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.