June 26, 2011
EUGENE, Oregon - Despite running blind in lane eight, with the rest of an elite women's 200 field behind her, Texas A&M sprinter Jeneba Tarmoh sped to a career best time of 22.28 seconds to place third at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and qualify for the United States team at this summer's IAAF World Championships.
Tarmoh's personal best is the eighth-fastest all-time collegian and second fastest all-time at Texas A&M, trailing a 22.25 by NCAA champion Simone Facey. Tarmoh will travel to Daegu, South Korea, when the World Championships take place from August 27 to September 4.
"It's a blessing," said Tarmoh, who won the 2008 World Junior title in the 100 meters. "A lot of the time if you make the World junior team the likelihood of you making the senior team is really high. It was supposed to happen and it did for a reason.
"It was such a packed final. Just to be among that group and run with these ladies is such a high standard."
Carmelita Jeter, who won the 100-meter title earlier this weekend, led the field coming off the curve, but Shalonda Solomon claimed the lead in the homestretch to win in 22.15 seconds. Jeter held on for second in 22.23. In placing third Tarmoh held a significant edge over Bianca Knight and NCAA champion Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU, who both clocked 22.35.
"Actually the 22.28 didn't surprise me," noted Tarmoh, who set a previous best of 22.34 as the NCAA runner-up in Des . "Before I went out to the track I prayed and thought I'd run 22.2, even if I had to fall across the finish line.
"What did surprise me though was when I was coming down the straightaway and I could hear them say my name over the loud speaker. I thought, `oh my God, I need to keep running.' That was the most surprising factor. Everything else just kind of fell into place for me."
While being stationed in lane eight hampers some runners, Tarmoh enjoys the position. She also adjusted to the challenge of extending her season past the collegiate phase.
"I like being in the outside lanes because I just like to set the tempo for the whole thing," Tarmoh explained. "Today I set the tempo up really big, because I got out as hard as I could. So, I love being in lane eight or an outside lane.
"A lot of collegians don't make it this far because they are so tired and beat up after the NCAA meet. You have to have the same mindset you take on with life, knowing that some things come at you from all different angles. You just need to learn how to adjust to everything. I adjusted from NCAAs to rolling with the big dogs."
The Aggies had a couple of other sprinters running the semifinals of the 200, but neither Porscha Lucas advanced to the final. Both ran in lane 2 of their respective races. Howell 20.59 for fifth place in his heat and was 10th overall. Lucas recorded a 23.14 for sixth in her heat, and was 15th overall.
Texas A&M volunteer assistant coach Noah Bryant placed sixth in the shot put with a mark of 68-3 (20.80).
On Saturday evening Texas A&M senior Demetrius Pinder recorded a personal best of 44.78 to win the 400 final and earn a trip to the World Championships.
Pinder's time is second fastest on the Aggie all-time list, trailing only a 44.67 set by Curtis Mills in 1969. Pinder moves ahead of Danny McCray (44.81 in 1996), and current teammate Tabarie Henry (44.83 in 2011).
Sasha-Kay Matthias won the triple jump at the National Senior Championships in Kingston, Jamaica, on Sunday with a leap of 42-11.75 (13.10). She won the title by just over three inches from LSU's Melissa Ogbourne, who finished second with a 42-8 mark.