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Torrence, Marsh sprint to titles in 100 meters


SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Despite an injury in her upper right leg, Gwen Torrence won the 100-meter race of the USA/Mobil Outdoor Track and Field championships last night at Hughes Stadium.

Torrence won easily, taking the lead midway through the race and finishing in 11.04 seconds. Carlette Guidry was second in 11.12 and Celena Mondie-Milner third in 11.22 in only the second sunny day of the meet.

Nearly 10 minutes later, Mike Marsh won the men's 100-meter race, edging Maurice Greene and Dennis Mitchell at the line.

Marsh finished in 10.222 compared to 10.224 for Greene. Mitchell had a time of 10.230.

Later in the night, Michael Johnson easily ran away with the men's 400-meter dash title with a time of 43.66.

Johnson made his move going into the final turn, and pulled away from the pack and leader Darnell Hall.

Johnson had such a comfortable lead at the end that he smiled and posed for pictures gliding across the finish line.

Butch Reynolds was second at 44.42 and Hall third at 44.55.

Torrence never relinquished the lead even though Guidry challenged her briefly at the midway point.

But Torrence's stride was too graceful and powerful, much like the runner who won two Olympic gold medals in 1992 and four in the 1993 World Championships.

But Torrence paid for running in pain.

She collapsed off the track seconds after the race, her face grimacing in pain as she was surrounded by cameras and reporters.

Torrence was unsure if she would compete in the 200-meter preliminaries today.

"I still can't believe I won," said Torrence. "My husband [coach Manley Waller] said he'll have to see how I feel after this race. I would hate to not try -- what if I didn't try here? I feel that my chances are better in the 200."

Torrence had been under intense therapy for weeks leading into the Prefontaine Classic on June 4, a meet in which she eventually withdrew.

She reaggravated the tear in her lower hamstring in an earlier race Thursday, but still ran an 11.25 in the semifinals to advance to last night's finals.

"I'm very grateful to Dennis Mitchell, who helped me out. He took time out and he had his own aches and pains, but he worked on me just like he worked on himself," she said.

"That's very rare for an athlete to help another athlete. He's got his own race to concentrate on."

Mitchell had an unbelievably fast start but was overtaken in the next few strides by Greene. Jon Drummond also got out well. Greene led Mitchell and Drummond into the closing meters, when Marsh mounted a stunning finish to lead at the line.

"It was a good race. I'm very proud of myself," Marsh said.

"I had another crummy start, but I was able to run my own race and relax and nip them at the finish. Now I have to concentrate on the 200."

This was expected to be a great field, and all the big names were here, but the field produced the slowest winning time since 1984.

Leroy Burrell was fifth in 10.31. Drummond was fourth in 10.26 and Carl Lewis, the ageless wonder, finished sixth at 10.32.

Marsh won the event just like he did in the semifinals the night before, burning past Mitchell in the closing meters.

Marsh owns the American record in the 200 at 19.72 and has a 100 best of 9.93. But this was his first national 100 title, bettering a previous best of fourth in 1990, and a fourth in the 1992 Olympic Trials.

Mitchell was the defending champion. Burrell and Lewis will be the relay alternates for the World Championships.

"I just didn't do it today," said Lewis, who the day before showed his cockiness with statements about pulling an upset.

"Yesterday doesn't matter. I just didn't run well at all. I'm going to run fast this year in the 100. I'll definitely run more 100s this year. It just wasn't there today."

In another event yesterday, Lance Deal, 34, won the hammer throw competition with a stadium record distance of 254-10.

Deal, a Rivertown, Wyo., native, set the record in round four, for the best effort by an American this season. It was the ninth-best mark in the world this year, and gave Deal his fourth U.S. title, his third in a row.

David Popejoy was second in the hammer throw at 240-10 and Kevin McMahon was third at 233-11.

"My specific plan was to beat these young whippersnappers," said the 6-foot-2, 256-pound Deal.

"I've had a pretty rough year, so I wanted to come out and throw well. Today was a hint that I'm coming back. I wanted to come in and win this thing. I was pretty concerned that I was going to have to throw a good one to win, and as it turned out, I did."

Donna Mayhew won her fourth consecutive women's javelin title with a throw of 194-01.

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