The Senior is now part of Superman’s family.
Galen Rupp, who recently completed his senior season winning six NCAA titles — one of the most decorated seasons in NCAA history , is the newest client of Michael Johnson’s athlete management company.
Johnson founded Ultimate Performance Sport Management, which handles the endorsements of Jeremy Wariner, Ebonie Floyd, Natasha Hastings, and Jackie Johnson.
“When I retired in 2001, I felt that I was uniquely qualified to offer other athletes the same quality and personal attention that helped me to achieve success as a professional athlete, so I created Ultimate Performance,” Johnson said. “We’re incredibly selective about whom we represent, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with and for these three amazing young men.”
Johnson also signed Michael Bingham of North Carolina, the reigning NCAA 400m Indoor Champion with a personal record of 45.02 seconds. This former Wake Forest All-American competed for Great Britain’s 4×400 meter relay that placed fourth in Beijing.
400-meter hurdler Javier Culson Perez will be represented by Johnson and will also train at the Michael Johnson Performance Center, a 24,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in McKinney, Texas, about 20 miles north of Dallas. Perez boasts a personal best of 48.83 seconds and competed for Puerto Rico at the Beijing Olympic Games.
The good feelings are flowing all around.
“I’ve always surrounded myself with good people, and it’s a tight circle,” Rupp said. “I felt an immediate connection with Michael. I knew I could trust him, and that’s one of the most important things to me.”
He left big shoes to fill. Michael Johnson in 1990 was the last sprinter donning the green and gold to win an NCAA 200 meter title. That is until Trey Harts enrolled at Baylor. The school has a reputation in the 400 meters and mile relay that includes Baylor’s mile relay earning All-American honors for 29 years in a row and 19 NCAA titles along with a string of NCAA 400 meter champions.
Harts wanted to have em’ on their feet and cheering again on the national stage for the Baylor sprinters. The Lake Charles, Louisiana junior has guided the Baylor 4×100 meter relay to 39.25 seconds this season and the fouresome are currently ranked among the elite relay teams, positioned to contend for an NCAA 4 x 100 meter relay title.
In March, Harts wrote his name in the NCAA history books, winning the 200 meters at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Harts put down a personal-best time of 20.63 to win the event, and in the process produced the second-fastest time in Baylor history behind Michael Johnson 20.59 set at the NCAA Championships in 1989.
Harts presence in Waco, Texas is a common denominator to the return to these glory days.
PreRaceJitters caught up with Trey Harts and here is what he had to say:
PRJ: Congratulations on breaking Michael Johnson’s 200 meter stadium record at the Michael Johnson Classic this season. What experience did you get from running against former Baylor athlete Jeremy Wariner for the first time, along with Olympic gold medalist Reggie Witherspoon and former U.S. indoor national champion Michael Rodgers? What did you learn from racing against this group of experienced professional runner that will help with upcoming national competitions?
TH: Running against Jeremy, Reggie, and Mike was a great experience. They are some young and talented runners and I look up to each of them. One thing that I noticed about them is that they always seem to find a way to stay composed before a race. I know that is something that I need to do in the future as I run against them later on in my career.
PRJ: Throughout this season at different times, you have talked about bringing attention to Baylor’s sprinting program. What does it mean to bring attention to your school with what you have been able accomplish so far during the 2008 – 2009 season?
TH: Having more recognition come to Baylor’s short sprint program really means a lot to my coaches, my teammates, and myself. We take just as much pride in our events just like the quarter milers do. Every prestigious athletic program has to start out at the bottom and earn its respect and my teammates and I decided to take the first step in truly earning that respect from the track and field community.
PRJ: Last year you put up some impressive numbers, running 10.31 in the 100 and 20.44 at 200. So far this season you’ve run personal bests at both races. What has been the key to your success and improvement this year?
TH: The key to my success this year, in my opinion, has been me staying focused on my long-term goals. I try to be as consistent as possible in all my races. I know that it is difficult to actually PR in every race at every meet but putting forth that effort helps me accomplish my consistency goal.
PRJ: During the indoor season you ran the 60 meters, 200 meters and lead off leg of the national championship 4×400 meter relay. What has been the thought process throughout the outdoor about you running on the mile relay?
TH: As it stands right now, I do plan on running on many more mile relays, if any at all, this season. I enjoy running the mile relay but I also want to finish a season healthy and compete at the U.S. Championships and I have found it difficult to stay healthy when I run the 100m, 200m, 4×100m, and 4×400m every week during the outdoor season. If I am ever needed to run on the 4×4, I will not hesitate to step in but until that time comes, I will cheer my teammates on from track side.
