Wariner opens his track season at TCU with goal of staying healthy

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Jeremy Wariner nearly escaped unnoticed. Having finished his cooldown, Wariner was headed for the stands to see his family when a group of Texas State athletes asked him to pose for photos Friday.

Runners who finish 10th aren’t usually stars of meets, but Wariner’s past was so bright, he still wears shades.

It’s been 10 years since Wariner — known for his signature sunglasses — won gold in the 400 meters (44.0 seconds) and the 4x400 relay at the Olympics. The former Arlington Lamar and Baylor product is 30 now and still running. He maintains hopes of one more Olympics, though he is a realist.

“I’m going to play it year by year,” Wariner said. “If I can’t finish this season healthy, I’ve got to consider my options after that. But if I can finish healthy, and I can finish in the 44s, then, of course, I will keep going.”

Wariner opened his 2014 season at the TCU Invitational, finishing third in his heat and 10th overall in the 200 with a 20.95. He ran a 20.66 in the same meet in 2012 and a 20.71 in 2011.

“I give it a passing mark. I don’t think it’s where we want to be, but I don’t think it’s anything to be upset about,” Wariner’s coach, Clyde Hart, said. “He got in a 200 that will help his 400 down the road, but we’ve certainly got to get that 200 time back down, because there’s a relationship. But it will. It will get down.”

Wariner, who has three Olympic gold medals and a silver, has three of the 10 fastest times ever run in the 400. His personal-best 43.45 ranks fifth best all time.

But he hasn’t run under 45 seconds since 2011, and he has seen his past four seasons hampered by injuries. Besides requiring surgery on both knees in recent years, Wariner saw a left foot injury end his 2011 season and hamstring injuries hamper his 2010 and 2012 seasons, forcing him out of the 4x400 relay at the London Olympics.

So it’s not surprising his main goal for this season is to stay healthy.

“It’s been real frustrating,” said Wariner, whose schedule calls for him to run his first 400 at the Michael Johnson Invitational in Waco on April 19. “But you’ve got to deal with what you have. Fortunately, I had a great beginning of my career, and I was able to go for so many years, but it’s finally catching up to me. I had four months’ rest this year for the first time, so my body feels great. I don’t feel any nagging injuries.”

Former TCU runner Charles Silmon, who still trains at the school, won the 100 in 10.03 and had the fifth-best 200 Friday at 20.51.

“I just wanted to get in and get some work in,” said Silmon, who signed with Adidas last summer. “I’m still not used to being at the pro level yet. You don’t run as many meets, so I’ve got to be mentally tough for that. Once that gets going, things will start looking good and shaping up.”

TCU won eight events at its home meet: Sophomore Jordan Moore in the men’s 110 hurdles (13.72); senior Lavon Collins in the men’s 400 hurdles (53.56); junior Ramone Bailey in the men’s long jump (24-6 1/2); senior Briyanni Thomas in the women’s 400 (54.74); senior Patricia Terry in the women’s 1,500 (4:37.62); the women’s 4x100 of Iphona Paiement, Sabrina Moore, Veronica Jones and Lorraine Ugen (44.92); and junior Megan Smith in the women’s shot put (52-8 3/4) and the women’s discus (181-0).

“We had a lot of good things happen today,” TCU coach Darryl Anderson said. “To put it this way: We got a lot of regional qualifying marks out of the way today. For our first outdoor meet of the year, I thought we got a lot of things accomplished.”

UTA won four men’s events: Senior Craig Lautenslager in the 1,500 (4:03.37); junior Ryan Tilotta in the 3,000 (8:46.12); sophomore Roland Sales in the high jump (6-10 3/4); and junior Omar Barnes in the triple jump (46-7 1/2).

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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