GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Team USA saved its best for the last day of track and field competition at Telemex Athletic Stadium, hauling in six medals, highlighted by a gold medal in the women’s steeplechase by Sara Hall (Santa Rosa, Calif.).
Team USA pushed its medal count to 16 (four gold, eight silver, four bronze) as action moves back to the streets of Guadalajara Saturday with the men’s 50k race walk followed by the men’s marathon Sunday.
Aretha Thurmond (Seattle, Wash.) got things started by earning her third career Pan American medal when she placed second in the women’s discus with a throw of 59.16m/194-1. Thurmond won the gold medal at the 2003 Pan American Games and won silver in 1999.
Team USA also earned silver medals in the men’s pole vault, men’s javelin and women’s 4x100m relay, while the men’s 4x100m relay settled for the bronze medal.
Hall overcame the mile-high altitude (elevation 5,138 feet) to become the first American ever to medal in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, being clocked in 10 minutes 3.16 seconds.
“It’s a dream come true just being able to win a medal at an international competition,” Hall said. “I see it as a stepping stone to where I want to be eventually, which is Olympic medals. I’m pretty excited.”
Hall led through the first 1,000 meters of the race before defending champion and Pan American Games record holder Sabine Heitling from Brazil grabbed the lead. Hall maintained third just five meters behind the leaders before retaking the lead for good with 500 meters left. She opened up a 10-meter lead over Columbia’s Angela Figueroa after hurdling the final water jump, expanding the lead down the homestretch to win by 30 meters. Mason Cathey (Jacksonville, Fla.) finished fourth in 10:19.10.
Jeremy Scott (Norfolk, Neb.), runner-up at the 2011 USA Outdoor Championships, kept Team USA’s streak alive of earning at least one medal in the pole vault at every Pan American Games by soaring 5.60m/18-4.5 to earn the silver medal.
Scott didn’t attempt a vault until the fourth series at 5.30m/17-4.5, which he cleared on his first try. He cleared 5.40m/17-8.5 and 5.50m/18-0.5 on his second attempts. He made 5.60m on first attempt, passed at 5.65m/18-6.5 and missed three attempts at 5.70m/18-8.25.
Cuba’s Lazaro Borges, silver medalist at the 2011 World Championships, set a Pan American Games record in the pole vault at 5.80m/19-0.25.
Cyrus Hostetler (Newberg, Ore.) used a season best of 82.24m/269-8, coming on his last throw, to collect a silver medal in the men’s javelin. Sean Furey (San Diego, Calif.) placed fourth in the men’s javelin at 77.05m/252-9.
Rosangela Santos caught Team USA’s Chastity Riggien (Montgomery, Ala.) in the final 15 meters to power Brazil to a gold medal in the women’s 4x100 relay in 42.85. Team USA settled for its second straight silver medal in the Pan American Games with a 43.10 clocking. Team USA had built its lead on the strength of an opening leg by Kenyanna Wilson (Glendale, Ariz.), who passed the baton to Barbara Pierre (Winter Haven, Fla.), who earlier was silver medalist in the 100. Yvette Lewis (Newport News Va.), who broke away from competition in the women’s triple jump, maintained Team USA’s lead on the third leg before she handed the baton to Riggien.
A slow exchange between Rubin Williams (San Jose, Calif.) to anchor Rae Edwards (Opelika, Ala.) proved costly in the men’s 4x100m relay with Team USA seeing any chances of gold fade in having to settle for the bronze medal in 39.17. Team USA used a strong opening leg by Calesio Newman (Green Sea, S.C.) to touch first when he passed the baton to Jeremy Dodson (Denver, Colo.). Brazil took the gold in 38.18 followed by Saint Kitts & Nevis in 38.81.
Tyler Mulder (Orange City, Iowa) was edged out of the bronze medal in the men’s 800 by twenty-three hundredths of a second and was unable to pass Cuba’s Raidel Acea, who was timed in 1:46.23 to 1:46.46 for Mulder. Mark Wieczorek (Ponca City, Okla.) placed fifth in 1:47.76.
