A family reunion at the finish line

Clark clan finishes 1-2-3 in women's 800

U.S. Olympic Trials


July 24, 2000|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Joe Clark used to be known as the most famous high school principal in America. He was a bat-toting, suspension-writing disciplinarian who turned around an inner-city high school in New Jersey, a man lionized in the film "Lean On Me."

With apologies to Marion Jones and husband C.J. Hunter, Clark now heads America's first family of track and field.

Hazel Clark, his 22-year-old daughter, won the 800 meters at the U.S. track and field trials yesterday in 1 minute, 58.97 seconds. She won a sprint down the final straight over her sister-in-law, Jearl Miles-Clark. Hazel's big sister, Joetta Clark-Diggs, used a late lean to catch the third and final Olympic berth by one-hundredth of a second over Meredith Rainey-Valmon.

All three Clark "sisters" are coached by J.J. Clark, Hazel's and Joetta's brother and Jearl's husband.

One world record

For the second time in the past three Olympic cycles, the U.S. track and field trials threatened to be shut out in the world record department. That was before Stacy Dragila used her flair for the dramatic and raised her standard in the women's pole vault to 15-2 1/4 , which added to her status as the favorite in the new Olympic medal event. Dragila is a former rodeo queen who has posed nude.

Gail Devers added to the record-breaking when she lowered her American record in the 100 hurdles to 12.33. Devers won the 100 at the past two Olympics, but she has never medaled over the barriers.


Mark Everett won the men's 800 and earned his third Olympic berth the hard way. Second at the trials in 1988 and '92, he was seventh in '96 and didn't go to Atlanta. ... Allen Johnson and Charles Austin will go for their second Olympic gold medals, as Johnson took the hurdles in 12.97 and Austin was the only man over 7-7 1/2 in the high jump. ... Former Hammond High star Kisha Jett was near her personal best with a time of 23.15, but she finished sixth in her semifinal of the women's 200 and did not advance. Jett lives in Florida and is another pupil of J.J. Clark.

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