(Reuters) – Lopez Lomong surged to the lead with 450 metres to go and won a sluggish 10,000 metres in 29 minutes 49.03 seconds as the United States dominated the opening day of the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) championships on Friday.
Lomong, who fled South Sudan as a child to become a two-time U.S. Olympian, beat fellow Americans Elkanah Kibet (29:51.37) and Reed Fischer (29:59.63) in a race of just four runners.
The victory came after Rachel Schneider topped two other Americans, the only other competitors in the women’s 5,000m, in 15:26.19.
The wins gave U.S. athletes six golds on the opening session of the three-day meeting that many top athletes are skipping.
Deanna Price’s hammer throw of 74.60m topped the U.S. champions with Schneider’s win and Mel Lawrence’s time of 9:45.36 in the three-person women’s 3,000m steeplechase also championship records.
Cuban Olympian Yaime Perez Tellez added another in the women’s discus with a toss of 61.97 metres.
Other U.S. winners were national shot put champion Darrell Hill (21.68 metres) and American record holder Maria Michta-Coffey in the women’s 20km walk (1:36:34.00).
Cuba had a second champion in the men’s triple jump with teenager Jordan Alejandro Diaz, the newly crowned world junior champion bounding 16.83 metres.
Commonwealth Games champion Levern Spencer of Saint Lucia added the NACAC high jump title at 1.91m and Evan Dunfee gave Canada an early gold by winning the men’s 20km walk in 1:25:39.00
Sprints and hurdles qualifying produced some of the best performances.
U.S. world record holder Keni Harrison and Jamaican 2015 world champion Danielle Williams led 100m hurdles qualifying with Harrison clocking 12.66 seconds after Williams ran 12.72 to win the opening heat.
The men’s hurdles race should be another crowd pleaser with American Devon Allen (13.37 seconds), Jamaican Commonwealth Games silver medallist Hansle Parchment (13.42) and Canadian Johnathan Cabral (13.43) the top qualifiers.
Canadians led the 200m heats with Aaron Brown pacing the men (20.58 seconds) and Crystal Emmanuel (22.82) surprising Jamaican Olympic 400m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson (22.97)
Harrison, twice Olympic women’s 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and American world pole vault silver medallist Sandi Morris will be among those seeking titles on Saturday.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom)