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Walker qualifies for NCAA championships in 100, 200 meters
Jun 05, 2014 | 207 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Justin Walker put aside the frustration of an earlier failed 4x100 meter relay qualifying effort and overcame his sore Achilles’ heel Saturday evening to win his heat in the 200 meter dash at the NCAA East Preliminary Round track and field meet, earning the Northwestern State senior sprint star a second berth in the national championships June 11-14 in Oregon.

Walker ran the East regional’s fourth-fastest 200 meter time, 20.58, about 90 minutes after his third leg in the 4x100 relay was not enough to help the Demons’ foursome of Shakeir Ryan, Keenan Jackson, Walker and Ty Shilling to advance to Eugene, Ore., in two weeks. The Demons posted a 40.15 time, 20th in the East.

Friday evening, Walker nabbed one of the region’s 12 spots in the national 100 meter semifinals with a subpar 10.31 for 11th, having to alter his start due to the flare-up of the heel injury. But Saturday, he ran better, approaching his school-record 20.47 in the 200 while winning the third and final heat among 24 regional finalists.

“He was hurting after the 4x100, physically and emotionally,” said first-year NSU head coach Mike Heimerman. “He really wanted to get those other three guys out to Eugene. We didn’t want to push our luck so we left it up to him whether or not to even run the 200, and he was bound and determined to go out there and get it done.

“Unlike Friday night, he got a good drive phase coming out of the blocks. He came out of the curve in front and looked around, and he was shutting it down in the last few meters once he knew he was going to be in the top three and advance,” said Heimerman. “Now we need to get him healthy and ready to go out to Eugene and run like he’s capable.”

Walker earned All-America honors in the 4x100 last year, helping the Demons to an 11th place finish at the national meet, but did not make the top 16 in the 100 for All-America in that event. This will be his first national meet in the 200.

Outrunning him Saturday in the 200 were Florida’s Dedric Dukes (20.23), Aaron Ernest of LSU (20.38) and Brendon Rodney from LIU-Brooklyn (20.578 to Walker’s 20.579).

LSU’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake ran ninth (20.69) while Louisiana Tech’s Trey Hadnot was 11th (20.79) to also fit in the region’s top 12 going to Eugene.
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