NEW YORK — Atascadero’s Chelsea Johnson soared to the biggest win of her professional career Friday night.
Johnson, coming off a silver-medal performance at last summer’s track and field world championships in Berlin, won the women’s pole vault at the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden.
Johnson cleared 14 feet, 91⁄2 inches to win over runner-up Becky Holiday, who cleared 14-51⁄2.
After clearing the winning height, Johnson had the bar raised to 15-31⁄4 where she missed all three tries.
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“I had two really good attempts at it, but I did feel a little rusty,” Johnson said on the U.S. Track and Field Web site. “However, the future is looking bright, still early in the season.”
Johnson was making her Millrose Games debut.
“It’s a really nice place to vault, a great runway and the crowd was really enthusiastic,” she said. “I’ll definitely be coming back.
“I felt good, really fast, strong and prepared to jump high, which honestly I’ve never felt indoors, so it’s a good feeling."
Elsewhere, Bernard Lagat looked out at the kids asking for his autograph and realized many of them weren’t even born when he won his first Wanamaker Mile.
Nearly a decade after he made his Millrose Games debut as a young runner overwhelmed by his first trip to New York, Lagat stands alone in the record books of the storied event. The American won the meet’s signature race for the eighth time, breaking the mark he shared with Irish great Eamonn Coghlan.
“It ranks among the top,” Lagat said of a career that includes seven Olympic and world championship medals.Afterward, Coghlan told him there is nobody else he would rather take his record.
Lagat was content to hang behind reigning Olympic champ Asbel Kiprop of Kenya for nearly the entire race, bursting to the front with exactly one lap to go.
“I wasn’t worried,” Lagat said. “Inside the race, I was feeling really comfortable.”
Kiprop, who finished second in Beijing but moved up to gold when Rashid Ramzi was caught doping, was making his indoor debut.
Lagat finished in 3 minutes, 56.34 seconds, less than 2 seconds ahead of Kiprop. He won $2,500 for being voted Team USA Athlete of the Meet and planned to donate the winnings to Haiti earthquake relief efforts.
The 35-year-old Lagat doesn’t have any more records to chase, but he still figures he’ll be back at Millrose in the future. That’s how at home he feels at the event, which celebrated its 103rd edition.
American Lisa Barber returned to the track for the first time in 11 months and showed she’s fully healed from a serious Achilles’ tendon injury, beating a strong field in the 60 meters.
Barber, the 2006 world indoor champion, edged two-time Olym-pic 200-meter gold medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica.
Barber had battled injuries before, but “never like that to where I’m questioning, ‘Is this it? Is it over?’ ” she said.
It’s definitely not over. She got to make her comeback in front of her family, not far from her hometown of Montclair, N.J. Barber and Campbell-Brown both posted times of 7.24 seconds.
Two-time Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell won the men’s 60-meter hurdles, and 2008 bronze medalist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada won the women’s race.
Reigning world champ Christian Cantwell won the shot put with a throw of 72 feet, 1⁄4-inch.
American Ivory Williams won the men’s 60 in 6.59 seconds.
Former Oilers and Raiders defensive back Anthony Dorsett won the inaugural Super 60 race, which featured NFL players with speedy track backgrounds. His time of 7.01 seconds beat Phillip Buchanon, Willie Gault, Tim Dwight and Ryan LaCasse.