Cuba’s Jose Sanchez fought off Team USA’s Donald Cowart (Rustburg, Va.) to earn the bronze medal in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase by twenty-two hundredths of a second. Sanchez was timed in 8:49.75 to Cowart’s 8:49.97. Cowart kept pace with the leaders over the last 400 meters but nearly stumbled going over the last water jump and that proved costly. Team USA’s Derek Scott (Grand Rapids, Mich.) finished sixth in 8:55.03.
Jeff Porter (Franklin Park, N.J.), running out on lane eight, was fourth in the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.45, while Dominic Berger (Mitchellville, Md.) struggled out of the blocks in lane seven, finishing seventh in 13.65.
World record-holder Dayron Robles of Cuba, running in lane four, set a Pan American Games record en route to defending his men’s 110m hurdle title in 13.10.
Team USA closed out the meet with fourth-place finishes in the men’s and women’s 4x400m relays that were both won by Cuba.
A 45.3 opening leg by Josh Scott (Winter Haven, Fla.) put Team USA in front in the men’s 4x400 relay but it couldn’t maintain the lead fading to fourth throughout the remainder of the race. Bryan Miller (Houston, Texas) and Lee Moore (Cordova, Texas) recorded splits of 45.6 and 46.4 on their second and third legs, while Reuben McCoy (Sicklerville, N.J.) ran a 46.4 anchor leg.
The women’s foursome of Ciara Short (San Diego, Calif.), Leslie Cole (Idabel, Okla.), Takecia Jameson (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and anchor Mackenzie Hill (Long Beach, Calif.) was timed in 3:33.42. Team USA, which had medaled in every women’s 4x400m relay at the Pan American Games, was never able to catch the top three teams - Cuba, Brazil and Colombia - throughout the entire race.
Crystal Manning (Dallas, Texas) finished sixth in the women’s triple jump at 13.53m/44-4.75 coming on her first attempt. She had fouls on her second, third and sixth jumps. Lewis placed seventh in the women’s triple jump at 13.17m/43-2.5.
Nick Mossberg (Tucson, Ariz.) no-heighted in the men’s pole vault, missing all three attempts at 5.20m/17-0.75 after opening the competition by passing on heights at 4.90m/16-0.75 and 5.05m/16-6.75
For complete Pan American Games track and field results, go to
TEAM USA MEDALS - 16 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
Sara Hall (Santa Rosa, Calif.), women’s 3000m steeplechase, 10:03.16, 10/28
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
Aretha Thurmond (Seattle, Wash.), women’s discus, 59.53m/195-3, 10/28
Jeremy Scott (Norfolk, Neb.), men’s pole vault, 5.60m/18-4.5, 10/28
Cyrus Hostetler (Newberg, Ore.), men’s javelin, 82.24m/269-9, 10/28
Women’s 4x100 (Kenyanna Wilson, Barbara Pierre, Yvette Lewis, Chastity Riggien), 43.10, 10/28
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
Men’s 4x100 (Calesio Newman, Jeremy Dodson, Rubin Williams, Rae Edwards), 39.17, 10/28
TEAM USA ATHLETES QUOTES
Sara Hall, Santa Rose, Calif., women’s 3,000m steeplechase, gold medalist (10:03.16): “I thought I could run around 10 minutes, so I was very happy that considering the conditions and altitude.
“It’s a dream come true just being able to win a medal at an international competition. I see it as a stepping stone to where I want to be eventually, which is Olympic medals. I’m pretty excited.
“I knew I had a good shot [at winning.] There were some great girls in the race, but it’s hard to know. It’s the end of a long year, so it’s hard to know where people are at.
“I’ve definitely run faster, but considering the conditions and having to lead a lot of it, I think this was one of my best steeples. I’m just really excited in this event. It’s been a fun challenge for me. I think it’s an event I can compete in internationally, and I’m excited about it.
“I love Mexico. I’ve had only good experiences here. I love the people and the culture and I’ve gotten to explore a little bit and gotten to meet a lot of people. I hope to come back soon; it’s been really fun.”
Aretha Thurmond, Seattle, Wash., women’s discus, silver medalist (59.53m/195-3): “I don’t care if it’s summer time, winter time or fall you can’t turn an opportunity down. My expectations are always high. I always shoot for the top spot, I’m not going to lie, but I’m still happy with the silver medal. It’s been a long season. I’ve been training my tail off, so I can just hang my head high knowing that I gave it my all today.
“I’ve really enjoyed it here. We have a really young team over here. I think it’s great when you can stay with a sport and show them a different side to the sport ... the international relations … the respect for your competitors and the appreciation for the caliber of competition that this is. Everyone is bringing their ‘A’ team. This isn’t like a slam dunk here. I think it’s great for them to see those of us who were able to come from World Championship team and be on this team sets a good example.
“We have depth that is unbelievable right now in the women’s discus and we have to be ready.”
Jeremy Scott, Norfolk, Neb., men’s pole vault, silver medalist (5.60m/18-4.5): “It’s just kind of an awkward time of the year being October. Since the end of August, after the World Championships I’ve been trying to pick out a few things to start with to work on for next year. I tried to put that into practice today. I knew my conditioning probably wasn’t in top form and that I would get tired. At 18-8 I flat out ran out of gas. I felt like I was jumping well enough when I got into rhythm to be right in there … But it didn’t … I’m looking forward to tomorrow to kick my feet up for the next three to four weeks.”
Cyrus Hostetler, Newberg, Ore., men’s javelin, silver medalist (82.24m/269-8): “I made sure to prepare myself. I was really in great shape and I felt I was ready for personal best or season best and I came away with a season best on last throw to move from bronze to silver medal. This has been a long painful year full of injuries. I’m coming off of two ACL surgeries on my left knee during the last two years. But the longer we get through the year the healthier my knee gets. I’ve been throwing better. On my second throw, I tweaked the knee a little on my second throw but I kept on moving and kept it warm and it was able to hold up the rest of the meet. This was my first international team and this will do me good going into the Olympic year. I got the ‘A’ standard now, so I’m really excited.”
Jeff Porter, Franklin Park, N.J., men’s 110m hurdles, fourth (13.45): “I’m disappointed. I was really hoping to get a medal. It was a pretty good race. I kind of hit one of the hurdles early on and that really through me off my balance and I wasn’t able to recover.
“It’s hurdles. It’s one of those deals that something always happens. Unfortunately, it happened to me today, so no sense in looking back on what could have been. I need to tighten up technically for indoors and get ready to go again.”
Dominic Berger, Mitchellville, Md., men’s 110m hurdles, seventh (13.95): “The legs were just real heavy today. It’s so late in the season, so I just gave it all I could today. Today, my best wasn’t good enough.
“I kind of plowed through the first hurdle, so if I had concentrated more on being clean throughout the race it would have been a better race. Just being the competitor that I am, I tried to race through the entire race and not think about form.
“It’s always a great experience being able to represent your country, so given the opportunity I’m just blessed to be here. It’s a great opportunity to get to see a beautiful city in Mexico, so I can’t complain.”
Tyler Mulder, Orange City, Iowa, men’s 800m, fourth (1:46.46): “I was trying to get out in the first 100, but my sharpness isn’t there after doing as many miles as I was doing coming into this, so I’m just not race sharp. I came close to a medal at the Pan Am Games. It would have been nice to at least come away with a medal.
“I think I gunned it a little early. Had I waited I probably could have at least held on to third, but I was dying the last little bit. Cuba caught me and nipped me out for a medal.
“It’s a championship meet. You want to be in the mix with these guys and know who your competition is and how they race, so you’re ready for a bigger stage like the Olympics.”
Mark Wieczorek, Ponca City, Okla., men’s 800m, fifth (1:47.75): “I got out right where I wanted to be, right in the middle of the pack as relaxed as I could. I was in good position, but I just didn’t have it that last 200 today.
