Lagat equals Coghlan for Wanamaker wins at Millrose

Jan 31, 2009 - 5:50 AM By Simon Lewis PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Bernard Lagat grabbed a slice of Millrose Games history on Friday night as won his seventh Wanamaker Mile to equal Ireland's Eamonn Coghlan for the most wins in the showpiece event at Madison Square Garden.

On a night when several world-leading times, heights and distances were set, Lagat's feat in winning the Wanamaker Mile grabbed all the attention.

The American world champion at 1,500 meters and 5000m dueled with and eventually outkicked New Zealand's Nick Willis on the final lap to win in 3:58.44 as Coghlan, who achieved his seven victories between 1977-87, looked on at the finish line. Willis finished second in 3:59.48, with Mexico's Pablo Solares third in 4:00.85.

"This race means a lot," Lagat said. "I have a lot of respect for Eamonn Coghlan. Today, winning seven like him means a lot to me. He is a man who was rooting for me today. He wanted me to win today, so that means a lot.

"He told me he had no doubt that I was going to win. Today, when he was coming into the track, he said, 'I will be at the finish line to give Lagat the trophy.'"

The men's pole vault saw Olympic champion and record-holder Steve Hooker narrowly miss a world record but come away with the meet, U.S. allcomers and personal records as he registered the highest clearance in the world this year.

The Australian bettered Jeff Hartwig's six-year-old meet standard of 19 feet, 3 inches (5.87m) with a vault of 19-3 1/2 (5.88), then beat Sergey Bubka's 1992 allcomers mark of 19-8.25 (6.00m) with a clearance on 19-8 1/2 (6.01m) to win the event.

Hooker then placed Bubka's indoor world record of 20-2 (6.15m) in his sights but failed to clear 20-2 1/2 (6.16).

"It was a little unexpected," Hooker said. "I've had a really interrupted preparation. I've had one complete pole vault before I came here.

"About four weeks ago, I broke a pole while I was jumping and it hit my knee, and I haven't vaulted since then. To come out here and jump a personal best is a bit of a surprise, and to have such good jumps at the world record is very exciting and very surprising."

U.S. Olympic Trials champion Derek Miles was second, clearing 18-8.25 (5.70m), with Mexico's Giovanni Lanaro third with a 18-4 1/2 (5.60m) vault.

The women's pole vault saw 2000 Olympic champion Stacy Dragila push Jenn Stuczynski, the American outdoor record-holder and 2008 Olympic silver medalist, to the highest clearance in the world this year.

Stuczynski, who entered the competition at 14-9 1/2 (4.51m), cleared the highest mark by an American this year on her first attempt. Dragila also cleared that height, and both cleared 15-1 1/2 (4.61) before Stuczynski won the event at 15-5 1/2 (4.71).

The winner went on to challenge Dragila's American indoor record of 15-9.75 (4.82) and came agonizingly close on her final attempt as the bar teetered on the upright arms before falling.

"There is definitely a lot of nerves in my first competition of the year," Stuczynski said. "You don't know what to expect. Stacy was jumping really well, so it pushed me. That was nice to have. The American record heights, two of them I thought (the bars) were going to stay, but I guess it wasn't meant to be."

Kara Goucher defended her Millrose women's mile title in style.

Returning to New York after making her marathon debut in the city last November, when she finished third behind winner Paula Radcliffe, Goucher interrupted her Boston Marathon preparations to run indoors. Her decision paid dividends as she took a firm grip on the classy field with five laps to go and turned the race into a procession, winning in 4:33.19.

Serbia's Marina Muncan (4:37.77) finished second, with Ethiopia's Mestawot Tadesse third in 4:38.30 and strong-finishing Brit Barbara Parker fourth in 4:38.64.

Bianca Knight took the women's 60m in 7.23 seconds, upstaging a field that included Olympic 100m finalist Muna Lee, 2007 World Outdoor bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter and 2007 World Outdoor 4x100m gold medalist Mechelle Lewis.

Lee was second in 7.28, with Lewis edging Jeter for third with a time of 7.29.

Michael Rodgers beat Terrence Trammell to the line in the men's 60m, clocking 6.51 seconds, with Trammell second in 6.54, Shawn Crawford third in 6.62 and Britain's Tyrone Edgar - who was competing in his first indoor race since 2006 - fourth in 6.63.

Earlier in the evening, Trammell stormed to victory in the men's 60m hurdles in 7.45, topping Antwon Hicks. Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (7.95) successfully defended her women's 60m hurdles title by edging Australia's Sally McLellan.

Four-time Millrose champion Amy Acuff made her final appearance at the Garden in the women's high jump and added a fifth title to her resume. National champion Acuff won with a clearance of 6-3 1/2 (1.92m), while U.S. Olympian Chaunte Howard bowed out at 6-2.25 (1.89m) and Deidre Mullen placed third with 6-0.75 (1.85m).

The women's 600 yards saw Guyana's Aliann Pompey lead from the gun, only to be caught on the line by American Monica Hargrove, who won the race by one one-hundredth of a second in 1:19.50.

There was another close finish in the men's 600 yards as Renny Quow (1:11.32) of the U.S. edged Trinidad's Sherridan Kirk (1:11.38).

Adam Nelson emerged victorious in the men's shot put with the final throw of the competition. Christian Cantwell had assumed the lead from Reese Hoffa with the penultimate throw in the fourth and final round, but his effort of 67-4.25 (20.53m) was bettered by Nelson's 68-2 1/2 (20.79m).

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