Southeast Raleigh High graduate Wayne Davis II wanted a great start in Saturday’s 110-meter hurdles final at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship for two reasons.
Davis, a junior at Texas A&M, knew a great start by the top qualifier in the event would put pressure on his fellow competitors. He also needed the start to erase his memories of a less than ideal start in the 2012 Olympics.
A former NCHSAA state champion, he had a great start and rolled to the national championship in a wind-aided 13.14 seconds.
“I knew my start was important,” Davis said. “I think it was crucial to get ahead and push these guys and I think pushing those guys kind of made them screw up a bit.”
Runner-up Eddie Lovett of Florida hit multiple hurdles and Clemson’s Spencer Adams hit hurdles as well.
His run helped Texas A&M wrap up its fifth men’s national championship in the past seven years. Florida and Texas A&M finished with 53 points on the men’s side.
Davis, running for Trinidad and Tobago, hit the first hurdle in the semifinals at the last Olympics and believes that cost him a spot in the final.
“This was another big-time competition,” Davis said. “So I just made sure I stayed away from the hurdles. (Running in wind) you just have to keep your feet light on the ground.”
Davis, West Johnston graduate Dakota Peachee and Clayton grad Kendra (Keni) Harrison – all former Greater Neuse River 4A Conference standouts – earned first-team All-America honors with their performances. The top eight finishers in each event earn All-America status.
Harrison, another former NCHSAA champion, was a part of three top-five finishes for Clemson. She ran the opening leg on the 4x100 relay which took third in 43.76 and made both hurdles finals.
The women’s hurdle events were two of the fastest in NCAA history. Stanford’s Kori Carter set a collegiate record in the 400 at 53.21 seconds, and Clemson’s Brianna Rollins broke her NCAA record in the 100 hurdles at 12.39.
Harrison, a sophomore, said the most memorable part of the meet for her was watching Rollins run so well.
“It just makes me think, if they can do it, so can I,” she said. “Hopefully, if I can continue to improve I’ll be running those types of times and doing those types of things in the future.”
Harrison’s fourth-place finish in the 400 hurdles Friday was the best ever in the event for a Clemson entry. She clocked 55.75 seconds but felt like she could have run better.
She also finished fifth in the 100 hurdles, tying her personal best time of 12.87 seconds.
Peachee, a senior at High Point, views his fifth-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase as either the perfect ending to his competitive running career or the next step.
“If this is the end of the book, it’s a great way to finish,” Peachee said. “I’ve earned a degree in biology, something I wasn’t sure I could do, and given myself a chance to possibly run in the U.S. Championships. I’m undecided about that right now, but I know dental school is in my future.”
Peachee led the chase pack – running behind Kenyans Anthony Rotich, Henry Lelei and Stanley Kebenei – for most of Friday’s race before a great closing stretch by Brigham Young’s Curtis Carr in the final 250 meters. Peachee finished in 8:43.04. Rotich won in 8:21.19.
“We all just let the Kenyans go out and do their thing and ran for first place in the pack,” Peachee said. “(Carr) had a great closing lap. I tried to match it but just couldn’t get back to him. Still, to finish your college career with a top-five finish and All-American status is something that makes me very proud.”
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