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Chamberlain product Locke, Wharton’s Obinwa advance to NCAA finals

Posted May 27, 2011 by Bill Ward

Updated May 27, 2011 at 07:31 PM

It certainly wasn’t his best looking race or his fastest, but former Chamberlain High sprint star Dentarius Locke finished third in his heat of the 100-meter dash at Friday’s NCAA East Regional at Indiana University to earn an automatic qualifying berth in next month’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Just minutes later on the same IU track, ex-Wharton middle distance standout Sean Obinwa of the University of Florida earned a spot in the NCAA championships with a third-place showing in his heat of the men’s 800.

The top three finishers in each of Friday’s quarterfinal heats, plus the next fastest three runners on time, advanced to the NCAA finals June 8-11 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Running into a slight headwind, Locke, a freshman at Tennessee, ran a time of 10.41 seconds. That was well off his wind-aided mark of 10.12 he posted after finishing second at this month’s Southeastern Conference Championships. The top qualifier from the East Regional was defending NCAA champion Jeff Demps of Florida, who ran 10.16.

Obinwa, a UF sophomore who only took up the 800 his senior year at Wharton, was in good position to advance most of his race. He split 400 meters in 53.9 and held second place, then, as the field powered down the final straight, finished strong to take third in 1:49.26.

Obinwa was the ninth-fastest runner in the 800 field. In his same heat, Gators sophomore teammate Dan Wehunt, a former Sickles distance star, took fifth in 1:50.28. Overall, Wehunt finished 15th, just three spots from making nationals.