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

Hot Relay Weekend – Post Meet Thoughts

Apr 5th, 2023
7:41 am PDT

The stars came out this past weekend and track and field shined brightly as a result. That’s the verdict of fans everywhere that watched either of the Texas or Florida Relays. Two of the hottest relay meets of the spring, and annually the coming out party of many of the sport’s domestic stars. Results are readily available. As a matter of fact,, is my weekly go to for meet information in general – including results. So, I’m not going to pretend to try to give you all of the awesome results here. What I am going to do however, is give you my impression of several races and performances from the weekend.

I’m going to start with a race that didn’t happen in either meet. That would be the 400m in the South African Championships. The race was won by WR holder Wayde van Niekerk in a world leading 44.17. This was his fastest race since his injury and surgery back in 2018! And signals that he’s finally BACK! At least at a point where sub44 is again within site. This comes at a time when reigning world champion, Michael Norman says that he is going to follow Fred Kerley and focus on the 100m. If this happens, two of the sport’s top quartermilers (Kerley and Norman) will be competing in the short sprints. Making a return to the top, an easier proposition for van Niekerk. The only other active sub44 performers being Kirani James and Champion Allison. This event just got very interesting.

Another athlete that’s been on the comeback trail, that showed signs of revitalization, is Sha’Carri Richardson. Yes, that’s what I said. She ran anchor on one of several “USA” squads in the Texas women’s 4×1. The winning squad was the first three legs from Eugene’s gold medal squad (Jefferson, Steiner and Prandini). With Aleia Hobbs on anchor. They won in a world leading 41.75. But the surprise, for me, was Sha’Carri’s anchor. She made up ground on Hobbs (out running Gabby Thomas as well), and showed that “gear” that Sha’Carri had coming out of LSU. This could be interesting for American women, as we’re still waiting for someone to rise up and challenge the Jamaican women! Sha’Carri just ran herself back into the picture. Though she still needs to prove maturity both on and off the track.

While I’m on the topic of that relay, Jefferson, Steiner and Prandini all looked like the women that lead the team to gold last year. Steiner has looked that way since opening indoors. While Prandini looked rather “tired” indoors. In Texas however, she looked like she’s adjusted to being in Kersee’s camp. Storming around the turn to give Hobbs the stick well ahead of the competition. That could mean trouble for other sprinters. And speaking of trouble, that’s how Abby looked on the backstretch! Ditto Jefferson as she ate up Javianne Oliver, Mikiah Brisco, Cambria Sturgis, and Keni Harrison. I’m just saying. Later, both Steiner and Prandini ran legs on the 4×4. Abby handing off again to Jenna, who showed a bit of strength of her own. Yeah, she’s training with Bobby.

Let’s stay with 4×4’s for a minute. Because Kenny Bednarek and Marvin Bracy ran legs on a 4×4 in Texas. A 44 sec leg for Kenny, 47 for Marvin. After running on the winning 4×1. In Florida, we got legs by the Lyles brothers (45 for Josephus, 47 for Noah). Everybody working on strength this weekend. The best men’s 4×1 was run in Florida, by the Canadian squad anchored by Andre DeGrasse. The Canadians ran 37.70, looking polished as usual. Yes, we (the US) bring more speed to the track. But we’d better get busy trying to run some squads together like the women! Just saying. Passing is going to be important.

Speaking of speed, there were some fast 100’s in both Florida and Texas. Florida saw Erriyon Knighton run 9.98 with 2.1mps wind – barely over the allowable. We also saw two women run fast with stronger winds. Talitha Diggs going 10.91 in her heat (4.1mps). Tamari Davis blitzing 10.83 (5.2mps). Both women looked very good. Like they could do it without wind. And actually, both races just caught gusts, because races on either side of theirs caught gentler winds. Meanwhile in Texas, Gabby Thomas caught a legal wind and ran 10.09. Signaling that she too is recovered from last year’s injury.

Male Quartermilers on both coasts spent time in the 200m. With Steven Gardiner showing his return from injury with a 20.14! While in Florida, the Gator quartermilers spent Friday running the deuce. Ryan Willie (20.51), Jacory Patterson (20.49), Emanuel Bambidele (20.47) and Robert Gregory (20.31) using the race to prepare for the outdoor season. So, we “only” got a 3:02.01 win in the 4×4 from the collegiate record holders. Though they won by almost 2 seconds. They took the 4×4 seriously in Texas however. Georgia going 2:58.82. Becoming #2 all time college. They had to run that fast as they were pushed by Alabama (2:59.15), UCLA (2:59.29), Baylor (3:00.61) and Arizona State (3:01.38). The hottest college finish ever. A warning to Florida perhaps? Here’s what I do know, the NCAA final this year is going to be crazy!

Another crazy final will be the 200m based on the Texas results. Terrance Jones (TxTech) showing he’s not just a 60m guy, blitzing 20.05! With teammate Courtney Lindsey at 20.11, and Tennessee’s Javonte Harding running 20.24. Between Texas and Florida it looks like the deuce is going to be a hot event.

Last, but not least, Rai Benjamin opened up in the open 400m with a nice 44.94. Given his PR of 44.31, this was a pretty nice time. Especially since he didn’t looked stressed or pressured. Rai is easily the most talented of all the intermediate hurdlers. This race just underlines this fact. Benjamin appears to be healthy. This should be Rai’s season to win gold. We will find out.

As I said, this was a great weekend for the stars. We are now officially into the 2023 season!

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