Fountain gets meet off to record-breaking start

Hyleas Fountain got everyone's attention in the first event of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Eugene, Ore., yesterday.

The graduate of Central Dauphin High near Harrisburg won the 100-meter hurdles of the womnen's heptathlon in 12.65 seconds, breaking three marks of Jackie Joyner-Kersee's for the heptathlon event.

Fountain's time broke JJK's U.S. record, Olympic Trials mark, and national championship meet standard, which she had set in different meets between 1988 and '98.

"I didn't think I would get the American record, so that was some momemtum going into the other events," Fountain said. "It means the world to me."

That start propelled Fountain to two other first places in the first-day's four events (shot put, 200 meters), and a second place in the high jump. Her total of 3,989 points put her 239 points ahead of second-place Diana Pickler. The final three events (long jump, javelin, 800 meters) will be held today.

Another surprising star of the opening day was the University of Texas' Marshevet Hooker, who led the field through the first two rounds of the women's 100 meters.

First, she led the preliminaries with a time of 10.94 seconds, and then came back 2 hours later and ran a wind-aided but still blistering 10.76 in the semifinals.

"I wasn't thinking, I was just running," Hooker said. "I got out and saw I was a little behind so I just aligned my body and got after it.

"I heard the time, I was like 'Wow.' ''

Allyson Felix, taking the first steps of her attempted Olympic 100/200 double, was timed at 11.01 and 10.98. The semifinals and final of the women's 100 will be run today.

A major surprise came in the heats of the women's 400 hurdles, when West Catholic High graduate Nicole Leach (UCLA), one of the favorites to make the Olympic team, did not break 1 minute (1:00.90) and failed to advance out of the heats in the event. Her previous best this year was 54.32 seconds, which had earned her the fifth seed for the event.

Methacton High's Ryann Krais, who will be a teammate of Leach's at UCLA in the fall, also did not advance in the 400 hurdles, running 59.39 seconds.

Advancing to the semis in the men's 400 hurdles were Reuben McCoy from Auburn and Winslow Township (N.J.) High. Former Chestnut Hill Academy star Brian Derby and former Penn star Sam Burley advanced in the men's 800 meters.

Another local athlete taking a major step forward was LaTavia Thomas (West Catholic, LSU), who advanced to the semifinals in the women's 800 meters. Her time of 2 minutes, 3.90 seconds was the fifth fastest of the first round. *