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Teen sensation Clement eases to victory in 400 hurdles prelim

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Kerron Clement, in the final week of his brief but outstanding college career, eased to victory in his qualifying heat in the 400-meter hurdles Thursday at the NCAA track and field championships.

The 19-year-old Florida sophomore, defending champion in the event and holder of the world indoor 400 record, said he was running at 75 percent to conserve energy, but still was timed in 49.13 seconds, more than a second faster than the No. 2 qualifier.

Clement, who will turn professional after the meet, broke Michael Johnson's decade-old indoor 400 record at the NCAA championships in March. The hurdles is his preferred race, though.

''It is a challenge,'' he said, ''because you have to combine stamina and speed, and I have both.''

Born in Trinidad, Clement became a U.S. citizen a year ago. He plans to add the 200 and 400 to his outdoor repertoire next year. The hurdles, though, is his premier event, and he wants to mentioned someday in the same breath as American great Edwin Moses.

''I want to surpass that,'' Clement said with a smile. ''I want to make a name for myself `the great Kerron Clement.'''

Defending champion Wallace Spearmon coasted to victory in his first-round 200 heat, showing no sign of problems from a sore right knee that has bothered him recently.

The Arkansas sophomore, who broke the American 200 record at the NCAA indoors, got off to a slow start and shut down over the last 20 meters, but still had the fastest time of the qualifying round at 20.35 seconds.

Tyson Gay, Spearmon's Arkansas teammate, was second-fastest, winning his heat in 20.44. Gay is the defending NCAA 100 champion, but isn't in that event this week because of a false start that disqualified him in the Mideast Regional.

LSU freshman Xavier Carter, who beat Spearmon in the Southeastern Conference championships and the Mideast Regional, won his heat in 20.50. Florida State freshman Walter Dix, a favorite in the 100, qualified second in his heat at 20.70, behind Seth Amoo of Arizona State, who ran 20.62.

South Carolina freshman Shalonda Solomon was the fastest in the women's 200 qualifying at 23.0 seconds. Sheri-Ann Brooks was second at 23.09.

Wednesday night's rain gave way to sunshine in the second day of the four-day competition at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus, site of the last two U.S. Olympic trials.


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