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Track preview 2013 ... TMP's Deus no longer an unkown

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Thomas More Prep-Marian senior sprinter Rodney Deus isn't an unknown this season like he was last year.

Deus, who transferred to TMP in November 2011, is from Angola, and he hadn't competed in Kansas track and field until the spring of 2012.

Deus ended up top three in the 100- and 200-meter dash at state. He placed third in 10.94 seconds in the 100 and second in 23.10 seconds in the 200.

TMP track and field coach Matt Dumler said Deus will have a target on his back this weekend at the Class 3A state track and field championships at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.

"He kind of knows what to expect from the state meet," Dumler said. "He knows the way to run, the atmosphere he'll be running underneath, and he's seen some good competition this year. He's got a big target on his back, but he's ready for it and excited for it."

Deus enters state with the fastest 100-meter regional time, 10.72 seconds, and fastest 200-meter regional time, 22.05 seconds, but both were run with a tailwind.

He also qualified as a member of the 400-meter relay and 1,600-meter relay, both of which he anchors.

Salina-Sacred Heart senior Drew Diedrich, a four-time state champion, is considered by many to be the favorite in the 100 and 200. He won both in 3A last year with times of 10.77 seconds and 22.90 seconds as well as the 100 and 200 in 2A his sophomore year in 11.13 seconds and 22.26 seconds, respectively.

"I feel compared to him, I feel like the underdog, but I hope I do have a shot," Deus said.

Diedrich also has run the fastest 100 in the state this year at 10.5 seconds and fastest 200 in 3A at 21.8 seconds, according to Kansas track and field historian Carol Swenson, but both were hand timed. Deus' regional times were the fastest fully automatic times.

"Drew surprised me with some of his times, especially his (10.5)," Deus said. "When I saw that, I was in awe."

Deus will have added incentive to do well this season since his mother could be there. She planned to make the trip from Angola to see him run at the state meet and graduate Sunday at the high school.

Deus said it will be a special moment for him since it's the first time she has had the opportunity to see him run track.

"It's going to make it more exciting for sure," he said.

Deus said he's an entirely different type of sprinter than he was last year.

Last season, he said he struggled with his start, but he has spent plenty of time working on it this season.

"This year, I've kind of perfected it," he said.

However, Deus faces a loaded field. It's not just Diedrich. Seven sprinters are seeded with sub-11 regional times in the 100, and 10 were seeded with sub-23 regional times in the 200.

The 400 relay and 1,600 relay have outside shots of placing. The 400 relay is seeded eighth with a time of 44.79 seconds and 1,600 relay is seeded 15th in 3:38.42.

"My goal really is to do my best and try to get on the podium at least and try to get my whole team on the podium," Deus said.

Dumler said Deus is a special type of athlete. His explosiveness and competitiveness makes him dangerous in multiple events.

At the start of the year, his coaches tried him out in the long jump but didn't have time to perfect his mechanics, so they decided to put him on the 1,600 relay halfway through the season. At the regional, Deus, whose splits are typically in the 52s, got the baton in fifth place and managed to pass two other anchor legs.

"I think he could run 50 if he wanted to," Dumler said. "He is that type of kid. He can do whatever he wants."