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DeShasier earns surprising gold At Pan Ams; Team USA pushes medal count to 10

GUADALAJARA, Mexico - Team USA continued to enjoy success in the field events, securing two medals, highlighted by a gold medal from Alicia DeShasier (Carrollton, Ill.) in the women’s javelin, during the fifth day of track and field at the Pan American Games Thursday at Telemex Athletic Stadium.

Three-time USA Outdoor champion Michelle Carter (Ovilla, Texas) captured a bronze medal in the women’s shot put at 18.09m/59-4.25.

Eight of the 10 medals Team USA has achieved at the Pan American Games have been in field events.

“This is incredible,” said DeShasier. “I have limited international experience. The whole atmosphere has been amazing. I was an underdog but I prefer to be in that position. I was expecting to be a little bit more intimidated, but being the underdog, no eyes are on you. So you just go out there and compete to the best of your ability.”

DeShasier threw a personal best of 58.01m/190-4 on her first attempt in the women’s javelin which managed to hold up through the competition, toppling a field that included Cuban Olympian Yanet Cruz who entered the meet with the 10th-best throw in the world this year at 63.50m/208-4

It marked the sixth time an American has won the gold medal in the women’s javelin at the Pan American Games.

Carter, a 2008 Olympian and 2003 Pan American junior gold medalist, became the first American to earn a medal in the women’s shot put since Connie Price Smith won the gold at the
1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Two-time U.S. outdoor champ Jamie Nieto (Sacramento, Calif.), who was fourth in the 2004 Olympics and a 2003 Pan American Games silver medalist, placed sixth in the men’s high jump at 2.21m/7-3. Jim Dilling (Fond du Lac, Wis.) was seventh at 2.21m/7-3.

Team USA distance runners had to cope with the mile-high altitude of Guadalajara (elevation 5,138 feet).

James Strang (Memphis, Tenn.) and Ryan Vail (Portland, Ore.) narrowly missed securing the bronze medal in the men’s 10,000-meter race following a valiant effort down the homestretch. Strang was fourth, twenty-three hundreths of a second off the podium, while Vail followed closely in fifth.

Strang fell just short of overtaking Brazil’s Giovani Dos Santos, who finished third in 29:51.71 to Strang’s 29:51.93 clocking. Strang stood in seventh at the 5,000 meter mark — 150 meters behind leader and eventual winner Marilson Santos of Brazil.

Vail, who was sixth at the 2011 U.S. Championships, also came on strong to place fifth in 29:52.04.

In the women’s 5,000, Americans Kim Conley (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Neely Spence (Shippensburg, Pa.) placed seventh and eighth, respectively, in 17:00.90 and 17:01.11. Conley and Spence kept pace with eventual winner Marisol Romero of Mexico with 1,600 meters left before fading during the final 800 meters.

Annick Lamar (Hamilton, N.J.) was 10th in the women’s 1,500m in 4:32.57, while Jackie Areson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) finished 11th in 4:34.23.

Team USA did manage to send middle distance runners Tyler Mulder (Orange City, Iowa) and Mark Wieczorek (Ponca City, Okla.) into the finals of the men’s 800m. Wieczorek had the second fastest overall qualifying time of 1:48.32, while Mulder won the second semifinal heat in 1:49.65.

Chris Carter (Hearne, Texas) finished sixth in the men’s triple jump, soaring 16.21m/53-2.25 on his first attempt with fouls on the second and fifth tries. Zedric Thomas (New Iberia, La.) was ninth with a mark of 16.15m/53-0 on his last jump.

Alyssa Hasslen (Sheridan, Ore.), who is a junior at the University of Arizona, finished seventh in the women’s shot put at 16.56m/54-4, coming on her fifth throw. Seventeen-year-old Avione Allgood (Las Vegas, Nev.), who is the youngest member of Team USA, finished 10th in the women’s javelin at 50.37m/165-3.

In other finals that were contested on the track, Reuebn McCoy (Sicklerville, N.J.) was seventh in the men’s 400m hurdles in 50.18, followed by Lee Moore (Cordova, Texas) who was eighth in 51.10; and Leslie Cole (Idabel, Okla.), running in lane two, finished seventh in the women’s 200 in 23.46.

110 hurdlers, Relay Teams Advance To Finals

Behind the foursome of Jeremy Dodson (Denver, Colo.), Perrisan White (San Diego, Calif.), Rubin Williams (San Jose, Calif.) and anchor Rae Edwards (Opelika, Ala.), Team USA posted the fastest semifinal round qualifying time in the men’s 4x100 relay in 39.19.

