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Month: June 2018

June 25, 2018

GALLERY: USATF Outdoor Championships – Day Three and Four

Day three and four of the USATF Outdoor Championships was contested in the rain. Finals included the men’s and women’s 1500 meters, the 5,000m, and steeplechase.

June 24, 2018

Breaking Down Shelby Houlihan’s Incredible Double

Shelby Houlihan pulled off a historic achievement on Sunday by becoming just the second woman to ever win both the 1500 meters and 5000 meters at a single USA Outdoor Championships.

The only other woman to ever pull off the same feat was Regina Jacobs in 1999 and 2000, though her career is universally considered tainted by a later doping ban.

A couple things to address about Houlihan’s accomplishment:

First, the dominant fashion she did it in. Houlihan demolished Jenny Simpson over the final meters of the 1500 final, putting 0.73 seconds on her. That’s the same Jenny Simpson who’s the greatest U.S. middle distance runner of her generation. In the 5k, Houlihan still had company with Rachel Schneider on her heels with 100 meters to go but was able to seemingly change gears twice to ultimately win by 10 meters.

The term “strength is speed” really rings true in Houlihan’s case. The 5k training she’s focused on in the past two years has given her the aerobic stamina to not be as fatigued as her competitors at the end of races. Once they get to that point, it’s game over as Houlihan the best top-end speed of anyone in the field.

Second, one can only hope Houlihan, who is the best she’s ever been, can build upon this success in years to come and not have a magical season go to “waste” in a non-championship year. We saw a fellow Jerry Schumacher athlete Chris Solinsky have a career season in 2010, also an off year. While we all look back with awe at what Solinsky accomplished that season (first American under 27 minutes for 10k and three sub 13 minute 5k’s), he didn’t get the chance to prove himself at a major global championship while at peak fitness. At 25 years of age and in her third season as a pro, all indications are Houlihan is nowhere near the top of her game yet.

Third, this has to make you wonder what event Houlihan focuses on in years to come. To me, it’s a no brainer – she should run the 1500 meters at major championships.

While it would be easier for Houlihan to win U.S. 5000 meter titles in what’s a less competitive talent pool domestically, the 1500 meters has proven to be wide open on the international level and more favorable to American runners.

In the last ten years, U.S. women have made the finals of 5000 global championships more often than in the 1500, but when it comes to winning medals, the count is 5-0 in favor of the 1500 runners. In fact, the highest finish in the 5000 was Molly Huddle’s sixth place finish in 2013.

The reason for this? East African 5k runners often run brutally fast final stretches of races (often under 2:50 for the final kilometer) that Americans have simply been unable to hang on to. Though Houlihan is certainly capable of breaking through the U.S. glass ceiling in the 5k, it is simply more difficult than the 1500.

June 24, 2018

Western States 100

A trip to the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run from Squaw Valley to Auburn in California. An ultimate test of limits for runners.

June 24, 2018

The Story of a Runner, an Italian Restaurant, and Dreams Come True

The timeless tradition of carbo-loading before races resulted in some fun social media traffic this weekend at the USA Track and Field Championships in Des Moines.

Here’s the backstory:

Due to a flight delay, world silver medalist Courtney Frerichs didn’t land in Des Moines until midnight the night before her steeplechase preliminary race.

Luckily, her husband, who was already in Iowa, picked up some spaghetti and meatballs from the local Olive Garden and had it ready for Frerichs to chow on in the early hours of Thursday morning.

We posted the clip of Frerichs talking about her late night meal after her steeplechase prelim.

The tweet caught the watchful eyes of Olive Garden’s social media team, who responded with well wishes to Frerichs.

The night before her steeplechase final, Frerichs tweeted photos from the West Des Moines branch of the famed Italian restaurant chain.

It turns out Olive Garden provided her entire family a free dinner — including dessert. The carb-heavy meal seemed to work for Frerichs as she finished in a strong second place less than a second behind champion Emma Coburn.

