NSU's Walker looks for national title at NCAA meet - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

NSU's Walker looks for national title at NCAA meet

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NATCHITOCHES, LA (NSU Sports Information) -

Northwestern State senior sprinter Justin Walker has run faster than any collegiate athlete this year, and doesn't even have a school record to show for it. Beginning Wednesday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, he is hoping to set a different kind of school standard.

Among the 70 NCAA Division I All-America awards won since 1980 by NSU competitors, nobody has won All-America recognition in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes -- not iconic figures like Mark Duper and Joe Delaney, not school 100-meter co-record holder Ronnie Powell, or any of the 19 different Demon sprinters who have finished near the top of the collegiate sprint ranks at the national meet.

Walker clocked what was at the time the year's fastest 100 in the world, blowing away the field in 9.95 to capture the Southland Conference century crown on May 10 in Conway, Ark.  The time came with a 2.5 mph tailwind, which was legal for NCAA qualification purposes and rankings, but 0.5 over the maximum allowance to set records. The time remains the best by any college competitor this year.

He has a 20.47 best mark, seventh best in the country, in the 200. But prior performances have muted value this week, with only marks posted at the East and West regional qualifiers two weeks ago figuring into lane and heat assignments.

Walker runs at 7:30 CST Wednesday evening in the second of three eight-man national semifinals in the 100. The top two finishers in each heat, and the next two fastest runners, advance to the Friday night national final.

In the 200, the semifinal round is Thursday at 6 CST, with the final on Saturday afternoon at storied Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.

The top 16 finishers in each event earn All-America honors. Finalists are first-team All-Americans while the next best eight marks take home second-team All-America recognition.

Walker also must rebound from a subpar showing in the 100 at the regional championships, when a sore Achilles heel contributed to a 10.31 clocking that was 22nd among the 24 national qualifiers. It placed him in the inside lane in the second heat, with LSU's Aaron Ernest in lane four after a 10.19 at the East regional, and Oklahoma State's John Teeters in lane five with a 10.11 regional time, the best in the West and second behind Florida State's Dentarius Locke (10.03 to win the East).

His regional 200 mark of 20.58 a day later was eight-best and got him a lane five assignment in heat two Thursday night, next to Dedrick Dukes of Florida, whose 20.23 won the East meet and was bettered only by the West winner, a 20.16 from USC's Aaron Brown.

A senior from Slidell's Northshore High, Walker won All-America honors in the 4x100 relay last year as he led the Demons to an 11th place finish. He also ran in the 100 semifinals, but a 10.28 was good enough only for 18th, two spots shy of All-America accolades.

Walker shares the Demons' 100 dash mark (10.13) with Powell, who set it in 1998. He has sole possession of the 200 mark with his 20.47 claiming the Southland crown last month, trimming 0.02 off a time he ran two years ago. 

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