By Anthony Foster in Ponce, Puerto Rico

Trinidad and Tobago’s Machel Cedenio and Keston Bledman were victorious while Rose Mary Almanza of Cuba ran the year’s first sub-2 minutes at 800m at the Ponce Grand Prix on Saturday.

Almanza won the event in 1:59.35 ahead of fellow Cuban Sahily Diago, who also went under the 2-minute barrier, dipping to 1:59.91.

Simoya Campbell, getting closer to the World Championships qualifying mark of 2:01.00, registered a big personal best of 2:01.59.

The former Spalding High standout, was delighted, saying, “a new PB for me, I am so thankful to the Almighty for His blessings once again.” “The work has just begun, I will continue to work hard the rest of the way,” she added, while saying thanks for all the love and support.

Meanwhile, in the highly anticipated men’s 400m dash, Cedenio, who was going up against one of his toughest line-ups, in World Champion LaShawn Merritt, former World and Olympic Champion Jeremy Wariner and Olympic Games Silver medallist Luguelin Santos, never left anything to chance.

The lanky 19-year-old, drawn in lane six with all the big names behind him, led from the sound of the gun before opening the gap as he approached the finish line. He won in 44.97, the second sub-45 of his career. Merritt was second in 45.42 while Gustavo Cuesta of Dominican Republic ran on for third in 45.89.

Further back in the field were Luguelin Santos (46.19) and Jeremy Wariner (46.22) for 5th and 6th respectively in the last of the three 400m races.

In the men’s 100m, Bledman topped the field into a negative 0.8m/s wind in 10.17, ahead of American Harry Adams (10.253) and Antoine Adams of St. Kitts and Nevis (10.254).

Jessica Young of USA won the women’s 100m in 11.38 ahead of compatriots Tawanna Meadows 11.39 and Sholanda Solomon 11.44.

American women also dominated the 200m with Cambrya Jones 23.37 over Young 23.50 and Mahagony Jones 23.82.

Local hero Javier Culson suffered a rare defeat over 400m hurdles, beaten by Jeffery Gibson of The Bahamas 49.19 to Culson, who crashed into the final hurdle before he was pipped on the line, and whose time was 49.31.

In the men’s 110m hurdles, former world champion Jason Richardson 13.34 beat Cuba’s Yordin O’Farril (13.35).

In the men’s 800m, Charles Jock of the USA (1:45.40) took the win against Rafith Rodriguez of Colombia (1:45.53). World medallist Nick Symmonds ran 1:46.37 for 5th place.

In the women’s long jump, Yariadamis Arguelles, who competed unattached, won with 6.66m over Bahamian Bianca Stuart 6.59m.

In the men’s triple jump, Yordany Duranona of Dominica 16.73m beat USA’s pair of Chris Carter 16.57m and Omar Craddock 16.56m.



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