Williams, Stuczynski star at California Relays

Updated: May 10, 2008, 10:17 PM ET
Associated Press

MODESTO, Calif. -- Mike Rodgers and Lauryn Williams won the 100-meter races at the California Invitational Relays on Saturday, and Jenn Stuczynski set a meet record in the pole vault at 15 feet, 5 inches in the kickoff to her Olympic campaign.

Among other American hopefuls for Beijing, Christian Cantwell won the shot put with a mark of 71-4 3/4, and Khadevis Robinson won the men's 800 in 1:47.32. Cantwell's effort and Stuczynski's vault were the best in the world this year as the athletes inaugurated a new track at Modesto Junior College in the 67th running of the venerable event formerly known as the Modesto Relays.

Rodgers' 10.06-second dash is the fastest by an American this year, while hurdles world champion Michelle Perry injured her left leg during the women's race won in 11.18 by Athens silver medalist Williams, who also won the 200 in 22.85.

"I think it's a good starting point for this year," said Williams, who plans to "dabble" in the 200 leading up to Beijing. "I'm excited to be showing fitness, and I'm looking forward to moving down to the 10's (in the 100 meters) and maybe even the 21s (in 200 meters)."

Perry, the two-time world champion in the 100 hurdles, was in front of her heat in the 100 when she pulled up and collapsed on the infield grass holding her left thigh. Williams won the race easily while Perry had her thigh wrapped before hobbling away.

Before Rodgers' impressive sprint, Carlos Moore ran a wind-aided 9.97.

Stuczynski, the only American woman ever to clear 16 feet, didn't get serious until Stacy Dragila and the rest of the field were finished. She easily bested Dragila's previous Modesto record of 15-1 on her first jump, but barely failed in three straight tries at 16-0 3/4, which would have bested her own U.S. record.

"All three times, I was over (the bar)," Stuczynski said after her outdoor season debut. "I just couldn't get the standards right. I knew I didn't have a lot of jumps in me, so we came in high to try to get record jumps. I could feel the heat."

Cantwell, a crowd favorite and the reigning world indoor champion, beat a strong field with his second throw in one of the Relays' featured events.

"After I threw that big one, I thought about going over to the long jump pit and taking a couple of jumps," Cantwell joked.

Robinson, the four-time U.S. outdoor champion in the 800, finished slightly off last year's top times for the best U.S. runner at his distance.

"This is my home away from home, but sometimes the body doesn't allow you to do it," Robinson said. "I'll take a win any day, though."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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