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

Kimberlyn Duncan Leads Weekend Collegians

May 14th, 2012
12:30 pm PDT

Kimberlyn DuncanFriday we were treated to Doha, and one of the best Diamond League events the league has put together. The weekend was left to the “youngsters” as collegiate conference meets dominated the action as the road to the NCAA championships began.

The college season has been relatively quiet so far, with coaches having both the NCAA championships AND the Olympic Trials in mind as they’ve prepared their athletes this year. So we’ve seen a lot less of the top athletes early on and marks have been relatively modest. Ah, but that changed this weekend as the top collegians began to close the gap with their elite counterparts in a couple of events – as some potential Trials contenders emerged.

Heading that list was LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan. Already a threat to make noise in Eugene in the deuce, she rolled to a 10.96 (1.9) win at the SEC Champs to become a legitimate 100 meter threat as well. Earlier in the season she had run 10.94w (3.0), but this time with legal wind she looked every bit like a young Gwen Torrence as she flowed down the track! The time makes Duncan the #3 collegian all time, #2 without altitude, and moved her into the #5 position on the current world list – right behind VCB (10.94) and just ahead of Kerron Stewart (10.98), both Olympic medalists. And I must say that Duncan looked easy doing it. Solid start, beautiful acceleration, and her 200 strength took over in the second half of the race – the spitting image of Torrence in her prime. Speaking of the deuce, Duncan won that in a sizzling 22.12 (2.6)! It would have been an easy WL if not for the wind. Kymberlyn is on point right now and clearly the collegiate sprinter to keep an eye on – both at the NCAA Championships as well as the Olympic Trials.

But she wasn’t alone in the short sprint this weekend. At the Big 12 Champs, Ashley Collier (TxAM) sped an 11.01 (1.9) of her own – moving to #6 all time collegian – well up on the 2nd place 11.17 by Alison Peter (TX). And at the Pac 12 meet English Gardner (OR) went 11.00 (2.5) which would have moved Collier down one spot if not for the slight wind. Gardener has a legal 11.03 to her credit from last year and is clearly threatening to set a new PR this year.The 100 in Des Moines is going to be one HOT race, and a possible preview of things to come at the Trials.

The other hot event on the collegiate scene this weekend was the men’s 400. The SEC race saw last year’s US champion, Tony McQuay (FL) win in 45.48, just ahead of Torrin Lawrence (GA) 45.55 and Akheem Gauntlett (Ark) 45.57. As all three look to just be beginning to peak. Meanwhile westward at the Big 12 meet, Gil Roberts reemerged after sizzling indoors. Roberts (TxTech) ran a seasons best 45.16 but LOST to Deon Lendore (TxAM) and his huge 45.13 PR! Who is Lendore? A Trinidadian who started the year with a best of 46.50. He went into the meet with a best of 45.56, run last month at a meet in Florida. And now is on reach of sub 45. As I’ve said many times, this is one event where “coming out of the woodwork” is the status quo. And I’m sure it’s just beginning.

Bryshon NellumBy the way, at the Pac 12 meet Bryshon Nellum won in 45.20, confirming that he is back – bless his heart as the old folk used to say! The road this young man has traveled back from his injuries has been rough indeed and he deserves every accolade that can be given an athlete just for making back to the track let alone once again being in major contention.  I’m looking forward to seeing him go sub 45 this year and hope he makes it to the finals at the Trials, if for no other reason than it would be the greatest feel good story of the year – and this sport could use some feel good stories. This event could produce some of the most exciting results at both the Trials and Games. Speaking of which, Kirani James (GRN) is set to debut in Daegu in a couple of days! Then he’ll be in the mix.

Back to the college kids, Diamond Dixon (KS) also turned on a swift lap with her 51.09 – moving to the head of the collegiate line and into Trials view.  And while Nellum won big over 400 meters without barriers at the Pac 12, Amaechi Morton (Stanford) 48.96 and Georgann Moline (AZ) 55.12 both moved to the top of the collegiate lists with hurdles. So it was a big weekend for the women’s 100 and men’s 400 at conference meets.

And I have to mention the Texas High School Championships because we have a couple more young men that could make an appearance at this year’s Trials. One is Abraham Hall who won the 100 in his division at 10.19 (1.3] putting him near the the state record of 10.13 set by set by Derrick Florence back in 1986! As it is he moves into the #6 position all time among high school sprinters, and qualifies for the Olympic Trials. It also moves to the top of this year’s high school list and a young man that everyone has been talking about – Marvin Bracy. For the first time since 1976, if my memory serves me well, we could have two high schoolers competing in the 100 at the Olympic Trials! We could also have a quarter miler at the Trials as Aldrich Bailey ran 45.92 to win his division at the Texas State Meet. This on the heels of a reported 45.19 two weeks before at his regional. I was a bit doubtful of the 45.19 but after watching the kid run 45.9, it’s possible he ran it! The 45.19 moves him into the #6 position all time among high school quarter milers. And we may get a chance to see just how good he is later in Eugene.

In any case this is shaping up as one of the great years for high school sprinting rivaling seasons like 1976 (Houston McTear, Johnny Jones & Tony Darden) and 1985 (Roy Martin, Henry Thomas, and Joe DeLoach). Great to see we have some outstanding young talent in the pipeline. Speaking of talent, there is more on the way in Daegu on Wednesday. Along with Kirani James, Walter Dix and Carmelita Jeter are scheduled to run the 100. The 110 hurdles are loaded with current world leader Aries Merritt taking on David Oliver and Jason Richardson. And a huge shot put field (pun intended) with Ryan Whiting, Dylan Armstrong, Adam Nelson and Christian Cantwell.  Should be another solid meet!

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