Seminoles Men's Track in First Place

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Walter Dix may be a slow starter. But, man, can he finish.

The Florida State junior was late out of the blocks, then rapidly caught the competition and broke away over the final 50 meters to win the 100 on Friday at the NCAA track and field championships in 9.93 seconds, the fastest ever by a U.S.-born collegian.

He barely missed the collegiate mark of 9.92 set by Ato Bolden of UCLA at the 1996 NCAAs.

"If I could have ran through the line instead of celebrating a little," Dix said, "maybe I could've ran the record."

It was the best mark in the world this year, bettering Asafa Powell's 9.97 in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 29. Dix already had the world's fastest 200 this year at 19.69.

While he led favored Florida State into the men's team lead, women's favorite Arizona State recovered from its earlier disappointments to win two events -- Jacquelyn Johnson in the heptathlon and April Kubishta in the pole vault.

The Florida State men had 34 points heading into Saturday's finals. Auburn was second with 32 and LSU had 31.

The Arizona State women had 38 points. USC was second with 27 and LSU third with 26.

Dix's victory came less than two hours after he ran the second leg of the Seminoles' victorious 400 relay team. He will defend his 200 crown on Saturday.

"Hopefully I have some more gas in the wheels," he said.

Trindon Holliday of LSU burst out of the blocks in first but Dix caught him about halfway down the sun-drenched Sacramento State track, then pulled away. Holliday was second at 20.06, and Travis Padgett of Clemson third at 10.09.

Dix won the NCAA 100 as a freshman two years ago, then finished second to Xavier Carter last year. He credited his fast finish Friday to Holliday's fast start.

"I'm glad I had that competition," Dix said. "He's a great starter. I need the push he gave me. He gave me exactly what I needed."

Johnson took the lead in the next-to-last event Friday and went on to become the first three-time NCAA heptathlon champion in 18 years.

Her 149-foot, 6-inch javelin throw propelled her from fourth place to first, and the junior from Yuma, Ariz., finished with a solid 800 meters for 5,984 overall points.

Washington State's Julie Pickler, whose twin sister Diana had been the favorite in the event, was second with 5,831. Jillian Drouin of Syracuse finished third with 5,822, and first-day leader Gaelle Niare of SMU faded to fourth at 5,797.

In all, Johnson has five NCAA titles -- three heptathlons and, at the indoors, two pentathlons.

She came away unimpressed with her performance.

"It was an average two days," Johnson said.

Diana Pickler, who had by far the best mark of all the heptathlon competitors coming into the meet (6,205), saw her hopes for her only NCAA title dashed when she was disqualified from the 200 meters for stepping out of her lane on Thursday.

She initially said she would withdraw from the meet, but changed her mind and returned for the final three events on Friday. She finished last out of the 24 who completed the event with 4,926 points.

Dan O'Brien, 1996 Olympic decathlon gold medalist and former world record holder, works with Johnson as a volunteer assistant at Arizona State.

"I was sad to see Diana go down," he said. "When she did it just set up a story line that was going to be perfect for Jackie. It would've been interesting to see what would have happened had Diana stayed in there. Jackie would have had to run a faster 800. Could she have done it or not? I'm not sure."

In the pole vault, Kubishta and Jodi Unger both cleared 13-11¼, with the ASU vaulter winning on fewer misses.

Michelle Sikes of Wake Forest ran the fastest 5,000 by an American-born collegian, finishing first in a meet-record 15:16.76.

LSU got a surprise victory from Sherry Fletcher in the 100 in 11.20. Ebonie Floyd of Houston was second in 11.28.

Johnson won the heptathlon as a freshman in 2004, then sat out the 2005 season as a redshirt to give basketball a try. She returned to track last year and again won the title.

As expected, the Florida State men rolled to victory in the 400 relay in 38.60. LSU, with a strong anchor leg from Trindon Holliday, was second at 38.85 and Tennessee third at 38.86.

Texas A&M won the women's 400 relay at 43.05. LSU was second at 43.14 and Southern California third at 43.69.

Anna Willard of Michigan set a collegiate record in the women's 3,000 steeplechase at 9:38.08. Barnabas Kirui of Mississippi won the men's steeplechase at 8:20.36.

Johnson was one of several to repeat as champion:

• Oregon's Tommy Skipper again won the pole vault.

• Sophomore Destinee Hooker of Texas won her second NCAA high jump title. She and Miruna Mataoanu of Alabama cleared 6-3½, with Hooker winning on fewer misses.

• Jenny Dahlgren of Georgia repeated as hammer champion with a meet-record throw of 232 feet. It came on her last attempt, after she had already clinched the victory.

• Chris Solinsky of Wisconsin defended his 5,000 crown in 13:56.81.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press


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