Former Ram is ready to run

David Phillips (center) finished first in the 200 at the USC Trojan Invitational and his time of 20.51 qualified the Dixon High graduate for the Olympic Trials.

Heads shook in disbelief after David Phillips, Jr. won the 100-meter dash at the 2018 Sac-Joaquin Section Masters track championships. Who knew Dixon High School, which is know for its agricultural programs more than athletics, had the fastest runner in the section. Who knew the school even had black students.

Phillips is fairly certain he was one of just 10 black students to graduate in 2019 from Dixon High. The 23-year-old is also fairly confident he can name the other nine without checking his yearbook. And he will guess that five years ago there were 16 black students attending the school with an enrollment of nearly 1,100.

“It was crazy,” Phillips said. “There was such a small black population (in Dixon)”

Phillips tried to talk his parents into allowing him to transfer to another school, but they were hell-bent on their son staying put. He did not ask to go elsewhere because he felt uncomfortable at Dixon High. Phillips wanted to attend a school where he could find out if he had the potential to be an exceptional athlete.

His potential was on display for all to see at Elk Grove High in 2018 when the junior won the 100 and finished fourth in the 200 at the Masters meet. Phillips made a name of himself in a matter of seconds and left those in attendance wondering how they had never heard of the sprinter or even Dixon High for that matter.

David Phillips pulled a surprise in 2018 by winning the 100 at the section meet.

Hopefully those folks will be watching the. U.S. Olympic Trials on Thursday evening when Phillips runs in the 200 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The senior at Cal State Northridge eclipsed the qualifying time of 20.60 seconds for the Olympic trials by finishing first in a school-record time of 20.51 at the USC Trojan Invitational in March.

The record belonged to Phillips until June when junior Chase Mars ran a 20.25 to take third at the NCAA West Regional in Fayetteville, Ark. Phillips also ran in Fayetteville despite still nursing a torn hamstring. His time of 28.39 showed his right leg was far from healed.

“I was out of shape. I was suppose to be out for six weeks, but the trainers got me back in two weeks.”said Phillips, who also competed in the 100 and 4×100 relay at the West Regional. The relay team qualified for the NCAA Championships earlier this month in Eugene. Mars also qualified n the 200 and finished 19th in 20.59.

Mars and Phillips will be joined at the Olympic Trials by Trey Knight, who qualified in the hammer throw after setting a school record at 76.99 meters (252 feet, 7 inches) at the Mt. SAC Relays in April. The junior finished first at the Big West Conference meet and was named the conference’s Field Athlete of the Year.

Phillips is well aware of what he will face Thursday after being the 35th and last runner to make it in the 200. Noah Lyles won the 100 on Sunday and is the favorite in the 200 with a time of 19.47. He is one of seven men to crack 20 seconds in the 200 this year. Phillips will have to be at this best if he is to stand any chance.

Athletes in such a situation often play the “I’m just happy to be here” card, but Phillips in not in Eugene to get autographs from the best track and field athletes in the country. He will burst from the blocks because “anything can happen.” It did in 2018 when he astonished the crowd at the section meet by winning the 100.

When asked if he might be intimidated by Lyles and the like, Phillips responded as if the question touched a sore sport. “Not at all,” he said. “I’m 100 percent and I feel good. I just need to run a well-executed race. I’m confident going into this.”