INDIANAPOLIS - Bloomington native Christin Wurth-Thomas got the launch into the 2008 Olympic year that she wanted Saturday when she qualified for the World Championships at the USATF Track and Field National Championships.
Wurth-Thomas placed second in the 1,500-meter run in 4 minutes, 7.86 seconds, to advance to the Aug. 25-Sept. 2 World Championships in Osaka, Japan.
"I am excited," she said. "We knew I could do it. I still believe there is a lot more in the tank."
The race unfolded well for Wurth-Thomas, who ran second behind Tiffany McWilliams through opening laps of 65.8 and 66.1 seconds. The third lap took 67.0 seconds as Wurth-Thomas grabbed the lead with 350 meters to go.
She built a gap as large as three meters but couldn't hold off Treniere Clement, who moved in front with 60 meters left and went on to win her third straight title in 4:07.07.
"It set up perfectly," said Wurth-Thomas, after making her first national track team.
Wurth-Thomas' time was a season-best and ranked in the top three of her career.
In the junior (age 20 and under) 1,500, Bloomington High school senior-to-be Ashley Verplank placed 11th in 4:43.63.
Illinois State assistant track coach Jeff Chakouian was limited to 16th place in the senior men's shot put by an elbow injury. His best of three throws was 60 feet, 2½ inches, well off his best of 67-10¼ which made him the No. 7 seed coming.
"Since May 5 I've only had one practice," said Chakouian, who was fifth here last year. "It was a pretty decent practice so I was somewhat optimistic. When you get to this level, you have to be healthy."
Reese Hoffa won the shot put at 70-5¼.
Richards fails to make 400 team
Sanya Richards failed to make the U.S. 400-meter team for the world championships, finishing fourth in the event on a damp track.
The loss broke a string of 18 consecutive outdoor victories in the 400 for Richards since her runner-up finish at the 2005 world championships.
The two-time defending champion had the five fastest times in the world, capped by an American record, a year ago, but was dogged by a flulike illness that kept her out of her first four meets this season.
DeeDee Trotter won her first U.S. outdoor title in a lifetime best 49.64 seconds. South Carolina's Natasha Hastings was second in 49.84, breaking the collegiate record Richards set at Texas. Mary Wineberg was third at 50.24. Trotter came from third on the final turn to draw away.
Richards, who ran under 50 seconds nine times last year, finished at 50.68.
Richards advanced through the qualifying round of the 200 later Saturday.
Tyson Gay, running less than 24 hours after a 9.84-second clocking in his 100-meter victory, was the leading 200 qualifier at 20.66 seconds into a brisk headwind. Wallace Spearmon, Xavier Carter and Jeremy Wariner were among the others to advance to Sunday's semifinals.
With Gay, Spearmon and Carter, the event features three of the fastest sprinters in the event's history. A fourth, NCAA 100 and 200 champion Walter Dix, didn't show for the 200.
"It's a new day," Gay said. "I really didn't warm up long. I'm a little fatigued. I just wanted to get it done."
The top three finishers in each event make up the U.S. team for the world championships Aug. 25-Sept. 2 in Osaka, Japan. Defending world champions also make the team, as long as they compete in some event at the U.S. meet.
Mikele Barber was the fastest women's 200 at 22.73.
Hyleas Fountain repeated as heptathlon champion despite a serious distraction at home.
"My mom is really ill right now," she said. "She just got a mastectomy. I was trying to deal with that last week and just visiting. I had surgery on my left knee, but I believe in coming out and competing. I didn't know I could do this because of my fitness level. I made it all the way through. I wasn't going to give away a championship."
She said she wanted to dedicate her victory to her mother.
Tom Pappas won his fifth U.S. decathlon title in a competition that was without reigning world champion Bryan Clay, who withdrew after four events on Friday, citing fatigue.
"I know if he stayed in the competition it would have pushed me more to score. Then on the other hand I might have got hurt trying to do more than I should have," Pappas said, "but having somebody like Bryan out here is always great."
Pappas was the world champion in 2003 but has been bothered by injuries since. He has long fought foot problems and tweaked a groin in training two weeks before the U.S. meet.
"If I just put a solid year of training together without any injuries, I can get back to the level that I was at," he said. "I think that's what's driving me more than anything."
In the men's 400, Angelo Taylor ran side-by-side with LaShawn Merritt, edging ahead in the finish to win by 0.05 seconds. Taylor, 2000 Olympic champion in the 400 hurdles, won at 44.05 to Merritt's 44.06. Taylor tumbled to the track after the close victory.
The world's best 400 runner, the Olympic gold medalist Wariner, has a bye into the worlds as the defending champion. He is competing in the 200 at the U.S. meet.
Taylor, 28, returned to racing following two arrests in a three-month span on charges of having sex with 15-year-old girls. He was placed on probation and fined $2,500 in 2006.
"That's life. I'm not perfect," he said. "I've made mistakes. It was a learning lesson."
Joanna Hayes, Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter hurdles, experienced leg cramps and finished last in her semifinal heat. Ginny Powell went on to win the event. Amy Acuff won her sixth U.S. outdoor championship in the high jump.
Reese Hoffa had the five best throws to win his first U.S. outdoor shot put title with a best of 70 feet, 5¼ inches in a competition that started in a light rain. Dan Taylor was second at 68-10¾ and Adam Nelson third at 67-4¾.
Hoffa celebrated with a victory lap, holding a U.S. flag in one hand and a big turkey leg in the other.