PRJ: You find yourself running a number of different races throughout the season. What is a typical week of training for you and how do you mentally prepare yourself to compete in such a variety of races?
TH: My week of training is very different from my teammates. I do a combination of running on the track and running barefoot in the grass. The grass runs were implemented in order to reduce the pounding on my shins but it seems like they have also served to help my acceleration. The runs on the track are longer than my grass runs and they help with speed endurance.
PRJ: Going backwards for a moment. You won the NCAA 200 Meter Indoor Title, how would you describe this season so far?
TH: This season has been so much more than what I could have ever hoped for. I normally go into a season just wanting to perform better than I did the last season; I never start out thinking about winning championships. I just happened to be ready to run fast enough to win a national title this season.
PRJ: Who has had the biggest influence on your track career so far?
TH: My parents are the biggest influence on my track career. At every meet, at least one of them are present. They have never forced me to stick with running track but they have always challenged me to be the best at whatever I do. They are the reason that I have discipline and dedication to my sport.
PRJ: How do you see the final stages of the 2009 outdoor season?
TH: I try my best not to predict how the rest of my season will go; I take things day by day. All I can say is that if I am able to stay healthy, I will run faster than I have ever run before.
PRJ: What is your most valuable asset as a sprinter?
TH: I think my most valuable asset as a sprinter is my versatility. In high school, I competed in the 100m, 200m, and 400m. There are not many people who can run all three of these events well and I take pride in being one of the select few who can accomplish this.
PRJ: You have the final stages of the outdoor season this year and your senior season next year of eligibility remaining. What do you want your legacy at Baylor and on the collegiate running scene to be when your career is completed?
TH: The sport of track and field for Americans has recently been tarnished with steroid scandals from former great athletes. I want future track and field athletes to see that you do not have to cheat in order to be great and with a little bit of hard work, discipline, and luck the possibilities of what a person can do are limitless. I want my legacy to be a clean one that can be admired and respected.
PRJ: Trey thanks so very much for your time and we wish you the best of luck with the rest of your season.
-Des Moines, Iowa - April 25, 2009. By Jerry Boyd.
The big stories were nonstop from the 100th Drake Relays in Des Moines, IA. Twenty of the century’s top athletes were honored for their participation over the years, from Jessie Owens to Essie Kelly Washington. Michael Johnson and Gwen Torrence were selected as the male and female athletes of the century. The Drake Relays is in its first year as one of the first outdoor events in the 2009 Visa Championship Series. The weather also claimed its share of the news starting with near perfect weather the first two days and a cold, rainy Saturday for the final day of competition.
Lolo Jones was scheduled to run the 100m hurdles and the fans came to life as she stepped on the wet track in a tuxedo like two-piece uniform. She got a good start but started pulling up before the 8th hurdle and was unable to finish the race. The crowd was stunned as she was carted off holding her right hamstring. Jones later came back on the field to speak to the sold out stadium saying that there had been some soreness for a few weeks and if it had not been the Drake Relays she “would have pulled out” of the meet.
Jones reassured everyone saying, “it is only a slight tear, and is not as bad as it seems.” Again the fans responded with appreciation as Jones walked gingerly off the field. Michigan’s Tiffany Ofili won the race with the worlds third fastest time of 12.82.
In the men’s 400m Special, Olympic Gold medalist and former Drake champion Jeremy Wariner dominated the field, starting strong and hit it hard at the 300m mark to finish with a convincing 45.06 for the second fastest time in the world. This is Wariner’s first 400m of the season and after wards Wariner said, “I really wanted to give the crowd a good show.” The four time Olympic medalist is competing in two week in Osaka.
Lauren Hagans won the women’s 1500m with a strong run of 4:18.24 and Alan Webb continues to be unbeaten at Drake in the men’s mile at 4:00.61
The men’s 400m hurdles featured a heavily loaded field with former LSU standout Isa Phillips taking the win with a 49.60. The cold and rain required a little extra warm up, but Philips said, “at this level you have to be able to compete regardless of the weather”. His next appearance will be in Jamaica next week.
The best race of the day might have been the high school boy’s 4 X 400m relay. On the anchor leg Indianola and Waukee came down the home stretch shoulder to shoulder with Waukee appearing to cross the line first but an out of control lean and hard fall got the win for Indianola by one, one hundredth of a second, 3:23.15.
