DES MOINES, Iowa -- After tripping due to contact with another competitor, VMI's Felix Kitur finished fourth in his semifinal heat of the 800-meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, contested Wednesday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. With the time of 1:48.94, Kitur does not advance to Friday's final and his NCAA career comes to a close.
Wednesday's race, the second of three heats, got off to a clean start. Kitur moved into third approximately 200-meters in, and remained in that position as he crossed the first 400-meters in 53.86 seconds. Going down the back stretch, Kitur continued to trail Howard Shepard of LSU and Darrin Gibson of Florida State. A group of runners, including Aaron Evans of Georgia and Samuel Ellison of Villanova, began to move up on the outside as the field came to the start of the final curve.
That movement created a box for both Kitur and Gibson, trapping them on the rail, with Gibson slightly in front of the Keydet. Both attempted to clear out of the predicament, but they were involved in a collision in the middle of the turn and Gibson fell to the ground. Kitur stumbled over the Florida State runner, breaking his momentum and putting him well back of the frontrunners. A furious dash over the final 150 meters allowed him to rally to fourth, but it was not enough to advance him to Friday's competition.
Following the race, multiple teams filed a protest, stating that the collision had been due to their runners' progress being impeded. After deliberation by the officials, the contact was ruled incidental and the protest was denied, finalizing Kitur's 17th-place finish.
"I am proud of everything that Felix has accomplished at VMI," said Keydet head coach Darrin Webb. "It is unfortunate that he got knocked around with less than 200 meters to go, as he certainly lost more than a second and a half. He has no reason to feel bad tonight, as he is a four-time NCAA qualifier and has had a great college career. I know he will continue to train and improve as he moves to the next step in his running career."
Kitur posted a litany of accomplishments during his time in Lexington, including 10 individual Big South titles, four NCAA qualifying efforts, four IC4A 800-meter championships and six heat wins at what is now the NCAA Preliminary Round. Ironically, one of the times he failed to win was when he posted a 1:46.75 time in 2008, a result that still stands as a VMI and Big South Conference record. Kitur's legacy also includes anchoring the 2011 indoor IC4A 4X800-meter relay champions, a team that posted the fastest time in the world that year, and the unofficial title of fastest freshman in the country in 2008, when he finished ninth at the NCAA Championships.