By Karen Price | May 31, 2018, 5:08 p.m. (ET)
Ronnie Baker celebrates after winning the men's 100-meter at the IAAF Golden Gala on May 31, 2018 in Rome.

 

Olympic bronze medalist pole vaulter Sam Kendricks returned to a spot all too familiar on Thursday – first place –at the Diamond League stop on Thursday in Rome.

The reigning world and Diamond League champion, who last year had an astounding undefeated season, started the Diamond League season with an uncharacteristic ninth-place result in Shanghai on May 12.

Seeking redemption, he cleared a season’s-best 5.84 meters on his final attempt, which was just too much for 2011 world champion Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland, who cleared 5.78 for second.

Kendricks’ winning performance was one of several by American athletes in Rome.

Sharika Nelvis, who was one of several U.S. athletes favored to win, was victorious in the women’s 100-meter hurdles with a time of 12.76 seconds. She finished ahead of Jamaica’s Danielle Williams (12.82) and Nigeria’s Tobi Asuman (12.86). Olympic gold medalists Dawn Harper-Nelson and Brianna McNeal were sixth and ninth.

In the men’s 400-meter, Fred Kerley claimed the top spot as Americans took four of the top five places. Kerley, who had a breakout 2017 and made a name for himself as a rising star in the event, earned his first Diamond League win of the season with a time of 44.33 seconds, a season-best. Paul Dedewo was third with a time of 44.58, a personal best, and they were followed by Michael Cherry in fourth (44.97) and 2016 Olympic relay gold medalist Gil Roberts in fifth (45.22).

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Meanwhile, Ronnie Baker set a world lead and new personal best with a time of 9.93 seconds in the men’s 100-meter. Baker’s win also follows a victory at the Prefontaine Classic, proving the up-and-coming sprinter is ready to make his mark in 2018. France’s Jimmy Vicaut finished second with a time of 10.02. Reigning world silver medalist Christian Coleman was fourth.

Two medalists from Rio came up just short of podium finishes. Olympic bronze medalist Emma Coburn ended up fourth in the steeplechase, finishing less than a second off third. And long jump gold medalist Jeff Henderson was fourth in that event.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.