SACRAMENTO (AP) — Mike Rodgers had already overcome a broken ankle and two torn ligaments in his right ankle this year. A change of direction in the 100-meter final was much easier to handle.
Running into a headwind, Rodgers won his first American title Friday night when he edged Ryan Bailey at the finish in the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Rodgers finished in 10.09 seconds, well off his fastest times. Still, it sets the stage for a showdown against fellow Americans Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay next month in Paris.
Both Gatlin and Gay skipped the U.S. championships this year.
“I thought I had a chance at that championship record (9.77),” said Rodgers, who ran 9.80 in qualifying. “I guess we’ll see in a couple days when I go to race him and Gatlin. It should be fun.”
With the finish line at the north end of Hornet Stadium, Rodgers ran a crisp race to win his semifinal earlier in the day.
The 29-year-old was a bit surprised to find things switched around when he came back for the finals nearly three hours later. He got the same result. Just a few ticks slower.
“I was kind of mad they turned it around but I got the win anyway,” Rodgers said. “Great time into the headwind, so I’m pleased.”
Tianna Bartoletta won the women’s 100 that was depleted slightly when one of the favorites, Tori Bowie, pulled out following the semifinals.
Bartoletta had earlier set the fastest time by an American this season with her time of 10.92. That mark stood for about five minutes because Bowie, running in the second heat, ran a 10.91.
No one was close to that mark in the final. Bartoletta ran an 11.15, Barbara Pierre was second while Lekeisha Lawson was third.
Bowie did not run after she appeared to get injured during the semifinals.
“I’m just glad that I came out on top,” said Bartoletta, who will also take part in the long jump. “The key is execution all the time.”
Will Claye won his second straight U.S. title in the men’s triple jump. His leap of 58 feet, 3 inches is the best mark by an American this year.
Sanya Richards-Ross continued her steady recovery from toe surgery and matched the fastest time in the world this year in the women’s 400 semifinals.
The six-time national champ was in a pack of runners when the group hit the final curve. That’s when Richards-Ross found her stride and pulled away, holding off a late charge from Francena McCorory to win in 50.03 seconds, more than 2 seconds faster than her qualifying time. That ties the world mark held by Courtney Okolo of Texas.
Trey Hardee overcame a long layoff to easily win the decathlon with 8,599 points. Wesley Bray took second, nearly 700 points behind the leader.
Hardee, who also won the U.S. title in 2009, had not competed in a decathlon since the 2012 London Games where he won a silver.
“There weren’t really many good things that happened but on the flip side of that, a lot of athletes struggled,” Hardee said. “But I was on par. Like golf, I felt like I had a lot of pars. I was very consistent.”
Jenn Suhr cleared 15-1 for her sixth national crown in the women’s pole vault, and Hayden Reed won the men’s discus final at 204.
In the women’s heptathlon, reigning US champ Sharon Day has 123-point lead through four events.
“It was a weird day for me” Day said. “The hurdles were good but I struggled through all the events. The heat kind of bothered me in the 200. I came out with good marks so I’m happy.”
Bernard Lagat won the 5,000 in 13:31.41, and Molly Huddle took the women’s race in 15:01.56.