Ex-Mervo standout Carter wins Penn Relays hurdles

Hampton athlete's 50.23 beats all others' heats

Track And Field

April 25, 1999|By Jon Marks | Jon Marks,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PHILADELPHIA -- James Carter, a native Baltimorean now running for Hampton (Va.) University, won the Penn Relays 400-meter hurdles in 50.23 yesterday morning at Franklin Field.

Carter essentially blew away the field; the second-place finisher's time was 51.04.

Not bad considering the former Mervo standout was up half the night nervously waiting.

"I had to adjust to going to sleep early and getting up early," said Carter, who ranked this with the Texas Relays as his biggest victories. "Then I kept waking up periodically.

"But it was different. This was my third-fastest time. I did 49.9 in Florida, which qualified me for nationals."

The long-range goal would be making the Sydney Olympics next year. Carter said he still has a ways to go to reach that level. But considering how far he has come in his two years at Hampton, he certainly won't rule it out.

Along the way, he has done a lot of growing up.

"I got recruited by all the big schools," said Carter, by far the local star of the day here, with his former Mervo buddies celebrating his victory by winning their heat of the 4x400 relay, anchored by Odell Taylor, "but I was a couple of points short [academically] of qualifying.

"A lot of schools backed down after that. But Hampton still tried to get me in, even if I couldn't run for them. I'm the type of person who believes things happen for a reason.

"I didn't start running the 400 hurdles until I got to Hampton. I just experimented with it. Maybe that's the reason I came here."

With Mervo coach Fred Hendricks watching intently and videotaping the moment, Carter took command of his heat, winning comfortably. But because they were going strictly on times, he wasn't assured of victory until all the heats were completed.

Once the top-seeded runners were done, he pretty much knew.

"I couldn't worry about what place I came in, since they were running heats," said Carter, as Maryland's Jason Joubert placed 13th in the event, running 52.95. "But I'm glad I won.

"This was my third Penn Relays watch. I gave it to my mom. I got the other two at Mervo when we were the fastest American team [losing to the powerful Jamaicans].

"It's a big victory."

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