Hurdler headed to regionals

Damarius Carrol, affectionately known as “Dee,” has been running things on and off the track for his whole life.

He fell in love with the sport at the age of 14  and has not slowed down yet.

He was introduced to athletics in middle school, and his first experience with the sport was definitely a learning one.

“I was outside watching my middle school’s track team practice and I started picking on everyone I knew,” he said. ” I really didn’t have anything else to do and when the coach caught me, he told me to shut my mouth and come try it since I was talking trash. I went over and ran, and I have been running ever since.”  

Carrol, a 22-year-old junior from Tallahassee, specializes in the 110m and 400m hurdles runner.

He likes the challenges track poses. It means proving yourself every day.

“Track is an individual sport,” he said. ” In other sports like basketball or football, you have teammates to help out if you mess up, but in track, it’s you and that other person. You’re running against a clock. It’s like drag racing, where you try to get from point A to point B the fastest you possibly can.”

But even as the track athlete races against the clock, those exertions take a big toll on the body.

Carrol said he does not like all of the injuries associated with running track.

“On any given day you can pull your hamstring, quadriceps, etc.,” he said.

In order to avoid those injuries, he trains five times a week. His hard, well organized training sessions are just part of making sure he is 100 percent prepared for every competition.

“I try to get as focused as I can before every meet,” he said. ” My training partner and I do our best to get into our own world not thinking about anything else but what we need to do in our races.”

That kind of intense preparation before competing seems to be working in his favor.

Carrol has been winning titles and awards for track since in middle school.

He said he won the city competition in middle school, third and eighth place in the Florida High School Athletic Association 2A state meet, ninth at the Amateur Athletic Union.

He also won at the AAU summer sunshine games. 

At Godby High School, he helped his team win the state competition two consecutive years.

After his early success in middle and high school, competing at the college level has been tough.

“In college everybody is good; everybody wants,” Carrol said. “In high school some people were mediocre and they did just for fun compared to college, where runners are much more passionate.”

With two more years of athletic eligibility left, he has definite goals for the rest of  FAMU track career.

“This year, I want to run something in the 13-second range in my event,” he said. ” I also want to try and place in the top three at conference to help our team gain points.”

The FAMU men’s track team has an upcoming meet this weekend against Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.

This spring, Carrol plans to race at East Regional at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C. , a meet featuring the best college track athletes from the coming up where he has to compete against every school in the Eastern region of the United States.

He said if he places in the top five, he will then move forward to the national competition.
“Just thinking about it, “gives me goose bumps,” he said.

Although track is an individual sport and personal glory, Carrol  is loyal to his teammates.   

“We have a great team with a lot of strengths,” he said. “It’s just the fact that we are plagued with misfortunes like injuries and other things that hurt us.”

Those  difficulties and setbacks give the team members a strong bond.

Teammate Bryan Turner,19, a sophomore pharmacy student from Gainesville, has known Carrol for about a year and admires his work ethic.

“He goes hard in everything he does,” said Turner, a high jumper. “He puts forth all his effort when he’s on the track.”

Carl McKenzie, 21, of Atlanta, agrees.

“He is very dedicated and focused,” the senior criminal justice student said. “He really is a great companion on the track. He is very kindhearted and he pushes me at practice.”

McKenzie said they have a friendly rivalry but always support each other.

“We always give each other tips on running the hurdles and about track,” he said.

Carrol also said he has thought about running professionally after college, but that isn’t his main objective. 

He is studying criminal justice with a minor concentration in sociology.

“Hopefully, I can become a criminal case lawyer, or maybe even a coach myself in the future,” he said.

Either way, the things he has been taught can only benefit him later in life. 

The knowledge he has gained can be applied to real life situations as well as circumstances on the track.

He said his AAU coach taught him to fear no one who may be faster than him. The coaches told him to never worry about people talking badly about his race. Winning requires a single-minded attitude.

“My (FAMU) coach tells me to focus on my lane and only my lane,” he said.  “He tells me to never worry about time because that will come. He tells me to be smooth and have a clean race.”