Sunday, April 13, 2003

College Update


UC hurdler among world's best

By Ryan Ernst
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Two weeks ago at the Florida Relays, University of Cincinnati hurdler David Payne prepared to take his mark for the first time this season.

But before the Wyoming graduate could get in the blocks for the 110-meter hurdles, before the starter told the field to get set, Payne had to listen to the resumes of his competitors during the introductions. There were four All-Americans, countless conference titles, and track and school records.

Then came Payne's turn.

"They didn't say anything about me," he said. "But I like that. I like to be the one nobody knows about. I'm confident in myself. Once the gun goes off, none of those (accolades) matter."

Everyone knew Payne 13.65 seconds later. They knew him as the event's winner by more than 0.6 seconds. They knew him as the owner of what at that time was the fastest time in the world this season.

Payne, however, wasn't so sure.

"I looked up and saw the time and thought someone else had won," he said. "They came and gave me my award and I couldn't tell you anything they said. I was just trying to take it all in."

Why not? If you're David Payne, 13.65 doesn't happen all the time. His career best going into the Florida meet was 13.92, good enough for last year's Conference USA title.

And although the 13.65 is now the fifth-fastest time in the world - and will inevitably continue to drop as the season leaves its early stages - coach Bill Schnier said it proves his hurdler is capable of big things.

"I'll put it in perspective," he said. "Our school record is 13.60 by Wayne Mason in 1980. He was fifth in the Olympic trials, and the top three go to the Olympics. That was at the end of four years of collegiate running. David's run 13.65 at the beginning of his second year."

Technically, Payne is a junior. But due to his partial-qualifier status as a freshman, he was unable to participate in track. He has this year and next to add to last season's conference championship.

"We'd like to see him be an All-American," Schnier said. "We haven't had one in the hurdles since 1980. He also runs the 400 hurdles and anchors our 4-by-100 relay. So we'd also like to see him as a conference champion in more than one event."

And after that? Although his coach has labeled him "Olympic-caliber," the thought of running with the world's best still hasn't sunk into Payne's head.

"That's still far-fetched to me," he said. "If I ever ran in the Olympics, I don't think I would even believe it, even while it was happening. But I'm still hoping that's where this takes me because it's definitely one of my goals."

Other notables

• Dixie Heights grad Joe Bramlage averaged 12.5 points and 9.7 rebounds at Union College this season and was named Appalachian Athletic Conference freshman of the year.

• Amberly Klein, a freshman at San Jose State and an Ursuline graduate, won the balance beam title in the Mountain Pacific Conference.

• Miami first baseman Mike Ferris, a Colerain graduate, earned Mid-American Conference player of the week honors after going 8-for-16 with three home runs.

• Northern Kentucky softball players Stephanie Leimbach and Krystal Lewallen were named player and pitcher of the week, respectively, in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

• Notre Dame Academy graduate Kayla Hanser, a sophomore diver at Transylvania, repeated as an All-American by finishing third in both the 1- and 3-meter competitions at the NAIA Championships.

• Xavier tennis teammates Rob Simpson and Stephanie Bauer were named rookie and performer of the week, respectively, in the Atlantic 10.

E-mail rernst@enquirer.com




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