Soni, Kitajima claim L.A. honors

LOS ANGELES (AP) Rebecca Soni defeated Jessica Hardy to win the 100-meter breaststroke in a showdown between the two fastest women ever in the event Sunday at the Los Angeles Grand Prix.

Soni extended her lead over the final 50 to win in a meet-record time of 1 minute, 6.23 seconds. Hardy touched in 1:08.61.

“It’s always fun for me to be ahead at the 50, than to have to come back from behind like I usually do,” said Soni, who won the 200 breast a day earlier. “I was going for a 1:06. The 100 is a little easier for me to be consistent in.”

Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima completed a sweep of the men’s breaststroke events, winning the 100 in a meet record of 1:00.82 on the Southern California campus. He and Michael Alexandrov were neck-and-neck for the first 50 before Kitajima pulled away. Alexandrov was second in 1:01.35.