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Jones back on top at U.S. Open

NEW YORK -- Lolo Jones made a successful return after an injury-plagued 2011 season and  Jamaica’s Asafa Powell ran the fastest 50-meter time in the world since 2005 en route to winning Athlete of the Meet honors Saturday at the U.S. Open presented by Harris at Madison Square Garden. The two wins electrified a crowd of 5,844 as the Visa Championships Series officially kicked off for the 2012 indoor season.

The meet will be broadcast on ESPN2 Sunday from 7-9 p.m. ET.

As Jones began a comeback from back surgery, which ended her season following last year’s 2011 USA Outdoor Championships, she ran the fastest time in the world since 2008 to win the Visa women’s 50m hurdles in 6.78 seconds. Jones, the two-time defending World Indoor champion, outran a field that included Tiffany Porter of Great Britain and American Kellie Wells, who finished second and third, respectively.

In his first indoor race since 2004, Powell cruised to the win in the Chase men’s 50m dash in a time of 5.64. The former world record holder in the 100m and the person responsible for the most sub-10-second 100m dashes in history, Powell bettered teammate Nesta Carter, who placed second, while American Trell Kimmons placed third.

Veronica Campbell-Brown got off to a quick start in the Harris  women’s 50m dash and the rest of the field was unable to touch her as she recorded the fastest 50m time in the world since 2000. Campbell-Brown won in 6.08, with Jessica Young second in 6.20 and Glroia Asumnu third in 6.22.

Terrence Trammell continued his reign as one of the world’s elite indoor hurdlers with his win in the Harris men’s 50m hurdles. The two-time World Indoor Championships gold medalist and two-time Olympic silver medalist won in a time of 6.45, which was just ahead of American 110m hurdles record holder David Oliver, who finished second in 6.50.

Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat overtook Bernard Lagat with one lap remaining and held off the six-time American record holder to win the Visa men’s mile. Kiplagat survived a strong final push from Lagat to win in a time of 4:00.65, just ahead of Lagat’s time of 4:00.92. A place that has always been kind to Lagat, he has won eight one mile races in the Garden since 2001.

In the Visa men’s shot put, Ryan Whiting led the class of veterans from the first throw with a 20.06m/65-9.75 effort. Whiting then improved on his next two throws to land his best of 21.16m/69-5.25 on his third attempt. Christian Cantwell moved into second with 20.72m/67-11.75 on his final throw after fouling on his first two attempts. Adam Nelson was third with a throw of 20.68m/67-10.25, and Martin finished fourth at 19.55m/61-1.75.

World Champion Jesse Williams continued his winning ways from 2011 in the men’s high jump. Williams progressed through the first three raises of the bar with only one falter at 2.20m/7-2.5. By 2.29m/7-6 only Williams, Dusty Jonas and Jaime Nieto remained. Williams sailed over the bar on his first attempt, while Jonas missed all three and Nieto decided to pass. At 2.31m/7-7 neither man was able to clear the bar, giving Williams the victory with his 2.29m/7-6 clearance, while Jonas was second and Nieto third.

In a thrillingly close finish in the men’s 600 yard dash, Renny Quow edged out Bershawn “Batman” Jackson as the two men crossed the finish line separated by a little more than a tenth of a second. Quow claimed the victory in 1:11.20, with Jackson second in 1:11.31.

Brenda Martinez may not have entered the Chase women’s mile as the favorite, but that did not stop her from storming past the field to take the win in 4:34.62. Sarah Vaughn finished three seconds back in 4:37.12, and Anna Pierce took third in 4:39.97.

In the women’s 500 yards, Keshia Baker claimed first in her first race as a professional. Baker finished in 1:03.74, while Fawn Dorr took the runner-up spot in 1:04.35.

In the Harris women’s 800m, Fantu Magiso of Ethiopia won the race with ease in a time of 2:07.54. High school senior Ajeé Wilson surged ahead through the final curve to move from last place to take the runner-up spot in a field of professionals. Wilson’s time was 2:09.09.

In the women’s pole vault, Jillian Schwartz, Janice Keppler and Becky Holliday cleared the first two heights. At the third height of 4.52m/14-10, only Schwartz was successful as she cleared the bar on her second attempt to claim the win. Keppler and Holliday were unable to clear the bar and took second and third, respectively. Jenn Suhr passed and waited to come in at 4.52m/14-10, but missed on all three attempts.

In the first relay of the night, the men’s sprint medley, Garden State Track Club and Zenith Velocity finished neck-and-neck in 3:28.04 and 3:28.05, respectively. Then the high schoolers took to the track where the girls of St. John Villa took the 4x400m title in 4:02.08 while the boys of Kellenberg won the CHSAA 4x800m relay in 8:07.40. Samantha Nadel and Brianna Nerud went 1-2 in the Girls invitational mile. Nadel broke the tape in 4:47.66 with Nerud in second in 4:54.65. On the boy’s side, Zavon Watkins of Liverpool, NY won the mile in 4:19.86.

