A former Morgan City High School track standout was part of a relay team that posted the second fastest 4x400 meter relay time this year this past weekend at the Tyson Invitational Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark.
Vernon Norwood of Morgan City, along with teammates, Tyler Harper, Alistair Moona and Bralon Taplin recorded a time of 3:05.16, good enough for second place behind the University of Arkansas (3:03.76) and ahead of third place LSU (3:05.41).
Norwood ran the third leg in 46.45 seconds.
The squad’s time just missed the school and National Junior College Athletic Association indoors national records in the collegiate invitational.
The NJCAA record was recorded by SPC’s 4x400 relay team at the Tyson Invitation in 2011 when it recorded a 3:05.14 mark.
Norwood was one of three freshman running on the relay team, which also included a sophomore.
“It was just a great effort by the guys,” South Plains associate head track and field coach Blaine Wiley said in a university news article. “For three freshmen and one sophomore to come out and run against the two best teams in Division I and end up second and narrowly miss a school and national record is just a great way to cap a meet.”
The squad’s performance was broadcast Sunday on tape delay on ESPN 2.
“It was a great feeling to know that the race was going to be on ESPN (2), because I know a lot of my family, friends, teachers, and coaches back home wanted to see how I (progressed),” Norwood said. “I know it’s a great feeling for a person to say ‘wow, I taught that kid,’ or I (coached) him or even say ‘man, look at my friend running on ESPN.’”
The mark was more than two seconds better than the squad’s previous best for this indoor season.
Before Saturday’s race, Norwood said it was so loud that “I couldn’t hear myself think and focus. I’m running with the two best teams in NCAA, but I didn’t let it intimidate me to do my best.”
However, Norwood had other motivation, too.
On Friday, he tripped in the 400 meter run.
“I think I ran a really great leg to close the gap between us and LSU, and having the second fastest time in the country in the 4x4 is just a motivation to remain hungry and continue to work hard throughout the season,” Norwood said. “I felt really good after the race, running against my future school (LSU) and beating them and really amazed that three freshmen and one sophomore competed and put a time up there like that. But we just wanted to go out and compete with the best and let them know we (are) young, but we work twice as hard. It was a blessing.”
Entering the matchup, the University of Arkansas had the top NCAA time (3:06.03) and LSU had the second best mark (3:06.11).
The South Plains College track squads will compete this coming weekend when they host a small field of teams Saturday at the Texan Track and Field complex in Levelland.