June 19, 2003
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Runners with Tennessee ties were perfect in advancing through the 800m preliminaries Thursday night at the USA Outdoor Championships as sophomore Marc Sylvester and former Vol Jebreh Harris both reserved lanes for Friday's semifinals. However, former Vol Justin Gatlin will have to wait for the 200m dash for his shot at the World Championships as he missed qualifying for the 100m dash semifinals at Stanford's Cobb Track in his first race after an injury layoff.
A week after illness kept him from advancing to the 800m NCAA semifinals, Sylvester suffered no such letdown in the USA preliminaries. Running in the second and fastest heat, Sylvester pieced together a 1:48.24 and regained enough strength for a kick to clock the third-fastest time in his heat and overall.
Meanwhile, Harris, now running for Holyfield International, qualified after finishing fourth in his heat and seventh overall. Harris finished in 1:49.19. Reebok Boston's Lubert Lewis posted the day's fastest two-lap qualifier with a 1:48.05. The top 16 in the 25-man field advance to Friday's semifinals. Sylvester and Harris train under Tennessee assistant head coach George Watts.
Nike's Tim Montgomery, the 100m dash world record holder -- a.k.a. World's Fastest Man, topped preliminary action in the 100m dash with a 10.04 time in the fourth and final heat. However, in something of a shocker, former Vol and current Nike sprinter Gatlin missed out on qualifying for the semifinals. Gatlin's 10.32 prelim time placed fourth in his first heat and 17th overall. The top 16 qualified with Gatlin missing out on the last semifinal spot by two-hundredths of a second.
Thursday's race marks the first competitive 100m dash for Gatlin since
winning the event at the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge, La.
Gatlin sustained a hamstring injury while running the 200m dash in Mexico City
last month and hasn't raced since. The rookie pro did capture the 60m dash
world indoor title in March and looked speedy at the USA vs. The World 4x100m
and 4x200m relays in late April. Gatlin will get another try in the 200m dash
Besides the title of America's best, the track and field athletes competing in Palo Alto hope to represent the U.S. in the World Championships in August in Paris, in one of the last big international tune-ups before the 2004 Summer Olympics. The top three American finishers in each event who also meet the IAAF's 'A' qualifying standard don the red, white and blue for the U.S. on the World Championships team.
Former Vols Kevin Fitzpatrick (discus) and Anthony Famiglietti (steeplechase) compete tonight after news deadlines. Their results will be released Friday. Harris and Sylvester line up for the 800m run semifinals Friday night. Additionally, Jabari Greer and former Vol Dawane Wallace try their luck in the 110m hurdles preliminaries Friday night.