EUGENE, Ore. — Northwestern State sprinter Justin Walker is making sure his final track and field season is a memorable one.
After qualifying for the final in the 100 meters on Wednesday, Walker earned an automatic spot in the 200 final Thursday when he ran second in his semifinal heat in the NCAA championships at Hayward Field.
Walker, a Slidell native, recorded a time of 20.70 seconds while running into a stiff headwind to become the first Northwestern State sprinter to earn a spot in the 200 finals at the NCAA meet. He’s only the fourth to make it in the 100.
“I’m ecstatic about making both finals,” said Walker, who’ll line up in the 100 final on Friday and 200 final on Saturday. “This is a new experience for me, and hopefully I’ll bring home something good for our school.”
Walker was one of only three athletes to earn spots in both short sprints — joining Southern Cal’s Aaron Brown and Texas-Arlington’s Clayton Vaughn.
Early to bed …
LSU’s Aaron Ernest also earned a spot in the 200 final Thursday after just missing out on a second final in the 100 on Wednesday.
Ernest was so upset about not qualifying for a 100 final for the first time in his three-year college career that he went to sleep unsually early Wednesday night to keep from thinking about it.
“There was nothing to do but think about it, so I went to bed early to take my mind off it,” said Ernest, who put his head to pillow about 9:30 p.m. “That’s the earliest I’ve been to sleep in about four or five years … especially since I’ve been in college, for sure.”
Brown wins heat
Texas A&M junior Kamaria Brown, a McKinley High graduate, won her semifinal heat of the 200 meters in 22.99 seconds with the second-fastest time of the day and later anchored as the Aggies’ 4x400-meter relay team won its heat in 3 minutes, 28.89 seconds.
Those two finals will be run Saturday along with the 4x100 relay with Brown running the third leg.
On the tube
ESPNU will televise portions of the third day of the meet Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.