NCAA / Day 3: The Shining Moment
Athletes Rise To The Occasion
June 9th, 2023
As dusk settled on the Mike A. Myers Stadium here in Austin, Texas, you could see the sense of determination on the faces of the track & field men preparing to compete. This Day Three would be their final seasonal opportunity. It was time for these athletes to strive for their shining moment.
Running events got underway with an invigorated 4x100m relay final. Exuberance by the Texas Tech fans over what was believed to be a Texas Tech win was stifled when later review resulted in their team being disqualified, opening the door for LSU (38.05), Florida (38.26), and Florida State (38.29) to go 1-2-3.
Next up was the 1500m final. The race pace began cautiously but eventually grew to a frenzied finish when Washinton’s Joe Waskom, the defending champion, stepped on the gas as the bell rang. Waskom’s sophomore teammate Nathan Green covered the move and sailed on to victory with a scintillating 51-second final lap that sent him across the line in 3:42.78. Waskom (3:42.93) held on for 2nd as the Huskies went 1-2.
Big upset, Nathan Green takes 1500m, photo by How Lao Photography.
In the 3000m steeplechase, final perfect timing resulted in an NCAA championship for BYU junior Kenneth Rooks. With 500 meters to go, Rooks’ burst over the water jump gave him the quick advantage he needed as he breezed on to an easy win in 8:26.17.
Kenneth Brooks wins steeplechase in Stadium record, NCAA day 3, photo by How Lao Photography.
As it turned out, the 110m hurdles final set the tone for the sprint finals to follow, as all of the shorter races resulted in razor-thin margins. In the hurdles final, Arkansas’s Phillip Lemonious (a lifetime best of 13.24) had the lean that gave him the win, as De’Vion Wilson (13.26) and Jaheem Hayles (13.28) followed closely. The victor’s win gave Arkansas, which started Day Three with the team title lead, 10 more valuable points as the Razorbacks increased their lead.
A tough NCAA 110m final, photo by How Lao Photography
Texas Tech’s Courtney Lindsay was the 100m dash victor getting to the line first in a personal best and collegiate-leading time of 9.89. 7 of the 9 finalists were clocked under 10 seconds.
Florida gained ground in the team title race in the 400-meter dash final. The Gator duo of Emmanuel Damidele (44.24) and Ryan Willie (44.25) earned 18 more points for Florida. The victor’s winning time is #4 on the world list, as the top 4 finishers all clocked personal bests.
In the 800-meter final, Georgia freshman Will Sumner saw his shining moment and went after it with a vengeance. Sumner quickly ran away from the field and was never headed as the frosh clocked an eye-popping personal best of 1:44.26. Sumner’s winning time is a collegiate leader and set a new facility record.
Will Sumner takes 800m at NCAAs, photo by How Lao Photography.
Alabama got 18 big points when the Crimson Tide’s two 400m hurdle athletes – Chris Robinson (48.12) and Corde Long (48.53) – ran personal bests and finished 1-2 in the 400m hurdles final. Robinson’s clocking is the collegiate leader and set a new facility record,
As the remaining events began to dwindle for the collegiate men, all eyes were on the team title scoreboard. Stanford, which had earned 18 Day One points when its two distance stars went 1-2 in the 10,000, got a helpful Day Three boost when its sophomore sprint star Udodi Onwuzurike (19.84) captured the win in the 200m dash final. The furlong battle was splendid, as 4 of the 9 finalists posted sub-20.00 finishing times.
But Stanford was not done yet. In the next race, the 5000-meter run final, Stanford would have Ky Robinson and Charles Hicks – the same two athletes who went 1-2 in the 10,000m race just two days before. The 5000-meter race unfolded with care as the 24 athletes were closely bunched and reluctant to pick up a faster pace. Suddenly with 4 laps remaining, Northern Arizona junior Nico Young downshifted the tempo and dashed off in a quest to drive to the line. Others followed. It looked like Young just might pull it off. But with 500 meters to go, Robinson, who had been lurking in the pack, accelerated the pace yet again, flew past the rest of the pack, and ran the final lap in 55.50 to gain the win in 14:04.77 and complete his distance double. His teammate Hicks finished 6th (14:09.03), giving Stanford a combined 13-point team title point increase.
Nico Young leads Men’s 5000m, won by Stanford’s Ky Robinson, photo by How Lao Photography.
As the track was being set for the final event of Day Three – the 4x400m relay final – all eyes were on the scoreboard: These two teams – both of whom had quartets set to run in the final event – would close the show by battling for the team title. The Razorbacks could control their own destiny, while the Gators would need some help from others in the final event to capture the trophy. At the gun, a well-disciplined Gator foursome charged to the front while the Razorbacks were struggling back in the pack. In conclusion, the Razorbacks slid to 8th (for a final total of 53 points) while Florida won the race (for a total of 57 total points), won the team title, and captured its shining moment. / Dave Hunter /
The field events and the women’s heptathlon offered their own drama:
mHJ Final: In a drama-filled high jump, South Florida’s Romaine Beckford and Oklahoma’s Vernon Turner battle to a 2.27m/7-5 stalemate which went to Beckford on fewer misses.
Men’s High Jump, NCAA, photo by How Lao Photography
mDT Final: In what proved to be a buzzer-beater finish, Arkansas athlete and event leader Roje Stona had completed his throw and was in the gold medal position with the best mark of 65.55m/215-0 when Arizona State’s Turner Washington stepped into the ring for his final throw (and the final throw of the competition.) Turner uncorked a magnificent season’s best throw of 66.22m/66.22 to win the event and to snatch the gold away from Stona.
mTJ Final: Arkansas freshman Jaydon Hibbert was the victor with the best mark of 17.56m 57′ 7 1/2, a full two feet farther than the best throw of Miami’s Russell Robinson, the runner-up performer.
Day One of Women’s Heptathlon: After the first day of competition in the women’s heptathlon, the leader is Ball State junior Janelle Rogers with 3840 points, 165 points ahead of her nearest competitor Vanderbilt’s Beatrice Juskeviciute. The final 3 events will be held on Saturday.