“I pretty much always go to Olive Garden when I’m racing in the states because I know their meals work,” Frerichs said.

 

June 23, 2018

Shelby Houlihan outkicks Jenny Simpson, Matt Centrowitz Back On Top

Chris Chavez is joined by Nicole Bush, Pat Price and Kevin Liao to discuss day 3 of the US Championships to recap Shelby Houlihan and Matt Centrowitz’s win.

June 23, 2018

The Dawn Harper-Nelson Exit Interview

Dawn Harper-Nelson competed in her first outdoor national championships in 2004. Fourteen years later, she will be racing in her last U.S. championships after announcing that the 2018 season would be her last as a professional hurdler.

Haper-Nelson walks away from the sport one of the most accomplished high hurdlers in history — a two-time Olympic medalist (including gold in 2008), two-time world medalist, four-time Diamond League champion, and four-time U.S. outdoor champion.

We had a chance to catch up with Harper-Nelson after the first round of the 100 meter hurdles for what we’re calling her exit interview:

Citius Mag: What’s the game plan this weekend? Is tomorrow it?

Dawn Harper-Nelson: Oh no, I have Diamond League races to come. But this will be it for USA nationals. In the finals, you guys are doing to have to drag me off the track. I’ve had so much fun competing for USA. I want to finish this up with a complete bang and obviously a W.

CM: You seem relaxed.

DHN: I kinda surprised myself with how relaxed I was [in the first round]. Before the race, you’re nervous, but as soon as the gun goes off, you know this is what you train for. I have 11 family members here, so we’re all just having fun.

CM: How hard was it to decide this was it for you?

DHN: Honestly, it wasn’t that hard for me. I’ve always known from the time I was a child I wanted to be an Olympic champion, a wife, and a mom. I never wanted track to run my life so much that at some age I realize there’s a world around me. I’ve had a great career. Me and my husband talk about it, and I’m personally ready to have some babies. I want to come to these events with my kids and say “mama did that.” It’s still bittersweet because I’m having fun with it, but it’s time. I find myself having a pull to do something else. I’m blessed that I can make the decision, and it’s not an injury or not being able to get a lane that forces me out of the sport.

CM: Every time we see you at a U.S. championships, the hair style is always different. What’s going on with this hairstyle?

DHN: They wanna call me “old lady in the field,” so my friends and family members are like, “Give them some gray hair since they want to call you old.” I was totally against it. They told me it’s my last year to play with it. So this is just me being silly.

CM: Different athletes in professional sports choose to handle their retirement differently. Was it tough deciding how to do it?

DHN: It really was. I initially thought I’d wait until the last race and announce this is it. I was talking to my agent to let him know this is how I want my plan to be. The whole time my husband was telling me I was crazy and that people want to celebrate with you. My agent told me meet directors will be mad if you run at their races and then never see them again. He told me we have to announce it and let fans know so they can take in all your joy and cartwheels and things. It was the right decision.

CM: What are some of the other races when you’ve found yourself bawling at the end?

DHN: Diamond League finals. I have four Diamond League championships, and each one of those came down to who crossed the line first in the final. It was all or nothing. For me, those were moments at the ends of seasons when I rose to the occasion. Obviously, there are my two Olympic medals. Those are like my kids. You put four years of sacrifice on the line to say this moment, for 12 seconds, this is it. Sometimes, I sit back and will cry thinking back on my career and how it’s been pretty sweet.

CM: After you retire and someone asks you what you do for a career, what are you going to say?

DHN: I’m going to say “I used to run.” That sounds better than “retired.” When you hear someone say they’re retired, you think of someone of retirement age — like almost 70. I will be proud to say I’m a retired track athlete. Because in conversation that will follow up with, “Oh, how did that go?” [Laughs.] I’ll be able to explain what track and field is and then say how it’s given me the life I have.

CM: Looking back, do you have regrets about how anything has gone during your career?

