YSU’s Harden to run in 400h semis


By Brian Dzenis

bdzenis@vindy.com

Collin Harden is running his best at a great time.

The Youngstown State junior from Girard will run in today’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship semifinals in the 400-meter hurdles at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas. He does so coming off his best performance of the season where he ran a school-record 50.52 seconds in the preliminary rounds in Jacksonville, Fla.

Harden — YSU’s lone representative at nationals — had spent this season trying to get his time under 51 seconds.

“It does a lot for my confidence. Reaching that goal means a lot,” Harden said. “It was just preparation and mentality. I just didn’t want my season to end going over that last hurdle.”

Harden is set to run at 7 p.m. and his heat — the second of three heats — will air on ESPN2. The top two finishers from each heat and the two fastest times from the rest of the field will advance to the finals on Friday.

Seven hurdlers return from last year’s field and the top placers in that group were Michigan’s Taylor McLaughlin (fourth place last year) and Texas A&M’s Infinite Ticker (eighth place).

“The field is pretty open. A lot of these guys are setting up for next year,” YSU sprinter coach David Townsend said. “It should be really fast next year and there may be some [48-second times today], but nobody in the 47s. A lot of teams lost guys to graduation or they turned pro. It’s wide open for the top eight.”

Harden currently holds the eighth-best time in his heat heading into today, but Townsend said he could shave four to five tenths of a second from his time if he can cut the number of steps he takes on the back half of the race.

As for Harden, his outlook is more open-ended.

“I don’t expect anything, but I want to go out there and run my best — I actually want to run better than my best — just to get in the top eight and be a first-team All-American,” Harden said. “That’s the goal. That’s the dream.”

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