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Jamie Eckford, left, of Bamberg edges out Douglass Schmidt of Spangdahlem to win the men's 100-meter dash at Saturday's U.S. Forces Europe Track Championship at Baumholder, Germany.

Jamie Eckford, left, of Bamberg edges out Douglass Schmidt of Spangdahlem to win the men's 100-meter dash at Saturday's U.S. Forces Europe Track Championship at Baumholder, Germany. (Robin Hoecker / S&S)

Jamie Eckford, left, of Bamberg edges out Douglass Schmidt of Spangdahlem to win the men's 100-meter dash at Saturday's U.S. Forces Europe Track Championship at Baumholder, Germany.

Jamie Eckford, left, of Bamberg edges out Douglass Schmidt of Spangdahlem to win the men's 100-meter dash at Saturday's U.S. Forces Europe Track Championship at Baumholder, Germany. (Robin Hoecker / S&S)

Jacob De La O of Grafenwöhr launches the shot put.

Jacob De La O of Grafenwöhr launches the shot put. (Robin Hoecker / S&S)

Melanie Middlebrooks, left, and Tasia Pittman of Spangdahlem celebrate after the women's 100-meter dash. Pittman won the race with a time of 14.25 seconds and Middlebrooks came in second at 14.47.

Melanie Middlebrooks, left, and Tasia Pittman of Spangdahlem celebrate after the women's 100-meter dash. Pittman won the race with a time of 14.25 seconds and Middlebrooks came in second at 14.47. (Robin Hoecker / S&S)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Byron Grays of Spangdahlem, a self-described “sports dinosaur” who began his European sports career playing football for the Wiesbaden Flyers of the Continental Sports Conference in the 1980s, successfully defended his shot put and discus titles Saturday in the U.S. Forces Europe track and field championships.

“I’ve been throwing for 20 years,” the 41-year-old Grays said after tossing the 16-pound shot 46 feet, 8½ inches to win the event by more than 13 feet over the runner-up, teammate Solandro Lee.

Grays, who later sailed the discus one-quarter inch short of 108 feet to win that event by a big margin, too, prevailed despite the demands on his time that preclude fine-tuning his technique.

“The shot is highly technical,” said Grays, who also ran a leg on his team’s silver-medal 4x400-meter relay team and placed second in the javelin behind Lee.

“It’s hard to find the time to train enough to keep your technique up. I’m working on my master’s and getting ready to move to Korea. I rely on my experience.”

Grays led a parade of a half-dozen athletes who achieved double individual gold in this gathering of 40-plus athletes, who for the most part were far from their career-best forms.

Joining Grays in winning two gold medals were Jamie Eckford of Bamberg, champion of the 100 (11.0 seconds) and 400 meters (50.47); Michael Williams of Ramstein, who took the 200 (22.97) and long jump (21-½); Jessica Willis of Darmstadt, winner of the women’s 1,500 (6 minutes, 2.75 seconds) and 5,000-meter (24:06.36); Anita Fairweather of Kaiserslautern, best in the women’s 200 (30.42) and javelin (39-6); and Lajuann Harper of Ramstein, the women’s equivalent of Grays, winning the shot (28-9) and discus (82-8½).

Casey Jackson of Ramstein sizzled in his lone event, dominating the 5,000 in 17:07.53. He outgunned Spangdahlem’s Joshua Ramos, who won the 1,500 in 4:23.95, by nearly 9½ seconds in the three-mile event.

Like Grays, Bamberg’s Eckford finds training time hard to come by.

“It’s sometimes difficult to train on your own,” said Eckford, a military spouse who admitted he skipped the 200 and a shot at triple gold because he was tired after running the 400 run in hot sunshine.

“I was training with a German club, but we moved to Bamberg recently and I won’t be able to train with my new team until September.”

Also relying heavily on muscle memory in a technically demanding discipline was 110-meter high hurdles champion Phillip Rice of Vilseck.

“We’ve had about four practices,” Rice said after defeating teammate Balthazar Salazar in 19.88. “I used to run around 14 seconds.”

As with many of the competitors here, Rice was using the meet as motivation to return to past form. His goal is to “get back close to 14.”

Eckford, however, who ran for Berea College in Kentucky, cited the inevitable factor that affected his performance — and might hinder Rice’s plans.

