John Teeters is returning to the place where he set the fastest time in the NCAA this year and he’ll be going there seeking a national title.
Teeters, an Oklahoma State junior from Edmond, clocked a blistering 6.52 seconds in the 60-meter dash exactly one month ago. Teeters and the OSU indoor track and field teams return to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for the NCAA Championships this weekend. The meet begins Friday and both OSU teams are aiming to finish among the nation’s best.
“I think if they do what they’ve done all year, then we’re going to be in contention,” OSU coach Dave Smith said. “If you can score in all of those events, then you’ll be in contention for a top-10 spot. We’ve been top 10 two years in a row on the boys side. Two years ago, we were eighth and last year we were sixth. We’d like to improve upon that, but it will take some big-time performances from some big-time athletes.”
Teeters has garnered the most attention of any OSU athlete as he enters the meet with the fastest 60-meter time this year. His 6.52 finish ranks as the third-fastest in the world this year – second best in the U.S.
Teeters will race in the 60-meter semifinals at 7:35 p.m. Friday. If he qualifies, the finals will be at 7:10 p.m. Saturday.
“I’m excited, but a little anxious,” Teeters said. “I’m focused and my mindset is ready. I didn’t get the results I wanted at the Big 12 meet, so that kind of stuff just fuels me. I’m more focused and hungry. My main goal is to better myself every race. For me, I just want to improve for myself.”
Smith said Teeters has a shot at winning the national title, but so do several other runners. He hopes the familiarity of the Arkansas track will benefit Teeters.
“It’s almost like a home away from home for us,” Smith said. “It’s just a drive down the road. There is a certain comfort and calm that comes from having a certain familiarity.”
Teeters set the school record in Fayetteville Feb. 13 at the Tyson Invitational. He followed that time up with a 6.54 in the semifinals, but elected not to race the finals of the meet.
“I was happy to PR, because every one-hundredth of a second is big time,” Teeters said. “Coming into that meet, I was thinking 6.51 to 6.49 – my coach and I have been talking about running that time. To hit 6.52 was bittersweet because I knew I could have hit 6.51 or 6.5. There were a couple of things we looked at – mechanical things or small things that I didn’t perfectly execute.”
Smith admitted he was quite surprised when Teeters dropped his time to 6.52 seconds.
“I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a surprise,” Smith said of Teeters breaking the record a second time. “For anybody to run that fast is surprising. For Teeters, who has worked his tail off and come a long way in a year and a half, it was a big drop for him.”
His 6.52 race came less than one month after he set the school record in Lincoln, Nebraska. Teeters ran 6.54 at the Holiday Inn Invitational Jan. 16, setting a new OSU record. He shattered his previous personal record of 6.69.
“I went crazy,” Teeters said. “You visualize 6.5 all year and you have to tell yourself it’s going to happen. When it does come and it came quick, then you have to be hyped. I was clapping everywhere and gave a little yell. I kind of blacked out and don’t exactly remember.”
Teeters has taken more than three-tenths of a second off his personal-best, 6.83, his freshman season, which he ran while competing for Tulsa. After his freshman year, Teeters transferred to OSU.
He said the environment at Tulsa was one big reason he came to OSU. He enjoys experiencing something different every day and he didn’t believe Tulsa offered him that opportunity. Another big reason was the cost of attending Tulsa. Teeters said walking-on at OSU was more cost-friendly than attending Tulsa on a track scholarship.
“Obviously, it’s been awesome,” Teeters said of his year and a half in Stillwater. “From a track standpoint, it’s the best decision I could have ever made. From a growing standpoint, it’s the best decision I could make. For me, there’s more opportunity. Every day, I walk past new faces and see new things, where Tulsa it was the same old, same old. It’s like a big high school. Some people need that to grow, but for me, I need everything to be a new experience.”
The Oklahoma State junior sprinter will try capping his indoor season with a national title this weekend, as he enters the meet as one of the favorites to win the 60-meter dash.
“I’m anxious,” Teeters said. “It’s a very thin line between being anxious, excited and nervous. I’m not worried about doing bad. I just give it my best. When you focus on improving yourself and running yourself, it tends to help you ease your mind. When you start trying to beat people, you start losing your ground and foundation that you’ve built up all year.”