Speed was on display this past weekend and nowhere was it more prominent than the speedy state of Texas and the annual Texas Relays. The first sign that things were going to be fast came in the qualifying rounds of the University 4×1 when Auburn scorched the track for a 38.95 in their heat. That’s the kind of time one expects to see collegiate teams run in the semis or final of the NCAA Championships, not an opening round of the Texas Relays – one of the first runs for college teams of the season.
They proved that was no fluke however, as they flew to a WL 38.30 in the final – the #4 collegiate time in history! That run was faster than the open time of 38.64 turned in by a Wallace Spearmon, Darvis Patton squad – the current world leaders in the 200 & 100 respectively. It was also faster than the previous WL turned in by Jamaica’s Racers Club anchored by World champion Yohan Blake.One has to assume that barring some major injuries to their squad. Last year Auburn couldn’t get out of the NCAA Regionals clocking a less than stellar 40.41. But their squad has been completely remade with only anchor Keenan Brock left over from last years squad as Marcus Rowland, Harry Adams and DeHaven Michael now get the stick around to Brock – and the team is now within arms length of TCU’s venerable 38.04. Now the question on the table is whether or not this squad can become college’s first sub 38!
The Auburn crew weren’t the only one’s showing speed however. Sanya Richards Ross continues to show that she is going to be difficult to beat this year as she took the opportunity to turn in some speed work – the result a sizzling 10.89w (+2.9). The time is the fastest ever for Sanya under any conditions – her legal best 10.97 – as she looks to be completely over her ailments of the past few seasons. In the University division, Kimberlyn Duncan continues to look like she is going to be a major factor in both the NCAA Championships and Olympic Trials later this year as she blazed 10.94w (+3.0) and anchored LSU to a 42.99 4×1.
While the wind continued to produce non legal times the men also turned in a couple of blazers as former NCAA Champion Jeff Demps (FL) ran 10.01w (+2.9) and super high school stud Marvin Bracy (Boone, FL) scorched 10.06w (+2.4). The irony in this pair is that Demps is the current HS record holder at 10.01 and Bracy perhaps the strongest ever challenger to that record. Demps set that mark in the rounds of the ‘08 Olympic Trials where he made the semis and just missed a spot in the final. Bracy surely will be at the Trials and we’ll see what impact he has there. Regardless of the outcome he’s definitely headed for a great season. And Demps looks ready to take back the NCAA title he lost last year after cramping in his semi and failing to make the final. Both are men to watch as the season progresses.
The men also turned in a fast hurdles race as Chris Thomas (USA, 13.45) ran the #3 mark in the world ahead of Mikel Thomas (TRI, 13.48), Jeff Porter (USA, 13.59) and Trey Hardee (USA, 13.61). The mark was especially impressive for decathlete Hardee as it was a PR.It shows that Hardee is quite healthy, and it moves him closer to Ashton Eaton’s best of 13.35. I have no doubt that we are going to be treated to two super decathlon competitions this summer at the Trials and Games when these two go toe to toe.
Finally Texas was the place for quarter milers making comeback moves as Jeremy Wariner continues to show that he is back and ready to rumble. This time running a leg of the 4×4, Wariner circled the track in 44.58 seconds after previously running some fast 200’s in his previous outings this season. Jeremy is on track literally and figuratively and appears well on his way to a ticket to London.
Texas was the spot this weekend but there were other meets the best result coming out of the Jim Click Shootout in Arizona as Ohio States Christina Manning thrust herself into the US hurdle picture with a 12.68 (+0.4) win in the 100 hurdles! That’s the #2 time in the world right now with near zero wind! She obliterated her previous PR of 12.86 set last year and is only .19 off Sally Pearson’s WL! She wasn’t alone however, as Brianna Rollins (12.78), Queen Harrison (12.79) and Bridgette Owens-Mitchell (12.88) also ran well. It looks like the women’s hurdles at the US Trials just got a bit deeper. As a side note, Harrison is better known as a long hurdler and doubled with a win in the 400 in 53.18, so looks like she is on track for a solid year in her primary event.
Missing from the big party in Texas was Ole Miss who was hosting their own invitational in Mississippi. Pity as Michael Granger (10.19, +0.2) and Isiah Young (20.49, +1.4) turned in some very nice times. While high jumper Ricky Robertson’s 2.26m/7’ 5” makes him =#2 in the world right now. A mark he shares with, among others, James White of Central Iowa who turned in his performance at the Arkansas Spring Invitational this weekend. Also leaping high in Arkansas was Razorback Andrew Irwin who vaulted a WL 5.60m/18’ 4.5”
Before I go I want to mention to hurdlers that did well this weekend at the Raleigh Relays as Ronnie Ash opened his season at 13.42 (+1.5) – second in the world only to David Oliver’s 13.30 (-3.2) that somehow went unnoticed last weekend. There was also an appearance by Bershawn “Batman” Jackson who ran a lap without hurdles in 46.33 as he put in some work on his flat speed.
The next big relay meet should be the Florida Pepsi Relays at the University of Florida this next weekend. More fast times ahead!