“I took some time off; I think I worked my fitness back okay, but I haven’t done anything to simulate hurt like that in a race back to back days. I’m not used to buffering that lactic acid and running through it. It hit me pretty hard today.
“I got out there and when you just can’t finish, you just can’t finish. One day you just don’t have it, and today was a day like that for me. I didn’t get too far back. What I didn’t want to do was get too far out of it and then kick and come up short because I wasn’t where I needed to be. I put myself there. I just didn’t have anything to respond.
“It was so fun. Being out here competing against these other countries, eating with some of the competitors, taking with them, learning about them, making new friends was awesome. I’ve never had experiences like this. I’m proud to get to wear a U.S. singlet; that’s something I’ve always wanted. No matter what happens in the rest of my career, I can always say I did that.”
Mason Cathey, Jacksonville, Fla., women’s 3,000m steeplechase, fourth (10:19.10): “I talked to my roommate last night about having a plan. I went out and followed my plan, but with the altitude you don’t know what to expect so you don’t want to go out too fast because it might hit you. You kind of feel like you’re being a bit hesitant, but it was a good race — awesome experience, great crowd. I just wanted to do well in Mexico and beat a couple of people and represent the U.S. well.”
Gia Lewis-Smallwood, Champaign, Ill., women’s discus, fourth (57.34m/188-1): “It was interesting because I haven’t competed since the World Championships (Aug. 28). So I was a little bit competition rusty but I was happy to come away with fourth at 57.34m which isn’t a bad mark for October. I was hoping to go around 58, 59 meters, so I was close. This was actually a real good experience. This was the longest season I’ve ever had going from March until right now. So for me to come out and throw like today, I’ll take it.”
Donald Cowart, Rusburg, Va., men’s 3,000m steeplechase, fourth (8:49.97): “If I had better hurdle form this time of year I would have had medal. I almost bit it. I missed the barrier. The Venezuelan (Marving Blanco) who was ahead slowed down so much into the barrier that it threw me off and I went to the side and totally missed barrier but luckily I stayed upright and landed. Altitude was definitely a factor as well as this time of year. I felt a lot of Latin American runners, like Brazil and Cuba, were sharpening up for this. I wanted to win; I’m always expecting to win and race my heart out. I put myself in great position to win and I think if I would have had just a few more hurdle workouts, especially at faster pace because it was just sit and kick today just like the 1,500 and 5,000. This gives me good confidence entering next year especially running well at altitude at this time of year.”
Derek Scott, Grand Rapids, Mich., men’s 3,000m steeplechase, sixth (8:55.03): “The pace felt good early. I was nervous about the altitude after watching the other distance races where people started to die really hard at end of races. So the plan for Donnie (teammate Cowart) was to start at the back. We executed it perfectly, but I really, really felt the altitude the last 400. We went to Colorado Springs two weeks ago to try to acclimate, but it’s too hard to train for altitude unless you’re really there all the time. I tried to get in the best shape I could for October. This is a great learning race for the future for international and then running on sea level after holding my own in altitude against some international guys.”
Chastity Riggien, Montgomery, Ala., anchor of women’s 4x100m, silver medalist (43.10): “The race was really good. My teammates did a really good job coming off from the start. They handed off the baton really well. It came to me and I did as best as I can to hold the leg. I’m just proud to be able to get my first Pan American medal.
“It’s been amazing. I’ve learned a lot. This is my senior semester in school at the University of Southern Mississippi, and I’ve learned a lot as far as what the stage of the Olympics is and what I need to do prepare for the Olympics. It’s been amazing meeting and seeing a lot of different people, and I’m just looking forward to the Olympic Trials.
“(Winning a medal) is an honor. I can’t event express how blessed I am to have this opportunity because not too many people get this opportunity, so I will remember this. This is one of the best meets I’ve ever had, and I’m just happy to be here.
“It was our first time meeting each other, and we just meshed and connected well.”
