Speedy Rowland Looking For Big Finish

Auburn's Marcus Rowland will be competing in three events at the NCAA Track and Field meet.

Auburn, Ala.--After being slowed by injuries, Marcus Rowland is hoping to have an impressive finish to the 2012 collegiate season at this week's NCAA Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

He will be a busy sprinter after qualifying for the nationals in the 100 meters and 200 meters. Rowland is also scheduled to run a leg on the 4x100 relay team, which has the best time in the country this year, a mark of 38.30 seconds set at the Texas Relays.

After earning All-American honors in 2009 and the following year as a sophomore, he missed the 2011 season due to injuries.

"It is always frustrating when you are a competitor who wants to be able to do their best, but I learned to be patient," Rowland says. "I know that timing is everything and I know my time is going to come. I have been running good the past few weeks so I believe my time is on the way."

Auburn's head track and field coach, Ralph Spry, says he is excited to have Rowland back in the lineup and running well.

"All year long he has had some ups and downs, but he has hung in there and he is finally clicking again," the coach points out. "I am really smiling about Marcus. He is healthy and he ran really well at the NCAA preliminary meet. He went through five races there and came out good.

"He and Harry Adams were two guys I had concerns about in terms of injuries," Spry notes. "What I did prior to going to the preliminaries is we didn't do a lot of speed work with them. I was a little gun-shy and I figured the risk was not worth the reward. I wanted to keep them healthy and just do some smooth strides, nothing overwhelming.

"They got really sharp at the preliminary round and now that they are sharp and healthy I am expecting them to make improvements at the NCAA meet because they are very confident now," the coach says. "We have a lot of momentum going in the sprints right now."

Marcus Rowland is shown in action running for the Tigers. He will be competing at the NCAA meet that starts on Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

Rowland qualified for the NCAA meet by running a time of 10.26 seconds in the first round at the prelims in Jacksonville, Fla., and a 10.19 in the next round, his fastest race in the 100 meters since the 2010 season when he was clocked at 10.03. Adams and another teammate, Keenan Brock, will join Rowland in the 100 at the nationals.

"I am hoping for nice weather, no rain and a lot of heat," Rowland says of what he wants to see this week when the Tigers run in Des Moines. "If we get that Auburn is going to run fast."

Asked what event he expects to be his best at the nationals, Rowland says, "Maybe the 100, but I like both of them. Personally, I have competed better in the 100 this season, but who knows."

Asked to speculate on what type of time he would need to run to be the NCAA 100 champ, the former SEC Freshman of the Year says, "Maybe a 10 flat (10.0). I have run that before so I know I can do it. It might take a time in the 19s to win the 200, which is something I have never done before."

Auburn's most impressive event this year has been the 4x100 as the Tigers broke a 35-year-old school record. Rowland is looking forward to seeing what the team can do in that race this week.

"We can definitely run even faster than we did earlier this year," he says. "The Texas Relays is a big meet and we showed we could run well under pressure. At the Penn Relays we had a really good time for the legs who ran it.

"We all have a special bond on the track and we all have a mutual understanding that when that day comes we have a chance to do something huge," he adds.

Rowland, who earned his degree last month in public administration, plans to stay in school at Auburn and earn a masters while continuing to train. After the NCAAs he hopes to win a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team at the trials for the games that will be held in London this summer. "That is my goal," he says. "I am going to compete in the 100 and 200."

Running is something the former high school star from Dorman High in Spartanburg, S.C., wants to continue to do for years to come.

"After my time is up at Auburn I want to run on the professional level for a while and see how I can do with that," he says. "I think I have a lot of potential and have had a lot of experience running on the U.S.A. team."

However, his current focus is on the NCAA meet. Asked what it would mean to win an individual title as a senior, he says "It would be huge for me. It would be a beautiful ending to a great story."

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