The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

NCAA Championships – Great Competition

Jun 10th, 2013
8:17 am PDT

Brianna RollinsThis is one of the meets that I really look forward to each year, because it’s everything that the sport should be. A meet that contests EVERY event. It has relays. The best show up to compete. There’s team scoring. And most of all, the competition is fierce!

Yes, the NCAA Championships should be the poster child for track and field. The meet that doesn’t need stars because it creates its own stories and stars – and this year’s version will go down as one of the best ever, because it had all these things in copious amounts!

The semis gave an indication that we were going to be in for a treat, and these kids didn’t disappoint. As nearly every final lived up to it’s billing.

From the opening 400 hurdles to the closing 4×4’s that track reminded me of Carson’07 – hot enough to need a fire extinguisher to put out some of the shoes! As a matter of fact, now that the meet is over I hope they give the track an ice bath because it got worked this week!

There wasn’t a dull moment in this meet, so I hate to try and single any events out to "highlight" because this meet was full of them. Nonetheless I did have some favorite moments and this I will share knowing that they will give the flavor of the meet in general.


Women’s 400 Hurdles

What a great way to get the finals started. Kori Carter (Stanford) and Georgeann Moline (Arizona) have been the collegiate stars of the event all year long. They entered the meet having run against each other twice already with Carter winning both. But Moline is the Olympic veteran having made the final in London last year, so i had to feel that she would be ready to take it to the next level here – and she was. Moline was in Olympic form, her 53.72 a full .20  faster than her time in the London final. But again it was not enough against Carter who ran stunningly throughout and was always a step ahead as she finished in a world leading 53.21 – a collegiate record that moved her to =#20 performer all time in the event with Marie Jose  Perec! These two young ladies are the future of the event in this country – and the future could arrive this summer.


Women’s 100 Hurdles

As good as the result of the long hurdle race was, the short race was even better as Brianna Rollins (Clemson) put on a clinic. She started out by setting a new collegiate record of 12.47 in her semi – a mark that would have gotten her bronze in London. But that was just the beginning, as she blew the field away in the final with a stunning 12.39 that is the fastest time in the world and moved her to =9 all time performer! Only Gail Devers (12.33), Joanna Hayes (12.37), and Dawn Harper (12.37) have run faster among Americans. And the scary thing is that she made it look easy – like a routine run. I don’t want to jinx her, but she looks like there’s more to come. How much more I can’t say, but surely, barring injury (knock on wood) Rollins is headed for something special.


Women’s 100

Often overshadowed by the men, the women were putting on a show in this meet! And right there battling for top billing was Oregon’s own English Gardener (Oregon). Now, before I go further in going to admit that I’ve not been her biggest fan. She’s popped off some fast times here and there, but then doesn’t seem quite the same under the lights. Plus, as far as sprinters go, I tend to favor the stronger finishers over the quick start/late fade variety. – and I do want to clean up her technique. Saturday however, she gained new respect from me. For starters she was injured during 200 qualifying and didn’t make the final. So what does she do? She blasts out of the blocks in the 100 and storms down the straight never giving an inch to power sprinters Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU), Aurieyall Scott (UCF) and Octavious Freeman (UCF) as she flew past the finish line in 10.96! Only SAFP (10.93) and Carmelita Jeter (19.95) have run faster this year. Gardener showed heart, nerves, and the ability to finish strongly, and if she continues to run like that she will be a force in Des Moines.


Men’s 100

The semis of this event were hot with the slowest qualifier to the final running 10.08w! The final lived up to the hype. Dentarius Locke (Florida State) & Charles Silmon (TCU) exploding from the blocks and heading up the middle of the track Locke a step ahead with a group of three in tow another step off. A they nearer the finish Locke looked to have it locked up but Silmon surged past in the final few steps to steak victory 9.89 to 9.91. If not for the +3.2 mps wind Silmon would have tied the national record. Still this was one hell of a race as collegiate leader Isaiah Young (Mississippi) grabbed third in 9.96 with Diondre Batson (Alabama) and Aaron Brown (USC) both at 10.01. Times like this in Des Moines could find a spot on the flight to Moscow. I’m dying to see how they fair against Gatlin, Gay, Dix, Rodgers, and Bailey in a couple of weeks.


