March 12, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Senior Dominic Berger will represent the University of Maryland this weekend when he participates Friday in the men's 60-meter hurdles event at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships hosted by the University of Arkansas.
Berger, a three-time All-American from Mitchellville, Md., has qualified 11th in the 16-man field for the hurdle event. He improved his provisional-qualifying mark last week in the semifinals of the IC4A Indoor Championships, running a Boston University-facility record 7.25 in the 55-meter hurdles and matching his career-best at that distance.
Applying the NCAA's conversion formula, the mark translates to a 7.78 in the 60-meter hurdles. Senior Jangy Addy of Tennessee is the top seed in the event at 7.67, with Ty Akins of Auburn at 7.68 and Drew Brunson of Florida State, who ended Berger's two-year run of Atlantic Coast Conference titles at last month's ACC Indoor, in third at the 7.69 mark he used to win the league title. Berger was second at the ACC meet this year at 7.83.
The trip to a national championship is Berger's fifth straight counting both indoor and outdoor nationals. The experience of competing at that level is something that will be a strong asset, according to Maryland's hurdles coach Frank Costello, himself a member of the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame.
"It definitely helps to have been there," said Costello, who was a national-champion high jumper for the Terps in the 1960s and was head coach of the Terrapins when world-record hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah was at Maryland. "But most of the people he's competing against have also been there before."
Costello feels good that Berger's best marks of the season have come at the right time.
"He's peaking at the right time," said Costello. "We made a few changes in his technique and he had some trouble catching on to it. In the middle of the season he was behind schedule a bit, but he ran OK at the ACC meet. Last week, we had some good practices and he ran well in Boston.
"Dominic is a student of the game," Costello added of his strongest asset. "He does his homework and studies it. He looks at films a lot."
At the 2006 NCAA Indoor, Berger became the first Terrapin male to earn All-America status since 1987 when he placed fifth in the 60-meter hurdles. He finished third in the 60 hurdles at last year's indoor nationals, earning All-America honors each time by virtue of his top-eight finish.
Berger was an All-American outdoors in the 110-meter hurdles in 2006, finishing second. His 13.49 outdoors at that meet is second only in school history to the 13.00 posted by Nehemiah in 1979 that still stands as the U.S. collegiate record.
Live updates from the 2008 NCAA Indoor Nationals will be available at this link