published Monday, June 28th, 2010

Wright gets 3rd in 800

Des Moines meet ends her UT career

DES MOINES, Iowa -- For the first time in almost a year, Tennessee senior Phoebe Wright didn't cross the finish line first in an 800 meter race, but she still wrapped up her college career with a standout performance.

For the second consecutive year, Wright, a former Red Bank athlete from Signal Mountain, finished third in the women's 800 final at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships after a hard charge down the final stretch to pass Trenier Moser to earn the bronze.

Wright turned in the second fastest 800 time of her career at 2:00.47, behind winner Alysia Johnson at 1:59.87 and just short of Maggie Vessey at 2:00.43.

The thrid place finish was the first time Wright has not won an 800 meter event in 16 races this season. Her time was just off her personal best of 2:00.40 from last July, and the fourth best women's 800 meter time In UT history.

In other action at Des Moins on Sunday, Wallace Spearmon finished in a wind-aided 19.77 seconds to edge Walter Dix for the 200 meter title. Dix, who won the 100 on Friday, took second in 20.14.

Spearmon knows his 200-meter title might be viewed with skepticism since Tyson Gay and Shawn Crawford weren't in the field.

That doesn't bother Spearmon, though. He's used to being doubted.

"We're missing Tyson ... and (Crawford) too, and that guy, he's an animal. Both of those guys are great competitors," Spearmon said. "You're going to hear 'He wouldn't have won if Tyson was there. He wouldn't have won if Shawn was there.' So I mean, hey. Take it. If they'd have been here I would had to race them and you never know what happens."

Consuella Moore, who recently returned to the track after an extended absence, was the surprise winner in the women's 200. She won in 22.40, edging out Shalonda Solomon.

David Oliver upset David Payne in the 110 hurdles, breezing to the victory in a world-leading 12.93. Payne, the silver medalist in the Olympics two years ago, finished fourth.

"I knew I could win the championship," Oliver said.

Jenn Suhr, the silver medalist in Beijing, won the women's pole vault at 16 feet, 1/2 inch, the best jump in the world this year. Dwight Phillips, a three-time world outdoor champion, took the long jump in 27-5 1/2, good for second-best in the world in 2010.

Shot putter Christian Cantwell won his second straight outdoor title with a heave of 71 feet, 1/2 inch, and Nick Symmonds took his third straight American title in the men's 800 in 1:45.98.

Ti'erra Brown won the women's 400 hurdles by nearly a second, while Lopez Lomong beat Leonel Manzano by less than 0.1 seconds in the men's 1,500.

The absence of Gay, who missed nationals with a hamstring injury, and Crawford, who was a late scratch, left the men's 200 field thinner than usual. That left Spearmon and Dix as the favorites, and Spearmon took control from the outside and kept Dix from sweeping the short sprint events.

Spearmon has proven his toughness by coming back from torn cartilage in his knee and a disqualification for a lane violation in Beijing. Sunday's win was yet another sign that Spearmon shouldn't be counted out just yet.

"I guess I'm probably one of the least favorite sprinters in track and field. Most people probably thought I was washed up," Spearmon said.

Moore left the sport before the 2008 Olympic trials simply to get a break from the hectic pace of the sport. She worked on Chicago's failed bid for the 2016 Olympics and her master's degree before deciding it was time to get back on the track.

Moore was facing a similar situation as Spearmon was, though. Allyson Felix, the 100 winner on Friday and a three-time world outdoor champion in the 200, chose not to compete in Sunday's 200 final, which came in an off year with no Olympics or world championships in the near future.

But Moore, running for the first time in years at the national meet, held off Solomon and Porscha Lucas for her biggest victory since resuming her career this season.

"I missed it," Moore said. "I really missed playing with my friends."

The shot put took center stage among the field events on Sunday, in part because the fans in Iowa are accustomed to seeing the nation's best at the Drake Relays every year.

Cantwell's laid-back personality and success at Drake -- he's won seven titles there and was recently inducted into the meet's Hall of Fame -- have made him a fan favorite in Des Moines. The reigning world outdoor champ held off Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson for the title.

Cantwell wasn't exactly thrilled with his winning put, which fell shorter than his world-leading 73-4 last weekend in St. Charles, Mo., but in the end he'll take it.

"Maybe I was too comfortable, I don't know. It was pretty ugly. But I guess that anytime you win a national championship in the shot put, in U.S., you should be happy," Cantwell said.

Becky Breisch took the women's discus at 207-10. Stephanie Brown-Trafton, who won gold in Beijing, never cracked 60 meters and finished third at 196-9.

National indoor champion Jesse Williams won his second career outdoor title with a leap of 7-5.

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