EUGENE, Ore. — After battling a sore Achilles’ tendon in the NCAA East preliminary rounds two weeks ago, Northwestern State’s Justin Walker was ready to run Wednesday.
Lining up in the semifinals of the 100 meters in the NCAA championships, Walker, a Slidell native,won his heat with a wind-aided time of 10.12 seconds to automatically earn a spot in Friday night’s final.
Walker, who was aided by a tailwind of 2.3 meters per second, was pushed to the limit in besting Texas-Arlington’s Clayton Vaughn, Florida’s Antwan Wright and LSU’s Aaron Ernest.
Vaughn was also timed in 10.12 seconds, while Wright and Ernest both clocked 10.13.
Walker will also line up in the semifinals of the 200 meters on Thursday.
Also advancing Wednesday was McKinley High graduate Kamaria Brown, who the third leg on Texas A&M’s 4x100-meter relay team that won its heat in 43.44 seconds.
Brown will also compete in the semifinals of the 200 meters and 4x400 relay Thursday.
Louisiana Tech’s 4x100 relay unit, which included former Northeast High School standout Dennis Richardson and Carencro native Jarvis Gotch, posted a season’s-best of 39.54 seconds. They were third in their heat behind Florida and Alabama, but failed to advance with the 12th-fastest time of the day.
UL-Lafayette pole vaulter Michael Vani and shot putter Albert Fournette failed to score. Vani had just one clearance at 16-8¾ and Fournette didn’t reach the finals after placing 10th in his flight at 60-11/2.
Former John Curtis Christian School pole vaulter Dylan Duvio, a freshman at Stanford who had a season’s-best of 17-61/2, also did not score. He cleared two two bars and finished with a best of 17-2¾.
In the decathlon, University of New Orleans freshman Karl Saluri, the school’s first athlete to compete in the NCAA championships, pulled up about 40 meters into the first of 10 events — the 100 meters — and withdrew.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.