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AU's Stewart going for title
Sprinter came to school
after 2004 Olympics

AUBURN (AP) — When Kerron Stewart runs, she tries to do it with "grace and dignity," not just world-class speed.

The formula has worked for the Auburn sprinter, among the world's fastest women and hoping to cement her status as the greatest female track athlete in school history at this week's NCAA championships in Sacramento, Calif.

Stewart has posted the second- and third-fastest times in the world this year in the 200 meters.

She has clocked three of the top seven 100-meter times, including the fastest among college competitors.

"I approach track and field differently from maybe a lot of athletes," the Jamaican sprinter told the Mobile Press-Register in a story Sunday. "I take it seriously. This is my job. I'm doing it because I love it. Whenever I step on the track, I want to run with grace and dignity and perform at my best at all times."

Stewart didn't start running until she was 14, but she quickly started routinely beating some of her friends who ran track.

"I called the coach and said I could really beat them, and that's how I joined the team," he said.

Auburn assistant coach and native Bahamian Henry Rolle first saw Stewart at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, where she was an alternate for the 400 relay team. He eventually recruited her to Auburn.

"She didn't get to run, but I thought it was pretty impressive to be in high school and make the Olympic team. I've always tracked her," Rolle said. "We had a lot of rapport, but she obviously had a lot of choices. She felt that sticking with me was the best choice, and it's worked out for both of us."

Stewart made a brief stop at Essex County Community College before moving on to Auburn.

Last year, she finished second in both the 100 and 200 meters at the NCAA Championships and anchored Auburn's fifth-place 1,600-meter relay team. Stewart helped the Tigers win their first national championship.

Now, she's hungry for an individual title also, after winning two titles at the NCAA indoor championships.

"It was a bittersweet moment because I didn't win my individual races, but we won a team title, and to me that was the most important thing," she said.

"I'm not going back for revenge, but I think it's only fair for me to be training so hard to just go there and just compete at my best."

Stewart, who will turn pro after her college career wraps up, has bigger ambitions than just winning. She wants records.

She posted the second-fastest time in the world this year in the 200 with a 22.41 at last week's NCAA Mideast Regional. She skipped the 100, and will focus on trying to win the 200 in Sacramento.

"(The goal) is not only winning at NCAAs, but breaking a record," Stewart said. "I need one of those records so bad, because I've been training for that all year. I just want to finish in style. Something that people can say, 'You know what? She was one of the best collegiate female athletes I've ever seen."'

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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