EUGENE - Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt bested his own Hayward Field record by winning the seldom-run 300 meters in 31.30 seconds Sunday in the Prefontaine Classic.
Merritt, who won gold in the 400 last summer in Beijing, surpassed his own mark of 31.31 at the venerated track in 2006. He also topped the Prefontaine-best 32.19 set by Jason Rouser in 1994.
"I'm more of a sprinter-type quarter-miler," Merritt said. "I have a quarter-miler background, so the (300) is right down my alley."
Fellow Americans Xavier Carter was second in 31.93, and Wallace Spearmon was third in 32.14.
The Pre, as it is known, is the last major meet in the United States before the national championships later this month.
Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot set a record on American soil when she won the 2,000 meters in 5:31.52. She surpassed Mary Slaney's 1984 record of 5:32.70 in the event, which also is infrequently run.
"I'm happy because I had never run 2,000," Cheruiyot said.
American Kara Goucher, who was third in both the Boston and New York City Marathons, was seventh in the event.
American Michael Rodgers ran the 100 meters in a personal-best 9.94 seconds, in a field that included former world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica. Carmelita Jeter won the women's 100 in a wind-aided 10.85 seconds.
Other winners included Bernard Lagat, who won the 3,000 meters in 7:35.92 under mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-60s.
Lagat was disappointed with his performance at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, and wanted to get in some extra work before heading to Arizona to train for the nationals at altitude.
"I was in for the ride to see if I could win," he said.
Sanya Richards ran the women's 400 in 49.86, the fastest time in the world this year, and Nick Symmonds, a local favorite who was on the 2008 Olympic team, won the 800 in 1:45.86.
"I knew it was an early race, so I didn't want to set too high of expectations," said Richards, the bronze medalist in Beijing. "But I definitely always like to run under 50 seconds so when I looked up and saw 49, I was very pleased."
Ethiopia's Gelete Burke ran the women's 1,500 in 3:58.89, besting her own meet record of 4:00.44 set last year. Jenny Barringer was second in 3:59.30, becoming just the third American woman to run the event in under four minutes.
"With 20 meters to go, I thought, I'm going to win this. I really raced like I was going to win," she said. "I can't believe I wasn't scared. I just totally thought I was going to get it."
Barringer, who ran in the 3,000 steeplechase in Beijing, is a senior at Colorado. She's headed to the NCAA championships this coming week in Fayetteville, Ark.
Dwight Phillips postured before the grandstand with his hands on his hips to cheers from the crowd after a 28-foot, 8.25-inch leap in the long jump, both a Prefontaine and Hayward Field record. Phillips was the 2005 world long jump champion.
Kenyan Asbel Kiprop won the Pre's signature event, the Bowerman Mile, in 3:48.50. Thirteen of 16 runners in the event ran it under four minutes.
The Pre, in its 35th year, is named after Oregon distance runner Steve Prefontaine, an Olympian killed in a 1977 car accident at 24.
The meet, the fifth and final event of the USATF's outdoor Visa Championship Series, is held annually at Hayward Field, the site of last year's Olympic trials and this year's national championships, which will determine the U.S. team for the worlds.