For a brief three-day period next month, Raytown South High School graduate Maurice Mitchell will trade in his Florida State University colors for the red, white and blue of the United States as he will represent his country in the Under-23 Track and Field Championships at Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar, Fla.

For a brief three-day period next month, Raytown South High School graduate Maurice Mitchell will trade in his Florida State University colors for the red, white and blue of the United States as he will represent his country in the Under-23 Track and Field Championships at Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar, Fla.

“It’s like the mini Olympics for athletes 23 and under,” said Mitchell, a junior-to-be at Florida State who is coming off a sensational sophomore season in which he ran the fastest 100 meters (10.04) in the nation.

Nearly 500 athletes from 32 member nations of the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association, otherwise called NACAC, will compete in the event.

“I’m running the 100,” said Mitchell, who won the event at the ACC Championship. “And there’s no (world record holder and Olympic champion) Usain Bolt, because he’s 24. I’m going in the NACAC with a lot of confidence and with the will to win.”

Mitchell made his mark with four gold medals (100 and 200 and the 4x100 and 4x200 relays) at the ACC Championship.

He owns Missouri state high school records in the 100 and 200 and the Eastern Jackson County area’s best times ever in the 100, 200 and 400 on The Examiner’s All-Time Area Honor Roll.

He advanced to the NCAA Championship in three events, but recorded just one second-place finish in the 4x100 relay.

“I don’t know what happened at Eugene (Oregon, the site of the national championship),” Mitchell said. “It was kind of like sectional my senior year at Ray-South.

“I kind of pulled something in the prelims and I just couldn’t come out of it. After winning four golds at conference then advancing (to the NCAA Championship) in three events, I really wanted to do well – and I didn’t.

“It happens. But it really bothered me.”

Then, he got a text message from Florida State legend Walter Dix, a former teammate and Olympic medalist.

“He told me I was going to have days like that, and to not let them affect my next performance,” Mitchell said. “That meant a lot to me. Walter Dix is the man at FSU and to have him take time to text me meant a lot.

“Now, I’m feeling good and ready to compete.”

Under the auspices of the IAAF (International Amateur Athletics Federation) and the USATF (USA Track & Field), Mitchell and other competitors will represent the following countries – Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherland Antilles, Nicaragua, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States and U.S. Virgin Islands.

“It will be like my first taste of what the Olympics will be like,” said Mitchell, who is on the fast track to represent the United States in either the 100 or 200 or the 4x100 or 4x200 relays at the 2012 Games in London.

“I can’t wait to compete against the best 23-and-under athletes in the world. It’s like I told my daddy on the phone the other day – I am so proud to compete at FSU, which is one of the best track and field universities in the world. But to represent my country is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid.”

And, he added with a laugh, “I think I’ll look pretty good in the red, white and blue.”

We’ll all have to admire his sartorial splendor on the sidelines, because once he gets on the track, the greatest sprinter in the history of our state is nothing but a blur.