Davis shows she belongs at Canadian meet

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2000

When Janice Davis’ USA&160;Track and Field teammates heard she was 15 years old, they just had one question for her.

&uot;How did you get here?&uot;

Davis’ action spoke louder than words, finishing first and second in the 400-meter dash at the USA vs. Canada Junior Meet last week in Canada.

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Davis arrived in Montreal with her teammates last Monday.

&uot;We were having to fill out all kinds of immigration papers,&uot; she said. &uot;You had to be 16 years to sign and I was the only one who couldn’t sign. They told me to sign anyway. Everybody there thought I was 17 or 18.&160;They asked my how I got there and I told them through the National Junior Olympic Meet in Denton, Texas.

Davis, who will be a junior at Natchez High this fall, showed what she had right off, winning the 400-meters last Tuesday in Montreal with a time of 54.71.

&uot;I was real loose and confident,&uot; she said. &uot;That’s the first time I had been that confident. But I just told myself I had worked real hard to get to this point. I’m usually so nervous I can’t move, but I was up and down in the block, just ready to go. I told myself there was no need in being nervous because I had been through some killer workouts to get here. I was ready.&uot;

Davis ran in lane No. 3.

&uot;That was an advantage because I could see everybody,&uot; she said.

Davis started out in front of the pack, just in front of teammate Natasha Staten, who signed a track scholarship with the University of Texas.

&uot;I started making my move at 200 meters,&uot; she said. &uot;I was in front of Natasha when we rolled around the curve and I had enough to hold her off.&uot;

Davis was then the anchor for the 4×400 USA relay team.

&uot;Our coach (Daryl Hampton) wasn’t really expecting me to do anything,&uot; Davis said. &uot;He told me when I got the stick, he expected us to have a big lead. He told the first two girls they needed to run splits (400-meters) of 52 (seconds). But Canada wasn’t far behind in the first leg and caught up on the second leg. When&160;I got the baton, Canada was right behind me. But I was relaxed and I just lifted my knees near the end and maintained what we had.&uot;

The USA&160;won the relay with a time of 3.39. Davis ran a 53 split.

Questions about her age fell by the wayside.

&uot;Everybody was calling me ‘Mississippi’ and ‘Baby’ at first because I was the youngest one there,&uot; she said. &uot;After the race they all started all me ‘Young Star’ and ‘Flygirl.’&uot;

The competition moved on to Quebec last Friday, and temperatures in the low 40s. The Canadian team in Quebec was made up of runners ranging in age from 25 to 28.

&uot;I was starting to catch a cold,&uot; Davis said. &uot;I felt weak that day.&uot;

When lining up for the 400, the runners had to wait after one of the blocks broke.

Despite the tougher obstacles, Davis finished second to Staten in a time of 54.94.

&uot;I&160;just wasn’t feeling good that day,&uot; she said. &uot;I was still proud to finish second. When I turned the corner that wind hit me and it was cold. We were neck-and-neck with 75 meters to go, but I just started feeling weak. I kind coasted in.&uot;

Staten had a winning time of 53.83.

The U.S. team won the relay as Canada did not field a team for that race. The U.S.&160;team ran against the clock.

&uot;I was very proud to represent the United States and Mississippi,&uot; Davis said.

Davis will be competing in the 200- and-400-meter dashes at the USA&160;Track and Field Nationals beginning Thursday in Buffalo, N.Y. as part of the Natchez USA&160;track team.

Davis finished fourth in the 400-meters last year with a personal best time of 55.00. Her personal best now is 53.83.

&uot;I think it’s going to take about a 52.10 to win,&uot; she said. &uot;I’m excited about competing. I expect to win, even though I&160;know it’s going to be tough.&uot;

Davis could possibly be selected for an international meet to be held in Santiago, Chile in October.

&uot;They go by how runners did in Denton and in Canada,&uot; she said. &uot;I’ll just be waiting to see if I get an invitation in the mail.&uot;

By then Davis is hoping her teammates know more about her and Mississippi.

&uot;Some of them were asking if we still had electricity or that they didn’t think we knew what track was in Mississippi,&uot; she said. &uot;That really got me going. I’m just happy I was able to do so well.&uot;