- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2008

EUGENE, Ore. | Alan Webb’s disappointing year continued at the U.S. track and field trials Sunday.

Reston’s Webb finished fifth in the 1,500 meters, one of the more competitive fields at the trials. The Olympic qualifiers were Bernard Lagat (Kenya), Lopez Lomong (Sudan) and Leonel Manzano (Mexico) - three men born in different countries who now run for the United States.

“That means America is a melting pot,” Lagat said. “America is where they welcome everybody regardless of their place or birth.”

Webb, the American record holder in the mile at 3:46.91 and a three-time national champion in the 1,500, ran the fastest time in the world in 2007 in 3:30.54.

Sunday, he finished fifth in 3:41.62.

“Webb has a bright future,” said Lagat, who won the race in 3:40.37. “We are sending the best team to Beijing, but I wish he was part of it.”

Lagat, also the champion in the 5,000, was the only athlete over the two-week meet to win two events.

In the other events, Allyson Felix cruised to victory in the 200, finishing in 21.82 seconds to secure the trip she didn’t wrap up last week in the 100, in which she finished out of the top three.

“I’m a laid-back person. I was just relaxing, waiting for this, thinking about it, waiting to get started,” Felix said. “I’m relieved, but it’s not done yet hardly. Now it’s time to go back to work.”

Jenn Stuczynski set the American record in the pole vault at 16 feet, 1 3/4 inches but only after she missed on her first two jumps at the lowest height and needed an emotion-draining third and final attempt to keep her chances alive.

Marshevet Hooker, who ran the fifth-fastest time ever in the 100 (it was wind aided) to start the meet last weekend, crashed across the line to win the final spot in the 200 by .01 seconds. She needed that because she didn’t qualify for the 100 despite her fast times in qualifying.

On the men’s side, Wallace Spearmon, thought to be a shoo-in in the 200, needed a late burst to win the third and final spot in that sprint.

Spearmon figured to coast to victory, but he finished third, just ahead of Rodney Martin, to get the final spot in the 200, the one freed up when Tyson Gay fell Saturday in the quarterfinals.

“I got third, and the question is now if he was here would I have made the team?” Spearmon said. “I can’t answer that question. I’m here. That’s all I can tell you.”

Gay’s MRI showed a strain in a muscle in the back of his left leg. He’s restricted to light workouts for the next two weeks but said he would be ready for the Olympics.

His absence means Walter Dix is the only American sprinter who will get a chance to run in two events.

Dix finished first, and the other spot went to defending Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford, who fought injuries since Athens and was thought to have only an outside shot.

Crawford trained with coach Trevor Graham before the last Olympics, and though he wasn’t ever involved in a doping scandal, his name came up because Graham was a key player.

“Whatever he did with anybody else, I’m not worried about it,” Crawford said. “I know what I did. I can’t hold that against a person. People make mistakes. I didn’t make those mistakes. I’m not worried about it.”

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