EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Instead of hawking shoes from the trunk of his car, maybe now Mike Rodgers will be promoting them from a billboard somewhere.

He is, after all, America’s best sprinter this side of Tyson Gay.

Wearing his trademark headband, Rodgers sped down the track in 9.91 seconds, beating a depleted field in the finals Friday night at the U.S. championships. Darvis Patton was second and Monzavous Edwards took third.

In the women’s race, Carmelita Jeter outleaned Muna Lee at the finish to beat her by one-thousandth of a second for her first national title. Jeter finished in 10.776 seconds. Lauryn Williams took third to round out the world championship squad bound for Berlin later this summer.

Rodgers opened up a big lead on Patton, then held on at the end. Now he has an outdoor crown to go with his 2008 indoor title and four other wins this season.

Olympic bronze medalist Walter Dix wasn’t in the field for the finals, pulling up just before the finish line with a right hamstring injury in the semis. He joined Gay on the sideline for the marquee race.


Gay didn’t even line up, keeping his vow to run only one race at the championships. He was using the championships as a tune up. He ran a wind-aided time of 9.75 in prelims Thursday, then left, having already qualified for this summer’s world championships in Berlin in both the 100 and 200.

Gay thought Rodgers might be the favorite given that he was out of the race.

“I see the progression similar to what I had when I had my breakout year,” Gay said earlier in the week. “He was kind of running 10 (seconds) for the past couple of years and had a breakout year this year.”

Rodgers almost gave up track a few years ago when he was making more money selling shoes out of the back of his Malibu than he was at racing.

“I’d buy like 20 pairs of (Nike) shoes, and double my money,” said Rodgers, who sold them on the campus of Oklahoma Baptist.

But he decided to stick with running.

A good decision, especially considering this year’s results.

“I am stunned. I never thought I’d be running this fast this early,” Rodgers said in a pre-race interview. “I’m putting it together. When I try to put something together, I try to perfect it. I’m not perfect yet, but I’m getting there.”

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