Cherry earns her spot on Team USA
Leto High and University of South Florida product Damu Cherry earned a berth in the world championships after finishing third in Sunday's final of the women's 100-meter hurdles at the USA Track and Field Outdoor National Championships in Eugene, Ore. It wasn't Cherry's best start of the season, but she finished strong over the last two hurdles and overtook former Michigan star Tiffany Ofili in the final 20 meters for third place - the final spot that advances to the IAAF World Championships, Aug. 15-23 in Berlin, Germany. Cherry, fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, covered the 100 meters and 10 barriers in a wind-aided time of 12.58 seconds. Taking first place was 2008 Olympic Games champion Dawn Harper, who produced one of her best starts ever to finish in a lifetime-best and 2009 season world-leader 12.36 for all conditions. Two-time outdoor champion Virginia Powell was second in 12.47, the No. 2 mark of the year."For the final, I was really nervous because I was a little tired," Cherry said. "Today was my sister's Donnette McCloud birthday and this was for her. I just stayed focused on my lane and ran my own race and I'm just pleased to be on this U.S. team." Also Sunday, former Freedom High standout Calvin Smith II, a University of Florida junior, accepted his spot on the Team USA world squad. Saturday, Smith finished sixth in the final of the men's 400, which earned him a place in the 4x400 relay pool. Initially, Smith was unsure if he would take his place on the team due to the uncertainty of whether he would run any rounds of the relay in Berlin. After talking it over with his father, former Olympian and world record holder Calvin Smith, and his Gators coach, Mike Holloway, Smith decided to accept the roster position. "You never know when you'll get another chance like this again," said Smith, who went to the 2008 Olympics as an alternate. "It'll give me something to do this summer and help me stay in shape."
Reporter Bill Ward can be reached at (813) 259-7456.