DHN: No, not really anything that when I walk away I hated it in the moment. Training with Bobby [Kersee] early in my career, he was very good at explaining the reasons for every time I died on the track in practice. I was blessed to also have Michelle Perry, a two-time world champion, and Joanna Hayes, an Olympic champion, training with me early in my career. I saw what they did and understood the sacrifices that have to be made. They have medals, so I knew I absolutely have to be doing this — and more. Now that I’m older, I do have the regret of not understanding that I don’t have to push my body as much. For the last two years, I’ve been hammering, thinking I have to do all this. My body is telling me it’s tired because I’m 33 or 34 now. It was right before this nationals that I learned that lesson. My husband was telling me, “I think you’re doing too much. You’re not recovering as well.”

CM: Is this the least amount of pressure you’ve ever felt for a U.S. championships?

DHN: In a sense, but I am so hard on myself. I have a goal here as if I’m trying to make another team. I’ll enjoy it, but I better be on that podium. That’s just the mindset I have. If that’s not the expectation, I shouldn’t be here.

CM: What’s the difference between the top hurdlers when you were first starting on the elite level versus the best hurdlers now? What have some of the advances been?

CHN: I feel like more hurdlers now are focusing on speed. I’m a technician and you can win a lot of races if you hurdle clean. But now they’re running clean and they’re fast. If you put them in the flat 100, they’re going to put up a competitive time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cC6YHKmbdas

June 23, 2018

GALLERY: USATF Outdoor Championships – Day Two

Day Two of the USATF Outdoor Championships was contested in the rain. Finals included the men’s and women’s 100 meters ft. Noah Lyles.

June 23, 2018

What to Watch on Saturday at the USATF Championships

Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs face off in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase final. Matthew Centrowitz and Drew Hunter square off in the 1,500 meters.

June 22, 2018

My First Day at Western States: I’m a huge failure

Today has been full of mistakes. My first day on a press trip, and I’ve completely, totally, utterly dropped the ball.

I’m currently on-assignment covering the Western States Endurance Run. I cannot emphasize enough the poor job I’ve done.

Today was a day where the elite athletes were all meandering around the Village at Squaw Valley – totally accessible to media, and I failed to gather one goddamn interview. It would have been great to have sat down for a few minutes with Courtney Dauwalter (complete badass, overall winner of the 2017 Moab 240-MILER-WTF[!]), or Jim Walmsley (0-2 at Western States, but we all want him to finish this year). But I didn’t. I failed to gather one soundbite, one photo.

Instead, I went for a run along the Truckee River. It was beautiful, but I should have been contacting athletes for interviews.

Then, I ate a robust bowl of oatmeal on the back porch of the cabin I was staying at. The cabin is about a mile from the Village at Squaw Valley. I should have been heading over to the Village to find the athletes I had contacted a few hours earlier.

After my oatmeal, I sat around the cabin. Did some small talk. Nothing productive. It was during this time of nothingness where my appetite began to build. I should have sucked it up and gone to the Village to find some athletes, but, as I’m sure you can now tell, I didn’t. I drove 15 miles to Tahoe City (past Squaw Valley) to find a salad and an iced coffee. Cognitive dissonance. It’s beautiful.

Once 2:00 PM rolled around, I now thought it was the right time to go find some athletes. The sun was in full force, and obviously these athletes would be walking around the ski area, soaking up the sun the day before they race 100 miles through the California mountains and canyons.

I didn’t find a single athlete. I did find a delicious chocolate chip cookie, though.

Truth be told, my day wasn’t a total failure. I tagged along with my girlfriend to the Salomon crew house so she could see Lucy Bartholomew before she raced. While they went over her race plan, I waited in the den and watched as a French man and a Swedish man worked in tandem to prepare for tomorrow’s race.

