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Track season comes to close at USA Championships

BY BEN SCHUFF | JUNE 27, 2011 7:20 AM

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D’Juan Richardson’s plan backfired.

Hoping to run a personal-best time in the 400-meter hurdles at the USA outdoor track and field championships on June 24, Richardson crossed the finish line in 53.55 seconds — his second-slowest time of the year.

The junior hurdler went into the first round in Eugene, Ore., with a different race strategy than he had in his other races this year. For the first time all year, he took 14 strides through the first five hurdles before switching to 15 steps for the last half of the race — he had been making the switch after the first three hurdles earlier in the season.

The change didn’t work.

“My first 180 meters were good,” he said. “I was able to alternate [my legs over the hurdles] all the way up to the fourth hurdle. Over the fourth hurdle, I was on my left leg and when I got to the fifth hurdle, I was still on my left leg when I should’ve been on my right leg.

“That kind of screwed me up a little bit and kind of threw me off mentally.”

Even though his season came to an end, Richardson remained optimistic about his performance. After talking with assistant coach Joey Woody following the race, he said he will probably stay with a 15-stride pace throughout entire races next year.

“It helped me for next year, so it kind of turned a negative situation into a positive one,” he said.

Sprinter Justin Austin was the lone Hawkeye to achieve any kind of success at the USAs. He placed fifth overall in the 200 meters, posting a personal-best time of 20.31 seconds. He also qualified for the semifinals in the 100-meter dash, posting a time of 10.26 seconds.

The first-year Hawkeye competed against several professional sprinters over the weekend, including Olympians Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin.

“It’s weird,” Austin said about running against athletes who posted sub-10 second 100-meter times. “These are people you look up to when you’re growing up. Now that you’re running with them and running close to them, they seem just as normal as everybody else does.”

Four other Hawkeyes competed at USAs. Troy Doris tied his personal-best mark of 54 feet in the triple jump, Matt Byers placed 11th in the javelin, and freshman Nathan Prom posted a 800-meter time of 1:56.19 in the junior division.

Sophomore Ethan Holmes competed in both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles and posted times of 13.93 seconds and 51.51 seconds, respectively.

Holmes said while it’s frustrating to end the year with two disappointing times, he feels he surpassed even his own expectations for his sophomore year.

“I’m running times now that I never would have thought I’d be running as a freshman,” he said. “I never thought I’d be at this point [my sophomore year] … We’ve made some really big, big strides this year compared with where I was at last year in the Big Ten.”


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