NCAA: Day 2 - World's fastest 200 man is Gay

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Tyson Gay, the Arkansas star deprived of a chance to defend his 100-meter title, ran the fastest 200 in the world this year, finishing in a stunning 19.93 seconds Thursday night in the NCAA track and field championships.

Gay’s time in the semifinals was the third-fastest in NCAA meet history and eclipsed the 19.97 that Razorbacks teammate Wallace Spearmon had in April as the event’s fastest mark in 2005.

"I didn’t expect to run that fast, but when I did, that’s the first thing I thought about - I’ve got the school record back,’’ Gay said.

Freshmen Xavier Carter of LSU and Walter Dix of Florida State were second- and third-fastest in the semis, respectively, at 20.14 and 20.18. Spearmon, who broke the American indoor 200 record in the NCAA championships in March, has been bothered by a sore right knee and was the fourth-fastest qualifier at 20.31.

Gay, a senior, is not competing in the 100 in the NCAA meet because he was disqualified by a false start in the Mideast Regional.

"I was motivated a lot,’’ he said. "I was motivated for the four-by-one (400 relay) yesterday and that motivation carried over to the 200.’’

As for the 100, Gay watched the prelims and semis on Wednesday and said, "I wasn’t too impressed.’’

Gay said he figured he needed a fast time because he was racing in the same heat as Carter, who had beaten him in the 200 in the regional and Southeastern Conference championships.

"I didn’t really want to run that fast because it takes a lot out of your legs,’’ Gay said. "I’m going to ice up and should be ready to go.’’

Losing the school record was the biggest deal to Spearmon.

"I can’t believe he did that,’’ Spearmon said. "At least wait until you graduate or something.’’

Arkansas, two-time defending men’s team champion, has three runners in Saturday night’s 200 finals.

Another freshman, Shalonda Solomon of South Carolina, led qualifiers for the finals in the women’s 200 at 22.82 seconds. Charlette Greggs of Miami was second fastest at 22.85, just ahead of Tremedia Brice of Texas Southern (22.90).

Kerron Clement, in the final week of his brief but outstanding college career, eased to victory in his qualifying heat in the 400 hurdles.

The Florida sophomore, defending champion in the event and holder of the world indoor 400 record, said he was running at 75 percent to conserve energy, but still was timed in 49.13 seconds, more than a second faster than the No. 2 qualifier.

Clement, who will turn professional after the meet, broke Michael Johnson’s decade-old indoor 400 record at the NCAA championships. The hurdles is his preferred race, though.

"It is a challenge,’’ he said, "because you have to combine stamina and speed, and I have both.’’

Born in Trinidad, Clement became a U.S. citizen a year ago. He plans to add the 200 and 400 to his outdoor repertoire next year. The hurdles, though, is his premier event, and he wants to mentioned someday in the same breath as American great Edwin Moses.

"I want to surpass that,’’ Clement said with a smile. "I want to make a name for myself - `the great Kerron Clement.’’’

Wednesday night’s rain gave way to sunshine in the second day of the four-day competition at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus, site of the last two U.S. Olympic trials.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Remember the names Marshevet Hooker, Cleo Tyson and Walter Dix. These kids can run, and they’re just getting started.

Hooker is a sophomore from Texas, Tyson a freshman from Tennessee and Dix, also a freshman, is from Florida State. And all three breezed through qualifying rounds in their events Wednesday on a rainy opening night at the NCAA track and field championships.

“Like my coach says,” Tyson said, “you’ve got to take it while you have a chance, seize it, because who says you’re going to have it next year?”

All three anchored their 400-meter relay teams that advanced to the finals. All three won their qualifying and semifinal heats in the 100. Hooker also had the third-best mark in the long jump qualifying – 10 minutes before she lined up for the 100 semis.

“A busy day,” she said. “I got through it though.”

The intermittent rain was annoying, but nothing like the lightning-tinged deluge that washed out the opening day of the NCAA meet a year ago in Austin, Texas. Still, Dix didn’t like it.

“It was a horrible day as far as weather,” he said. “I didn’t expect it from California. I’m not used to running in this kind of stuff. I felt pretty ‘slouchy.’ I just wanted to make it through the rounds and get ready for the 200.”

The meet features 1,088 athletes in four days of competition at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus, site of the last two U.S. Olympic trials. There were no final events on the opening day.

The men’s 100 field was depleted by the absence of two of the nation’s top collegiate sprinters, Steve Mullings and Tyson Gay.

Mullings, a Mississippi State junior whose 10.06 tied Dix for the fastest collegiate time this season, was banned from competition for two years by the Jamaican athletic federation last week for his positive test for steroids at last year’s Jamaican championships. He was eligible to compete in the NCAA meet, though, but withdrew Tuesday.

Gay, an Arkansas senior and the event’s defending champion, was disqualified because of a false start in the Mideast Regional.

Tennessee sophomore Tianna Madison had the best long jump mark – by more than a foot – at 22½.

Virginia Powell of Southern California shot out to a big lead and won her heat in the 100 hurdles in a personal-best 12.73 seconds.

Just 76 points separated the top four through five events of the decathlon. Andrew Levin of Montana led with 4,023 points, followed by William Thomas of Connecticut at 3,991 and Texas teammates Donovan Kilmartin (3,964) and Trey Hardee (3,947).

Darold Williamson of Baylor and Monique Henderson of UCLA, both part of Olympic gold-medal 1,600 relay teams in Athens, qualified easily for the 400 semifinals.

Andrew Ellerton of Michigan was the fastest qualifier in the men’s 800 preliminaries at 1:47.88. The favorite, U.S. Olympian Jonathan Johnson of Texas Tech, qualified ninth out of the 15 who advanced to the Thursday night’s semifinals.

Johnson, a senior, set the stadium record at 1:44.77 in last year’s Olympic Trials and made it to the semifinals in Athens. He said a successful defense of his NCAA title would just be the start of a big season.

“I’ve still got a long season ahead of me,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I’ve got the NCAAs, then I’ve got the U.S. championships and once I make the team, the world championships. I’m also going to run some meets over in Europe. So this is just a stepping stone to kind of get me ready for the real outdoor season.”