Notes from 2010 NCAA

This year's NCAA meet had some very interesting situations and some unreported news so this is an effort to state some of my observations event-by-event. I will work on the men first from the 100 to 1500 meters.

100 - Jeff Demps (9.96 +2.5 m/s) has put on 20 pounds of muscle and bulk as requested by the football coaches. The trade-off is that he didn't have to play in spring practice. Florida has the fastest football players in the country (LSU might contest that) and they don't use Demps every play but he can get around the corner fast. He is serious about track though and will run at US championships (he planned to but an injury kept him out - check interview). Marcus Rowland (eighth in 10.61) cramped or injured a muscle after being slightly ahead the first 40 meters. He looked so good last year. Rowland and Demps have two more years to battle and add in surprise of the meet Luther Ambrose of Louisianna-Monroe (10.12) who is also a sophomore. By the way Duck Ashton Eaton's best this year, also wind-aided, was 10.19 and would have put him fourth in the final.

200 - Because of how late the 200 finished I was very disappointed that I did not get a chance to talk to Rondel Sorrillo of Kentucky. He was the best male sprinter of the meet after winning the 200 meters in 20.36 (+3.7 m/s) and finishing second in the 100 meters at 10.09. He has been under the radar even though he is now a all-American. He has toiled in relative obscurity because of competing in the SEC but he has experience and success running for Trinidad and Tobago. He was a 2008 Olympian in the 200 meters and won the 2009 national title over 200 meters. At 24 we will should see him in London. The most disappointed runner had to be Curtis Mitchell of Texas A&M. He competed in four events (sixth in 100 meters in 10.23 and ran on dq'd 4x100 and 4x400 champions) and admitted he couldn't relax in the 200 meter final (second in 20.45). The California JUCO champion in the 100 and 200 his freshman and sophomore year (edited correction by writer) won NCAA indoors and he is determined to run better at the US championships. I spoke with his teammate Gerald Phiri who is a class guy and spoke with me after the 100 meters (fourth in 10.20) and 200 meters (eighth in 20.91). He is happy the coaches have so much faith in him and he came to A&M because the LSU coach (PAt Henry) and the Tennessee sprint coach (Vince Anderson) both ended up at A&M.

400 - Kirani James of Alabama has a great build for the 400 meters and ran a relaxed race throughout. He admitted he didn't think about his competition at all. The freshman didn't worry about the heavy wind which affected everyone else and ran 45.05. He will have battles with MSU's Tavaris Tate (fifth in 45.56)at the SEC meet and NCAAs for the next three years. Also sophomore Joey Hughes of USC (third in 45.23) is a gregarious personality who will continue to be driven by his high school and now college teammate, Bryshon Nellom. Florida missed NCAA indoor revelation freshman Tony McQuay. Once the pressure hit he injured his hamstring but this tremendous talent pool will be around for years and make this one of the top events.

800 - I think most of us knew Duck Andrew Wheating had the NCAA final after Robbie Andrews won his heat in 1:45.54 and Wheating ran 1:48.80 to win his. If Andrews could beat Wheating in Eugene after running that fast of a heat he would deserve to be called a better 800 meter runner than Wheating. Wheating essentially admitted that he focuses on the line and isn't aware of things around him. Early on he has lost races by not running to the line but not this time. He (first in 1:45.69) absolutely drilled the competition in the final. There is no contending who is better right now. Andrews (second in 1:46.83) won't even do that. He should be afraid of the two Ducks who did not make the final.

For freshman Elijah Greer to run 1:46.99 and make an admitted tactical mistake is quite impressive especially after having a femoral stress fracture that ended his indoor season prematurely and delayed his outdoor season. He closes races very well, possibly as well as Andrews and Wheating, we will have to see when he gets close to his competition how his kick looks. Duck junior Travis Thompson is trying to run like the great 800 meters of the world run, get out fast and kick it in. If he can figure out how to do it he could be THE best but that is still a lot to ask (he is tough and driven - two very important qualities). Hopefully this summer he can run some fast times.

Junior Cory Primm of UCLA is learning from Johnny Gray how to do it and was fifth in the final at 1:47.58 and ran 1:45.70 in the heat behind Andrews. 1500 - The fact that the Ducks went one-two was not surprising at all and I had hoped for the result but could not reasonably expect it. I figured Emmanuel would take off and Centrowitz would trail him like he did last year with Rupp and then out-kick Emmanuel. I thought that Wheating would come from the pack to catch Emmanual or finish third. I thought that Acosta would get fifth or even better, third was possible with a slow race.

After an incredibly slow 2:12 at 800 meters Emmanuel of New Mexico took off. They were at 2:30 with 600 meters to go. Emmanuel lost no one because the early pace was so slow. Emmanuel led the pack to a 50SEC LAP!! and with 200 to go they were at 3:20 (54 sec, 3:06 at 1200). Centrowitz as expected took the lead and Wheating and Acosta both moved up and finished 1-2 as they closed in 27, 3:47.94, 3:48.01, 3:48.08 for the Ducks. Just amazing for the Ducks!! Despite the ridiculous statements of others Acosta did not look like he let up and he said later that he didn't let up.

Wheating, Acosta, and Centrowitz were very happy and thought they had a good chance to sweep. Emmanuel (sixth in 3:48.61), always good to the press, didn't want to talk. Fifth year senior from Cal Mark Matusak (eighth in 3:48.91) said everyone knew Emmanuel's move and didn't want to take the pace.

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