Athlete Quotes

Lolo Jones - women’s 50m hurdles winner
“I had not raced in so long. The question was, ‘how was I going to react?’ This year I have just been working on my core strength and speed. I didn’t even know what the world record was. I knew that I had to go out there and just run. It felt good. What I learned from the Olympics last year is that anything can happen.”

Asafa Powell - men’s 50m winner
“I had a good time. It was the start and right away the race was over. I have proven I have a good start. I need to work on running the last part of the race. I don’t even remember running the 60m before this. Right now I am very fit, but not fast. I have been working hard this week.”

Veronica Campbell-Brown - women’s 50m winner
“Not a lot of people have run the 50 meters. This is a step in the right direction. Now I have to get back to training. Hopefully this is a preview of what is to come. The start is the key. I felt okay. I have to watch the tape to see how things looked. Feeling something and seeing something are different. I just want to do my best and hopefully my best will be victorious.”

Terrance Trammell - men’s 50m hurdles winner
“I feel really good. This is a blessing more than anything. The life span for a hurdler to be at the highest level doesn’t last 12 years. I’m having fun and I want to continue. My training isn’t much different but I am focusing more on the recovery. I really wanted to come here and compete well. It was my first indoor meet since 2010. I’m extremely happy with the win and next week we will start working again.”

David Oliver - second in men’s 50m hurdles
“The 50m was kind of cool. There was an emphasis on the start, but it’s the outdoor season that matters. Things really didn’t feel any different. I’m just here having fun. This is definitely one of the best indoor meets around. There was a good crowd. I would have given anything to feel this good five or six months ago. I have to execute my start and I didn’t execute it well. Terrence (Trammell) has an amazing start. He is a tough guy to beat indoors. Right now it’s really competitive practices.”

Bernard Lagat - second place in the men’s mile
“Inside the race I knew I was going to have to change my strategy to win. I was a little disappointed with the time today. The atmosphere was the same (as the Millrose Games). I didn’t feel anything different. The crowd was amazing. For Silas to come in and win his first meet is very good. That tells you how good he is.”

Silas Kiplagat - men’s mile winner
“Running against someone with so much experience was tough. It is a big win for me. It will help me to get ready for the Olympics. I can say the time was a bit slow. I was not knowing where we were going to be at.”

Jesse Williams - men’s high jump winner
“Last year I opened at 7-3 and this year I opened at 7-6 and it was good to get a win. It was an excellent way to start the year. Every competition matters. I was getting a little of the rust out and I just wanted to have fun. Dan (O’Brien) helped me out a little with the crowd. This is the second highest height I have opened at. To get a win is awesome.

“I haven’t had the target on my back on the world stage before but I have been the No. 1 rated jumper in the U.S. since 2006. It helps being a world champion. I know every time I step out I have to go all out. This is a good atmosphere to be in.”

Renny Quow - Men’s 600 yard winner
“It felt good. Training has been going good, I can’t complain. It’s still early, I can’t complain.I came out here and did what I wanted to do, so I’m happy.”

Bershawn Jackson - second place men’s 600-yard
“I came into the indoor season not being too competitive. I wanted to use the indoor season to prepare for outdoors. This year I need to work on my sprint. When you take 15 strides instead of 13 (between hurdles in the 400m hurdles) you have to be strong. Last year I was injured and didn’t have the base. Normally I start training in October or November and last year I started in January. I didn’t have it last year. This year I’m working on getting that base. I love this meet. There is something about this place. When Michael Jordan has been here he put up big numbers, when Lebron James has been here he put up big numbers. I like this meet a lot.”

Keshia Baker - women’s 500-yard winner
“It was fun. I wanted to come out and have fun. The people here just told me what to do and I have an ability to just run. I knew I had to cut and there would be a bell lap. I’m glad to be here. I didn’t really know the history (of Madison Square Garden). This if my first race as a professional and I’m glad for the opportunity. It was a great start. My family lives here and it was good they could come and see me.”

Ryan Whiting - men’s shot put winner
“It was a lot of fun, I was hear last year and got used to it. It was really my first professional meet last year, and it is a great atmosphere, the best in the U.S.

“It’s a lot of fun, I wish they would do more of this, with a distance based incentive system. They’ve been teaching me a ton. They are three guys I respect and they are always there with me telling me what to expect. It’s great to beat World Champions and Olympic medalists.”

Brenda Martinez  - women’s mile winner
“I just want to keep the momentum going, but off to a good start. I actually feel a lot stronger than I did a few years ago. I’m not even doing any speed right now, it’s all based off strength.”

Jillian Schwartz - women’s pole vault winner
“It was my first meet of the year and it was good. I really didn’t have any expectations coming into the meet. I started jumping really late in training. These are new poles for me and I just got them last week, so everything was kind of new to me, but it was good.”

Ajeé Wilson - women’s 800m runner-up
“It was very exciting, honestly I was kind of nervous coming into this race knowing everyone was faster than me and had run faster times. But I was also excited because I knew if they were running faster than me, they would pull me to a better time.”

For more information and full results, visit

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