The Road to Eugene: Charles Silmon

Six-time All-American Charles Silmon

June 3, 2013

“The Road to Eugene” takes a look at the individual competitors or relays that will be competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore. We will review their season both indoors and outdoors, look back at TCU’s history in the event, who are the top contenders that will be in Eugene and what the future holds for TCU for those athletes and in those events.

The Season
All Charles Silmon has been doing the past month is making statements, with each one louder and more noticeable than the last. He goes to Eugene ready for one last show on one of track and field’s biggest stages wearing TCU’s colors. He is ready to create a legacy that will be talked about for years to come.

The abbreviated TCU indoor season did not see too much action out of Silmon. He went about his way with consistent performances in the 60-meter dash and a couple 200-meter dashes here and there. At the Big 12 Indoor Championships, Silmon got the top qualifying mark in 6.65 seconds in the 60. In the final, Silmon had to edge out a hard-charging Ian Warner of Iowa State with a 6.66 to Warner’s 6.68 to earn his first Big 12 title. He followed that up with an impressive 20.96 to finish third in the 200-meter dash out of lane eight, an impressive performance on Iowa State’s unique, flat 300-meter oval.

He made the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60-meter dash and had to endure one of the most challenging preliminary sessions ever seen. In the first of the two heats, No. 1 seed Marvin Bracy of Florida State was DQ’d for a false start. When Silmon’s second heat stepped up, they got a recall of their own and Bracy’s Seminole teammate Dentarius Locke was dismissed. With everyone gathered back at the blocks a second attempt to start began, but another recall happened. No one was removed after the second time, and the field gathered to try again. The third time was the charm as Silmon exploded to a PR of 6.60 seconds to be one of the top qualifiers in the event going into the Saturday final.

On that Saturday night in Fayetteville, Silmon was able to get it together after another recall and put forth a strong performance. He started the race right up next to D’Angelo Cherry of Mississippi State and Marcus Rowland of Auburn. However, he peaked in his stance just a little early which allowed the duo to pull away. He was able to hold off Harry Adams of Auburn for third by 0.007 seconds to take home one of the best finishes in program history at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

The outdoor season started quietly as he false started at the TCU Invitational, though he came back to run a wind-aided 10.09 100-meter dash in an exhibition heat. He then followed it up with a 10.30 at the Baylor Quad Meet. The excitement was about to get much higher when he was the only collegiate athlete picked for the Texas Relays Invitational 100-meter dash.

The event was highly anticipated with three U.S. Olympians in the same race as Silmon. The group would also have a huge wind at their back, meaning there would be big times at the end of the race. He started off with his customary strong start keeping up with the trio of Olympians through 60-meters. Though the Olympians pulled away at the end, the times still did the talking. Charles Silmon had run a wind-aided 9.94 100-meter dash, the second-fastest all-conditions 100 in school history. However, because the wind was so big (+4.3 m/s) it would not be counted towards the NCAA performance list and rankings. Even though he just went under 10 seconds in a 100-meter dash, he was still under the radar.

When the Big 12 Championships finally came around in May it was a special opportunity for Silmon. With the Big 12 outdoor meet taking place a week earlier than the majority of the other big conference championships, the college track and field world would be watching. He came in with the bar set high, the favorite in the 100-meter dash, ranked second by only 0.04 seconds in the 200 and part of the heavily favored 4x100 team. The meet would also take part in Waco, his hometown.

After earning the top qualifying marks in both the 100 and 200 on Saturday, Silmon was ready to put forth a Sunday to remember. It started with the men’s 4x1 team of Harvey McSwain, Silmon, Ronnie Baker and Raymond Bozmans taking the Big 12 title in 39.61. Silmon had his second career Big 12 title while helping the freshmen trio get their first. He came back two hours later with Bozmans to make TCU the talk of the track in the 100-meter dash. Silmon took the win in a wind-aided 10.18 with Bozmans second in 10.45. A second title on the day for the senior, a 1-2 finish for the Frogs and 18 points in the team standings. That itself would be a great day for TCU, but he still had one more performance in him.

The 200-meter dash came less than an hour after the 100-meter dash. Silmon was tired from a busy day, but he did not want to disappoint the Horned Frogs or the hometown faithful with just another run. Like always, he was quickly out of the blocks and exploded out of the corner to a lead on his way to his third Big 12 title of the day. What came next drew an even bigger cheer. The scoreboard read 20.33, the fastest time of Silmon’s career by over three-tenths of a second and at the time the fastest 200 time in the NCAA in 2013.

After the meet Silmon was presented with the Men’s High Point Award for bringing home 22.5 points for the Horned Frogs. A couple of days later, he was named the Big 12 Outstanding Male Performer of the Year.

However, there will still doubters. There always seem to be. On paper, Silmon was No. 11 in the country in the 100-meter dash. The NCAA West Preliminaries were an ideal time to silence those critics. On his first run of the weekend, Silmon didn’t bring the crowd at Mike A. Myers Stadium to its feet, he left them in silent shock. He dominated his 100-meter dash heat, clearly turning down a gear as he crossed the line. The scoreboard read 10.03, the second-fastest time in the NCAA this year.

