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May 29, 2010

Clemson Director of Track & Field Lawrence Johnson

What are your overall thoughts after the NCAA East Prelims? “The student-athletes really came together at this championship meet. The Eastern portion of the first round of the NCAA Championships is as tough as it gets. We had several automatic qualifiers, and then some kids that got in on time. The ones that didn’t get in put up some fantastic times, some personal bests. I couldn’t be more excited and proud of our kids.”

What were your impressions from the women’s sprint group? “Our girls were fully committed to making it to Eugene in the individual events and the relays. When we met this morning, the first thing we said was, ‘We have to take care of this 4×1 relay.’ We knew it could set us up for a big day. The relay got everybody going. Then, the individual events started coming to us as the kids zoned in and executed.”

Three triple jumpers advanced on Saturday. What did it mean to have Josh Fowler earn his first NCAA bid? “It says a lot about Josh and his perseverance. He’s had multiple coaches in his time with the program. But he’s hung in there, worked hard, and believed in the plan. Everything he’s ever hoped for came to fruition today. He gets a ticket to the national championship to compete against some of the best student-athletes in the country. When you get to the championship, anything can happen.”

Patricia Mamona had a special effort in the triple jump and an outstanding series of jumps. What did you think of her performance? “Patricia has spent so much time this season being a consummate team player. She’s done so many events for us, from the multi-events to the hurdles. This was her first real opportunity to have a weekend to focus on her best event, the triple jump. She executed well, and she’s only going to get better. I think she’s as good as anybody heading to the national championship. She’s going to make a real push.”

Three hurdlers advanced to the next round of NCAAs. What about their performance? “Our hurdlers came to play today. They knew the advancement procedure. They knew they had to be top three. Spencer was able to get into the top three (of his quarterfinal); Shay was able to get into the top three. Charlton was in such a fast heat, he was able to get in on time. This is the best region in the country for hurdlers. If they can beat some of the people here to get to Eugene, then they should do well at the national championship in two weeks. I’m excited to see what they can do.”

Your women’s team shattered the all-time high for outdoor national qualifiers. What does it say about the continued direction of the program? “From the start of the indoor season to this point, we wanted to establish ourselves as one of the best women’s programs in the country. The women are continuing to live up to the challenge and charge that I’ve given them. To be as young and inexperienced as we are in some areas, it takes guts to compete like this. You’ve got to be tough. We’re going to build from this point, as we head into the championship meet. We want to be a perennial household name in track & field, and I think we’ve got a great start to it and something to build on.”