The Swede, Johan Steene, will be lining up at 5:00 AM tomorrow morning to take on the burden of Western States. Hearing him talk about eating baby food at mile 65 was the closest thing I came to any sort of professional journalism today. As it turns out, nutrition – second only to having legs – is the most important part of completing Western States.

“I bought these today,” Johan said about the baby food. “It seems like it will be good.”

Apparently Johan hadn’t ever experimented with the baby food before planning to use it during one of the premier ultramarathons in the world. Seems fairly non-traditional for a Swede to do something without proper calculations, but Johan, my new favorite runner, seemed sure of himself.

And so, that’s all I have to report from the day before Western States: as long as you’re confident, you should be fine.

June 22, 2018

Noah Lyles, Aleia Hobbs Run Away With USA 100 Meter Titles

The dream seasons of Noah Lyles and Aleia Hobbs continued Friday with victories in the 100 meter dash at the 2018 USATF Track and Field Championships.

Lyles, known primarily as a 200 meter runner, sneaked past Ronnie Baker in the final meters of the race to earn his first U.S. title.

He was pretty psyched after the race.

After giving his review of Incredibles 2 yesterday, Lyles rocked socks with the movie’s logo in the final. The superhero powers clearly transferred through.

Baker set a personal best of 9.90 despite finishing second. He’s headed to Europe after this to chase fast times.

Unstoppable on the collegiate level all year, Hobbs became the first woman since 1991 to win both the NCAA and USA 100 meter titles in the same year.

Ashley Henderson had a tough NCAA championships, missing the 100 meter final before finishing sixth in the 200 meters. The San Diego State junior bounced back with a stellar second place finish today in Des Moines and a personal best of 10.96 seconds.

Jenna Prandini struggled with injury throughout 2017. Now healthy, she looked confident winning her semi-final before finishing third in a season’s best 10.98 seconds.

June 22, 2018

GALLERY: USATF Outdoor Championships – Day One In The Rain

Day One of the USATF Outdoor Championships was contested in the rain. Finals included the men’s and women’s 10,000 meters.

June 22, 2018

Returning to Des Moines

Nicole Bush opens up about her thoughts on returning to Des Moines for the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships – five years after her national title

June 22, 2018

What to Watch on Friday at the USATF Championships

Jesse Squire takes a look at the big events on Day 2 of the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships including an old school vs. new school match up.

June 22, 2018

Stephanie And Ben Bruce’s Consistency and Breakthroughs

Stephanie and Ben Bruce chat about their experiences at the 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships and the work it took to get there.

June 22, 2018

The Origin and Mythology of French Bread Friday

The story behind French Bread Friday is not exactly what you thought it would be. Nicole Bush and Shelby Houlihan got to the bottom of it.

June 21, 2018

Molly Huddle and Lopez Lomong Win Big On Day 1 In Des Moines

Chris Chavez and Kevin Liao get together in the stands during the men’s 20K race walk to recap all the day’s action from Day 1 of the USATF Championships.

June 21, 2018

Watch The U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships online: Live stream, TV Info, Results

How to watch the USATF Outdoor Championships online from June 21 to June 24 live from Des Moines. Live results info included.

June 21, 2018

The Blog Boys Hit The Road to Des Moines

Ryan Sterner and Scott Olberding make their way to Des Moines for the 2018 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a quick stop in Minnesota.

June 21, 2018

What to Watch on Thursday at the USATF Championships

Gwen Jorgensen competes in her first U.S. track and field championship since committing to the marathon full time. Molly Huddle makes her return.

June 20, 2018

What Did The Division II Experience Mean To Me? (An Essay by David Ribich)

David Ribich looks back at his time competing for Western Oregon on the Division II scene and how dreams are greater than any label put on a group.

June 20, 2018

2018 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships Preview Show

Chris Chavez and Kevin Liao break down all of the action and top performances to expect at the 2018 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines

June 20, 2018

Shelby Houlihan vs. Jenny Simpson is the ultimate battle in Des Moines

If anything has characterized the 2018 track season thus far, it’s been the changing of the guard we’ve seen in many events, particularly in the sprints.

