Erik Kynard wins record 5th straight U.S. Indoor high jump title but misses out on national team

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- When Erik Kynard failed to clear 7 feet, 7 3/4 inches in the high jump Saturday at the USA Indoor championships, he ripped off his number and spiked the crossbar.

Although he won the event for a record fifth consecutive year, he failed to reach the minimum standard required for an invitation to the U.S. squad for the world indoor championships March 1-4 in Birmingham, England. The national championships finish Sunday.

"Not so much animation, more exemplifying passion," Kynard said. "It's not rehearsed. I'm blessed, and everybody else is blessed that the crossbar didn't turn into the javelin after I missed."

Kynard said he was recently sick, and his performance suffered for it.

"I got the flu a week before coming here," he said. "I was out of training for six days. And it showed. I just wasn't sharp. I have to move on and get ready for outdoors."

Shot-putter Daniella Hill clinched her U.S. team invitation after a winning mark of 59-4 1/4.

"I felt really good, really relieved to make the team," Hill said. "That was my main goal coming in. I wasn't too concerned about position or where I finished as long as I got this piece of paper saying I get to go to London. That was the big goal, so I'm happy. Relieved is the best expression that I can come up with right now."

Shelby Houlihan won the 3,000 meters in 9 minutes, 0.08 seconds with a strong kick.

"My coach told me don't go until 400 or even 200 if you feel it's a fast enough pace," she said. "I definitely thought we were going fast enough, so I didn't want to waste any energy moving too quickly. So I waited until the last 200. I really wanted to make it quick and decisive. Hard move as to try and get the jump on them and try to come away with the win."

It worked, as she blew past Katie Mackey and Emma Coburn at the start of the final lap and held it through the finish.

"I put the hammer down and ran for my life," said Houlihan, the defending champion. "My senior year in college, I got second in the 1,500 in nationals, and I let up at the line. As I was coming toward the line, I was thinking about that moment. 'You are not letting up. You are not letting someone catch you at the finish.' That's what was going through my mind in the last lap."

In the men's 3,000, Paul Chelimo defended his championship from a year ago.

"The altitude is tough," he said. "I was trying to test my shape. I wanted to see where I am so far. It's been good. This year, I was trying for more strength. I've been doing a little bit of a build-up. I'm gaining speed at the right time."