At the Russell Blunt East Coast Invitation on the campus of North Carolina A&T, Samuels broke a 19-year-old national high school record by running the 100-meter dash in 10.08 seconds and matched the American Junior Record set by 2004 Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin in 2001, while he was already competing for the University of Tennessee.
Samuels topped the previous high school mark of 10.13 set by Derrick Florrence, of Galveston, Texas, in 1986.
"As soon as I stepped on this track, I was ready to run," Samuels told the Durham (N.C.) Herald Sun on Sunday. "And everything I had today was an advantage for me: the wind and a lot of people rooting for me, and I was well prepared training-wise."
His father, James Samuels, a former long jumper and sprinter at Kansas, was pleased with how mature his son reacted to running in the preliminaries and succeeding in the finals.
"He was more relaxed than I had seen him before," James said. "His high school coach said it was one of the best finishes Jmee has ever had.
"He's learned to relax more in the finals when it really counts."
Samuels will compete in his first international meet in Windsor, Canada at the Pan-American Junior Championships beginning Thursday. At the Pan-Am Games, Samuels is expected to be a favorite after running the record Sunday. Brazil's Rafeal Riberio Da Silva has the second fastest time in the meet with a 10.35. Samuels' race Sunday was unofficially the eighth fastest time by an American this year, as listed by USA Track and Field.
"I don't usually talk to Jmee about making predictions about how he is going to compete," James said. "But if the conditions are good, if it is not cool and there is not much of a headwind, he should do well. If the conditions are good, he can win."
Samuels is the reigning American Junior Outdoor champion in the 100 and placed third in the 200, his favorite event.
There as been some talk Samuels would rather turn directly to the professional ranks instead of running at Arkansas, and though his father did not completely rule out the jump, James said he expects his son will spend at least one year with the Razorbacks. Both Samuels and his father plan to visit Fayetteville together around August 15.
"He said he would like to run with the Razorbacks," James said. "Yes, he wants to eventually go pro, but he hasn't been contacted yet."
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