EUGENE, Ore. - Coming off the final turn in Monday's 400-meter dash semifinal, Tampa's Calvin Smith II realized he was sitting in fifth place, out of the money if he wanted to run in Thursday's Olympic Track and Field Trials final.
Realizing what was at stake - the eight finalists are considered for the U.S. Olympic relay pool in the 4x400 and the top three automatically make the team in the 400 - the Freedom High graduate and University of Florida sophomore did what he does best: kicked in as hard as he could.
"I just had to power all the way though, and I came in third," he said. "It feels good to make the final; can't wait. I'm just going to go out there and better run my race the next time."
With two rest days to look forward to, Smith said he's viewing Thursday's final as just another race - but he admits he's scared.
"I'm always scared every race I run," Smith said. "But I figure if you're not scared, you shouldn't be out here running."
Before the race, Smith's father, Calvin Smith, a former Olympic medalist, world champion and former world record holder at 100 meters, gave his son some simple advice.
"I just told him to go out and do it, don't worry about the past," Calvin Smith said. "I told him he had to stay in the race and don't let them get away like Sunday night."
In the women's 400 semifinals, St. Petersburg's Ashlee Kidd, a Georgia Tech graduate, improved her time but her 52.37 was only good for 7th place in her heat, not enough to make the final.
SWIMMING: Clearwater's Robert Margalis got back in the pool and shook off the disappointment of finishing third in Sunday night's finals of the 400-meter individual medley by turning in a lifetime best in the 200 freestyle.
No, Margalis' time of 1 minute, 41.31 seconds wasn't good enough to make Monday night's semifinals in the event, but a personal record is always a good thing to swim after you have just missed making the Olympic team by one place. Also swimming the prelims in the 200 free was Clearwater's Grant Johnson, who was 44th in 1:51.67.
Tampa Prep graduate Chelsea Nauta, a freshman at Georgia, also had a good showing in Monday's prelims. She took 23rd in the 400 free with her personal best time of 4:15.14. Another local athlete competing Monday was Academy of the Holy Names product Kelley Hug, who was 52nd in the 100 backstroke at 1:03:50.
Also in that event was St. Petersburg Northeast's Megan Romano, who is trying to overcome the effects of mononucleosis. Despite still suffering from some lethargy, she started her trials campaign with 55th place in 1:03.60.
A total of 121 swimmers competed in the women's 100 backstroke, including Natalie Coughlin and Hayley McGregory. In one heat, McGregory broke Coughlin's world record with her time of 59.15. In the next heat, Coughlin got it back with her 59.03.
Meanwhile, Katie Hoff rallied to win the 400-meter freestyle just 24 hours after she set a world record in the 400 individual medley.