PALO ALTO, Calif. - He's the newest toast of the track and field world.
He's the man who pinned a stunning setback on "the world's fastest human."
He's America's main man heading into August's world championships in Paris.
But Baltimore native Bernard Williams refuses to let his ego outrun his flying feet.
"Everything looks good on paper," Williams said after the race of his life - his triumphant sprint to the 100-meter dash title at the U.S. championships yesterday at Stanford Stadium.
"But you've still got to produce next time you run. This was just one race."
But what a race it was. Not only did Williams win his first individual national championship - in 10.11 seconds - but he also beat Tim Montgomery, the pre-race favorite who set the world record of 9.78 last September.
Williams beat his seven rivals out of the blocks and was never headed. Montgomery (10.15), Jon Drummond (10.18) and Coby Miller (10.23) were forced to play a game of catch-up they couldn't win.
Now Williams sets his sights on the 200 meters at the nationals. There will be one round today, with semifinals and the final tomorrow.
"The 200 is just as important to me as the 100," Williams said.
Williams had no complaints with his bronze-medal performance in the 100 final at the 2001 world championships in Edmonton, Alberta. But he plans to do a lot better in Paris.
Williams, a former star at Carver and the University of Florida and a 2000 Olympic 4x100-meter relay gold medalist, warmed up for the championship race with a victory in 10.17 seconds in the semifinals, edging Joshua Johnson (10.19.)
Montgomery took the other semifinal in 10.27. Both races were into headwinds.
The men's 400-meter hurdles field, meanwhile, is loaded, and no one recognizes that fact better than James Carter.
Carter, 25, a 1996 graduate of Mervo and a former star at Hampton University, is the defending national champion but finds himself up against a talented pack of challengers.
"Right now, I'm just trying to get through the rounds," Carter said yesterday after he moved into today's semifinals of the one-lap, 10-barrier event with a 50.32-second performance - despite hitting the fourth hurdle - in the preliminaries.
"I'm coming off a few injuries and I'm only 80 to 85 percent of where I want to be," he said. "But the rehabbing's coming along well, and I'm getting stronger each race."
The 2002 season was huge for Carter. After taking the gold medal at the nationals in 48.12, he starred on the European circuit and won the World Cup title in 48.27.
But this is the year of the world championships. and the stakes have increased markedly.
Posing challenges will be such young talents as Bershawn Jackson, the 2002 junior national champion, who ran 49.55 yesterday; Dwight Ruff (50.01); LaBronze Garrett (50.03); Sherman Armstrong (50.07); Fred Sharpe (50.29) and Ricky Harris (50.49.)
Torrance Zellner, 33, the former Woodlawn High and University of Florida standout, advanced in the 400 hurdles with a second-place 50.21 in his heat.
"I'm the old man here, but I'm not ready to let the kids push me out of the event just yet," Zellner said.
2000 Olympic champion Angelo Taylor ran only 50.72 to rank 17th overall; only the top 16 moved into the semifinals.
In the 20,000-meter racewalk, Al Heppner, 29, an Army specialist from Columbia, finished seventh with a time of 1:32:22.39.
"Sure it's disappointing to come in seventh, but I've got no excuses," said Heppner, a graduate of Howard High and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Kevin Eastler, a captain in the Air Force, won the race in 1:23:52.20 and clinched a spot on the U.S. team bound for the world championships.