ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Chaunte Lowe did not set out to become the crowd favorite.
Setting a new American record in the high jump, however, did just that for Lowe at the USA Track & Field Indoor National Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center on Sunday.
Lowe’s mark of 6 feet, 7 1/2 inches bested Tisha Waller’s record 6-7 jump back in 1998.
“It means a lot to me. I think it’s the thing that means the most to me is to come back on the world stage and say I’m valid again,” Lowe said. “There’s always those question marks after you have a child.”
Lowe was named the women’s Visa Championship Series winner as the best overall athlete, while Galen Rupp claimed the men’s VCS title despite not winning any events. The VCS titles are accumulated over the course of all the USATF indoor events.
A total of 18 other gold medals were handed out Sunday afternoon.
Jennifer Simpson claimed her second gold of the meet, winning the 1,500 meters with a time of 4 minutes, 15.04 seconds.
“I knew when I took the lead I couldn’t just get up there and sit around, I needed to really take command,” Simpson said. “I’m just really happy with what I did.”
Simpson just edged Brenda Martinez (4:15.11), a much closer victory than Simpson’s triumph in Saturday’s 3,000, which she claimed with a time of 9:19.15 to hold off Jackie Areson (9:20.61).
“I’m coming down the home stretch and everyone’s going crazy. I didn’t hear (Martinez), but when that’s going on you don’t shut it down,” Simpson said.
The men’s and women’s 60-meter hurdles were marred by false starts in both the preliminaries and the finals.
“It is what it is; false starts happen, but you’ve got to stay focused and do what you have to do,” said Aries Merritt, whose time of 7.43 seconds edged Kevin Craddock (7.46).
It was not any easier on the women’s side.
“I’m used to false starts, I’ve been a victim myself. It was really good to get through the race and get a (personal record) for me,” said Kristi Castlin, who won with a time of 7.84.
Sanya Richards-Ross, the wife of New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross, claimed the 400 meters in 50.71 seconds, coming from behind at the 200-meter mark to overtake Natasha Hastings (51.66).
“I wasn’t sure how the first turn was going to go. I didn’t want to run the first 200 too quick,” Richards-Ross said after her husband presented her with the gold medal.
“We really push each other,” she added. “I saw how hard he worked in his offseason. I wanted to duplicate that. I tripled my efforts and I feel I’m in great shape.”
The women’s 60-meter dash saw Tianna Madison (7.02) slip past Barbara Pierre (7.06).
Erica Moore cruised to victory in the 800 meters with a time of 2:01.08, finishing ahead of her training partner, Phoebe Wright (2:03.07).
Other track champions for the men included Trell Kimmons (6.45) in the 60 dash, Gil Roberts (45.39) in the 400 dash, Duane Solomon in the 800 (1:48.58) and Leonel Manzano (3:48.05) in the 1500.
In the field events, Jillian Camarena-Williams won the shot put with a throw of 64 feet, 2 1/4 inches to top Michelle Carter (63-2 3/4). Janay DeLoach took the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 7 1/4 inches. Former UNM track standout Alesha Walker was seventh (20-9 3/4).
For the men, Reese Hoffa took the shot put with a throw of 71-4 1/4. Ashton Eaton took home the gold in the long jump with a mark of 26-5 1/2. Brad Walker captured the pole vault with a height of 19-2 3/4.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal