Spencer Adams was the only men’s track & field athlete to score at either NCAA Championships meet for Clemson in 2012. But if this past week’s outdoor national meet was any indicator, that won’t be the case in 2013.
Warren Fraser ran a personal best 10.18 in the semifinals of the men’s 100-meter dash, yet did not advance to the final. You have to go back through the annals of college track & field results to see the last time, if ever, that a 10.18 in the semifinals did not make it to the final. While that’s exactly what unfolded last week at Drake Stadium, it gave Fraser the confidence to know he can run with the nation’s best.
“It’s a serious boost of confidence for next year,” he said. “I’ll come back and train even harder. I won’t have my same training partner, Justin Murdock, to push me. But, I’ll still have to work on my own. I can’t get too relaxed; I always want to get better.”
Fraser certainly did that over the last few weeks. He ran 10.27 at the NCAA East Prelims, a personal best, before shaving nearly a tenth off that time at nationals. He was bothered nearly the entire 2012 indoor season by a groin injury, but you wouldn’t have known that by watching him run the 100 at nationals.
The best news out of the meet for Fraser from a personal standpoint was he hit the Olympic “A” standard and will represent his home country, the Bahamas, in the upcoming competition this August.
“It’s a real good feeling right now,” he said. “I feel a little bad by not making the final, but I hit a personal best and am thankful for all the people that have supported me. Things are only going to get better from here.”
That’s exactly the same vibe you get from Adams in the high hurdles. He took the lessons learned from a fifth-place indoor finish and applied them in the final on Saturday, clocking a 13.73 into a strong wind to earn the bronze medal. It was his best individual finish at a national championship competition.
It closed the book on an outstanding season in the hurdles for Adams, who ranks second in Clemson history in the 110 hurdles behind only former U.S. Olympian Duane Ross with his best of 13.38. Like Fraser, Adams too has a chance to represent his country in the Olympics. He’ll compete in the Trials in two weeks in Eugene, OR against some of the best athletes in the world.
“I get to run against some of the people I’ve idolized for a really long time,” he said. “To have the chance to race against and maybe beat some of them, that’s just a dream come true for me.”
It’s certainly an experience that should go a long way in Adams’ maturation as a leader on what should be an improved Clemson men’s team in 2013.The Tigers lose only three impact performers, Murdock in the sprints, Charlton Rolle in the hurdles and Chris Slate in the middle distance. Clemson’s jumpers will all be sophomores, as it returns three of its four best hurdlers, and a strong freshman class that includes 2012 New Balance 60-meter dash champion Tevin Hester, who will make its way to Tigertown.
“We also bring in good distance guys, and we’re only on the up and up,” Slate said. “We have a high ceiling, a lot of room for growth.”
It’s a ceiling that will hinge primarily on the successes of rising seniors Adams and Fraser. Based on last week’s NCAA Championships performances, Clemson should like its chances next season.