The aging Justin Gatlin and retired Usain Bolt have handed the torch to youngsters Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles in the short sprints. The name Allyson Felix is nowhere to be found at the top of the yearly marks, having been replaced by the likes of NCAA stars Lynna Irby and Kendall Ellis. And Sydney McLaughlin and Michael Norman have catapulted themselves into superstar territory in track and field circles.

We’ve seen less of this trend in the longer distance races, but could there be a shift in the power structure coming soon in the women’s middle distances?

Without a doubt, Jenny Simpson has been the alpha dog of U.S. 1500 meter running in recent years. She’s won the last four 1500m outdoor national titles and has four global medals over the metric mile distance, including a thrilling silver medal at last summer’s World Championships.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hu-Rvks0SU

Despite her dominance, she showed a bit of vulnerability a few weeks ago at the Pre Classic, when fellow American Shelby Houlihan unleashed a furious kick on the final straightaway to pull off the upset in a personal best 3:59.06, besting her personal best by over four seconds.

The race was Houlihan’s first career victory against Simpson.

We have all witnessed Houlihan’s big kicks in the past (see her dominant U.S. indoor doubles the last two years) but never before had she exhibited that kind of closing speed on a stage as big as a Diamond League meet.

Houlihan’s progression makes you wonder if she might be prepared to take the U.S. women’s 1500m championship belt from Simpson in the near future.

If father time is indeed undefeated, that day may be coming sooner than later, as Simpson turns 32 years old this August, while Houlihan is just 25 years of age.

All of this makes the matchup between Simpson and Houlihan this weekend at the USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines all the more fascinating, as both athletes return to a state where they have roots (Houlihan was a dominant runner on the Iowa prep scene, while Simpson spent part of her early childhood in the Hawkeye State) to race on the Blue Oval.

Editor’s note: Both have declared for the 1500 meters, though Houlihan is also entered in the 5000 meters. It’s a doable double, though it certainly isn’t easy — the 1500m prelims are on Thursday, 1500m final is on Saturday and 5000m final is on Sunday.

We know, of course, that winning in a fast, rabbited race like Houlihan did at Pre isn’t the same as doing so in tactical championships contests, which Simpson has mastered in her career.

With a gun to my head, I still pick the more experienced Simpson in the confines of this weekend’s championship meet, but don’t be surprised if Houlihan continues inching toward earning the title of America’s best miler.

June 17, 2018

Me and My Dad (An Essay By Trevor Dunbar)

How a trip to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials with his father, Marcus, helped open a young Trevor Dunbar’s eyes to the sport.

June 15, 2018

A Morning with Lazarus Lake

Jesse Squire took the time to join Lazarus Lake, on his walk across the entire country. Lake is best known as the founder of the Barkley Marathons.

June 15, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Year of the Bison – A Portrait of Nick Symmonds’ Final Season

CITIUS MAG readers get an exclusive look at the first five minutes to “Year of the Bison” A Portrait of Nick Symmonds’ Final Season.

June 13, 2018

Running Things Considered: Is Steve Prefontaine Overrated? One Caller Thinks So

On Running Things Considered, one caller decided to share this thoughts on Steve Prefontaine being one of the most overrated U.S. runners ever.

June 13, 2018

Predicting The Next Wave of Olympians from The NCAA Championships

Jesse Squire makes a bold move of trying to predict Olympians for 2020 from the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

June 13, 2018

Mailbag: What Is The Fastest Mile Run While In Med School?

Roger Bannister broke four minutes for the mile as a medical student at Oxford. What’s the fastest mile run by a medical student in the U.S.?

June 13, 2018

Ski to Sea: The Largest Multi-Sport Relay In America

Get to know Ski to Sea: The 94-mile, seven-event relay race that covers a large portion of Whatcom County.

