KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Javelin thrower Dave Stephens came out of semi-retirement and picked up even better than he left off four years ago.

Stephens returned to competition Sunday in the Gatorade Track Classic at the University of Tennessee's Tom Black Track for the first time since the 1992 Olympic trials.

Stephens was a 1988 Olympian, but had a bad day in the '92 trials, failing to qualify for the U.S. team. He started a new career two weeks later and hadn't thrown in a meet again until Sunday.

There wasn't much rust on the 34-year-old who now calls Herndon, Va., home. He threw 249 feet, 1 inch on his third throw to meet the Olympic qualifying standard.

``I did what I wanted to do,'' he said.

Stephens said his poor performance in the '92 trials put him off the sport for a while, plus he felt it was time to move on in his life.

``It was a good point in my life to say `OK, reality check. What do I want to do?''' he said. ``I think I made the right decision.''

But he's still going to take one more shot at the Olympics.

Also Sunday, three-time NCAA champion Tim Harden posted a wind-aided time of 9.94 seconds to win the 100 meters.

Harden, a senior at Kentucky, already owns two NCAA 55-meter indoor and one 100-meter outdoor titles, which he will try to defend next month at the collegiate championships in Eugene, Ore.

``It's notoriously windy here,'' he said after running with a 4-meter-per-second wind at his back, twice the allowable limit for an official time. ``I was hoping to get a day where there wasn't very much wind, but I'm happy with the race. (That's) still a fast time in any condition.''

Harden noted that Ato Boldon of UCLA has run an official 100 meters under 10 seconds this year, and said, ``I predict it will probably be the fastest NCAA ever run, so I hope to put on a show in Eugene.''

Harden, who also anchored Kentucky's winning 4 x 100-meter relay on Sunday, said he initially had set a goal of trying to make the 2000 Olympic team, but is running so well he has pushed his timetable up.

``I've progressed pretty fast since I've gotten into college. I've started stepping it down to 1996,'' he said. ``If I don't make it, I won't be disappointed because I know I'm ahead of where I wanted to be anyway.''

The Gatorade was broken into three triangular meets in the men's competition.

In the women's team competition, South Carolina had 55 points, Clemson 39, Tennessee 36, Kentucky 28 and Iowa State 23.

South Carolina's Dawn Ellerbe was a double winner. She took the hammer throw with a toss of 195-4 and the discus with a throw of 163-3.

Former Tennessee star Jasmin Jones, running unattached, also was a double winner. She took the 800 meters in 2:02.68 and the 3,000 meters is 10:00.59.