By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002
While his classmates were dancing and laughing at the prom, Chauncey Corbin was sprinting and hurdling 300 miles away in Coral Springs.
The junior from Largo was participating in the Class 3A state meet. He finished the 110 hurdles in 14.45 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 38.8, both times ranking among the fastest in the state.
But Corbin knew he would have to travel even faster if he wanted to hear his name announced as prom king.
He never made it.
"There was no way I would be able to get there in time," Corbin said. "What can you do?"
What Corbin was really after that day was a crown of another kind. He wanted to be the No. 1 hurdler in the state. Instead, he had to settle for another title: The best hurdler not named Dermillo Wise.
At the state meet, Wise won the 110 and 300 hurdles, edging Corbin in both events.
"It was kind of a letdown not to win," Corbin said. "But I wasn't too disappointed. There's only one person who can say he has beat me this year."
Wise's battles with Corbin in the hurdles are reminiscent of his duels with Dixie Hollins' Kevin Marion in the long jump. All are fierce competitors who belong to the Lightning Bolt Track Club and are friends.
"Dermillo has helped me out a lot," Corbin said. "We're always giving each other tips."
The gap between the two narrowed once Corbin got serious about track. He gave up basketball this year and has trained year-round in the hurdles. Corbin has beaten Wise a handful of times, the last coming in both hurdle events at the region meet.
On Saturday, Corbin has another chance to supplant his friend when they compete at the Golden South Meet, an invitational in Orlando that features the nation's top high-schoolers.
"I want to win, not so much for bragging rights, but to prove that I was good enough to win at state," Corbin said.
"Dermillo had his day at state. Hopefully, I can have mine on Saturday."