June 11, 2018

Is The Unicorn Era In Track Upon Us?

Juan Miguel Echevarria’s long jump at the Stockholm Diamond League making rounds on the internet. Could he be characterized as a track and field unicorn?

June 11, 2018

Big Meet Pod – Stockholm Diamond League

After every Diamond League meet this season tune in and hear two idiot Blog Boys Ryan Sterner and Stephen Kershtalk shop about what happened. Stockholm!

June 11, 2018

Introducing Sterner Vs. 60

Lots of people are going to run faster than Ryan Sterner in Des Moines during the weekend of the U.S. Championships, but no one will run as hard as he will.

June 11, 2018

An Idiot’s Guide to Western States 100: Sitting down with the Coconino Cowboys

Stephen Kersh grabbed some beers with three runners taking on Western States this year to try and create an idiot’s walk through to the race.

June 9, 2018

What to Watch on Saturday at the NCAA Championships

Today is Day 4 of the NCAA outdoor track and field championships and the wommen’s champions will be crowned. This is the last meet ever held in the historic version of Hayward Field. On Wednesday I helped Chris Chavez preview the meet on the CITIUS podcast, and below is everything you need to know about today’s action.

HOW TO WATCH

2:20pm EDT (11:20am PDT) at ESPN3.com — separate feeds for heptathlon and each field event
6:30pm EDT (3:30pm PDT) on ESPN2, switches to ESPN at 7:00

You’ll also want to follow the live results and use our handy visual schedule:

The USTFCCCA’s National Championships Central is a treasure trove of information.

Here is a fun and useful team scoring tracker with several different ways to project team scores–you can even customize it. It will be updated after each semifinal and final.

TEAMS TO WATCH

Any of five teams is capable of winning this meet.
Georgia has four chances at first or second in the heptathon, triple jump, and 400 and 200. The downside of this is that they have little room for improvement.

Stanford is depending on the discus and distance events. Those are relatively volatile events where they could score a lot or not much at all.

Kentucky is in a solid position with heavy favorites in both hurdles and dependable relays too. The Wildcats have upside potential in a few other events as well.

As with their men’s team, USC is going to score a boatload of points in the sprints, relays, and 400 hurdles.

Oregon is the team with the most potential to outscore the projection, though they are favored to win the 800 with Sabrina Sutherland and the 4×400.

Below are my projections for today. A blank means no qualifiers, a zero means qualifiers who are not expected to score.

EVENT PREVIEWS

LSU already broke the 4×100 relay collegiate record earlier this year, so another record is quite possible. This first race of the day has three of the five team contenders and will be a game-changer right out of the gate.

The sprints have a pair of stars who will not meet head-to-head. LSU’s Aleia Hobbs is capable of breaking the collegiate record. Harvard’s Gabby Thomas is a long-sprint specialist, and she may have her hands full with Georgia’s Lynna Irby.

It is not hyperbole to say that Kentucky has two of the world’s best in the 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles. Both Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and Sydney McLaughlin are the current world leaders in their events and a PR by either would be a collegiate record. McLaughlin has a very real chance at a world record.

USC’s Kendall Ellis is only the second collegian to ever run under 50.00 for the 400 meters, but Georgia freshman Lynna Irby isn’t that far off either. Oregon has two finalists and needs big points.

The 1500 meters and 800 meters are unpredictable events that have major team implications for Stanford and Oregon. There probably isn’t a strong favorite in either race. The sentimental favorite in the 1500 is Toledo’s Janelle Noe, who survived life-threatening burns to make an improbable run to the final.

The long-distance races, the steeplechase and 5000 meters, could be interesting. Boise State’s Allie Ostrander has never lost a steeplechase final, which is a far more meaningful stat than her fast times. She’ll try to come back later in the day and run the 5000; she did so last year and took 1st and 4th. Many of the women who went to the wall in Thursday’s 10,000 are also in this 5k, so it’s anyone’s guess how it will turn out. Stanford and Oregon have scoring chances here.

