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A Rash Of Speedy Records

by Don Steffens

College Station, Texas (March 10)—The men's mile relay at the NCAA Indoor Championships had most every record imaginable, including a World Best and World Record (by different teams!).

Winner USC ran the fastest time in history, 3:00.77. But host Texas A&M lowered the WR to 3:01.39 with an all-U.S. line-up. Trojan second leg Rai Benjamin, although born in the U.S., has represented Antigua internationally and IAAF rules require all members be from the same nation for relay records.

Michael Norman WR KL
No less than a 400 World Record for USC’s Michael Norman.

Both foursomes were under the Collegiate Record of 3:01.98 set by USC earlier this year, as was 3rd-placer Florida (3:01.43). The other two USC legs were handled by leadoff Zach Shinnick (46.24) and third-leg Ricky Morgan (45.67).

There were sub-45 splits everywhere, including the fastest indoor carry ever, 44.35 by Benjamin. 44.52s went to his teammate, anchor Michael Norman, and A&M anchor Mylik Kelley.

“I don't care what anyone says,” said Trojan head Caryl Smith Gilbert. “USC owns the World Record in the 4x400m relay. No four men in the history of the world have run faster indoors than the Trojans did tonight.”

A couple of hours earlier Norman, a 20-year-old soph, had seen Auburn's Akeem Bloomfield lower the yearly world lead in the open 400 to 44.86, a mark that moved him to No. 5 on the all-time world list.

Norman’s response in the second section of the time-final was to go out in a stiff 21.33, then hang on for a 23.19 second lap that brought him home in a World Record 44.52. The old mark of 44.57 was set by Florida’s Kerron Clement in the ’05 Nationals.

Norman wasn’t the only Trojan in record mode. Shortly after his 44.52 the women took to the track and senior teammate Kendall Ellis ran 50.34 in the first section to clip 0.12 from the American and Collegiate Records set by Oregon’s Phyllis Francis in the ’14 meet.

Super-frosh Sydney McLaughlin of Kentucky was in the second section and she too was faster than the Francis mark, winning that one in 50.36, a new World Junior Record.

There was more recordsetting to come. Elijah Hall popped a PR 6.52 (=CL) to take the 60, but the big news was when the Houston senior came back in the 200 to claim the American and Collegiate Records at 20.02 (old records 20.10 by Arkansas’s Wallace Spearmon in the ’05 meet).

On the women’s side, Aleia Hobbs of LSU tied the CR in the 60 at 7.07, while Harvard's Gabrielle Thomas lowered the 200 CR to 22.38.

New Mexico’s Josh Kerr ran powerfully, splitting 60.33, 2:02.64, 3:02.80, and finished with 54.22 to defend his mile title in 3:57.02. Va Tech's Vincent Chatter (3:58.36) and Oregon's Sam Prakel (3:58.58) were also under 4:00.

Mizzou's Karissa Schweizer was a doubler. After winning Friday’s 5000, she came back for the 3K. She ran 8:53.56, always just out of the reach of Boise State soph Allie Ostrander (8:54.35), the NCAA steeple winner last June.

Tragedy struck in the high jump: leading at 7-6 (2.29) without a miss, USC senior Randall Cunningham broke the tibia and fibula in his left keg on his first approach at 2.32, but won nonetheless. He’ll reportedly miss the entire outdoor season.

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