Hooker Finishes Third at NCAA Championships
June 6, 1998
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- If the race was any shorter, then Washington freshman Ja'Warren Hooker would have won.
Instead, Hooker finished third in the men's 100-meter finals on Saturday during the final day of the NCAA Track & Field Championships at the University of Buffalo.
Hooker led nearly the entire race before being overtaken by winner Leonard Myles-Mills of Brigham Young and runner-up Jarmiene Holloway from Texas Christian.
"I had a good start and was out ahead until 98 meters," Hooker described. "Then, I got twisted sideways in the lane and lost the race."
Hooker did everything right except finish the race strong according to Washington head coach and sprint tutor Orin Richburg.
"He was making a move to go at the line and he got sideways. He couldn't do anything when he got to the line. He couldn't lean at the finish."
Myles-Mills avenged a narrow semifinal setback to Hooker, winning with a time of 10.20 seconds. Holloway posted a second-place time of 10.24 while Hooker was clocked in 10.25.
"I saw Ja'Warren run away from me, but I still felt that I could win it," exclaimed Myles-Mills who was caught by Hooker at the finish line during the semifinals. In that race, Hooker finished in 10.33 and Myles-Miles in 10.35.
Catching Hooker from behind is a remarkable task. Just ask the Arizona football team which watched the Huskies' receiver return a kickoff 89 yards the first time he touched the ball as a collegian.
The championship race setback marked Hooker's first loss during the collegiate outdoor season. He had won 21 consecutive sprint races during his inaugural collegiate campaign, including 14 straight 100-meter competitions. It is unknown exactly when the last time someone reached the finish line before Hooker, but it goes at least as far back as his junior year as a prep competitor. Hooker was undefeated his entire senior season at Ellensburg High School, includng victories in three prestigious national meets.
Hooker was beaten despite correcting the starting problems that plagued him during the first two rounds. He overcame slow starts to win his preliminary and semifinal races, registering the fastest time among all competitors in both rounds.
"My start was a lot better. We worked on it this morning and got it all together," said Hooker. "I thought that was the problem, but I guess it wasn't the only thing."
The only freshman in the eight-man 100-meter final, Hooker took little solace from an All-America performance and the highest finish by a Washington men's competitor since 1990 when Rick Noji placed third in the high jump.
"He isn't used to getting beat, but you can't win every time out," Richburg said. "Finishing third at the NCAA championships as a freshman is nothing to be ashamed of. That's a great accomplishment"
He concluded his first season as Washington's most decorated sprinter. Hooker's third-place performance netted his second All-America award. His first came from winning the 55-meter championship at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Hooker won two Pacific-10 Conference titles, in the 100- and 200-meters, the first athlete in Husky history to win multiple events at a single conference championship meet.
In other NCAA Championships action, two Huskies placed among the top-10 in their respective 1,500-meter races.
Senior Danelle Kabush finished ninth in the women's competition with a time of 4:22.85. Villanova's Carmen Douma had a winning time of 4:16.04.
Sophomore Geoff Perry, a product of Gig Harbor High School, raced to a 10th-place time of 3:48.57 in the men's 1,500. Washington State's Bernard Lagat, the Pac-10 champion, finished eighth in 3:46.88. Seneca Lassiter of Arkansas won the men's 1,500 in 3:42.34.
Washington sophomore Ben Lindsey, who finished fifth in the shot put at the 1998 NCAA Indoor Championships, fouled on all three throws and did not place. The Lynnwood High School graduate entered the competition with the second-best qualifying shot put mark.
On Friday, Lindsey earned All-America honors for a fifth-place discus performance. He was judged to be out of the throwing circle on each of his shot put tries on Saturday. His second attempt appeared to approach the 59-foot mark that would have advanced him to finals.
South Carolina's Brad Snyder registered a winning shot put of 64-7 3/4. Ian Waltz of Washington State placed fifth with a mark of 60-11 1/4.