Men’s 400

This was the race I was most looking forward to – a showdown between Olympians Bryshon Nellum (USC) & Deon Lendore (Texas A&M) in one of the sports toughest events. Throw in David Verburg (George Mason) who’d clocked some fast times coming in, and the Florida pair of Arman Hall & Hugh Graham Jr, who’s team was in the title hunt, and you had the ingredients for a hot race. And that’s just what we got. Florida frosh Arman Hall was flying through 300 and leading coming of the turn – then Lendore made his expected move and went past and into the lead. But before he could get comfortable Nellum shifted gears and smoothly/strongly ran through the field and crossed the line in 44.73 – moving to #3 on the yearly list! Lendore (44.94), Hall (45.02), and Verburg (45.03) made this the hottest 400 outside a Merritt/James clash! And watching Nellum my gut says he’s going to be near their level this year. Stay tuned.


Men’s 4×1

Relays. In my humble opinion EVERY meet should have relays, because there is nothing as exciting as truly competitive relays. Case in point was the men’s 4×1 in Eugene. The best of the SEC got to go at it one more time with national implications – including defending champion Florida. Collegiate sprint leader Diondre Batson was on Alabama’s squad. Eventual 100 silver medallist Dentarius Locke was on the backstretch for Florida State. World Jr sprint star Aaron Ernest was on the track for LSU. In short, the field was loaded. So of course the race came down to stirring stretch run between Alabama and Florida with the Gator anchor surging by Alabama with a better lean at the tape! Florida defended its title without a big name on the squad in the year’s fastest collegiate time. Now THAT’s what relay running is supposed to be about, and what makes it one of the most exciting events on the track.


Women & Men’s 4×4’s

If there’s a better way to close out a meet I haven’t seen it. Sure you can cherry pick events when you know a star is competing. But no other event can guarantee excitement every time out like the 4×4 can! In the women’s race we got a classic come from behind victory with Arkansas’s Regina George coming through with the win in her final race as a Razorback. Her run was one of those classic "reel em in while the crowd goes WOOOO" moments! The kind of run that people start a conversation saying "I was at that NCAA meet when Regina George …..” ! She’ll be talked about for years to come. On the men’s side Florida needed a win and some help to repeat as national men’s team champion. They got the win by controlling the race throughout and finishing in the fastest coordinate time of the year. They got help from Texas A&M who bobbled an exchange and never recovered finishing in eighth place. Their last place finish combined with the Gators win left both in a tie for the overall team title! Races don’t get more important than that. And that’s how you close out a meet. Excitement and titles in the balance.

This meet was awesome. So many things I didn’t mention. Like Kimberlyn Duncan’s 22.04w deuce, the best in the world under any conditions. Ashley Spencer running 50.29 in the 400. Emma Coburn’s domination of the steeple. The high jump battle between London medalists Erik Kynard and Derrick Drouin. Just great competition and performances everywhere you looked.

And congrats to men’s team co champions Florida (repeat) and Texas A&M, and women’s champion Kansas who got tremendous performances from their athletes! Florida winning both relays and getting a win from triple jumper Omar Craddock to get big points on the final day to come from behind for the title. Kansas riding two silver medal performances in the long and triple jump from Andrea Geubelle to seal the title before the final day of competition. And Texas A&M getting big wins from Wayne Davis II in the high hurdles(13.14w!) and Ameer Webb in the deuce on the final day for their share of the title. All these kids held up under the pressure of the team hunt and all the members of the top teams are to be commended for giving us just a great meet!

It’s going to be a tough act to follow. Let’s see if  Oslo will keep pace on Thursday! And Nationals are right around the corner. Man this time of year is great.

