McLeod blows past field to win 110 hurdles at Drake Relays
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Omar McLeod started his outdoor season as dominant as he was in indoor competition, cruising past a talented field for yet another easy victory.
McLeod, the former Arkansas star who just turned 22 on Monday, won the 110-meter hurdles Saturday at the Drake Relays in a world-leading 13.08 seconds. McLeod improved to 9-0 in indoor and outdoor races this season, a stretch that includes a world indoor title at 60 meters.
David Oliver was second in 13.31, and Hansel Parchment third in 13.42 in cold and rainy conditions.
Reigning Olympic champion Aries Merritt, who competed in his first Olympic-style race since receiving a kidney transplant from his sister in September, was fifth in 13.61.
''It says a lot. It says I'm fit, and my training is going great,'' McLeod said. ''I'm healthy and ready to have fun and take on the year.''
This was a big weekend in Iowa for Merritt, who won bronze at the world championships in Beijing last season despite having his kidney functioning at around 15 percent because of a rare genetic disorder he was diagnosed with in 2013.
Merritt had surgery a few days later. But seven weeks later, Merritt had a second surgery to drain a hematoma that was crushing his kidneys.
The second surgery pushed back Merritt's training schedule - but a run-in with a hurdle was his undoing Saturday.
Merritt tried to make a move after seeing McLeod's pace, but he knocked his knee into a hurdle and nearly knocked over Oliver.
''My recovery has been pretty good,'' said Merritt, the world record-holder at 12.80. ''I'm definitely back to my old self training wise...I'm excited where I am right now.''
Kendra Harrison, the NCAA champion in the women's 100 hurdles in 2015, held off the last two Drake Relays winners, Jasmin Stowers and Kristi Castlin, to win the 100 hurdles in 12.56.
Castlin was second in 12.62, and Brianna Rollins third in 12.65.
''These girls will be with me all the way to the Olympic Trials, so the more I run against them the more confident I get,'' Harrison said.
Meghan Beesley, who the British Indoor Championships in February, won the 400 hurdles in 55.43, two-hundredths of a second faster than Dalilah Muhammad.
It was the first trip to Drake for Beesley, who had spent the last six weeks in Florida training for Rio.
''It was a great time in these conditions as well,'' Beesley said. ''Beating everyone made it even (better) for me.''
Sandi Morris took the women's pole vault - which along with the women's high jump was moved indoors because of the rain - at 15 feet, 5 inches.
Levern Spencer won the women's high jump at 6-4 3/4.
Vashta Cunningham, the 18-year-old daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham and a high school senior from Las Vegas, tied for second at 6-0 3/4. Cunningham, who won the recent world indoor meet, competed in just her second meet since turning professional.
Chris Benard took the men's triple jump in 55-4 1/4 and London Olympics silver medalist Will Claye was fourth at 54-9 1/2.