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Berger gains Pan Am juniors; Williams advances to finals


CARSON, Calif. - Dominic Berger's track and field future seems limitless.

The University of Maryland freshman out of DeMatha High School in Hyattsville proved himself the best young high hurdler in the nation with a 13.87-second victory in the Junior National Championships yesterday at the Home Depot Center.

Berger cruised to a decisive triumph over Auburn's Tyrone Akins (14.09) and seven others - winning the 110-meter high hurdles title by five meters and clinching a spot on the U.S. team bound for the Pan American Junior Championships.

For others, though, the Day One focus at these U.S. Outdoor Championships - actually concurrent meets for Open-level elite athletes as well as Junior athletes - was on advancing and qualifying.

Joel Brown and Devon Williams did just that - moving up a notch in the race for medals, rankings, travel and national team opportunities.

Brown, the 1999 Woodlawn High School and 2004 Ohio State University graduate who has made steady progress moving up his sport's ladder of elite athletes in recent years, clocked a 13.46 in his first-round race of the men's 110-meter hurdles and moved into today's semifinals at the Open Nationals.

Three hours earlier, Williams, the rising junior at Towson Catholic, claimed a spot in the women's finals of the concurrently-staged Junior Nationals.

The Open athletes are battling for spots on the American team headed for the World Championships in Helsinki in early August. For the Juniors - age 19 or under - the target destination is Windsor, Ontario for the Pan-Am Juniors in mid-July.

Brown led his 110 hurdles prelim through the fourth hurdle, only to see two-time Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell (13.37) and two others rush past over the final two barriers. But his 13.46 was easily fast enough to get him into today's semis.

Williams had a struggle on her hands in the prelims of the Junior 800.

"I just wanted to make it through, to move up," said Williams, who progressed with a third-place 2:10.23 performance in a race won by Cal-Berkeley's Alysia Johnson at 2:08.86.

"I felt fine, but thought it would be faster. The pace was slow [1:02.8 at 400]; I just hung in there."

NOTES: The USA Track and Field and State of California flags hung at half-staff, in tribute to veteran official Paul Suzuki, 77, who died after being struck by a 16-pound shot put flung by a college athlete in a pre-meet practice session Wednesday afternoon. ... Baltimore veterans Bernard Williams and James Carter open their Nationals bids in first-round heats today. Williams runs the 100-meter dash, Carter the 400 hurdles.

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