- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Moments after crossing the finish line, Justin Gatlin turned to his left and pointed at the clock to make sure everyone noticed what he just did.

Hard to miss that time. Somewhere, a certain Jamaican sprinter is no doubt hearing about it, too.

Gatlin breezed to the 200-meter title at the U.S. championships in a meet-record 19.57 seconds Sunday. He dominated a race in which he had the lead coming off the turn. It was all over after that, given how he has been running lately and that his legs were feeling particularly fresh.

“I wanted to go out and make a statement and that’s what I did today,” Gatlin said. “That’s probably one of the best races I’ve had.”

Training partner Isiah Young was second, 0.36 seconds behind, and 30-year-old Wallace Spearmon third as he rounds back up to speed after sports hernia surgery.

In the women’s 200, Oregon standout Jenna Prandini won in 22.20. Candyce McGrone was second and Jeneba Tarmoh third.

Gatlin shattered his previous best of 19.68, which he set last July in Monaco and then matched last month here at Hayward Field. Tyson Gay, the 100 winner who skipped the 200, set the previous meet record of 19.62 in 2007.

And just so you know: Michael Johnson has the American record (19.32) and Usain Bolt the world record (19.19).

“I’m just honored to say I’m on that short list of Americans who have ran that fast,” Gatlin said.

The 33-year-old Gatlin was so quick in the opening round that his competitors were jokingly telling him to slow it down. He was simply eager to begin because he skipped the 100 because he had an automatic bye into the world championships courtesy of his Diamond League title.

He’s now set up for a showdown in both events with Bolt in Beijing later this summer.

First, though, some rest. Running that time left him drained.

“My body has never been there before,” said Gatlin, the controversial sprinter who returned in 2010 after serving a four-year doping ban. “It hurt.

“But I’m feeling really good now.”

Soon, it’s back to work for Gatlin in an effort to catch Bolt, who skipped Jamaican nationals because he has automatic byes into both events as the world champion.

“A lot of sprinters are waking up and saying, ‘It’s time to fight back. It’s time to work hard and bear that American flag with honor,’” Gatlin said.

Spearmon returns to the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, a place that doesn’t hold pleasant memories. He captured bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before being disqualified for stepping outside his lane.

“Unfinished work,” Spearmon said.

Much like Gatlin, Prandini got a lead and never looked back.

“To go out there and actually put together my race and to come away with a win is exciting,” Prandini said.

There were several touching moments at nationals on the final day, things like Chaunte Lowe giving her American flag to a military veteran after she won the high jump.

Then there’s Alysia Montano, who ran the 800 at nationals last summer 7 1/2 pregnant and finished in 2:32.13. On Sunday, she carried 10-month-old Linnea in her arms after winning the event in 1:59.15.

“My greatest accomplishment was sharing an amazing moment with my daughter (last year),” Montano said.

There was a little drama in the men’s shot put, with runner-up finisher Christian Cantwell perturbed over winner Joe Kovacs taking two extra practice throws before the final.

“I thought it was a little bush league,” said Cantwell, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist.

Kovacs brushed it off.

“I just like getting Christian mad,” cracked Kovacs, who celebrated his 26th birthday Sunday.

Other things to know from Sunday:

NEON BRIGHT: Wearing a bright bow in her hair, Texas A&M;’s Shamier Little became the first to win the 400 hurdles nationals and NCAA championships in the same season since Sheena Johnson (UCLA) in 2004.

MISSING MISSISSIPPI: TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna said there was no “political statement” by not flying the Mississippi flag all week at Hayward Field. Every state was represented in a bank of flags except Mississippi, which has the Confederate flag in one corner.

THIRD PLACE: Galen Rupp caped off a tumultuous week by taking third in the 5,000, less than a second behind winner Ryan Hill. Rupp won the 10,000 on Thursday amid allegations that coach Alberto Salazar encouraged him and others to skirt anti-doping rules.

AROUND THE TRACK: 110 hurdler David Oliver overcame a slow start to win the event. … Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Suhr won the pole vault by clearing 15 feet, 9 3/4 inches. … Nick Symmonds flexed as he crossed the line to win the 800. … Barbara Nwaba edged Sharon Day-Monroe by 42 points for the heptathlon crown.

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