Smith advances to 400 semifinal

Thursday, June 9, 2005

The Southeast sophomore posted the fourth-fastest time among 26 competitors.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. --Southeast Missouri State sophomore Miles Smith comfortably advanced to the 400-meter dash semifinal round at the NCAA track and field championships.

Smith, who entered the meet with the nation's fifth-fastest time this year, posted the fourth-fastest time among the 26 competitors in Wednesday night's first round of the 400.

Smith, ranked 14th in the world this year, clocked 45.79 seconds in cold, rainy conditions to place second in his heat. The top two finishers in each of the five heats, along with the six next-best times, qualified for Friday night's semifinals, from which eight runners will advance to Saturday night's finals.

"It was 95 degrees yesterday [Tuesday], but it was pouring down rain and cold today. I bet it's in the 60s," Southeast coach Joey Haines said. "It's just harder to get psyched, harder to get loose, it just changes things a little bit.

"But Miles handled everything really well. We were very pleased. He was ahead most of the way in his heat and finished in second comfortably to know he qualified for the semifinals."

Texas Tech junior Andrae Williams won the heat and had the fastest time Wednesday, 45.41 seconds. The other top times belonged to Baylor senior Darold Williamson (45.71), Florida State freshman Ricardo Chambers (45.77) and Smith, whose best time this season is 45.16 seconds.

"Because of the weather, none of the times were all that fast," Haines said. "The key was to just qualify and get through to the next round."

Southeast's other two entries in the national meet will compete for the first time tonight.

Junior Alonzo Nelson, ranked 18th in the 400-meter hurdles, will try to advance to Friday's semifinal round of 16.

The 1,600-meter relay team of Nelson, freshman Chris Poindexter, junior Chaz Brown and Smith is ranked 16th and will try to advance to Saturday's finals round of eight.

"Both Alonzo and the relay are going to have to run faster than they have to get through, but they're capable of doing it," Haines said.

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