Dawn Harper-Nelson

Dawn Harper-Nelson wins 100m hurdles at U.S. Championships; Saturday recap

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Dawn Harper-Nelson beat the World champion in the 100m hurdles to win the U.S. Championship and celebrated with a cartwheel.

Harper-Nelson, the 2008 Olympic champion, clocked 12.55 seconds in the final in Sacramento, Calif. Queen Harrison was second in 12.56, followed by Lolo Jones in 12.65. World champion Brianna Rollins, who also owns the fastest time in the world this year, was fifth in 12.81.

“I made a little mistake in the middle [of the race], and I was like, ‘Oh, Lord, don’t let it go,'” Harper-Nelson told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “I knew it was going to be a great race. Fierce ladies.”

In the women’s 400m final, Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross couldn’t run down Francena McCorory. McCorory, the World Indoor champion, ran a personal best 49.48 seconds. That’s the fastest 400m by an American woman since Richards-Ross won the 2012 Olympic Trials in 49.28.

“I just wanted to get out, execute my race and finish strong,” said McCorory, gasping for breaths. “I’m just happy for the win.”

Richards-Ross went her fastest time of 2014 by .37 of a second, one day after chopping 1.16 seconds off her best time this year. She’s coming back from toe injuries that sidelined her most of the last season.

“What keeps me going now is my legacy,” said Richards-Ross, 29, a five-time Olympic medalist. “I do want to be a two-time [individual] Olympic champion, so I’m working hard to get back to Rio.”

The U.S. Championships finish Sunday with finals including the 200m, men’s 110m hurdles and women’s 1500m.

[WATCH LIVEU.S. Championships, Sunday at 3 p.m. ET]

In other events Saturday, Brittney Reese won the long jump with a 6.92m leap. Reese has won every global outdoor championship since placing fifth at the 2008 Olympics. Tianna Bartoletta, who won the 100m on Friday night, was second with five jumps of 6.8m or better. Nobody else did so more than once.

Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard won the high jump with a clearance of 2.35m. Kynard took three attempts at 2.41m, which would have been a American record, but failed on all three.

Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano passed Pat Casey in the final 100m of the 1500m to win by .31 in 3:38.63.

Two-time Olympian Sharon Day-Monroe successfully defended her heptathlon title with 6,470 points. Day-Monroe finished sixth at the 2013 World Championships with 6,407.

Emma Coburn took the 3000m steeplechase in 9:19.71, a meet record. She became the first American to win a Diamond League steeplechase in Shanghai on May 18.

Gil Roberts won a 400m final lacking the reigning World Championships gold and silver medalists, LaShawn Merritt and Tony McQuay. Merritt withdrew before the semifinals Friday. Roberts ran a personal best 44.53.

World Championships medalists Curtis Mitchell and Wallace Spearmon won their 200m first round heats. The last two World champions, David Oliver and Jason Richardson, advanced in the 110m hurdles. The semifinals and finals of both sprints are Sunday.

Olympic silver medalist Lashinda Demus and Olympians Tiffany Williams and Georganne Moline were among the qualifiers into the 400m hurdles final Sunday.

Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Bershawn JacksonJohnny Dutch and Jeshua Anderson made the men’s 400m hurdles final. London Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley was shockingly eliminated in the first round Friday.

Oscar Pistorius trial set to resume Monday

Ragan Smith delivers in first U.S. championship title win

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ragan Smith embraced the role of heavy favorite coming into the U.S. gymnastics championships.

Thrust into the spotlight for the first time in her career, the 17-year-old hardly appeared intimidated by the stage. Smith pulled away from the field to claim her first national title Sunday, posting a score of 115.250, more than three points clear of Jordan Chiles in second place and Riley McCusker in third.

Smith opened up a 1.3-point lead over McCusker in the opening round Friday but admitted afterward she wasn’t particularly impressed by her own performance. She was considerably sharper less than 48 hours later, her 57.850 total in the finals was the best in the 16-woman all-around field by nearly two points.

Smith is one of the few holdovers from the 2016 Olympic cycle, serving as an alternate for the “Final Five” team that won half of the available medals in Rio de Janeiro last fall. Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez are taking breaks or have moved on, leaving Smith as the standard bearer for new national team coordinator Valeri Liukin.

The program appears to be in solid hands. Smith ditched “The Addams Family” themed floor routine she used last year for something a little more mature. It’s not the only part of her gymnastics that has grown up. Smith finished first on floor and beam and tied for third on bars.

Smith will be in the mix for the all-around title at the world championships in Montreal, where she’ll have a chance to extend the U.S.’s dominance. An American woman has won the world or Olympic title each of the last six years. Barring injury, Smith should be right there.

Liukin said he wasn’t alarmed following an uneven performance by the field in preliminaries, calling it a positive step for a group lacking in experience. The gymnastics were markedly improved in the finals.

Chiles slipped by McCusker into second thanks to a fabulous save on beam in which she turned a near disaster into something decidedly artful.

Chiles was in the middle of “wolf turn” (basically spinning on one foot while in a crouch on a 4-inch wide piece of wood) when she nearly fell over. Instead she rose to her feet, kept rotating, and went right into the next part of her routine as if it was planned all along.

Chiles’ steadiness gives Liukin another option as he tries to put together the rest of the four-woman team that will join Smith in Montreal. McCusker, only recently recovered from foot and wrist injuries, tried to keep the heat on Smith but stepped out of bounds following the last tumbling pass on her floor routine. McCusker finished first on bars — her legs practically magnetized together as she went from bar to bar — to win the event with ease.

Ashton Locklear, like Smith an alternate last summer, wound up second on bars with a watered down routine as he makes her way back from her own injury issues and should have time to install upgrades before Montreal.

Whoever heads to Canada in October will go with the usual expectations for what has become the sport’s most dominant program.

MORE: Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles has competed in the six previous U.S. National Championships, winning the last four, but in Anaheim this year, she’s watching from the sidelines. Biles won four gold medals (team, all-around, vault and floor) and one bronze (on beam) last summer at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

This week she revealed she has returned to the gym to prepare for a yet to be determined event, in her return to competition.

When asked how she’s been doing in the gym by NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce, Biles responded with her signature smile accompanied by an endearingly bashful eye roll, “the beginning is…OK.”

MORE: Danell Leyva on why he’s retiring

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