SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Otis Harris of Edwards earned a trip to the Summer Olympics in Athens by finishing second in the men's 400 meters Thursday
night at the U.S. track and field trials.
Jeremy Wariner won the men's 400 in 44.37 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.
Harris was second at 44.67.
A jubilant Harris was interviewed after the race on USA. "I'm going to Greece," he said before adding a shout out of "Mississippi!"
Also Thursday, Southern Miss alumnus Cedric Norman qualified for Sunday's high jump final. Norman tied for 11th with 7 feet, 21/2 inches.
Wariner and Harris will be joined on the U.S. 400 team in Athens by Derrick Brew. Calvin Harrison, who faces a 2-year suspension if found guilty of
two drug infractions, finished fifth.
Harris, 22, led Hinds AHS to Class 2A state titles in 1998-2000, winning the 100, 200 and 400 meters each season. He competed for three seasons at
South Carolina, finishing second in the 2003 NCAA 400 meters, but was ruled ineligible and did not participate for the Gamecocks this season.
Among those cheering for him from Mississippi Thursday night were former AHS coach James Battle and current Jackson State coach Edmond Donald, who
coached Harris for two summers.
Harris had the slowest qualifying time among the eight finalists, but that didn't bother either of his former coaches.
"It doesn't matter what you run to get there," said Battle. "The finals are all about heart."
"He's a big-race runner," said Donald. "There's been more talented quarter runners, but nobody has the heart and work ethic of that guy. You can never
count him out."
Donald said what made Harris' feat even more impressive is that he did not compete collegiately this season.
"There ain't nobody going in who picked Otis to be in the top eight at the Olympic Trials," said Donald. "That's unheard of. That's paramount to a
walk-on in basketball making an NBA team."