TCU's Frater Misses Gold By .008 Seconds
TCU sprint standout Michael Frater missed taking the gold medal by .008, settling for the silver to highlight the Flyin' Frogs efforts on the third day of the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, held at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus.
Frater, a senior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., broke the finish line in a wind-legal personal best time of 10.059 seconds, to finish second behind Arkansas's junior Tyson Gay, who won the race in a time of 10.051 seconds. Defending champion Mardy Scales from Middle Tennessee State finished third in a time of 10.07 seconds in what was a photo finish. Frater's performance was worth eight team points and gave the Frogs 18 points in the team standings.
"It was a good race," said a disappointed Frater. "I came in with confidence. I was fourth two years ago, then third last year, but this one hurts the most. I came out and I did the best I could. That's the way track & field goes."
Earlier in the evening, the TCU men's 4x100 meter relay team placed fourth with a time of 39.22 seconds, earning five team points. The quartet of Jabari Fields, Cleavon Dillon, Jerry Harris and Frater, finished behind Florida (39.11), Arizona State (39.14) and Florida State (39.14) in what was the slowest winning time at the NCAA Championships since 1985. In Thursday's prelims, two schools (Florida State and Arkansas) ran under 39 flat, while five schools, including TCU, ran 39.10 or better. The fourth place finish for the Frogs was an improvement from their sixth place finish of a year ago, but was not what the foursome which features three seniors was hoping for, as they were in search of TCU's eighth national title in the sprint relay.
"Florida had a good day," shrugged Fields.
"We did as good as we could today," added Dillon. "The winning time would have barely qualified for the finals yesterday."
"I was very surprised (to get the baton that far behind)," said Frater, who made a valiant effort to get the Frogs back in the mix. "If we could have done just what we did yesterday we would have won, but there were teams that we beat today that ran faster than us yesterday."
The TCU women's sprint relay used a strong anchor leg from freshman Virgil Hodge to place seventh in the one-lap race, earning two team points. The Frogs posted a time of 44.43 seconds. LSU won the event with a stadium record time of 42.61 seconds, the third fastest time in NCAA history. Freshman Jamee Jones, sophomore Donita Harmon and senior Larissa Bakasa ran the first three legs for the Frogs.
"I think Donita was really hurting," said Bakasa. "She has been hurt (by a hamstring) since the regionals and fought through it as best she could. Virgil ran great," she added.
Jerry Harris made up for his disappointment in the relay by turning in the fastest prelim time in the 400 meters. The senior from Alexandria, Virginia clocked a 44.92, just off his personal best time of 44.89, set at the Midwest Regional finals two weeks ago, to earn the best lane in Saturday's finals. Junior Brett Wilson placed 12th with a time of 46.43 seconds.
"It was bittersweet," said Harris after the 400. "The 4x1 hurt because it was a race for us to win. We just didn't get it done. I felt like it was my fault, but the team really stuck with me. The reminded me that we win together as a team and we lose together as a team. This is my first NCAA Championships," continued Harris when asked about posting the fastest time in the 400. "I was thinking about how to get from 28 runners (in the field) to nine (in the finals). You've got to run your heart out to make the finals. I wanted to win the heat and get one of the preferred lanes for the finals. I'd rather have a good lane and see what I have left, than to have saved something and be in a bad lane, so when I got to the straightaway, I stepped on the gas."
"All in all, it was a good day," said TCU head coach Monte Stratton. "From my angle, I thought Mike had won, but the picture doesn't lie. I thought the relay teams were solid, not spectacular. I thought we could finish anywhere from first to fifth in the men's relay. Unfortunately, we were closer to fifth than first."
The meet wraps up on Saturday evening with the women's 400 meter dash finals getting the running events started at 6:30 p.m. The Frogs will be represented by Fields in the 200 meter dash, Harris in the 400 meter dash, and Mary Kinyanjui in the 5,000 meter run finals.
TCU RESULTS (Friday):
100 meter Dash: 2. Michael Frater 10.06
4x100 meter Relay: 4. TCU (Jabari Fields, Cleavon Dillon, Jerry Harris, Michael Frater) 39.22
4x100 meter Relay: 7. TCU (Jamee Jones, Donita Harmon, Larissa Bakasa, Virgil Hodge) 44.43
400 meter Dash: 1. Jerry Harris 44.92 (Advanced to finals); 12. Brett Wilson 46.43