“I’m not as young as I was,” he said.

U.S. Forces Europe championshipsBAUMHOLDER, Germany — Top finishers Saturday in the U.S. Forces track and field championships at Minnick Field (all race distances in meters):

Men

100—1, Jamie Eckford (Bamberg) 11.00; 2, Douglass Schmidt (Spangdahlem) 11.18; 3, Michael Williams (Ramstein) 11.38.

200—1, Williams, 22.97; 2, Cedric McKiethen (Vilseck) 23.18; 3, Adam Harper (Ram) 23.53.

400—1, Eckford, 50.47; 2, A. Harper 51.20; 3, Jeremiah Taylor (Sembach) 55.54.

800—1, Odis Robinson (Grafenwöhr) 2:10.24; 2, Isaiah Taylor (Wiesbaden) 2:15.88; 3, Joseph Campbell (Landstuhl) 2:15.95.

1,500—1, Joshua Ramos (Spangdahlem) 4:23.95; 2, Campbell, 4:32.20; 3, Paul Miller (Spang) 5:12.39.

5,000—1, Casey Jackson (Ram) 17:07.53; 2, Ramos, 17:17.21; 3, Campbell, 17:44.62.

110 high hurdles—1, Phillip Rice (Vilseck) 19.88; 2, Balthazar Salazar (Vil) 20.09.

4x100 relay—1, Wiesbaden (Gil Murray, Eckford, Williams, McDougal) 44.75; 2, Grafenwöhr (Robinson, Salazar, Rice, McKiethen) 48.82; 3, Spangdahlem (Pollard, Jeynia, McGoines, Miller) 50.92.

4x400 relay—1, Grafenwöhr (Robinson, Perez, Rice, Maldonado) 4:02.37; 2, Spangdahlem (Grays, Ramos, Shearer, Lee) 4:09.00; 3, Vilseck (Phillips, Pollard, Salazar, McKiethen) 4:24.50.

Long jump—1, Williams, 21 feet, 0.5 inches; 2, Eckford, 18-3; 3, J. Taylor, 18-1.

Triple jump—1, Greg Thompson (Sem) 41-6; 2, Earl Floyd (Spang) 39-10; 3, J. Taylor, 35-7.

Shot put—1, Byron Grays (Spang) 46-8.5; 2, Solandro Lee (Spang) 33-0; 3, Floyd, 30-5.

Discus—1, Grays, 107-11.75; 2, Floyd, 92-6; 3, Robinson, 86-0.25.

Javelin—1, Lee, 140-11.5; 2, Grays, 112-4.75; 3, Floyd, 75-4.

Women

100—1, Tasia Pittman (Spang) 14.25; 2, Melanie Middlebrooks (Spang) 14.47; 3, Judith Williams (Spang) 15.20.

200—1, Anita Fairweather (Kaiserslautern) 30.42; 2, Marie Lampe (Baumholder) 34.50; 3, Sarah Money (Baumholder) 36.87.

400—1, Felicia Sierra (Spang) 66.89; 2, Fairweather, 74.45; 3, Jessica Willis (Darmstadt) 80.95.

800—1, Lampe, 3:12..40; 2, Money, 3:38.40.

1,500—1, Willis, 6:02.75; 2, Jennifer Lewis (Bam) 6:14.76; 3, Lampe, 6:27.80.

5,000—1, Willis 24:06.36; 2, Lewis, 24:13.02.

4x100 relay—1, Kaiserslautern (Haynes, Ford, Hamilton, Fairweather) 64.08.

4x400 relay—1, Kaiserslautern (Haynes, Ford, Hamilton, Fairweather) 5:02.40.

Long jump—1, Brandi Jones (Landstuhl) 14 feet, 10 inches; 2, Pittman, 12-3; 3, Fairweather, 12-0.5.

Shot put—1, Lajuann Harper (Ramstein) 28-9; 2, Fairweather, 26-8.25; 3, Lechelle Ford (Kais) 24-3.5.

Discus—1, Harper, 82-8.5; 2, Ford, 56-2.75; 3, Fairweather, 52-3.25.

Javelin—1, Fairweather, 39-6; 2, Ford, 33-6.5.


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