By Matthew Girard
Killeen Daily Herald
The pressure of trying to win a NCAA title in his third and final trip to the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships is the last thing on exas Tech hurdler Marlon Odom's
"I feel really confident and really relaxed about it," said Odom, who will run in the first round of 110-meter hurdles today in Sacramento, Calif. "I know that if I run my race like I'm supposed to run, like I've been running my races, then I should come out on top."
The former Ellison graduate advanced to his third consecutive NCAA championships in the 110-meter hurdles by setting the Midwest Regional record with a time of 13.54 seconds May 26 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, after becoming the first male athlete to win three straight individual titles in the Big 12 Conference at the conference championships on May 13.
Odom, a three-time All-American selection, also had the fastest time of any of the regional qualifiers heading into today's preliminaries.
Odom said being the No. 1 seed in the event actually takes the pressure off of himself.
"I think it takes the pressure off of me because I think everybody else is chasing me," Odom said via cell phone. "They're worried about what I'm going to do and I can just focus on the track and not have to worry about anybody.
"I think it works if my favor because of the fact that I don't have to worry about anybody else and just focus on my race."
Odom will run in the first heat of the 110-meter hurdles alongside Alleyne Lett (LSU), John McDowell (Texas-Arlington), Derek Johnson (Drake), Robert Williams (Washington State), Thomas Mack (California), Dermillo Wise (Oklahoma), Juan Walker (Middle Tennessee State) and Logan Taylor (USC).
The semifinals will follow two hours after the preliminaries, with the finals of the being run on Friday.
Although Odom finished sixth in 2005 (13.69) and 2006 (13.70), he said his approach won't change much.
"My approach is not much different, it's just that I've grown to become a better hurdler," Odom said. "I've learned how to correct the mistakes that I had been making in the past. As long as I stay focused on each of my races I should be fine. I've always been aggressive and went after it."
Regardless of today's outcome, Odom said he is proud of what he's done while at Texas Tech.
"I feel like, what I've accomplished very few people will accomplish," Odom said. "Of course, you tend to think, Well this is my last meet as a collegiate athlete,' but then again I have so much to be happy for. I've accomplished so much in college."
Contact Matthew Girard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569