BOSTON -- For Marylanders Joel Brown and Tiombe Hurd, the road to Moscow for the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 10-12 had major potholes yesterday.
Brown, the former Woodlawn High and Ohio State star, ran the fastest 60-meter high hurdles race of his life, 7.54 seconds, at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships, but all it got him was a fourth place in an event that qualified only the top two Americans for the trip to Russia.
"Basically, I just panicked," he said. Three others surged by over the final barrier.
And Hurd's luck was just as bad.
The Upper Marlboro resident, George Mason University graduate and 2004 Olympian, 32, took the U.S. women's triple jump gold medal for the fourth time since 2000, but her winning jump of 45 feet, 7 inches fell short of the 46-3 1/4 minimum needed to qualify for the worlds.
Brown, 26, now an assistant coach at Ohio State, breezed into the eight-man final with a 7.61 semifinal performance, good for second place behind Terrence Trammell's 7.60.
And he ran a far better race in the final, jumping out to an early lead and staying in front over the first four barriers.
But that's where his troubles started.
First Trammell flashed by, going on to win the race in 7.46, fastest clocking in the world this year. And then Dominique Arnold (7.51) and Anwar Moore (7.52) got by Brown, too.
A maximum of two athletes per event qualified for the world meet - provided they met the tough qualifying standards. Brown had predicted it would take a 7.50 to make the team and he was right.
"I had it, I had a really good chance," said Brown, after he'd caught his breath and saw the final times flashed on the scoreboard.
"At least I got a PR [personal record] out of the meet."
Hurd's 45-7 was the best triple jump performance by an American athlete in 2006, and she added it to the U.S. indoor titles she'd won in 2000, 2001 and 2004.
It marked an encouraging comeback after she missed the entire 2005 season with an ankle injury, but some old problems persisted.
She fouled on four of her six attempts, bounding 45-7 on second attempt and 44-3 1/4 on her sixth, but botching her four other leaps.
"It was just my second competition of the year and I'm still a little rusty," Hurd said. "It may take me a few more meets to get back to my old self, but overall, I'm very excited."