Once again Baylor is the Drake Relays 4X400m relay champion at 3:05.11. They have compiled an impressive string of victories winning 18 of the last 21 years and 5 straight titles in Des Moines. The victory was also the relays 40th consecutive 4 X 400m collegiate win.
Suzy Powell-Roos won the women’ discus with a throw of 59.15m – 194’01” but second place winner and Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton 58.76m – 192’09” was able to put the day in perspective. Brown-Trafton was prepared for the rain and saying ”it is a great opportunity to not be afraid to compete in wet weather” because the U.S. Championships will be held in Des Moines next year. This was Brown-Trafton’s first competing in Drake and she went on to say, “I am happy that there is a town outside of Eugene that is into track and field”.
Jerry Boyd is a sportswriter for PreRaceJitters.com. All photos by Glenda Boyd.
PreRaceJitters catch up with Trey Harts after securing his name in Baylor history, winning the 200 meters at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in 20.63 to win the event.
July 17, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Withdrawal from the Olympic Trials has been setting in since returning from Eugene and coming down from the adrenaline rush. Part of that is because eight days is a long time sleeping on a hotel mattress, and I have finally gotten some good sleep since returning home.
I’ve found myself communicating with colleagues that shared the Eugene experience because we shared something very special in Eugene ‘08, which turned out to be a de facto track and field national holiday.
What is there not to miss? Eight days of riveting action on the track, coupled with an exhilarating atmosphere. The days were spent comparing and contrasting athletes of today and the past, while interviewing the world’s best track athletes about the greatest sport on the planet.
Here are a few pictures of the athletes and the action.
All pictures and content by Jay Hicks.
July 16, 2008 by · 1 Comment
That was until Usain Bolt blasted on the brink to the 200-meter record. Michael Johnson provides invaluable insight looking into the metamorphosis of Usain Bolt.
“I’m ready to kiss it [200m record] goodbye…if he keeps on doing what he’s doing,” said Johnson at the U.S. Olympic trials.
Sprint legend Michael Johnson is, of course, talking about Usain Bolt and the work he had done to run 9.77 in June to set the new World Record at the 100-meters. What is ironic is that Bolt has traditionally been seen as a 200-meter runner. This year, Bolt broke the 100-meter world record, and that feat now sets him up to break the 200-meter world record.
“He ran 19.75 [a year ago], which was amazing enough, given that he’s not the most technically sound 200-meter runner,” Johnson said of Bolt. “Whatever technical flaws you have at 200 are going to be highlighted at 100. But, you take a look at his 100 when he broke the world record…he has fixed a lot of things [technically] in the off-season.”
The drama continues to mount as last Friday in Rome, Bolt ran just his third 200 of the year and delivered 19.67, the fifth fastest time in track history. Bolt is finding his way closer and closer to 19.32 each time he steps on the track.
Usain Bolt broke his own Jamaican national record in the 200 meters last night, clocking a spectacular 19.67 seconds at the Tsliklitiria Super Grand Prix at Olympic Stadium in Rome.
“If he is as technically sound at 200, or the improvement at 200 in technique matches what we have seen at 100, there’s no telling what he is going to run,” Johnson added.
It has been the 400-meter record of 43.18 that Johnson set in 1999 that was predicted to be the first record of his to fall. Johnson is now an agent, and his star client, Jeremy Wariner, is nearing that milestone with a personal record of 43.45. Records tend to come when athletes are running easily so, the 400 record may fall but it probably will not be broken at the Olympics.
MJ, who remains one of the biggest forces in the sport, is ready for the times to move down the performance list. Spoken like a true champion, Johnson went on to say, “I don’t wake up every morning thinking, ‘I’m still the world record holder, and it’s another good day because of it.’”
Johnson understands that his time on the track is behind him and today he readily embraces his new role helping today’s runners realize their goals and dreams.
The looming question is whether the 200 or 400 record will fall first?
By Jay Hicks.
July 4, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
A pin drop could have been heard before the gun went off in the men’s 400-meters. At this point, everyone knows that LaShawn Merritt (44.00) beat Jeremy Wariner (44.20) in the head-to-head match up. After the race, I had a chance to speak about the race with track legend Michael Johnson, who is also Jeremy Wariner’s agent.