Dodson and White came back and ran the second and third legs, respectively, in helping Team USA advance into the finals of the men’s 4x400 relay being in timed in a pedestrian 3:07.57 in the second semifinal heat. Bryan Miller (Houston, Texas) ran the opening leg for Team USA which was second behind the Bahamas at the first exchange. Six-foot, 7-inch Josh Scott (Winter Haven, Fla.) ran the anchor leg.

With only eight teams entered, the semifinal qualifying round of both the women’s 4x100 and 4x400 relays were canceled with all squads, including Team USA, advancing straight to Friday’s finals.

Jeff Porter (Franklin Park, N.J.) and Dominic Berger (Mitchelville, Md.) advanced into the finals of the men’s 110m hurdles that will be held Friday. Running in lane one of the first semifinal heat, Porter finished third in 13.47. Berger was second, behind Cuban world-record holder Dayron Robles (13.22) in the second semifinal heat with a 13.62 clocking.

For complete Pan American Games track and field results, go to

TEAM USA MEDALS - 10 total
Kibwe Johnson (Kamloops, B.C.), men’s hammer throw, 79.63m/261-3, 10/26
Yvette Lewis (Newport News, Va.), women’s 100m hurdles, 12.82, 10/26
Alicia DeShasier (Carrollton, Ill.), women’s javelin, 58.01m/190-4, 10/27

Jarred Rome (Marysville, Wash.), men’s discus, 61.71m/202-5, 10/24
Barbara Pierre (Winter Haven, Fla.), women’s 100m, 11.25, 10/25
Michael Mai (LeMars, Iowa), men’s hammer throw, 72.71m/238-6, 10/26
Shameka Marshall (Quinton, N.J.), women’s long jump, 6.73m/22-1, 10/26

Amber Campbell (Myrtle Beach, S.C.), women’s hammer throw, 69.93m/229-5, 10/24
Becky Holliday (Penryn, Calif.), women’s pole vault, 4.30m/14-1.25, 10/24
Michelle Carter, (Ovilla, Texas), women’s shot put, 18.09m/59-4.25, 10/27

Alicia DeShasier, Carrollton, Ill., women’s javelin, gold medalist (58.01m/190-4): “My first throw felt good and I tried to make adjustments through the rest of the competition. This is incredible. I have limited international experience. The whole atmosphere was amazing. I was an underdog but I prefer to be in that position. I was expecting to be a little bit more intimidated, but being the underdog, no eyes are on you. So you just go out there and compete to the best of your ability.”

Michelle Carter, Ovilla, Texas, women’s shot put, bronze medalist (18.09m/59-4.25): “I’m pleased. I had no expectations. I just wanted to come out here and perform and see what happens.My series was pretty consistent, staying around 18 meters the whole time. I’ve been working on a few things, getting ready for off season training.

“This is the first time I’ve ever competed this late, so I’m learning a lot as well as our young team is. I’m able to help them out, give them some pointers and they ask a lot me a lot of questions about little things. So it’s a good experience for everyone.

“My expectations are high for next year. My goal is going for the gold in 2012. I’m ready to go back home and train hard.”

Jeff Porter men’s 110 hurdles, third in first semifinal heat (13.47)
: “I guess I’ll give my race about 80 percent out of a hundred. I got a little off balance, kind of lost focus a little bit toward the end and that’s why I can in a little bit off balance. It was okay. I was happy to get the jitters out of the way.

“I’ve raced most of these guys. I’ve raced [Cuban world record holder Dayron] Robles many times. I know what they’re going to bring. I just have to come with my A game and have a clean race. If I have a clean race I think I have a good chance of getting medal tomorrow.”

Dominic Berger, Mitchellville, Md. men’s 110 hurdles, second in second semifinal heat (13.62)
: “I was just focusing on this round to have a clean race to get through to the finals — Nothing too fancy, just keep a clean race and it will be easy to get through to the finals.

“It’s just good to get this first race out of the way. My last race was maybe about two months ago. It’s just knocking the cobwebs out, so I feel good now.”

Rae Edwards, Opelika, Ala., anchor leg on men’s 4x100 relay, first in first semifinal heat (39.19): “It went great. We had an amazing first leg. I watched it. The stick work looked great. We did a good job of closing. And Rubin, it’s not his first time; he’s a veteran. He knows what to do. I felt like our exchange was a great exchange. I knew once I got it, no one was going to beat me on the home stretch …

“It was more or less the first round. I didn’t want to blow it out too much, so I checked up to see where everybody was to see if I could coast to the end. When I looked I saw they were still there, so I couldn’t shut it down.

