Phillips focused on 800m


Published: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 6:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 6:18 p.m.

Walking into the O’Connell Center last Saturday with a Gatorade in hand, Carlos Phillips had only one thing on his mind: “Just win.”

Florida’s senior track star wasn’t thinking about running on the O’Dome track for the last time at the second annual Tom Jones Memorial Invitational. He didn’t think about hearing the last rumble of the home crowd’s roar. He only concentrated on capturing the events he was in.

“I just wanted a good time in the 800 (meter) that would lead me into the rest of the season,” Phillips said. “I try not to think about it too much (competing indoors at home for the last time). I don’t want to reminisce because you live in the future, don’t live in the past too much, don’t dwell on the past. I always hope for something better, something new in the future.”

To UF coach Mike Holloway, there was no surprise when he saw one of his team captains walking around with a spring in his step before and after the meet. Holloway said Phillips is not only one of his most focused runners but he’s also extremely loose.

“I wasn’t at all surprised when I saw him today,” Holloway said of Phillips. “That’s just Carlos being Carlos.”

This wasn’t the case a few years ago when Phillips reported to Gainesville as a scrawny former high school track star with loads of potential. He barely nudged the scale at 155 pounds. While talented, he was a work in progress.

Phillips said he came to UF with a goal of becoming one of the top runners in the country both indoors and outdoors. Over the past four years, Phillips has excelled at both. He currently stands fourth in Gator history with an indoor 800m time of 1:47.89 he set at the 2008 Iowa State Classic in Ames, Iowa. Last Saturday, he ran an impressive time of 1:49.86, good enough to earn him an NCAA provisional-qualifying mark for 2009.

“He’s just gotten better and better,” Holloway said. “Now, he’s one of the four or five guys in the country in the 800.”

There’s no doubt that Phillips’ best event is the 800m, but his coach – and teammates – get most of the excitement from watching him in the 4x400m relay. It’s something the Gators pride themselves on and something Holloway said he enjoys most when his senior is in.

“I love Carlos on the relay because he’ll never let his teammates down,” he said. “He’s got a lot of strength and he goes and puts his heart and soul on the line when he runs that relay.”

The 2009 indoor season is something Phillips said he wants to finish with a “big bang.” His goal is to shed couple seconds off his 800m time, capture an Southeastern Conference title and help some of the younger athletes on the team improve their game as well.

His goals are no doubt lofty, but Phillips is confident that if he can stay focused on what he wants, there’s no doubt in his mind that he will achieve what he wants this season.

“If I want something I’ll work hard for it,” he said, “and I’ll work hard for it (this season).”

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