Harris takes on best

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

PALO ALTO, Calif. &045; So the NCAA Track and Field Championships were a great memory and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Kelvin Harris.

It’s just the first step.

There’s other mountains to climb for the Mississippi State hurdler who first starred in thinclads for Natchez High.

Email newsletter signup

While most of the State track squad left the national meet for home Sunday, All-American hurdler Harris and hurdles coach Steve Dudley headed south for Stanford University to train for the USA Track and Field Championships this weekend.

&uot;These are pro people,&uot; said Harris, who finished eighth in the finals of the 110 hurdles Saturday. &uot;Professionals like Allen Johnson and Maurice Green. This is the top one. It doesn’t get any better than this.&uot;

Action begins at 8:25 p.m. local time Friday in the first round of the 110 hurdles for Harris, whose 13.73 seconds earlier this season at Ohio State got him in an invite (13.84 seconds is qualifying time).

The semifinals will be 2:40 p.m. Saturday with the finals at 4:50 p.m.

&uot;I’ll be blessed to make it to the semifinals,&uot; Harris said. &uot;The United States is known for its sprinters and hurdlers. It’s really the fastest sprinters and hurdlers in the world. Making the finals &045; it would be a blessing in itself.&uot;

The week will cap a memorable week for the senior track star who made the national meet for the first time. He came in eighth out of nine in the finals at 13.86 seconds after running 13.86 in both the prelims and the semifinals.

And it was all close to the tape &045; he was just ahead of Ohio State’s Joel Brown in 13.87 seconds and behind Nebraska’s David Davis in 13.71 seconds.

Ryan Wilson of USC won it in 13.35 seconds.

&uot;It was my first time going to nationals, and I made the finals,&uot; Harris said. &uot;All I can say is I was blessed. Coach told me what I had to run to get there, and that’s what I ran &045; a 13.86. And I didn’t have any good starts. My speed is the only thing that pulled me out.

&uot;Our times were right behind each other. The top three were close, and the next five were right there together. I couldn’t have been any more proud of my one point. I’ve been to the finals, and that’s real big.&uot;

As for this weekend’s USA championships, the weekend will be what he hopes is the beginning of another track career &045; either preparing for the Olympic trials or competing professionally overseas.

If neither pan out, he’s stil got unfinished business at school. A double major in biological sciences and microbiology, he’s set to graduate next May.

&uot;I’ve got to get those degrees for my mom,&uot; Harris said.