EUGENE, Ore. – Jeshua Anderson hardly could have cut it closer Sunday afternoon.
Still wearing his Washington State uniform after concluding his collegiate career two weeks ago, Anderson took the first big step in the transition to his professional career by winning the 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. track championships – in the narrowest fashion.
Leading off Sunday’s national telecast on NBC, Anderson held off four-time national champion Bershawn Jackson and two-time Olympic gold medalist Angelo Taylor in the final 25 meters to win his first USA title.
“This is something I’ve been working toward for a long time,” Anderson said. “I’ve been preparing to run my best race at the USAs. I gave it my all. I’m so thankful to have won.”
The 22-year-old from Woodland Hills, Calif., was timed in a WSU-record 47.93 seconds – the same as Jackson – with the electronic timer showing Anderson just .009 ahead. Taylor was third in 47.94.
Johnny Dutch, the hurdler who kept Anderson from sweeping four NCAA titles as a Cougar by beating him in 2010, was fifth.
As is typical, Anderson made a strong move on the backstretch of the race, and held a solid lead coming off the second turn. But both Jackson and Taylor closed hard over the final hurdle, and the three hit the finish in a line, and Anderson tumbled to the track.
“My dad told me before I ran the final to ‘hit that finish line like you’re running for a deep ball,’” he said, “and that’s what I did.”
Those three will represent the United States as the IAAF World Championships Aug. 27-Sept. 4 in Daegu, South Korea. It’s Anderson’s first time on a senior national team.
Before then, he’ll make his pro debut at the Herculis meet in Monaco on July 22 and run in the World University Games in China in August.
“I want to be able to go to my first European meet as a professional to win it and not just run it,” he said.
In other events involving area athletes Sunday, Idaho alum Russ Winger finished seventh in a strong shot put competition with a season-best throw of 67 feet, 4 inches.
Former Vandal Melinda Owen failed to clear a height in the pole vault.