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July 17, 2002

Kingston, Jamaica – 3 + 2 = All Win Heat to Make Finals. South Carolina had three athletes and two signees in the four semi-finals tonight at the World Junior Championships and all five won their heats to advance to tomorrow’s finals in their respective events.

South Carolina rising sophomore and Marietta native Jon Fortenberry won his heat and advanced to the finals of the 400m at the World Junior Track and Field Championships tonight. He ran a time of 46.16, the second fastest time of the day.

“I feel good. I knew I had to get out. I knew the boy from Barbados (Wilan Louis) was going to get out so I knew I had to start well,” said Fortenberry, who attended Marietta High School. “I just needed a couple of races to warm up. We are here running for the USA so I knew that I had to make the finals. I got out good and then my breath went a bit. But I came back and won my heat. I knew that I had a better kick than the other guy.

Rising sophomore Lashinda Demus won her heat of the 400m hurdles with the top time of the day at 57.36 to advance to tomorrow’s finals. Demus has the world junior record at 54.85.

“You never know what will happen in the finals. I just want to run a good race,” said Demus. On her first 400m hurdles race in over a month: “I messed up on my steps and that’a a big deal for me. But as long as I got through the race, that’s cool with me. I will run faster tomorrow.”

Teammate Tiffany Ross, who has a strained hamstring, won heat of the 400m hurdles at 59.52.

“My leg was kind of hurting, but I came out here and sucked it up. I will be ready for the finals. My leg is a bit tight right now but I was just getting through it,” said Ross. “I will be ready for the finals.”

Demus and Ross went 1-2 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and 2-1 at the SEC Championships.

Signee Bershawn Jackson ran the fastest time of the day to win his heat of the 400m hurdles. Jackson put up a time of 50.78.

“I came out good, but I ended up having a bad race,” said Jackson. “I had a pretty good start but they ended up catching up with me because I had some bad luck. I was off step. I felt pretty good and I need to make sure I improve in the second half of the race. I have to pick it up in the finals.”

Jackson talked about how he and Ferguson talked about the race before: “We talked a whole lot about it. We wanted to make sure we got out real fast. We wanted to be the first one off the turn and make sure we won our heats so we could have middle lanes in the finals,” said Jackson.

Signee Kenneth Ferguson ran the second fastest time of the day to win his heat at 50.92.

“I wanted to run the first 200 hard. We both had trouble today – Bershawn and I, but we will do much better in the finals. I wanted to get out fast,” said Ferguson.

The finals will be held tomorrow night.