It was supposed to be great, and it was. Florida’s Grant Holloway and Kentucky’s Daniel Roberts had been dueling through the SEC Championships and NCAA Regionals and now the NCAA Championships at Mike Myers Stadium at the University of Texas.
They were not only the world leaders – Roberts in 13.06 and Holloway in 13.07 – but between them had the top four times in the world and seven of the top eight. But that was just a warm-up.
In a sensational final. Holloway started strong and used excellent technique to run smoothly, edging Roberts in the fastest time in the world for 2019 and a U.S. collegiate record in 12.98, to 13.00 for Roberts.
Roberts showed remarkable resilience despite whacking hurdles two, six and nine and closed on Holloway on the run-in, but it was Holloway’s third-straight NCAA title in the race.
The 12.98 (wind: +0.8 m/s) also moved Holloway into a tie for 18th on the all-time world list; he’s the 21st athletes in history (and 12th American) to ever break 13 seconds. The mark erases a 40-year-old collegiate record – a world record at the time – by Renaldo Nehemiah (USA) from 1979.
The final day of the men’s competition was special from the start:
● Men/4×100 m:
Another world leader, but it won’t be listed that way due to the multi-national team running for Florida that won in a collegiate record of 37.97, ahead of Florida State (38.08). The winners included Raymond Evekwo (NGR), Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (JPN), Holloway and Ryan Clark (USA), who ran faster than every national team at the IAAF World Relays!
● Men/100 m:
Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru – running for Texas Tech – won impressively with a good start and a strong drive phase in 9.86 (wind: +0.8, equaling the fastest time in the world this year (with Noah Lyles and Christian Coleman of the U.S.).
Oduduru was followed by the not-enough-noticed Cravon Gillespie (USA) of Oregon, who set another lifetime best and moved to no. 4 in the world this year at 9.93. Japan’s Hakim Sani Brown, running for Florida, was third with another Japanese national record, at 9.97.
● Men/400 m:
The came the 400 m, with 2018 USATF champ Kahmari Montgomery of Houston running down Trevor Stewart (USA) of North Carolina AT&T at the tape, 44.23-44.25, lifetime bests for both and the nos. 2-3 times in the world for 2019 behind superstar Michael Norman (43.45).
● Men/800 m:
Kansas’ Bryce Hoppel (USA) was a 1:48.52 runner two years ago. He improved to 1:45.67 last season, but he waited for Devin Dixon (USA/Texas A&M) to lead the 800 m final and then blew by on the final curve to win in a lifetime best 1:44.41, moving him to no. 6 in the world for 2019.
Dixon was second in 1:44.84.
● Men/400 m hurdles:
Texas Tech’s Norman Grimes (USA) led most of the way, but then South Carolina’s Quincy Hall charged down the straight and won in 48.48, making him no. 4 on the world list for 2019. He told ESPN right after the race, “I’m not that good of a hurdler, but I’m pretty fast.”
The top four in the race (after a disqualification) all got lifetime bests and ran under 49 seconds; Grimes held on for second in 48.71.
● Men/200 m:
Oduduru started brilliantly and then turned on the burners at about 160 m to run away from the field, finishing in a fabulous 19.73, 0.03 better than his prior best this season and keeping him at no. 3 in the world in 2019. The wind was legal at +0.8 m/s.
Behind him was another huge lifetime best for Gillespie, who ran 19.93, whose lifetime best had been 20.17!
● Men/4×400 m:
Of course the meet finished with another world leader, the fourth event with the fastest or equal-fastest time in the world, as the Texas A&M team of Bryce Deadmon, Robert Grant, Ilozo Izu and Devin Dixon ran away from the field in 2:59.05, the second-fastest time in collegiate history and the world leader by a long way, replacing Trinidad & Tobago’s 3:00.81.
In fact, the top four teams – A&M, Florida, Houston and Iowa – all ran faster than Trinidad & Tobago. Florida’s Holloway finished by bringing his team from fourth to second with a 43.75 carry (in 2:59.60) and Dixon anchored for A&M in 44.12. North Carolina A&T’s Stewart ran the third leg in 44.14!
Quite a meet, although it doesn’t count much in the IAAF World Rankings … whose meet values were done by a group of Hungarian statisticians. That needs to change, but not this meet!
The women will finish tomorrow; the meet will be shown on ESPN at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. The full results are here.