MJ said that LaShawn Merritt is a beast and a force to be reckoned with in the 400-meters. He seemed to alude to the fact that being on top means beating challengers as they arise. The current 400-meter world recorder holder also said that at this point and up to this point, Jeremy is the better 400-meter runner. He thought the race strategy in which Jeremy did not get out was the issue in the race tonight.
Simply put: Jeremy has to put his race together in order to win because Merritt did not run a time that Wariner is incapable of running.
After her race, Sanya Richards was estatic about winning and qualifying for the Olympic team. You got the impression that placing fourth at the U.S. nationals last year is something that she has thought a lot about since that race. As we predicted, Mary Wineberg made the team, and veteran Dee Dee Trotter pulled out her mojo, even with an injured knee to make the team.
It was a great night for track and field.
By Jay Hicks.
May 13, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
- Carl Lewis - “Never Underestimate Greatness”
- Mary Decker Slaney - “Tripped Up”
- Pro Track & Field in the United States - “Lost In Translation”
- Dan O’Brien - “Height of Expectations”
- Michael Johnson vs. Donovan Bailey - 150-Meter “Showdown”
- Dave Bedford - “Failure to Launch”
The U.S. missed an opportunity to win the 4×100 relay at the 1996 Atlanta Games when they left Carl Lewis off the race. Love him or hate him, Carl Lewis is arguably the greatest 4×100 anchor ever—even at 35 with gray hair and ancient legs. A victory could have been accomplished by moving Dennis Mitchell – one of the best third legs in the game, to his natural leg instead of the anchor leg. Instead, TEAM USA was run off the track by Canada in the finals. There is little doubt that the addition of Lewis to the team would have made a difference in the race results.
The lesson? Faced with do or die—always give greatness a try.
Going into the 1984 Los Angeles Games, Mary Decker Slaney – who held seven American records at the time – was widely considered a shoe-in to medal in the 3,000 meters. Halfway through the race, Slaney tripped when her legs got tangled with those of her main rival, Zola Budd of South Africa. While Budd recovered to come in seventh, Decker sat in the infield in pain and disbelief.
The highly anticipated start of the 1997 professional track and field season did not bring any answers, or even a new, improved professional product to United States fans. Instead, there were actually fewer meets and reduced media coverage for the season’s meets. Somehow, some way, track had failed to capitalize on the golden opportunity to grow professional track in this country after hosting two Olympic Games on U.S. soil in a twelve-year period.
Before the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Reebok pumped some $25 million into an advertising campaign involving decathletes Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson. Dan promptly missed the opening pole vault height and failed to qualify for Barcelona. Dave made it to Barcelona, but only managed a third-place finish. What a let down for so many viewers.
Michael Johnson, the Olympic champ in the 200m and 400m from the 1996 Games, and Donovan Bailey, the 100-meter champion, had to settle the world’s fastest man controversy. After months of hype for the showdown at 150-meters in Toronto’s Skydome, the payoff never came. Seconds after it started, the race was over. Michael Johnson pulled up hurt after coming out of the turn. It’s a terrible way to end a race. It was arguably the biggest disappointment since Dan vs. Dave.
At the 1972 Munich Games, Dave Bedford of Great Britain was one of the most feared long distance runners. He ran a disappointing 5000-meter race, but had a chance to redeem himself in the 10,000. Bedford seemed to have the race set up for him when it settled into a slow, tactical contest. After four laps, when he was due to move ahead, Bedford seemed weighed down by expectation. He lost heart and finished at the back in the pack.
February 21, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Guest blog leads to a deeper question.
From: SpeedEndurance.com and guest writer, Jay Hicks.
I wrote my first guest blog with byline at SpeedEndurance.com, “The NFL’s top candidates are hoping track legend, Michael Johnson’s sprinting wisdom brushes off on them. Two of the draft’s top running backs, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, are in a six-week training program for the scouting combine at the Michael Johnson Performance Center (MJPC) in McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas.”
The post is a must-read about the five-time Olympic sprint champ’s $20 million training facility for youth athletes, elite athletes, and professionals. Johnson also plans to host elite meets at the facility’s outdoor track.
Seriously, how long will it take the Dallas area native Jeremy Wariner to begin training part-time at MJ’s new spot once the outdoor track is complete? PRJ has recently learned that J Dub has purchased a home in Craig Ranch in McKinney, the same development where the MJPC resides.
Tensions must be sky high at the Baylor track since Jeremy Wariner split with Coach Clyde Hart and decided to train with Baylor assistant coach Michael Ford.
I’m not saying…