By Kyle Merber
March 15, 2023
Records are meant to be broken, right? Well, the NCAA Indoor Championships lived up to that idiom this past weekend as 10 collegiate all-time marks were set. Putting on my commentator hat to provide some analysis for this banner weekend in track and field does require me to acknowledge the elephant in the room — altitude matters.
Although Albuquerque is a preferred location for many reasons — such as being one of the few venues that is consistently bidding to host meets and the track is pretty — the
downside upside is that it’s situated above 5000 feet. That thin air makes it a big factor in the pacing of distance races. If you believe in conversions, what you run for 5000m in ABQ is ‘worth’ a time over 20 seconds faster. Meanwhile, there is a significant advantage in the sprints and field-side of the sport, you just won’t hear about it from the athletes.
If you asked Oklahoma State’s Fouad Messaoudi how fast he ran to win the 3000m, then he might say 7:48.10*. He’d then give you a meaningful look that intimates that asterisk signifies “at altitude,” so think of how that may have been faster than Drew Bosley’s collegiate record had it been run at Boston University. But if you ask one of the newly minted collegiate record holders then there’d be no mention of the thin mountain air. All of this concern that super shoes are distorting our perception!
Okay, now that the obligatory comments have been made let’s zap your memory of those facts using the bright light thing from Men In Black [editor’s note: it’s called a neuralyzer, Kyle, you uncultured fool.] and dive head first into the laudation. While ten records might sound like an outlier, it’s consistent with how wild the season has been as a whole; there had already been 11 broken on multiple occasions, making a total of 25 record-breaking performances in 2023.
Here are the record-breakers in New Mexico:
The Texas standout from St. Lucia was perhaps the safest bet that you could have made as she had already lowered her personal best from 7.04 to 6.97 this year, setting the NCAA 60m record on three occasions. And with two rounds to attempt it, she did it twice more, ultimately ending at 6.94 — the second fastest time ever. Alfred has always been a great starter and that was expected, but the 200m not as much as LSU’s Favour Ofili ran sub-22 last year outdoors. But if there were any doubts as to whether or not Alfred would find that final 40m come outdoors then she answered it with a final 140m as she doubled back to grab a second collegiate record of 22.01.
The defending NCAA 400m hurdles champion experimented with some longer distances this season, setting the collegiate record for 600m and running an extremely respectable 2:02.13 in her first ever 800m. The Arkansas sophomore reminded everyone that she split 48.6 last year in her fourth race of the weekend at SECs as she surprised the former American Record holder Talitha Diggs in the final 100m to run 49.48. This would have been a world record a month ago! I took a lot of heat earlier in the season for doing my best Stephen A. Smith impression suggesting that at some point in the next eight years that Wilson might beat Sydney. Do I look slightly less crazy now?
This Florida Gator’s resume just keeps getting longer and longer! This was going to be a difficult year for Bowerman Award voters anyway, but Moore is trying to make it a bit easier as she eclipsed the all-time marks in both the triple jump (15.12m) and long jump (7.03m) again! Only four women have ever cleared the 15m and 7m barrier in their lives and she is the ONE one to ever do it indoors.
This was supposed to be Masai Russell’s weekend as she had broken the record first in January, but Nugent ran 7.72 in the 60mH prelims to usurp that mark before backing it up in the final. The 20-year-old from Arkansas won the World U20 Championships for Jamaica two years ago. Two years ago she won this same title, but in a Baylor uniform. This is the fastest time in the world this year.
Jamaicans had plenty to celebrate this past weekend. The future looks bright with another young talent who was a U20 champion now winning NCAA titles and breaking records… national ones! Hibbert triple jumped an outstanding 17.54m just a few months after his 18th birthday. But do you know the best part? Hibbert did this in a 12-step approach (most elites do 18).
Six points shy of Ashton Eaton’s world record. The Georgia senior’s athleticism was on full display as he amassed a mind boggling 6639 points in the heptathlon. Kevin Mayer, the defending World Champion in the Decathlon just won Europeans with 6348 points. When you look at his performances, there is no weak link… well maybe the 1000m, but that’s everyone’s worst event!
The European champion from Norway may unfortunately go to Princeton, and he may have accidentally bumped into an athlete during the DMRs, but he is also now a 6.00m jumper. For context, imagine how big of a deal it must have been to break four minutes in the mile during the mid-1960’s. And I know we are trying to downplay the altitude thing right now, but earlier this season he only cleared 5.90m in the same venue.
Arkansas Women’s 4×400
This gets complicated. The NCAA record of 3:21.75 is now faster than the World Record of 3:23.37. That’s because all four ladies were not from the same country — BUT WHAT ABOUT HOG COUNTRY?! Pig sooie?! Anning is English, Reid is Jamaican, Britton Wilson is American, and Rosey Effiong is from Texas. This race locked up the double win for the Razorbacks.
And as everyone would have been able to predict, there were no distance runners on this list.
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After hanging up his spikes – but never his running shoes – Kyle pivoted to the media side of things, where he shares his enthusiasm, insights, and experiences with subscribers of The Lap Count newsletter, as well as viewers of CITIUS MAG live shows.