Flyin' Frogs Tie for Fourth at NCAA Championships
June 12, 2004
Austin, Texas - TCU used a pair of third place finishes from seniors Jabari Fields in the 200 and Jerry Harris in the 400 on Saturday to total 30 points and a fourth place tie in the team standings as the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships came to an end at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus.
For the Frogs, it was their fourth highest point total in school history and their fourth top five finish. They scored a school record 49 points in 2001, followed by 43 points in 1998 and 33.5 points in 1983. Their previous top 10 team finishes include a second place finish in 2001 and third place finishes in both 1987 and 1998.
In addition to the 12 combined points scored on Saturday by Fields and Harris, the Frogs got a second place finish from senior Michael Frater in the 100, a fourth place finish from senior Aundre Edwards in the long jump and a fourth place finish from the 4x100 meter relay squad that featured Fields, Harris and Frater to earn the 30 points.
"We've had great senior leadership all year long," said head coach Monte Stratton. "To enter only five events and to have all of them hit with top four finishes is remarkable, especially when they are all high-risk events."
"All the seniors went out with a bang," said Fields. "We showed a lot of heart and did what we had to do."
"It feels good," added Harris. "I've never run with a group that runs with as much heart as this group does. We represent TCU with so much pride. I wish all these guys the best in the future."
Fields, a senior from San Bernardino, California, was out fast in lane eight in the 200, battling Houston's Stanford Routt throughout the first 150 meters before Arkansas freshman Wallace Spearmon made a late charge. Fields clocked a time of 20.28 to finish third, with Spearmon taking the title in 20.12, just ahead of Routt, who broke the line in 20.20.
"I thought I had it until about the last seven meters," said Fields. "I did the best I could do. You have to respect the field and have fun. I really don't think they give Conference USA much respect. We finished second and third in the 200."
Harris earned the bronze medal with a third place finish in the men's 400 meter dash. The senior from Alexandria, Virginia who logged the fastest prelim time on Friday, dropped to the back of the pack through the first 300 meters before making a strong push down the home stretch to finish in a time of 44.96 seconds. Baylor sophomore Jeremy Wariner took the gold with a winning time of 44.71 seconds, while LSU sophomore Kelly Willie was second in 44.85 seconds. In what was considered maybe the strongest 400 meter field ever assembled at the NCAA Championships, places five through nine were the fastest ever for place at this meet. For Harris, it was the third time he has gone under 45 seconds in the last two weeks. He is the only 400 meter runner in TCU history to eclipse the 45 second barrier.
"There are some great runners in that field who will represent the United States some day, including myself," said Harris. "Any of the guys in that field could make the Olympic team this year. As a comparison, last year coming into the championships, no one had run under 45 seconds. This year we had seven guys coming in running 44. I just wanted to run my race," continued Harris. "I had to be in sixth or seventh place coming off the final turn, but the strongest part of my race is at the end so I wasn't too concerned. This is the final chapter of that book. Now I'll have to start a new one, so I won't dwell on this too long."
In the only other event involving a TCU athlete on Saturday, Mary Kinyanjui placed 17th in the 5,000 meter run with a time of 17:17.58.
Despite the loss of a tremendous senior class, Stratton expects the Frogs to be in the thick of things again next year.
"We have some others on the squad now, like Jackson Langat and Erick Wilson, along with a good group of newcomers, that we expect to be in the top 10 both indoor and outdoors again next year," said Stratton.
CBS-TV will show a two-hour tape-delayed version of the championships on Saturday, June 19 from 3-5 p.m. CT.
TCU RESULTS (Saturday):
200 meter Dash: 3. Jabari Fields 20.28
400 meter Dash: 3. Jerry Harris 44.96
5000 meter Run: 17. Mary Kinyanjui 17:17.58
MEN: 1. Arkansas 65.50; 2. Florida 49; 3. LSU 31; T4. TCU, SMU, Ohio State, 30; 7. Baylor 27; 8. Texas Tech 26.50; 9. Oregon 26; T10. Wisconsin, Arizona State 22.