The second day took a while to get started with a six-hour rain stoppage causing a three hour delay in the schedule. On a wet track approaching 10 p.m., Silmon took care of business in the 100 with the best time of the evening in 10.23 to punch his ticket to Eugene. It was not a flashy performance, but very few would be able to light up the track that late in those conditions. He then did it again in the first round of the 200, first in the heat and safe in 20.59 and on to Saturday’s round for Eugene.

His Saturday started with leading the men’s 4x100 team to the top qualifying mark in the region of 39.49. He wrapped up another fantastic week with another amazing performance in the 200. He had the top-level talent in his heat with USC star Bryshon Nellum next to him. Silmon was strong at the start as usual, he burned through the corner and left the heat in the dust. Though his shut down was more subtle than the 100, he did turn it down and crossed the line in another time that shocked those in attendance. 20.23. Another one-tenth off his PR and tied for third in the NCAA in the 200. Job done, on to Eugene.

TCU History at the NCAA Championships
Silmon has made it to the final rounds each of his four years at TCU. This is the second time he is doing the 100-200 double after doing it in 2011. However, this time he adds the 4x100 to the job list this week.

TCU has had 22 entries all-time in the 100-meter dash final round of eight, with Silmon being the most recent one with his seventh place finish last year in Des Moines, Iowa. In the late 1980s, Raymond Stewart went on an incredible run in the 100-meter dash, winning the title in 1987 in Baton Rouge, La., finishing second to Joe DeLoach of Houston in 1988 in Eugene and taking the title back in 1989 in Provo, Utah.

The Horned Frogs have had 18 entries all-time in the 200-meter dash final eight. The Frogs impact on the equivalent of the 200 was felt all the way back in 1930 when Cy Leland, the first superstar of TCU track and field, finished second in the 220-yard dash. In the 1920s, the 1930s and at times in the 40s and 50s, the race was run on a straightaway instead of with a turn.

The Competition
There are many runners who will take part in both the 100 and 200-meter dash. The high-profile name to watch is Isaiah Young of Ole Miss. A 2012 Olympics semifinalist in the 200-meter dash for the USA, Young boasts the nation’s top time in the 100-meter dash with a legal 9.99 in the prelims of the East Prelims. He proved that was no fluke with a 10.01 in the finals to come in with the top seed in the 100. In the 200, Young is the No. 3 seed at 20.31, but boasts a PR of 20.16 from the Olympics.

An under-the-radar man doing double duty is Anaso Jobodwana of Jackson State. The sophomore has been running the best of his career coming into Eugene with a 10.10 in the 100 and NCAA-leading 20.13 in the 200. Other men who have gone under 10.10 this outdoor season include Aaron Ernest of LSU (10.04), Diondre Baston of Alabama (10.06), Aaron Brown of USC (10.07) and Dentarius Locke of Florida State (10.08). Young, Silmon, Locke and Jobodwana all ran their top times at the Preliminary meets.

In the 200, Jobodwana and Young are 1-2 in the NCAA this year with Silmon and Nellum of USC tied for third. Ameer Webb of Texas A&M is also running in the 100, but the 200 is the event to watch him in. Pitt’s Carvin Nkanata is not running the 100, but will be a top threat in the 200.

A challenge that specifically awaits Silmon, LSU’s Ernest and Alabama’s Baston is the possibility of a chaotic Saturday. The 4x100-meter relay final is slated for 2:12 p.m. Pacific Time. The men’s 200-meter dash final is at 2:50 p.m.

As for seeding, Silmon is the No. 2 seed in the 200-meter dash with his 20.23 only behind Jobodwana’s 20.13. Due to the rain and wet conditions and the 9:30 p.m. running time of the 100-meter dash quarterfinal, the West Preliminary times fell behind their cohorts in the East meaning Silmon is the No. 6 seed going into Eugene. The effect of the weather is shown with the bottom eight seeds all being form the West Region.

The Future
For Silmon, the next stop will come a week-and-a-half after the NCAA Championships with the USA Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Silmon already has the World Championships ‘A’ standard in both the 100 and 200-meter dash. Strong performances in Eugene and Des Moines can put him into consideration for the 4x100 relay pool if he is unable to get into the individual 100 and 200-meter dash.

As for the sprints group, many of the Frogs who have made the 4x100 team a success will also be key in the future of the individual events. Bozmans was second in the 100-meter dash at the Big 12 Championships and 18th at West Preliminaries. McSwain and Narada Jackson made the final of the Big 12 Championships 200-meter dash. Baker is strong at both the 100 and 200. Ramone Bailey has a wind-aided 10.31 to his name in the 100.

Though both sat out the outdoor season, Michael Owusu-Peprah and Sam Watts will both feature in the future for the Frogs. Owusu-Peprah is more of a 100 runner at the moment, but is developing his 200-meter times. Watts might be TCU’s top guy in the 200 next season, having run in the 20.5 and 20.6 range many times in his career.

Incoming freshman Malik Summers will also be involved. Summers, from Lewisville, is one of the nation’s top incoming prospects in the 100 and has been in the 21.2s for his 200.



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