More than 53.21 seconds of fame
Carter sets NCAA record, looks to World Championships
EUGENE, Ore. -- In a blazing 53.21 seconds Friday, Stanford junior Kori Carter set a new collegiate record for the 400 hurdles and put her sister immediately on edge.
You see, Carter’s run at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., not only gave her a national title and the collegiate record, it also made her a favorite to represent the United States at this summer’s IAAF World Championships.
And therein lies the problem.
The World Championships begin Aug. 10 in Moscow. Sister Kelly Carter’s wedding is set — deposit down, no turning back — for Aug. 9.
“Right now I am being known as the worst maid of honor of all time,” Carter said playfully.
To be sure, Carter still has to qualify for the World Championships via a top-three finish at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships June 20-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. But considering that her time on Friday would have been good enough for a bronze medal had she run it at the Olympics in London last summer, she’s not exactly an underdog.
So what will she do if she makes it to Moscow?
“I,” she began, before taking a long pause to choose her words, “will find out. You never want to cross my sister. She is known for holding grudges, and this is one for the ages.”
If Carter keeps running like she has this season, her family is going to have to get used to these international competitions. Following Friday’s run, Carter had the world’s fastest time in the 400 hurdles.
Coming into this season, however, even Carter wasn’t expecting to run this fast — yet.
“I dreamed of it, but I didn’t think it was going to come this year,” she said. “It was like, ‘Senior year, I am going to do big things.’ But for it to come junior year, especially from not even making the final last year to setting the collegiate record, is so crazy.”
At this time last year, the World Championships were hardly in the picture. Carter ended her sophomore season by finishing 14th in the 100 hurdles and 24th in the 400 hurdles at the NCAA championships, failing to make the finals in both events.
“I remember being at that meet last year and saying, ‘I’m never going to feel like this again, I’m never going to disappoint myself,’” she said. “And I sort of went to a little state where I was really upset with myself and I sort of turned that into fuel for this year.”
So did her new sprints and hurdles coach, Jody Stewart.
“I watched her last year and I said, ‘This kid is going to be the NCAA champion,’” Stewart said. “I told her that the first day.”
Carter bought into Stewart’s new training plan, which emphasized more strength training and less pure speed training, and the rest fell into place. Competing in a Pac-12 Conference that included the 2012 NCAA runner-up in Turquoise Thompson from UCLA and 2012 U.S. Olympian Georganne Moline of Arizona in the 400 hurdles, Carter went undefeated in her three finals going into nationals. She also went undefeated in four 100 hurdles finals going into nationals.
Carter says she’s not really the type of person who focuses on time, she just want to beat whoever is in her race. But in beating whoever was in her races this season, she also put up world-class times, culminating with Friday’s collegiate record.
“That’s a great time to lose to, I really can’t complain,” said Moline, who ran a personal best time of her own at 53.72 in finishing second. “She has pushed me every time I’ve ran with her.”
Carter also has the No. 8 time in the world in the 100 hurdles going into that event final on Saturday. She had the fourth best semifinal time. In addition, Carter ran on Stanford’s 4x400 relay team throughout the year, but without her in the lineup on Thursday that relay team missed the event final.
Carter, who one day hopes to use her degree in human biology to work in prosthetics, has one more chance to win a second NCAA title this season. Then she has a few weeks to prepare for the U.S. championships.
If all goes as planned in Des Moines, she will then have seven more weeks to make it up to her sister.