Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FSU track and field

FSU sprinter Dix excels in classroom, too

Walter Dix passed up big bucks to return for his senior year.

Walter Dix passed up big bucks to return for his senior year.

Florida State's Walter Dix could have taken the money and run.

After leading the Seminoles to a second straight NCAA outdoor track and field championship in June 2007 with a dazzling display not seen at that meet in a generation, he received lucrative offers to turn professional.

But the star sprinter wasn't in a hurry.

He was determined to earn his degree before dollars.

"People thought it was dumb, but I never paid attention to it," Dix said of his decision to turn down multimillion-dollar deals and return for his senior year. "I didn't come to school to just be a track and field athlete."

He knows that running will only carry him so far, so long.

"His mother (Plinnie) is a chemistry and biology teacher at Monarch High, and I'm an assistant principal here (at New River Middle School in Fort Lauderdale)," said his father, Washington. "Education is at the forefront of what we do."

Since April, Dix's degree in social science has been in hand.

This week, the chance to help FSU three-peat is within his grasp.

He and his teammates left Monday for Des Moines, Iowa, and the NCAA meet, which begins Wednesday. Dix, 22, is scheduled to compete in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, races he won last year, races that could be a springboard for him at the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials.

"I'm really happy for Walter," FSU coach Bob Braman said. "It's working out well for the team, obviously, but more than anything, it's all working out well for him."

And it didn't seem like it would.

At least, athletically.

Dix came down with strep throat and missed the indoor championship meet in March, and then his outdoor season seemed like a false start when he strained his left hamstring in April. Second-guessing himself about his decision? Nope.

"I leave the past where it's supposed to be — in the past," he said.

Instead, he looked ahead. Not to the NCAA meet, which didn't seem all that feasible, but the Olympic Trials. That's where he would re-establish himself, Dix told himself.

"Last year, I was the hot man of 9.93 (in the 100 at the championship meet) and 19.69 (in the 200 at the East Region), and this year I was injured and there's (other) names being thrown out there," he said. "I'm kind of like the forgotten man. All it did was make me even hungrier."

Once he recovered a few weeks ago, Dix and the FSU coaches figured the NCAA could provide the ideal prep for the trials in late June and early July. Despite some rust, he easily won the 200 at the NCAA East Region in 20.10, the best in the NCAA this year and fourth fastest in the world. He also ran a solid third in the 100 in 10.21.

"I think I'm as ready as I'm going to be for the championships," Dix said. "The hamstring's not any issue anymore."

For him, his goals would be a win in the 200 and in the 100 with what would be considered an upset of Richard Thompson (a 9.93 qualifying time) of pre-meet favorite LSU.

"He's supremely confident in his own abilities, but he's a very humble person at the same time, which is something I greatly admire," said senior Rayon Taylor, the defending triple jump champion. "What you'll see from him is his best effort for the team. And I'm excited to watch him run."

But no matter what happens this week and at the trials, Dix will tell you proudly that he has already hit the tape in a big way.

"I've got my degree. That was the big accomplishment of my college career, and I don't think any record I could break could amount to the importance of getting the degree," he said. "It's definitely more special for me to say I'm an FSU graduate (than an All-American), but to be both is something special."

Brian Landman can be reached at or (813) 226-3347.

FSU sprinter Dix excels in classroom, too 06/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 1:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. My AP Top 25 ballot: FSU out, USF, Florida Gators back in


    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher still thinks he can have a good team, as I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times. Maybe he's right.

  2. Road to Atlanta, Week 4



    Central Florida defensive lineman Tony Guerad (93) gestures in front of teammate Jamiyus Pittman, right, and Maryland offensive lineman Damian Prince, left, after tackling Maryland running back Ty Johnson and forcing a punt on fourth down in the first half of an NCAA college football game in College Park, Md., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) MDPS104
  3. Trump tweets and NFL response escalate drama of Sunday games


    The owners of the Baltimore Ravens, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and other teams on Sunday joined a chorus of NFL executives criticizing President Donald Trump's suggestion that they fire players who kneel for the national anthem.

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  4. New Rowdie Hunter Gorskie nets game's lone goal


    ST. PETERSBURG — Hunter Gorskie enjoyed a smashing Tampa Bay debut, scoring the lone goal and getting in one of many crucial second-half clearances as the Rowdies held off visiting Charlotte 1-0 before an announced 7,786 at Al Lang Stadium.

    The Tampa Bay Rowdies Hunter Gorskie (27) celebrates a first half goal against the Charlotte Independence at Al Lang Field Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 in St. Petersburg. Photo by Matt May/Tampa Bay Rowdies
  5. Mikhail Sergachev learning when to keep it simple


    Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev tried to carry the puck through the middle in front of his net Friday night against Nashville.

    Mikhail Sergachev has to show he can make the right decisions, even if it's the boring one.