Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Despite Dropped Baton in 1,600, U.S. Team Picks Up 400 Medals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Despite Dropped Baton in 1,600, U.S. Team Picks Up 400 Medals

Article excerpt

If not for a dropped baton, the United States might have won its 400th medal a little sooner at the Pan Am Games.

No matter. The Americans earned No. 400 Saturday when wrestler Zeke Jones, a former world champion and 1992 Olympic silver medalist, took the gold at 114 1/2 pounds. Jones, of Chandler, Ariz., beat Cuba's Carlos Verela 5-2.

On Friday, the U.S. team surpassed the record of 369 medals it set eight years ago at Indianapolis. The gold medal mark of 168, also at Indianapolis, was in reach, too.

One expected medal that didn't come was in the men's 1,600-meter relay.

Dino Napier never had dropped the baton in 14 years of relay racing. He still doesn't remember how it happened. Napier fumbled the pass to Tony Miller, and the strong U.S. team finished out of the medals.

"My heart is broken," said Napier, of El Paso, Texas. "It happened so fast. The next thing I knew I was picking it up and giving it to Tony - again."

The other members of the team - Miller, Wendell Gaskin and Kevin Lyles - picked up ground, but managed only sixth.

The Cuban team won, followed by Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Cuban-U.S. rivalry for track supremacy went down to the wire on the final day of competition. Cuba won four gold medals and two silvers. The Americans took three golds and five silvers.

Elsewhere Saturday, the United States picked up four golds, three silvers and a bronze in water skiing, with Carl Roberge of Winter Springs, Fla., getting a gold and a silver.

The women's softball team stretched its unprecedented international winning streak to 105 by beating Puerto Rico 4-0 for the gold medal. But the men lost to Canada at night 2-1 for the gold.

Another gold came in water polo, as the Americans blitzed Brazil 16-5. A victory over Argentina in a night game would give the U.S. basketball team the title, too.

At the track, the U. …

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