“Thirty-nine one (39.19) is a pretty good time for us. We’ve only worked sticks once. The most important thing is we got around the track, so it’s a good start.”

Josh Scott, Winter Haven, Fla., anchor leg on men’s 4x400 relay, third in second semifinal heat (3:07.57): “I thought we had a pretty good chance to stay up front somewhere in the mix, but we have a guy who is actually running a little hurt on the second leg and our third leg, he’s not really a 400 runner, but we came out here to do our best and that’s all we can do. When I got the baton, I had to be a go-getter.”

James Strang, Memphis, Tenn., men’s 10,000, fourth (29:51.93):
“It was crazy. I just kept trying to stay focused and pick off the next guy in front of me. I just kept picking them off and picking them off, and I started losing count of where I was. Going into the last two miles, I couldn’t see the leader and I couldn’t tell which guys were lapping and which guys were in placement. I had no idea until I could hear somebody in the stands yelling what place the guy in front of me was. Fortunately, Ryan caught up to me and we were able to work together for about two laps there. I tucked in on him on the last lap to conserve some energy, and then when we got to the last 150, I realized he was right in front and I could catch him. I just gave it everything I had and unfortunately he wasn’t celebrating long enough and I couldn’t get him.

“We knew (working together) was the best strategy to have … Ryan and I have been racing together for years. We’re both strong cross [country] guys, and I knew we were going to use that to our advantage, and it helped. Altitude, heat everything just took its toll on us.

“It’s been great — absolutely incredible. It’s a really unique experience, and I’m glad that I could be a part of it.”

Ryan Vail, Portland, Ore., men’s 10,000, fifth (29:52.04):
“We were just running, trying to stay within 70-72 [seconds per lap] for as long as possible. We knew the heat and the altitude were going be a big conversion, so I thought if we could hold that we’d pick some people off and it almost paid off.

“We didn’t know that we were that close to third to be honest, but with about 1,200 to go we tried to slowly ease into picking it up, picking it up. We decided to wait until 300 to go and then we realized that was the medal up there, so we both just kind of looked at each other. (James) went outside, I tried to go inside and we almost caught him.

“I’ve seen a lot of cool cultural things that you never would see normally. You get to meet a lot of athletes, interact with people you never would get to at even the Olympics. It’s a unique crowd and a unique experience.”

Mark Wieczorek, Ponca City, Okla., men’s 800, second in first semifinal heat (1:48.32):
“(Qualifying for the final) was the goal obviously. I was trying to get out conservative and relaxed to put myself into position. I was right where I wanted at the 400. Over the next 200, I kind of got absorbed a little bit and got pushed back a little further than I wanted to be and was a little boxed in. At six (600 meters), I had to slow down and move outside to go. I feel like had a decent amount of energy left in reserves to be able to close out strong. I’m happy with how out it turned out there … I’m happy to be here and hopefully I can represent the USA well for the first time tomorrow.”

Tyler Mulder, Orange City, Iowa, men’s 800, first in second semifinal heat (1:49.65): “It didn’t get out too fast, and I just wanted to make sure I was in position the whole way to strike. The last 300 I noticed I was going to get eaten up if I didn’t go, so I make a little move just to get to the front and then just relaxed to make sure I could qualify as easily as possible.

“It was pretty easy, so that’s good for tomorrow. Now I’ve just got to get out of here and prep for tomorrow and ice and do everything I can to try and bring home a gold. That’s the No. 1 goal and that’s the reason for coming here, so I’m excited for tomorrow.”

Annick Lamar, Hamilton, N.Y., women’s 1,500, 10th (4:32.57):
“We saw the men’s 1,500 yesterday and we saw them really take the first three laps really slow, so I was kind of anticipating — given the altitude and that some us are not acclimated to it and since it’s a championship — that it would go slow. I was really just trying to put myself in the middle of the crowd. The field actually wasn’t that big; it was enough to make it cumbersome but it wasn’t so big that I felt I could get comfortably settled in and we could all move along. There was a lot of pushing; it was really aggressive, so I just tried to stay as calm as I could and work my way up. For most of the it I found myself at the back of it, which of course always puts a little fear in your heart that the field’s just going to pull away. But some openings came and I saw the field was being really aggressive up front, so I though I’ve got to make space for myself. I was able to do that going into the last lap. With 400 to go, I was in the prime position of where I wanted to be — right in the middle — and then just unfortunately at 400 meters they just opened it up and it was hard to stay with it at that point. I lost contact.”

