ECU News, Notes and Commentary
Thursday, June 9, 2005
By Bethany Bradsher
Carson protégés sprint to
|B.J. Henderson and
Hector Cotto are the latest in a long line of sprinters to advance
to NCAA championship competition under the tutelage of East Carolina
track icon Bill Carson (right).
Photo: ECU Media
One is a
seasoned competitor who is on his fourth trip to nationals in the third
different event. The other is competing at his sport’s highest level for the
B.J. Henderson and Hector Cotto know that their participation in track and
field’s version of the Big Dance is something special. And they arrived in
California hoping to turn in performances that will make their competitors
remember the name East Carolina.
nationals,” said Henderson, a senior who will compete in the preliminary
heat of the 200 meters on Thursday in the Sacramento, Calif. meet. “They’re
the best of the best. It’s not a cakewalk, that’s for sure.”
and Cotto, a junior running in the 110-meter high hurdles, qualified for the
NCAA National Meet with their performances in the East Regional Track and
Field Championships on May 28 in New York. Henderson ran a personal record
time of 20.64 in the 200 and Cotto finished the hurdles in 13.84, times that
earned both of them fourth-place finishes.
runners arrived on the West Coast Sunday with ECU head track coach Bill
Carson, who has been leading Pirate runners for 37 years and has coached 68
All-Americans. Carson, who has a reputation for building sprinters, said
that national publications recently ranked Henderson 12th and Cotto 13th in
their respective events.
rankings mean that the Pirates need to have plenty of respect for their
faster opponents but that they could realistically aim for a spot in the
semifinals and — if they peak at the just the right time — possibly in
Unfortunately, Cotto’s national dreams came to an end Wednesday when he ran
his preliminary heat in 14.20, considerably slower than his personal-best of
13.78, and failed to advance to the semifinals.
“He had a
terrible start and he hit the third hurdle,” Carson said on Wednesday night.
was brimming with optimism Monday about his chances to run his fastest in
Sacramento, will return to training with his sights set on an outstanding
regionals I knew how hard it was just to get out of regionals,” said Cotto,
a junior from Holly Springs. “But I like the competition and I like to get
psyched out before the race. It makes me run faster.”
who was scheduled to run his preliminary race on Thursday, has been one of
Carson’s most reliable sprinters since he arrived in Greenville as a
freshman. He was recruited as more of a 400-meter runner, and in his first
season as a Pirate he qualified for nationals in that event. But a hip
injury during his sophomore year set him back in the 400, which requires
more intense training and competition than the 200.
sophomore and a junior, Henderson returned to the national meet as a member
of the 4X400 relay team, but it took three years for him to make it again in
an individual event. It seemed like this was his year for the 200 meters
when, after fighting another injury during the indoor season, he ran his
best-ever time of 20.84 in the first outdoor meet.
“I PRed in
the first meet, and he’s been letting me run the 200 ever since,” he said of
One of the
competitors in Henderson’s event, Wallace Spearmon from Arkansas, has run
the race in 19.97, and three others have finished better than 20.4, he said.
to Carson, the 200 meters is the toughest event in the meet this year, but
Henderson’s times knot him up with a host of other competitors in the middle
of the group.
those four or five guys, anything is possible,” Henderson said.
results in the 200 are also unpredictable because so much depends on which
lane a runner draws. Unlike a straight shot like the 100 or a course where
the runners can cut in like the 400, 200-meter runners must contend with a
curve and stay in their lanes for the entire race.
200, it’s all about lanes,” Carson said. “The bottom line is, if you draw an
inside lane it’s fatal.”
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