LEVELLAND—For some athletes, junior college is a second chance.
For others, an only chance.
Former Texan 400-meter specialist and current Texas A&M Aggie Fred Kerley falls under the latter. A former walk-on at South Plains College, Kerley ran for the Texans from 2013-2015 before transferring to College Station.
"Fred started at South Plains as a walk-on, and he had this family friend, or mentor you could say who kept telling me about this kid in Taylor, Texas," former South Plains assistant track and field coach Blaine Wiley said. "Fred showed up on campus in August and we started training hard. He came out to work every day and had a great attitude and wanted to be great. He was extremely driven and came to work every single day."
A native of Taylor, Texas, Kerley has made the most of his opportunity in Aggie Land, capturing the 2017 Men's Indoor National Championship in the 400 meters, clocking a time of 44.85 while also anchoring the Aggie's 4x400 national championship quartet.
Kerley one-upped himself at NCAA West Preliminary rounds at Myers Stadium on May 26 when he broke a 25-year-old collegiate record in the 400m with a time of 43.70 seconds. The previous record of 44.00 was set by USC's Quincy Watts during the 1992 NCAA Championships. Kerley's time ranks sixth best on the all-time U.S. list and seventh on the all-time world list.
"Right from the start we kind of figured out what we had," Wiley said. "Fred carried this can't lose attitude everywhere he went. He just had this attitude that he was going to be great, and evening if nobody else believed him, he did. That was one of the most important things that has led to his success, and it shows what the power of positive thinking can do for you and your mental preparation."
Kerley will get the opportunity to sweep the 400-meter titles when he takes to the track on Wednesday for the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Kerley is one of several former South Plains athletes who will compete at the NCAA championships, which include:
(Alabama) Steven Gayle – Men's 4x400
Antibahs Kosgei -Men's 10,000M
Jareem Richards – Men's 200M, 4x100, 4x400
Diamond Gause – Women's 4x100, 4x400
Domonique Williams – Women's 400M, 4x400
(Auburn) Odeen Skeen – Men's 100M, 4x100
(Arkansas) Gabe Moore – Decathlon
(Oklahoma State) Hassan Abdi - Men's 10,000M.
Coverage of the NCAA Championships begin Wednesday and will be available live on various ESPN outlets as well as the Watch ESPN app.
Coverage is as follows: Wednesday (6:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2), Thursday (6:30 p.m. on ESPN2), Friday (7:30 p.m. on ESPN), and Saturday (5:30 p.m. on ESPN).