INDIANAPOLIS -- Just call James Carter the "Mr. Consistency" of big-time track and field.
For the sixth time in the past seven years, the former Mervo and Hampton University star has registered a top-three finish in the 400-meter hurdles at the USA Outdoor Championships.
He did it again yesterday in 48.44 seconds at Carroll Stadium, putting him behind Kerron Clement (47.39) and 2005 world champion Bershawn Jackson (47.48.)
Clement's time was the fastest in the world this year.
"Those young guys [Clement and Jackson], they're great talents, but there's a lot to be said for doing it over a long period of time, too," Carter said.
At 28, Carter shows no signs of slowing. He'll soon head for the European circuit, and meets in Paris, Athens and Rome.
He sees no reason why he can't run the event faster than ever. His career best of 47.43 is just 10 months old, achieved while winning the silver medal at the IAAF world championships in Helsinki, Finland.
"Considering all that I've gone through this year, the injuries and everything, I'd have to say this was a pretty good performance," he said.
He had banged up both knees and had a shoulder injury, but has shown no signs of those earlier problems since May. A 48.16 at the May 6 meet in Osaka, Japan, was an indicator of his comeback.
"I got out pretty decent today, kind of chopped some steps on the backstretch; it didn't mess me up too much, and I was able to finish pretty well," he said.
Carter uses 13 strides from the first to the sixth hurdles, then 14 (alternating lead legs) the rest of the way.
Had he ever tried using 13 strides the whole way? "Yes," he said, smiling. "Let's just say I was unsuccessful."
A fourth-place finisher in the 400 hurdles at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics, Carter's long-range goal is a trip to the 2008 Games in Beijing.
"That would be nice," he said. "I think I've been to just about everywhere else, but I've never been to China.
"But that's still a bit away. After all these years in this sport, I've learned this - you can't ever look too far ahead."
Joel Brown, a Woodlawn High and Ohio State University graduate, advanced to the semifinals of the 110-meter high hurdles with a 13.51, but University of Maryland sophomore Dominic Berger, the Atlantic Coast Conference champion, failed to advance with a 13.84.
This was the penultimate day at the nationals, which included an array of top-flight performances:
Floridian Sanya Richards, the 2005 world silver medalist in the women's 400 meters, ran the lap in 49.27 seconds, taking .01 of a second off the meet record she set last year.
Andrew Rock (44.45) outran LaShawn Merritt (44.50) in the final strides of a dramatic men's 400-meter final.
Ex-Georgetown star Treniere Clement (4:10.44) fought off the late bid of Michigan alum Lindsey Gallo (4:10.72) to win her second straight women's 1,500-meter title.
Tom Pappas won the men's decathlon with 8,319 points, his first completion of the 10-event test since injuries knocked him out of the 2004 Athens Olympics.