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June 28, 2014

Another U.S. crown for ESL grad Harper-Nelson

It may have been a photo finish, but Dawn Harper-Nelson seemed to go wire-to-wire en route to winning the women's 100-meter hurdles Saturday at the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif.

Harper-Nelson, a 2002 graduate of East St. Louis High School, owned the lead by the first hurdle and never trailed, although Queen Harrison was right alongside her by the time she crossed the finish line.

"I think you can count on when it comes to the lean, Dawn's probably got it," Harper-Nelson said to the Associated Press. "I was very happy with my lean today."

Harper-Nelson, 30, finished in a time of 12.55 seconds, a tenth of a second in front of Harrison. Lolo Jones finished third in 12.65.

2013 world champion Brianna Rollins, who owns the fastest time in the world this year, was fifth in 12.81.

Harper-Nelson did her trademark celebratory cartwheel after the completion of the race.

"I made a little mistake in the middle [of the race], and I was like, 'Oh, Lord, don't let it go,'" Harper-Nelson told NBC after the race. "I knew it was going to be a great race. Fierce ladies."

Earlier in the day, Harper-Nelson posted the fastest time of the semifinal heats when she ran a 12.54. Lolo Jones ranked second with a 12.55.

The victory marked Harper-Nelson's third at the U.S. Outdoor Championships. She also won titles in 2012 and 2009.

The biggest victory of Harper-Nelson's career, came when she won gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Four years later, she placed second behind Australia's Sally Pearson at the 2012 Summer Games in London.

Last year, Harper-Nelson placed fourth at the world track and field championships in Moscow.

In high school, Harper won six state championships for East St. Louis, three apiece in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.

She later attended UCLA where she was a two-time All-American. Harper-Nelson is coached by Bob Kersee, husband of fellow East St. Louis High graduate Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

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