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10 Responses to “NCAA Championships – Great Competition”

  1. […] Hill reviews a NCAA Championships for a Chill Zone. I don’t know Hill’s throwaway criticism about Oregon’s English Gardner. He writes: “She’s popped off some quick times here and there, though afterwards doesn’t […]

  1. Anderson says:

    Diamond Dixon did not win the 400m, she actually didn’t even make the finals.
    Ashley Spencer was the winner in 50.29

    Also note that Gardner announced after the 4×1 that she is forgoing her last year of NCAA eligibility and turning Pro

    • CHill says:

      Duh , I knew that .. Not sure why Dixon’s name got stuck in my head .. Yes Gardener is going pro, along with several others .. I’ll be curious to see how she does .. If she can replicate that race she could sneak on the flight to Moscow ..

      • Anderson says:

        I agree, with her wins at Millrose, And Mt Sac against the pros, I think she is ready. And also I would assume that because this is a championship year instead of her Senior year (2014) being an off year, it was an easier decision.

  2. Dell says:

    Nice write up. One small correction; Although Florida were the overall team champs last year, the LSU men were actually the defending champs in the 4x100m. Funny enough, Florida did not have a 4×100 relay squad at the 2012 NCAA meet. I’m guessing they must have dropped the stick at regionals or something….

  3. Bill Jenkins says:

    I don’t understand your throw away lines about English Garnder popping some good times but not seeming the same “under the lights”. She made the 100 final at the Olympic Trials as a college sophomore. This was her 2nd NCAA 100 meter title in her three years at UO and she has also won an indoor 60 yard title. Hardly seems to me that doesn’t do well “under the lights”

    • CHill says:

      That’s if you consider the NCAA’s “the lights” … Here’s my thing … She ran 11.03 at Pac10’s in ’11 … She only ran 11.25 at the NCAA meet … Didn’t compete at US Nationals .. She didn’t get anywhere close to 11.03 the rest of the ’11 season or during 2012 … Yes she won the NCAA title in 2012 in 11.10 over Duncan, but Duncan is up & down in this event .. She made the final at Trials but was well off the pace at 11.28 .. She hasn’t run faster than her 2011 11.03 until this year … Before that she had a trio of 11.10’s – popped a few fast times – two of the three coming in rounds …

      So yes, she’s been a good collegiate sprinter … My comment said nothing about that … The key, especially since she is going pro, is how she fairs against those athletes … And so far she’s at less than her best … A fact not opinion … I’m not trying to down grade her … Just commenting on her career to date … And the 100 is a very deep event in the US …

      • Anderson says:

        She won at Millrose and Mt Sac against some of the top US ladies. What about that?

        At trials last year she lost to Jeter, Madison, and Felix all sub 10.9 sprinters, Knight, a multiple relay Gold Medalist, Tarmoh, a world and olympic team member, and Williams, former world champion and Olympic Medalist.

        Note she beat Williams twice this year…

        What are the specific times/meets your saying that she has been less than her best against those athletes recently? I cant seem to find them myself.

        • CHill says:

          I’m sorry I’m not praising Gardener, but that didn’t mean I’m putting her down .. Read my last comments .. She ran 11.03 back in 2011 … Didn’t come close again until this year …

          For me running one’s best in a big meet means stepping up your game … 11.28 was not stepping up her game … Yes she lost to stud’s at Trials, which is precisely the point – she wasn’t ready yet ..

          No one cares about Millrose in the grand scheme of things … And ask Ato Boldon what running fast/winning at Mt Sac means .. Yes it’s nice, but that is developmental time of the year .. Though 11.00 was nice …

          Now, stepping up her game and going sub 11 and winning that NCAA race against s tough collegiate field is impressive and I said so .. But I’m waiting to see how she fairs at US Nationals before I’m ready to say she “arrived” ..

          Sometimes people get too eager to anoint athletes .. Everyone was ready to say Doc Patton was ready to challenge for gold earlier this year .. Now it’s hard to remember those races and I’m not sure he’s ready to challenge for a ticket to Moscow let alone gold .. Things have to be taken in context ..

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