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Baylor’s Couts Sets Track Record

March 11, 2000

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Brandon Couts, the Big 12 Conference champion from Baylor, smashed the collegiate 400-meter record Friday night, winning his preliminary heat in 45.60 seconds in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Couts’ time shattered the record of 45.66 by George Mason’s Greg Haughton in 1995. It also erased the meet record of 45.69 by Oklahoma’s Roxbert Martin in 1997.

In posting the second-fastest time in the world this year _ behind only U.S. champion James Davis’ 45.54 _ Couts led the advance into Saturday’s final.

``I’ve got to get a title under my belt,″ Couts said. ``The first year I lost on time″ when he won his heat but finished second in the two-heat final in 1998, ``and last year I just got beat″ as he finished sixth.

``Now I’m just trying to run fast.″

The defending 400 champion, Ato Modibo of Clemson, finished last in his heat and failed to advance.

Meanwhile, Texas’ Mark Boswell, last year’s NCAA indoor and outdoor champion in the men’s high jump, won his third collegiate title, clearing 7 feet, 7 3/4 inches, breaking his Canadian, school and Big 12 records of 7-6 1/2.

Boswell, the silver medalist in last year’s World Outdoor Championships and the Pan Am Games gold medalist, then took one jump at a collegiate record and 2000 world best of 7-10. After missing at that height, he passed his next two attempts.

``I just wanted to see where my timing was,″ Boswell said about stopping after the one jump at 7-10.

Until that point, he had tried four heights and cleared each on his first try.

Emotional Florence Ezeh of SMU saved her best for last, winning the women’s 20-pound weight throw on the final attempt.

The junior, who never had thrown the weight until she was a freshman, broke her stadium record by more than a foot with a heave of 69 feet, 11 1/2 inches.

``If I don’t get it, I break the stadium,″ the tearful, jubilant Ezeh said after her big throw enabled her to overtake UCLA’s Seilala Sua, who was leading at 69-0.

Ezeh, a native of Togo who came to the United States in 1997 on a track scholarship, said her first goal was to be the leader after the three preliminary throws, and she did that with a toss of 68-8 1/2. That made her the last thrower in the finals.

``Then my power started to diminish,″ Ezeh said, referring to her first two throws in the final, neither of which was as far as any of her preliminary tosses.

After Sua, the NCAA outdoor shot put and discus champion, got off her career-best throw in round five, Ezeh said, ``My power came back. I said I can’t be second again.″

Ezeh was runner-up to Purdue’s Toylinda Smith last year.

``I don’t think I’ve ever done better at such a high-level meet,″ she said.

At least not outdoors. Last year, Ezeh won the NCAA outdoor hammer throw title.

``Until that last throw ... I was scared ... the confidence wasn’t there,″ Ezeh said. ``Something in me was shaking.

``When Sua did it, I said that was a nightmare.″

The nightmare ended quickly.

``It’s like I’m dreaming,″ Ezeh said. ``Now, the weight is literally off my head.″

Wyoming’s Robin Lyons, the leading college thrower coming into the meet, finished third at 67-11 1/2.

The weight throw was the first of 14 finals contested Friday. It also was the only one not held at the new Randal Tyson Track Center. With no room at the new building for the weight event, the competition was held at Walker Indoor Pavilion, about a half-mile away.

The remaining 18 finals are Saturday.

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