Jackie Areson, West Palm Beach, Fla., women’s 1,500, 11th (4:34.23): “The pace up front was so slow, which usually I’m good at but I didn’t know with the altitude factor whether the slow pace would really even feel slow. It did, but it’s so hard. I’m bleeding all over from everybody tripping. It was brutal.

“Usually it’s only the first half lap when everybody’s getting settled, but it was the whole way until the last lap. Everybody knew they wanted to wait as long as possible [to make a move] because of the altitude.”

Chris Carter, Hearne, Texas, men’s triple jump, sixth (16.21m/53-2.25): “Everthing felt pretty good and I thought I should have won the contest. In this competition the head wind was really the main factor today and I didn’t adjust to it. I’ve never competed in a headwind and it threw me off for the whole competition. I’m going to learn from this”

Alyssa Hasslen, Sheridan, Ore., women’s shot put, seventh (16.56m/54-4): “I was pretty consistent. This is my first senior national team. My expectations might have been a little high but my whole goal today was to make the finals which I did. I wanted to throw 17 meters. Right now I’m in the middle of fall training. I started training a month ago. We’ve been doing heavy lifts. To prepare for this meet we got my progression going faster than it normally would have been. This was a good experience and hopefully that will get me going next year.”

Kim Conley, Santa Rosa, Calif., women’s 5,000, seventh (17:00.90): “It kind of played out exactly how I thought it would. I wanted to settle in in the beginning and work my way up to the front and just try to sit with the leaders there. It went out just like that, and then the woman that won (Marisol Guadalupe Romero of Mexico) just kept pressing the pace down and I had nothing left in that last mile. She ran a great race and obviously fed off the energy of the crowd, which was really cool. I’m just disappointed with how I finished.

“I haven’t run in very many championship settings as it is, so it’s a great experience just in that, but also to travel and just run with a bunch of international competition is a great experience.”

Neely Spence, Shippensburg, Pa., women’s 5,000, eighth (17:01.11): “I just wanted to hang there as long as possible to set myself up at the end if it was there, and it obviously wasn’t. I’m still pleased with my performance. I have got a lot of speed work left to do the rest of this season. I just wanted the experience out here. It was great to compete with Kim and the rest of the field; they did awesome. The Mexican team is really strong, so I felt really privileged to be here.”

Jamie Nieto, Sacramento, Calif., men’s high jump, sixth (2.21m/7-3):
“I got the call late to compete in the Pan American Games so I’ve been training for only two weeks. So I don’t have anything to be upset about. Plus, these guys really raised the level of competition today. I wasn’t in shape to jump 2.30m (7-6.5) today. I just look forward to doing better next year. I did the best I could do today.”

Jim Dilling, Fond du Lac, Wis., men’s high jump, seventh (2.21m/7-3):
“Coming in we figured it would take 2.26m (7-5) to get a medal and that’s where it was. We expected to finish a little higher. But this was good competition. 2.32m (7-7.25) to win it is and it’s October that kind of sets that stage for what’s coming up in the Olympic year. I’m going to take a week off and then start base training again...going out to Oregon to train with Jesse Williams and get back at it.”

Lee Moore, Cordova, Texas, men’s 400m hurdles, eighth (51.10):
“I had lane one, which in my 10 years of running track, I’ve never been in lane one, so that was new. Really the thing with today was I wasn’t able to get a base fitness wise to come in and run multiple rounds, so that’s probably why I was slower in the second round. I ran as fast as I could; the Lord is in charge and I’m not worried about it.

“This was obviously a great experience making the U.S. team for the first time. Moving on, its just confidence and just helps me know some different things about how to run. I got experience running in the inside lane if that ever comes up again, so it was good.”

Reuben McCoy, Sicklerville, N.J., men’s 400 hurdles, seventh (50.18):
“I was little bit more laid back this time, but I should have gone out a little more aggressive. I floated first hurdle, and the hurdle race is so much [about] rhythm, so it was hard to kind of play catch up at that point, so I just had to maintain and wait for myself to make a move.

“This definitely makes me a lot more hungry. I’ll take a week or two off and get right back at things and go ahead and step my game up two more notches.”

Leslie Cole, Idabel, Okla., women’s 200, seventh (23.46): “I thank God for the experience; it was a worthy experience and I just need to know how to not panic when people are around me and learn how to focus on my own race.

“Just learn to focus on your own race and do what your coach tells you do and keep moving forward. Take things a day at a time. Don’t focus on the past, focus on the present and the future.

“I was really nervous and I’m still learning. I’m growing every day. This is all new to me, so I’ll eventually grow into the big shoes.”

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