Michael Rodgers wins the men's 100-meter at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hornet Stadium on June 27, 2014 in Sacramento, California.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Four months after a chunk of wood in the wrong place ended Mike Rodgers’ indoor season, he won the 100-meter at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Rodgers proved that not only is he a fast runner, he’s a fast healer, too.
Rodgers, 29, clocked 10.09 seconds into a headwind at Hornet Stadium to win his second 100-meter national crown. Rodgers, who won his first title in 2009, handily defeated Ryan Bailey (10.23), who was fifth at the London 2012 Olympic Games. In the semifinals, Rodgers blazed to a wind-aided 9.80.
Not bad for a guy who fractured his right ankle and tore two ligaments at the end of February.
At the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, Rodgers led the 60-meter heats with a time of 6.51 seconds. But disaster struck before the semifinals.
“I was coming down the warm-up strip and I stepped on a two-by-four coming full speed,” Rodgers said.
A worker had accidently left the wood in the way.
“It was kind of sad,” Rodgers said. “I thought I had a shot at breaking the world record indoors in the 60 because I was in great shape. Next time.”
Rodgers credits the USA Track & Field high performance team, which arranged free treatment, for helping him get back on track. Rodgers was in a boot and on crutches, but made a quick recovery. By the Prefontaine Classic on May 31, he felt healthy and had regained enough rhythm to finish second with a wind-aided 9.80 seconds.
“The sky’s the limit for me from here on,” Rodgers said. “This year I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m running fast. Now it’s time to hit the circuit and see what I can really do.”
His next race is the 100-meter at the Diamond League meet July 3 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Rodgers will face U.S. teammate Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist who has run the fastest time this year of 9.86 seconds, and American record holder Tyson Gay, who is coming off his doping suspension.
Gatlin decided to skip the Sacramento meet to get ready for Lausanne.
Rodgers doesn’t believe he’ll be at a disadvantage because he ran three rounds at nationals. He has a few days to rest and he’ll also use that time to continue to scrutinize his opposition.
“I didn’t go to bed until 3:30 last night because I was studying,” said Rodgers, who was fourth at the 2012 Olympic Trials. “I study everybody. You can’t beat a great, fast 100-meter sprinter without studying. I don’t care who you are, the Gatlins, the (Usain) Bolts, the Tysons. I know everybody studies. You’ve got to study everybody’s weakness and everybody’s strengths and try to beat them on that day.”
Tianna Bartoletta won the women’s 100 with a time of 11.15 seconds, with Barbara Pierre second at 11.27.
In the 100 semis, Tori Bowie ran the fastest time by an American this year of 10.91 seconds, a personal best. However, she appeared to injure her left leg after the race and did not run the final.
Bartoletta, who ran 10.92 in the semis, will try to double in the long jump Saturday. Running as Tianna Madison, she was fourth in the Olympic 100 two years ago.
Allyson Felix scratched from the semifinals in the 100, though a USATF official said she was not injured. Felix had already announced she would not be competing in the 200, the event in which she won Olympic gold medal in 2012.
Bernard Lagat won his seventh U.S. title in the men’s 5,000, passing Andrew Bumbalough on the final stretch to win in 13 minutes, 13.41 seconds. Molly Huddle edged Shannon Rowbury at the tape to win the women’s 5,000.
Olympic silver medalist Will Claye won the men’s triple jump with a personal best of 58 feet, 3 inches on his final attempt. Christian Taylor, the Olympic gold medalist, was second at 57 feet.
In his first decathlon season since winning the Olympic silver medal in 2012, Trey Hardee scored 8,599 points. Ashton Eaton, the Olympic and world champion, is not competing this season in the multi-event.
Sanya Richards-Ross qualified for the final in the women’s 400 with a time of 50.03 seconds, matching the fastest time in the world this year. It was her best time of the season by more than a second.
LaShawn Merritt scratched from the men’s 400 semifinals. He will face arch-rival Kirani James of Grenada in Lausanne next week.
In the women’s pole vault, Jenn Suhr won her eighth outdoor national championship, tying the record number of titles set by Stacy Dragila.
The women’s 100-meter hurdles promises to be a barnburner Saturday. Queen Harrison, Lolo Jones and Dawn Harper each won their heats, with Harrison coming in at 12.56, Jones at 12.62 and Harper at 12.63.
“In the final, it’s jets full blast,” said Harper, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist. “You’re going to see some great performances tomorrow. You know none of us girls back down.”
In an early-round shocker, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley was off to a fast start in the men’s 400-meter hurdles when he hit the sixth hurdle, knocking him off stride. He finished last in his preliminary and did not advance.
Karen Rosen is an Atlanta-based sportswriter who has covered 14 Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since 2009.