ATHLETE OF THE WEEK : Watts Accelerates His Rate of Progress and Sets Personal Bests in 100- and 200-Meter Sprints

For most elite sprinters, improvement in the 100 meters is measured in hundredths of seconds, not tenths. Consequently, many spectators at Saturday's Pepsi Invitational at UCLA were surprised when Taft junior Quincy Watts lowered his personal best by .15 seconds in the 100, placing seventh in 10.36.

That clocking is the fastest high school time in the nation this season and ties Watts for 19th on the all-time high school list. But it didn't surprise Watts' personal coach, Nick Newton.

"He's never had anyone to push him before," Newton said Monday. "We knew he was ready. He ran 10.51 at Arcadia and no one was within two-tenths of him. At Mt. SAC he ran 10.52 with a hurt back so we thought he was capable of a big one."

After the 100, Watts and Newton set their sight on a 20.5 time in the 200. They were happy when Watts placed second but disappointed with the time, only 20.87--another personal best and the top state mark this season.

"I felt more confident in the 200," Watts said. "Before the 100 I was very nervous and I had the jitters. But the race got rid of those and I was relaxed before the 200."

"We were a little disappointed with the time in the deuce," Newton admitted. "We were shooting for a 20.4 or a 20.5."

Newton said that Watts might have been denied a faster clocking in the 200 because of the Accutrack timer, which malfunctioned several times during Saturday's meet.

"It didn't look like Quincy was a half-second behind Henry Thomas (20.37)," Newton said. "He looked like he was only two or three tenths behind him."

Said Watts: "The 100 felt good, but the 200 felt better. It felt faster."

Not that the 6-3, 197-pound Watts is worried.

"I think I can break my 200 time in the upcoming meets," he said. "I'm not sure about the 100 but I'm really going to try in the 200."

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