June 13, 2014
EUGENE, Ore.- It is both sad and ironic that two of the top careers in Florida State men's track & field history came to a conclusion Friday at Historic Hayward Field in events where the smallest imperfections have a way of taking a large toll.
Dentarius Locke was brilliant throughout the transition phase of his 100-meter dash final and James Harris ran the best 300 meters of his life in the 400-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The seniors, however, were forced to settle with something a little less than what that came across country for in their collegiate finales.
For the second consecutive year, Locke was hoisting silver on the podium; his 10.02 performance in the final, just five one-hundredths of a second behind winner Trayvon Bromell of Baylor (9.97), who set the world junior record.
Less than an hour later, Harris found himself in front of a star-studded field in the 400 as the runner's came off what the University of Oregon crowd commonly calls the "Bowerman Curve." The last 100 meters, however, took its toll as Harris faded to sixth in 45.64.
And with a pair of first-team All-American honors and 11 team points on the board, Florida State's 2014 NCAA Championships came to a close on the men's side, in lock-step with the careers of two sprinters who have carried the Seminoles for two years.
"I'm extremely proud of Locke and Harris; two of our best team leaders ever," FSU coach Bob Braman, whose men are tied for 15th with one day remaining in the four-day meet. "Harris went for the win and that's what you come to Nationals to do. If he were a bit more conservative he might've gotten third, but I'm proud that he ran the way he did. And he ran an outstanding time.
"Dentarius was just a tick off at the start and had to run down Bromell. Another 10 meters and perhaps he wins. What a fantastic two-year career he's had. Credit coach [Ken] Harnden for the progress those two young men had."
Neither Locke nor Harris made excuses for coming up shy of fulfilling their dreams, though that should not come as a surprise.
"Those guys have been an absolute pleasure to coach on the track the last two and three years," said Harnden, FSU's associate head coach in charge of the sprints. "They've been the life and soul of this team. Since we lost the Maurice Mitchell, Ngoni Makusha, Brandon Byram and those guys, we needed some new life and those guys [Locke and Harris] came in and became the face of this program.
"To lead this program the way they have they should be commended every day. We're going to be very sad to see them go and they're going to be remembered in FSU history. They both have a place there that's pretty special."
Locke came into the final looking for his second title of his senior year, after claiming the NCAA Indoor 60-meter championship. The Tampa, Fla. native said all week that there were no favorites in the field, including Bromell, the sensational freshman who is also from the Tampa Bay area.
"It was just a close finish," said Locke, who was battling Bromell elbow-to-elbow up the track in adjoining lanes. "I went out there and tried my best and as you can see it was very tight. ... "I felt like I got out good and transitioned well. I just went out there and got real tight at the end. ... It's disappointing, but you can't get too mad about that. You can't go back and change time. Things happened."
"He ran from 10 to 90 (meters) better than I have ever seen him run," Harnden said. "For a kid that has been through what he's been through, it has been an amazing year and he's done a helluva job. I love coaching the kid. He's an absolutely special human being."
Locke is also the Seminoles' 12th first-team All-American in the 100 in the last 10 years under Harnden's direction.
Harris' finale was a rousing success, with the Lanett, Ala. native finally grasping - and executing - the race plan through the first 300 meters.
"We've been trying to get that out of him for two straight years," Harnden said. "If we could have gotten that consistently, I think he runs with those guys straight through the line. He got to 300 meters and he was in a different place than he's used to being. It caught him by surprise. ... He took the fight to them and that's exactly what we asked him to do. We asked him to get to 300 meters and make it a man's race and he did that and they were just better than him on the day."
Harris admitted he was surprised to find himself in front of the field of eight when he got to the home stretch.
"I didn't see anything, then when I finally saw them [the pack] move I kind of panicked and got to sitting low in my race and I felt like everything started working backwards," Harris said. "That's the start coach Ken [Harnden] and I have been talking about the whole year and I finally got it. I wasn't used to being ahead at that point. ...
"I was trying to hurry up and reach to get to the finish line and I didn't give myself a chance to race to the finish line. I just started reaching too much. I was working too much in the wrong direction."
His consolation prize is becoming FSU's ninth first-team All-American in the 400, pushing the two-year Seminoles' career All-American count to 12.
While Friday's spotlight centered on the Florida State men - after Grete Sadeiko bowed out of the heptathlon with an injury - the Seminole women will take center stage on Saturday. With fifth-place discus All-American Kellion Knibb's four team points already on the board, the `Noles are gunning for their best NCAA Outdoor Championship finish since placing fourth in 2009.
Fifth-year senior Marecia Pemberton will lead the 4x100 meter relay into action beginning at 5:10 p.m. (ET), followed by Linden Hall in the 1500 final (5:29) and Anne Zagre in the 100-meter hurdles (3:19). All three races will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
"Tomorrow it's about the ladies, with three more scoring opportunities and a chance at a top-10 finish," Braman said. "Linden and Anne are on top of their game right now and I like their chances at top-three finishes. I'm sure the 4x1 ladies will run a season-best time -- perhaps a Top 5-6 finish for them."
Hall and Zagre enter their finals after posting the third-fastest qualifying times in Thursday's semifinals. The relay team was the eighth to make the final and will race out of lane 1, but will be well-rested after qualifying on Wednesday.
You can keep track of the action via Twitter @FSU_Track and check in for a complete recap with video highlights at Seminoles.com.