-- Gar-Field High graduate and UCLA senior Sheena Johnson captured her second straight women's 400-meter title Saturday night in record-setting fashion and then ran a key leg on the Bruins' 1,600-meter relay that clinched the women's team title for the Bruins at the 2004 NCAA outdoor track and field championships.
Johnson, who finished third in the 110-meter hurdles Friday, absolutely dominated the competition. Her time of 53.54 seconds is the fastest ever in collegiate competition and is the fastest time in the world this year. South Carolina's Leshinda Demus finished second in 54.22.
The time "was really shocking. I could feel I was going pretty fast but I didn't really expect a 53.54," said Johnson, who won last year in a then-NCAA meet record of 54.24. "It was a goal I really wanted to achieve at least by the end of the season, and it's great to get it today. I think I'm really ready to go faster, come Olympic trials and Olympic Games time.
"It actually was far from a perfect race. My steps [between the hurdles] were kind of off, but I think that's because I went out a lot faster than I usually do."
The women's team title came down to the final event -- the 1,600-meter relay. LSU won the event in a meet record 3:25.26, but UCLA finished fourth in 3:28.85 behind a stellar 49.9 anchor leg by Monique Henderson. That was enough to give the Bruins the team title, 69-68, over the Tigers. Johnson ran the second leg of the relay and kept the Bruins in fifth throughout her leg.
"Having not won the first three years of college, it would really be great to win to finally win [a team title] as a senior," Johnson said before the final event.
In the men's 400-meter hurdles, Florida senior Rickey Harris (Centreville), the 2002 champion and last year's runner-up, had to settle for third place with a time of 49.82 seconds. The race was won by Harris's freshman teammate, Kerron Clemente, in 49.05. Florida junior Dwight Ruff finished fifth in the event in 50.07.
In the women's 1,500 meters, Georgetown senior Treniere Clement finished second in a personal-best time of 4:12.21. Running in fourth for most of the race, Clement made a strong move with 500 meters to go to move into second behind defending champion Tiffany McWilliams of Mississippi State, who led the entire race.
"I'm very excited," Clement said. "It means a lot to me. I really wanted to give it everything I had since it's my last year, and I did exactly that."
In the men's 800 meters, Georgetown senior Jesse O'Connell moved up late to grab second in 1:46.79. With 200 meters remaining, O'Connell was next to last, but he moved very hard over the final 100 meters. O'Connell was unable to catch Jonathan Johnson of Texas Tech, who led throughout and won in 1:46.39.
"I'm thrilled. I couldn't be happier," O'Connell said. "I mean nothing beats winning but to get second at this meet is pretty incredible."
In the men's team competition, the favored Arkansas Razorbacks picked up 14 points in the 1,500 meters and 15 points in the 200 meters to win their 39th team championship under Coach John McDonnell, 65.5 to 49 for second-place Florida. In the women's 800 meters, Wake Forest senior Nikeya Green (Hayfield) finished fifth in 2:04.74.