EUGENE, Ore. -- After Florida State senior Dentarius Locke finished second in the 100 meters at last year’s Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, he didn’t let the disappointment affect him for too long.
Instead Locke looked at his runner up finish as a learning experience and the knowledge he gained he hopes will prove invaluable at this year’s NCAA Championships, which begin Wednesday in Eugene, Oregon.
“My race last year I was impatient,” Locke said. “I was so anxious and tried to rush it. I went out there and leaned a little too early and just lost the race. That taught me to be patient and execute my race and not worry about the guy next to me.”The strategy certainly appears to have paid off for the All-American. Locke, despite being the No. 3 seed in the NCAA East Preliminary meet, won his heat with a time of 10.17, which was .24 seconds faster than the No. 2 qualifier.
Another advantage for Locke was participating in both the USA Track and Field Championships and the Diamond League Herculis in Monaco last year. At the USA Track and Field Championships, Locke was ranked fifth and placed sixth in the final. At the Diamond League Herculis, Locke set a new personal best at 9.96 and finished second to Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin.
Despite his satisfaction with his finishes at those two events, Locke got something far more valuable.
“It helped a lot, going to Iowa and racing against Tyson Gay and Gatlin, guys I look up to,” Locke said. “Then racing in Monaco representing your country it gave me a lot more experience. It made it a lot easier for this year. It excited me and motivated me to be a better athlete.”
When the collegiate outdoor season began this year, Locke was dominant, leading the Seminoles to the ACC Title, winning the 100 for the second consecutive year and was unbeaten in three 100 finals, earning another FSU MVP award.
That doesn’t mean he believes he is a lock for the 100 title, despite being the favorite.
“If I can identify one to challenge me it would be hard, there are a lot of guys,” Locke said. “Going into the meet you watch other guys and look at their times but at the end of the day the focus is on me, but it’s going to be a battle, it’s not going to be a walk in the park for anybody. Everyone is out there to win and it’s not going to be easy. I have to make sure I have to focus on me and my lane knowing the guy to next to me is trying to win just as hard.”
To ensure his success, Locke curtailed training on the 200, ultimately not qualifying for that race, and worked harder on the 100.
“There is a not a day when I am not working on something,” Locke said. “Every aspect of my race, there’s not one step I am not looking at. I am looking at first 30, next 30 and last 40 and I know I can be better. I have sacrificed not working on the 200 to focus on the 100 and make sure I am ready. I am looking at each step in video to see what I can make better.”
With a game plan in place, Locke is going to rely on his training, but won’t be overly confident.
“One misstep or thinking about another runner and the race can be lost,” Locke said. “If I focus on my race and my lane and the finish line everything will end up the way it’s supposed to.”