Alan Webb played the part of cool competitor and wild cheerleader Saturday, confidently taking care of business in the 1,500-meter final at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and then reveling in the success of a trio of Washington area athletes.
Webb used a strong final lap to come from behind and win his second straight U.S. title in 3 minutes 41.97 seconds. At the finish, Webb embraced second-place finisher Christopher Lukezic, a Georgetown University junior who relied on a strong kick to finish in 3:42.06, winning one of the three berths of the U.S. team that will go to the world championships in Helsinki.
"I looked over and Chris was right there," said Webb, who attended South Lakes High and lives in Reston. "That made it that much better."
The one-two victory for the occasional training partners at Washington-Lee High in Arlington -- Georgetown does not have its own track -- came just minutes after Treniere Clement, a 2004 Georgetown graduate, won the women's 1,500 in 4:06.73, giving her her first world championship berth. Clement, a native of Stow, Ohio, finished second in the 1,500 at last year's NCAA outdoor championships. Saturday, she topped Jen Toomey, the American record holder in the 1,000 who finished in 4:07.39.
"It's been a good weekend for Georgetown and D.C.," Webb said.
Webb's victory looked easier than it was. Getting jammed up in the pack in the early part of a physical race caused him to abandon his original game plan, which called for sprinting out at the race's halfway point. Webb, who failed to advance to the Olympic 1,500 final after getting tangled up with Bernard Lagat in an early round, said he tried not to panic.
The Olympic experience "helped me today," he said. "It was probably the first time in my life I've gone in with a specific race plan and totally changed it and still been happy with my race."
Dragila Overcomes Injury
Despite tearing her right Achilles' tendon during a training run in early April that forced her to alter the number of strides she takes on the pole vault runway, Stacy Dragila still managed to win her ninth outdoor title and 17th overall. It was a struggle for Dragila, however, and the winning height -- 14 feet 71/4 inches -- matched only the 21st best effort in the world this year. Dragila, who exited the Olympics with disappointment last year when she failed to qualify for the final, was competing for just the third time this season.
"I was just happy I got off the ground and made some bars," she said. "My rhythm wasn't really there in the warmups and I thought 'Oh my gosh what's going to happen?' . . . This one will probably be one I remember coming off an injury and obviously a not-so-stellar Olympic Games." . . .
For the first time, the track and field world championships, which take place in Helsinki Aug. 6-14, will be widely broadcast in the United States, with more than 70 hours of coverage available through the PAX national television network, through Comcast (in certain markets including Baltimore and Washington), and online via the WCSN Web site, USA Track and Field announced Saturday. More than 50 hours of live coverage will be webcast on a pay-per-view basis at www.wcsn.com, the Web site of the World Championship Sports Network that is scheduled to launch in July. . . .
Dominic Berger (DeMatha), who'll be a sophomore at Maryland this fall, won the junior men's 110 hurdles in 13.87 seconds. Two other Terrapin rising sophomores finished fifth, Toni Aluko (Paint Branch) in the high jump and Sean Lowe in the 400.