Calesio Newman, Green Sea, S.C., first leg of men’s 4x100m relay, bronze medalist (39:17): “I did as much as can but I know it’s not an ‘I” team and it takes a team effort. We did the best we can. We’re not here to make any excuses.”
Jeremy Dodson, Denver, Colo., second leg on men’s 4x100m relay, bronze medalist (39:17): “It’s always good to be in top three but it’s definitely not what we expected. Our goal was to do better.”
Rubin Williams (San Jose, Calif.), third leg of men’s 4x100m, bronze medalist (39.17): “As a competitor you always want to go out and win a medal, especially when you’re competing for your country. You want to compete to the best of your ability and do your best. Coming up with the bronze medal is not what we wanted, but we are happy and grateful for what we did and what we were able to earn. It’s always an honor to run with the USA on your chest. We have a lot of people that are not able to do that. We’re trying to come out here and be ambassadors for our country and do the best we could on the track.
“The gun went off and it looked like we made up the stagger on the first leg. From there we were just running. I’m not sure where we were at when I got the stick that third leg, but I thought I was making up a little bit of the stagger … Everything came together at the end. We ran faster than we did yesterday, but we just didn’t come up with the gold medal like we wanted to.”
Rae Edwards, Opelika, Ala., anchor leg on men’s 4x100m, bronze medalist (39.17): “I will take the blame for it (the third exchange) because throughout practices and the rounds, the way I had been getting out wasn’t at my full potential. I knew on game day I would step it up so I don’t think I gave him (third leg Rubin Williams) an accurate mark where he should have been closer to me because of the way I accelerated out. I went out at a higher speed than he was used to which is not bad but it happens. My main goal was to be the leader for this young relay. I’m more down because I took it upon myself to get a gold medal for these guys because this is their first international team.”
Leslie Cole, Idabel, Okla., second leg on women’s 4x400m, fourth (3:33.42): “I felt like we fought as hard as we could with the training that we have. None of us really have training under out belts, so I feel like we did the best that we could with the training that we have.
“I was trying to go after first and I feel like I emptied the bag to soon because I didn’t have a lot coming home. I needed to conserve a little bit more on the backstretch.”
MacKenzie Hill, Long Beach, Calif., anchor leg on women’s 4x400m, fourth (3:33.42):
“I just had to stay focused and think that I had to go out and really run a smart race. I tried to move my team up into better position without killing myself or exerting too much energy in multiple areas.
“I think our team did as best we could. I believe in me and my girls, our coaches, everybody. We went out there and gave it our best with what we had today.
“Honestly, it’s always amazing to represent the U.S. It’s actually my first time at the senior level. The last time was at the Pan Am Games in 2003. I didn’t get to run the relay then as a junior, so I was really excited when I was able to run it this time around as a senior.”
Reuben McCoy, Sicklerville, N.J., anchor leg on men’s 4x400m, fourth (3:03.91): “We were in a position where I was in a little bit of striking distance, but I tried to wait to give myself a good chance to pick up at the end, but the ground was a little bit too much for me to make up.
“Overall, I’m proud of all my teammates first and foremost. … Josh Scott, Bryan Miller, Lee Moore — those are some (quality) guys out there running, coming into this meet with just a few months of training for some of these guys. When their country asked them to perform, they showed up. … I’ll run that relay with those same three guys any day, because I know they have heart.”
Josh Scott, Winter Haven, Fla., first leg on men’s 4x400m, fourth (3:03.91): “[The goal] was to basically keep us ahead, keep everything in tact. I can’t say we ran a bad race. I know it’s not our best, but for our first time running together I think we did more than exceptional for this meet. … We’re not satisfied, but it’s better than what we expected.
Sean Furey (San Diego, Calif.), men’s javelin, fourth (77.05m/252-9): “It was a great opportunity to go out and compete in an awesome atmosphere. I had been struggling toward the end of the season, but it was a good time. I wish I had three more throws to put it together. I wanted to go out there and compete and knew I was capable of huge throw if I could execute my technique so I tried to focus on that.”