The 4×400 is always the best race of any meet, and this could be one of the classic races of all time. The team championship will almost assuredly be in play, and two of the three fastest collegians of all time are running for USC and Kentucky. It will be a wild and wooly conclusion to the last meet ever held in the historic version of Hayward Field.

June 9, 2018

NCAA Championships Day 3 Recap

What happened at yesterday’s NCAA Championships? Here is your short summary of the conclusion to the men’s competition.

Complete results

GEORGIA WINS IN UPSET

The Georgia Bulldogs won the team title in an upset. They never trailed on the scoredboard at any time during the meet. It was their first men’s championship; their previous was sixth (last year and 2014).

The Dawgs did it by exceeding expectations in the field events. Denzel Comenentia won a hammer-shot double on Wednesday, Karl Saluri and Johannes Erm finished 2nd and 3rd in the decathlon on Thursday, and Keenon Laine and Antonios Merlos took 3rd and 5th in the high jump yesterday. Those alone were enough points to win, and eight more points in the 100 and 200 gave Georgia a comfortable ten-point margin.

The Florida Gators had been the pre-meet favorites, but did not score as much as expected in the long jump, high jump, and triple jump. Their second-place finish is their tenth straight trip to the podium for one of the trophies awarded to the top four teams.

Houston and USC rounded out the top four. The Cougars represent the first mid-major university on the podium since 2005, and it is just the second time they’ve ever done it (the other was 1959). This is USC’s 48th top-four finish but just the third time they’ve done it this century.

RECORDS DESTROYED

The evening was cool and rainy, so record expectations were dampened. But the records fell and in amazing fashion.

Houston got the meet off to a rousing start with a collegiate record (and Hayward Field record) in the 4×100 by running 38.17. Ohio State surprised everyone with a second-place finish, pushing traditional sprint powerhouses Florida and Arkansas to 3rd and 4th. It should be noted that first and second were the champions of the Penn and Drake Relays respectively, and the winners of Arkansas’ “National Relay Championships” were not, in fact, national champions.

The next record to fall was in the 400 meters, one I mentioned as a possibility in the CITIUS Mag podcast. USC’s Michael Norman ran a stunning 43.61, but what was even more stunning was that he had to work to win the race. Auburn’s Akeem Bloomfield and Nathon Allen were close as the trio came off the turn before Norman powered away down the homestretch. Norman broke the Hayward Field record held by Michael Johnson, which puts it all in perspective. Bloomfield ran 43.94, also under the old record, and Allen was third with 44.13.

Without a doubt the performance of the night came in the 400 hurdles and from another USC Trojan. Rai Benjamin was already the only collegian to ever run sub-48.00 before the NCAA Championships, so you figured he might kick it up a notch at the NCAAs. Did he ever. He ran 47.02, the second-fastest ever run. Anywhere. Ever. It wasn’t just a collegiate record or Hayward Field record, it was a record for the entire western hemisphere.

So with those two record runs you figured USC might be decent at the 4×400, and they did not disappoint. When USC handed off to Norman with a lead at the last exchange everyone thought it was over, but Texas A&M’s Devin Dixon closed the gap over the first 300 meters before Norman pulled away as he did in the open 400. USC ran 2:59.00, breaking LSU’s collegiate record from 2005, and Texas A&M slipped under 3:00 as well.

DISTANCE UPSETS

Two middle distance races featured similar upsets. New Mexico’s Josh Kerr (1500) and UTEP’s Michael Saruni (800) both set collegiate records this year and both won their events at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Both put themselves in difficult situations they couldn’t bail themselves out of.

Kerr had mentioned that he might attack his own collegiate record, but he was not able to get to the lead in the first 100 meters of the race and instead settled into the middle of the pack. The pace was very slow and that meant a lot of runners all trying to occupy the same space. Kerr found himself seventh at the bell and worked hard to get out of a box and did more work to get to the lead with 200 to go. Kerr faded down the homestretch, as did everyone else except Wisconsin’s Oliver Hoare. The Badger ran his last lap in 53.01.

