Stanford junior Kori Carter decided to forego her senior season at Stanford and turned pro a day before she advanced easily out of her first-round heat of the 400 hurdles at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
The NCAA champion and collegiate recordholder ran 55.69 to finish second in her heat and advance to a Saturday semifinal.
Carter signed with an agent, Wesley Felix, on Monday night and agreed to a deal on Thursday. On Friday, she took to the track in Nike gear and advanced easily.
"Since I was little, I've always looked forward to the opportunity to become a pro and run against the top runners," Carter said. "Now, I have that chance to get out there and run against the best in the world."
Carter will remain at Stanford and graduate next year with a degree in human biology, with Nike paying the remainder of her college tuition. She also will continue to train under Stanford sprints/hurdles coach Jody Stewart.
"The only difference is, I'll be sitting in the stands at the Big Meet," Carter said. "That was the hardest part, knowing I wouldn't be able to score points for Stanford."
Carter and her father, Bruce, felt the time was right to act while her earning power was at its highest. And after much research and advisement, they chose Felix, who now has two clients -- Carter, and his sister, Allyson, the 2012 Olympic 200 champion.
Carter is a nine-time All-America and the Stanford recordholder in every outdoor and indoor hurdle event - breaking school records 11 times. Her NCAA-winning time of 53.21 is No. 2 in collegiate history, but the fastest against collegiate-only competition. It also makes Carter the No. 6 performer in U.S. history in that event.
On Tuesday, she was announced as a semifinalist for The Bowerman, collegiate track and field's highest annual honor. The finalists will be announced July 11, and the winner on Dec. 18 at an awards ceremony in Orlando, Fla. Already, she has been named as the women's track athlete of the year for the Pac-12 and for the West Region.
"We are very excited for Kori to have this well-deserved opportunity," said Chris Miltenberg, Stanford's Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field. "She has been an integral part of our program and will always be part of the Stanford track and field family.
"We're excited that she will still be at Stanford and continuing to work with Coach Stewart next year as she moves into the professional ranks. I know this is just the beginning of a great long career for Kori."
On Friday, Carter said, as she sat in a tub of ice, that she doesn't want to dwell about her future just yet. Rather, she's focused on reaching Sunday's U.S. final and earning a top three finish and a berth in the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 10-18.
Carter said she didn't feel entirely comfortable in her preliminary heat. Of the 18 competitors in the first round, only two were eliminated, meaning that conserving energy was key. The first round also was notable in that Lashinda Demus, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and defending U.S. champion, did not compete, leaving the U.S. title open to a newcomer -- perhaps Carter.