Division I Track & Field Championship: Georgia women, Florida men capture national titles
COLLEGE STATION – On a day filled with records at a meet that ranks among the greatest in championship history, Georgia’s women won the school’s first national team title in dominant fashion with 61 points and Florida’s men picked up a fourth team title with 40 points at the 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships at Gilliam Stadium.
Two indoor world records were set, with Michael Norman of Southern California beating Kerron Clement’s 2005 men’s 400m time by .05 seconds in 44.52, and Texas A&M’s men’s 4x400m relay clipping almost a half-second off the previous best set by Poland at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in England last week at 3:01.39.
CONGRATULATIONS FLORIDA GATORS!— NCAA Track & Field (@NCAATrackField) March 11, 2018
2018 NCAA INDOOR TRACK & FIELD NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! pic.twitter.com/pDkoUKxNyt
Anchored by Norman, the Trojans won the 4x400 in 3:00.77, the fastest time ever recorded. However, the IAAF requires a relay team to have four members from the same nation to achieve a world record, and Rai Benjamin represents Antigua & Barbuda.
Two other American records fell Saturday: Elijah Hall of Houston became only the third man to win the 60m and 200m double at the championships, and his winning time of 20.02 in the 200 was .08 better than the previous record, set by Wallace Spearmon in 2005. In the women’s 400m, Southern California’s Kendall Ellis sprinted to a 50.34 to take .12 off the time turned in by Phyllis Francis of Oregon at the NCAA meet in 2014.
Six collegiate records were set, with Harvard’s Gabrielle Thomas lowering the women’s 200m mark to 22.38, and Aleia Hobbs of LSU equaling the women’s 60m record with a 7.07, to go with the previously mentioned marks.
UTEP’s Michael Saruni led the list of other championship meet records broken, clocking 1:45.15 in the 800. Pole vaulter Lexi Jacobus of Arkansas broke her own meet record with a 4.66m/15-3½ clearance, and Georgia’s Keturah Orji bested the women’s triple jump mark, going 14.27m/46-10 to notch her third straight win.
The Bulldogs never trailed in the women’s team scoring after their Friday sweep of the long jump medals, adding 28 points to their tally on the strength of Orji’s triple jump win and Lynna Irby’s bronzes in the 200m and 400m. Sixth-place finishes by Davis in the 60m hurdles and long jump champ Kate Hall in the 60m rounded out Georgia’s Saturday scoring.
Grant Holloway and KeAndre Bates carried much of the load for Florida’s men, who last won the indoor title in 2012. Holloway, runner-up in the long jump on Friday, ran away from the field in the 60m hurdles to win in 7.47. Already the collegiate record-holder at 7.42, Holloway became the first collegiate man to record three sub-7.50 times in his career.
Bates and Clayton Brown finished second and fourth in the triple jump, leaving the Gators needing to finish no worse than fourth in the 4x400 to guarantee the team title. With Holloway turning in a 44.91 on the second leg, Florida took the bronze in 3:01.43, better than the previous world record and the third-fastest time in collegiate history.
Coming back from her Friday victory in the 5,000m, Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer won the 3,000m in 8:53.36 to become only the fourth woman to complete the distance double. A close finish in the women’s mile saw Elinor Purrier move up from her runner-up spot in 2017 and capture New Hampshire’s first-ever NCAA indoor gold in 4:31.76, only .06 in front of Colorado’s Dani Jones.
#Mizzou’s @KarissaSchweiz4 becomes the 5th female in @NCAATrackField history to win the NCAA Indoor 3K/5K.— Mizzou Track & Field (@MIZ_TrackField) March 11, 2018
She joins Notre Dame's Molly Seidel (16), Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino (13&14), Texas Tech's Sally Kipyego (07), and Providence's Kim Smith (04)#MIZ #TigerTough
Defending the title he won here last year, New Mexico’s Josh Kerr pulled away over the final lap to take the men’s mile in 3:57.02. In the penultimate race of the meet, Northern Arizona’s Andy Trouard was a surprise 3,000m winner, moving ahead of 5,000 champion Justyn Knight of Syracuse down the stretch to cross the line in 8:04.94.
Payton Chadwick of Arkansas edged Southern California’s Anna Cockrell by .004 in the 60m hurdles, as both runners were given a time of 7.93, and Cockrell later helped her team to a 3:27.45 win in the 4x400, the fifth-fastest time in collegiate history. The day’s other track gold was won by Oregon’s Sabrina Southerland in the 800, becoming the fifth-best collegiate performer ever in 2:01.55.
Penn State picked up its first men’s individual gold since 1990 with David Lucas throwing the 35-pound weight 24.02m/78-9¾ . One centimeter was the margin of victory for Minnesota’s Kaitlyn Long in the women’s 20-pound weight throw, as she threw 23.30m/76-5½ in the final round to beat Annette Echikunwoke of Cincinnati.
A spirited battle in the men’s heptathlon ended up with Kentucky’s Tim Duckworth taking top honors, scoring a personal best 6,188 points as three men topped the 6,000-point barrier. Duckworth moved to fourth on the all-time collegiate list and improved on his second-place finish from 2017. The other men’s field event gold Saturday went to O’Brien Wasome of Texas, who won the men’s triple jump with a lifetime-best 16.82m/55-2¼ in the fifth round.
Representing Southern California, Randall Cunningham was the men’s high jump winner, although he broke his tibia on an approach and is currently at the hospital.
“This was the best I’ve seen him jump in years,” USC head coach Caryl Smith-Gilbert said. “He was successful due to how hard he trained this year. He was dedicated to his weight program.”