Fayetteville, Ark. – Three races in three hours for Florida State sophomore five-time All-American Walter Dix (Coral Springs, Fla./Coral Springs) is obviously no problem. The Seminoles reigning NCAA 100m National Champion ran the fastest indoor 200m time the world this year, winning the 200m final in an FSU school best 20.27. Dix owned the prior Seminole top mark, setting it last year in the same race. The 2005 NCAA Indoor 200m runner-up showed the track world why he is the top amateur sprinter in the nation. Dix ran a modest 20.70 in the prelims and watched top LSU pair Xavier Carter and Kelly Willie run the second and third fastest times in the world, 20.47 and 20.48.
“This is just phenomenal for Walter to come and beat two of the top 200m runners in the world this season. To come in here and win against a team we’re in a huge battle for points against. He enters the meet seeded third and looking at first a four point positive. We almost had a perfect day. It’s not about effort its about luck. Bolden and Walt will come back tomorrow and that turns the whole meet around.”
The prior 200m world 2006 best time was held by former Tar Heel Milton Campbell who ran 20.42 at Virginia Tech on February 18, 2006.
“I always look at my competition to see where I’m at and so when I looked at (LSU’s Xavier Carter and Kelly Willie) I knew I had good competition,” said Dix. “I thought I had the advantage because of their times (in the preliminary race) and so I wanted that competition. That’s what the NCAAs are.”
“It feels great to help my team. I couldn’t help them at ACCs but I guess this meet is bigger. Every meet counts but this was worth the wait of not running (until the end of the season).”
Dix obviously used that for fuel, beating the duo in the final by .03 and .19 seconds respectively. The second title of the day put Florida State in a tie for first place with only the men’s distance medley relay left on the day. At the end of seven events, the men’s team tied for second place with LSU for 20 points to conclude day one.
In his first event of the day, Dix came within three-hundredths of a second of tying an 11-year old 60m record and earning the top qualifying spot with his preliminary time of 6.59. The five-time All-American had the second fastest time in advancing to the finals slated for Saturday at 8:15 pm EST.
If redshirt junior Garrett Johnson (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Baptist Academy) had not taken another step into the shot put circle on Friday, March 10, 2006, at the Randal Tyson Track and Field Center, it would not have changed the outcome of his performance nor his team’s placing – the No. 4/4 Florida State men’s track and field team had their first individual NCAA Indoor National Champion in 11 years.
“He wins by three feet, his first three throws are all winners. For him to come back and redeem himself is just amazing.”
Johnson won the first NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championship for the Florida State track and field team in 11 years, fittingly on his first attempt. The national shot put leader entering the meet placed first with a throw of 67’2.25″ (20.48m), beating the field by 3’4.75″ feet and putting the Seminoles in first place on the scoreboard after the first event.
“It is indescribable,” said Johnson. “There are no words to explain my excitement. This is my last year because I am a Rhodes Scholar and will be heading off to Oxford (England) next year. It is so great when you work hard and things just come together.”
The win is the first for Florida State during the indoor season since 1995 when Phillip Riley won the 55m hurdles. He is the second national champion under head coach Bob Braman, who was also at the helm when freshman five-time All-American Walter Dix won the 2005 NCAA Outdoor 100m Championship. It marks the first time a field student-athlete has won a title since Bradley Cooper picked up top billing in 1979 in the discus.
With one season over for Johnson, the 2006 Rhodes Scholar has already qualified for the NCAA East Region Championship and broken the FSU outdoor shot put school record with his throw of 67’3.5″ (20.51m) at last weekend’s (March 4) Snowbird Invitational in Tallahassee.
Junior transfer Greg Bolden (Morrow, Ga./Albany State) improved on his ninth-place seeding in the 60m, grabbing the eighth and final qualifying spot in the finals in 6.69. The 2005 NCAA Division II National Champion will join Dix in the finals tomorrow.
Junior All-American Tom Lancashire (Bolton, England/Turton) advanced to the mile run finals with a time of 4:02.73 for the third fastest time in his heat and fifth overall. Lancashire, who placed fifth in 2005, finished just three-tenths of a second out of the top spot in the preliminary.
Redshirt senior three-time All-American miler Natalie Hughes (Grand Junction, Colo./Palisade) moved up one spot ahead of her seeding to ninth place after clocking 4:43.35 in the preliminary mile race. Hughes, who has finished as high as fifth place
Sophomore two-time All-American Ricardo Chambers (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) did not finish the 400m preliminaries, pulling up in the first lap on the second turn due to a leg injury. Chambers was the second ranked quarter miler in the nation entering the meet.
The group returns to action tomorrow (March 11) for the final day of the NCAA Indoor National Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
NOTES: Head coach Bob Braman was named 2006 United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) South Region Coach of the Year, last night at the NCAA Track and Field Awards Banquet. Braman, who won for the second consecutive indoor campaign, led the Seminoles to their fourth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships behind eight individual titles. The Seminoles scored 160 points for the third consecutive year. Four of the top-ranked student-athletes in the NCAA are on the 2006 squad including reigning NCAA Outdoor 200m National Champion Walter Dix (Coral Springs, Fla./Coral Springs) and Rhodes Scholar select Garrett Johnson (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Baptist Academy).