumping into other runners was just as impressive as her winning time.

"I know it's weird because I have to go around an oval and turn left, but I really don't feel anyone," McCorory said. "I've run so many 400s I can feel the track. At 300 yards, I was like, 'Yes, I'm almost home.' That's the only time I opened my eyes."

It's McCorory's first U.S. title after three runner-up finishes. She also won the 400 at the U.S. Indoor Championships in February.

The 25-year-old beat a field that included Richards-Ross, reigning outdoor champion Natasha Hastings and Dee Dee Trotter, the 2012 bronze medalist.

Richards-Ross, who beat McCorory by two-tenths of a second in the semifinals, finished in 49.66. Richards-Ross joined McCorory as the only two female runners to break the 50-second mark this year despite having practiced for just three months following toe surgery.

Hastings was third in the 400 while Trotter was fifth.

The finish in the women's 100 hurdles was even closer.

Dawn Harper-Nelson beat Queen Harrison by a hundredth of a second, leaning at the tape to win her third U.S. title.

Gil Roberts went wire-to-wire to win the men's 400 in 44.53. He had hoped to be paired against LaShawn Merritt, who holds the fastest time in the world this year, but Merritt pulled out of the meet after winning his heat on Thursday.

Emma Coburn won the women's 3,000 steeplechase in 9:19.72, a meet record and the third-fastest time ever by an American. Sharon Day-Monroe had 6,470 points to win the heptathlon. American record-holder Maria Michta won her fifth consecutive U.S. title in the women's 20-kilometer racewalk, finishing in 1:35:54.37.

Other winners included Leo Manzano in the 1,500 at 3:38.62, Brittney Reese in the women's long jump at 22-8½, and Amanda Bingson in women's hammer at 246-4.

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