In the 800, Saruni similarly found himself back in the pack but not because the pace was slow. Texas A&M’s Devin Dixon led through a 51.09 first lap and Saruni was a well-situated fourth. His fatal mistake was making a too-aggressive move and doing it too soon. He overtook the lead with 200 to go and was fading by the homestretch, where he was passed by Penn State’s Isaiah Harris. Both struggled over the last 50 meters, but Harris held on for the national championships win that had eluded him for so long. He had twice been a runner-up and twice more he finished fourth.

The men’s 5000 feature three men who have won NCAA championships in Syracuse’s Justyn Knight, Stanford’s Grant Fisher, and Northern Arizona’s Andy Trouard. None of them won, instead the title went to Stanford’s Sean McGorty. The pace wasn’t painfully slow as in the 1500 but it still wasn’t eliminating many runners. McGorty got to the lead at the right time (700 meters to go), took charge of the race, and repelled the challengers. In many ways it is an unsurprising upset, if such a thing is possible; he was the NCAA runner-up in this event two years ago but spent much of the time from then until now dealing with an Achilles injury.

HOUSTON HAS EACH OTHER’S BACKS

The Houston Cougars were rated as having a small chance at the championship if they had extraordinary results. They got off to a great start with a win and a record in the 4×100. Next up was the steeplechase, where Brian Barraza was one of many contenders for the win. He ran from the front and built a large lead – and then disaster struck with 300 meters to go. His lead leg didn’t make it over the barrier and he took a hard fall. Dazed and hurt, he got back to his feet but finished tenth and out of the scoring.

Two events later came the 100 meters, where Houston had three finalists. Cameron Burrell and Eli Hall finished first and second to put the Cougars back into contention. And then Burrell said this to ESPN’s Jon Anderson:

UPSETS IN THE FIELD

Field events are full of as much drama as running events, though you’d never know that from the “oh here’s the winner” field event coverage on ESPN’s broadcasts. All three were upsets.

The high jump went to Kansas State freshman Tejaswin Shankar. The 19-year-old from New Delhi became just the third Indian to ever win an NCAA championship. He flew under the radar because he missed the NCAA indoor championships in favor of going to the Commonwealth Games. He had no misses through his first four heights and was the only man to clear 2.24 meters (7′ 4¼”).

Memphis’ Luke Vaughn was staring elimination in the face when he sat tenth in the third round of the discus. His next throw not only rescued him but put him in first for good.

It wasn’t much of an upset for Texas A&M’s Tahar Triki to win the triple jump, but he did beat the reigning NCAA indoor and outdoor champions and did it in his first full season of NCAA competition. He took the lead on his first jump and never relinquished it.

June 8, 2018

Ben Flanagan’s NCAA 10,000m Victory Illustrated

Michigan’s Ben Flanagan kicked his way to the NCAA 10,000 meter title. CITIUS MAG artist Luke McCambley illustrated the final stretch.

June 8, 2018

The Big Meet Pod – Oslo Diamond League

Ryan Sterner and Stephen Kersh discuss everything that took place at the Oslo Diamond League including the atmosphere with shirtless fans.

June 8, 2018

What to Watch on Friday at the NCAA Championships

New Mexico’s Josh Kerr has won the last three NCAA championships in the 1500 meters or mile and looks invincible. He gets started in Eugene.

June 8, 2018

NCAA Championships Day 2 Recap

Sharon Lokedi won her first NCAA win and a long time coming; seven other times she’s finished between third and tenth. Karissa Schweizer finished 3rd.

June 7, 2018

What to Watch: Thursday at the NCAAs

All indications are that Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer will win the 10,000 meters despite the fact that it’s only the third time she’s ever run this distance

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