Carter again clears U.S. champ hurdle

The Baltimore Sun

INDIANAPOLIS -- James Carter has been to two Olympics, two world championships and one World Cup. He has been ranked in the top 10 of the world's 400-meter hurdlers six of the past eight years. He has run on every continent but Antarctica.

But you'll never catch this 29-year-old Baltimore native, out of Mervo and Hampton University, taking a "been there, done that" attitude.

For Carter, there was new excitement in his triumph yesterday at the USA Outdoor Championships.

He won it in 47.72 seconds, the best time in the world this year. It sends him back to the world championships in late August in Osaka, Japan. If he can fit it into his globetrotting competitive schedule, he'll also make it to the Pan American Games starting July 13 in Brazil.

When a Japanese TV newsman asked him where he hoped to finish in Osaka, he said, "No. 1, of course."

It could be in the cards.

"I'm in shape, healthy [after injuries for long stretches of recent seasons], ready to run. I've been running consistently and I was able to put a great race together. ... I'm just happy to be national champion again."

Nineteen hours earlier, most fans at the nationals would have tabbed Michael Tinsley, the former NCAA champion at Jackson State, as the favorite. He took his semifinal in 48.02 - and that was the fastest in the world at the time. But Tinsley never really got untracked yesterday, ran out of gas and wound up seventh in 50.39.

Kerron Clement, the former University of Florida star and two-time defending national champion, was Carter's biggest competition, coming on with a big rush over the final two barriers to take second in 47.80.

Ryan Olkowski, the former Calvert Hall and Penn State athlete, who started the day holding fifth place in the decathlon standings, endured a difficult final five events and wound up 10th with 7,503 points, 392 points shy of his career best.

As Olkowski was struggling, 2003 world champion Tom Pappas was returning to form and netting 8,352 points to earn his fifth U.S. crown.

Matthew Centrowitz, an incoming University of Oregon freshman and recent Broadneck High graduate, ran another brilliant race against his elders and took second place in the 1,500 meters of the concurrently staged Junior Nationals in 3:49.54.

The winner: his future Oregon teammate, Andrew Acosta, in 3:49.53. Acosta had the superior lean at the wire.

"Acosta was a little too strong for me today," Centrowitz said.

Bernard Williams, the two-time Olympic sprint medalist out of Carver and the University of Florida, bounced back from his false-start disqualification in the 100 Friday to run his way into the 200 semifinals.

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