Sondre Guttormsen in the pole vault at the NCAA Indoor Championships (© Kirby Lee)
Although it was a day comprising mainly preliminary rounds, the first session at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque saw several collegiate records either broken or equalled on Friday (10).
Just six days after winning the European indoor title, Norway’s Sondre Guttormsen – a student at Princeton University – put together the series of his life to win the pole vault title in Albuquerque. His winning vault of 6.00m not only broke his own national record, it also equalled the collegiate indoor record set by KC Lightfoot just two years ago.
Guttormsen took the lead with a first-time clearance at 5.71m. After that height, just two other men remained in the competition: Zach Bradford and Kyle Rademeyer.
Bradford’s first-time clearance at 5.81m gave him the lead took the lead, while Rademeyer bowed out at that height. Guttormsen took one failed attempt, then skipped to 5.86m, which he got over on his first try. Bradford took two jumps at that bar, both of them fouls, but then succeeded at 5.91m. Guttormsen also cleared 5.91m on his first try.
Bradford finally exited the competition with three misses at 5.96m. Guttormsen, meanwhile, skipped that height and went straight to 6.00m – a height he got over on his second attempt.
Earlier in the day, another collegiate record was established in a jumping event.
Florida’s Jasmine Moore successfully defended her long jump title with her opening-round leap of 7.03m, setting a lifetime best, world-leading mark and collegiate record all in one. It was close for second place, with Ackelia Smith and Claire Bryant both jumping 6.88m, but Smith getting second place on countback.
The collegiate record may have survived in the men’s long jump, but it was an incredibly close competition with four men surpassing 8.30m.
Wayne Pinnock of Arkansas took an early lead with 8.21m, but teammate and fellow Jamaican Carey McLeod then claimed pole position in round two with 8.22m. Pinnock reclaimed the lead in round three with 8.27m, and Jeremiah Davis’s 8.23m jump bumped McLeod down into third.
Cameron Crump of Mississippi State then jumped to the top of the leaderboard with 8.39m in round four, equalling his lifetime best. Pinnock responded with 8.33m. Both men jumped beyond 8.30m again in round five, though it didn’t alter their positions.
There were more changes to come, though. In the final round, McLeod sailed out to an outright PB of 8.40m, taking the lead and equalling the long-standing Jamaican indoor record set 27 years ago by James Beckford. Davis then uncorked a PB of 8.37m to move into third place, bumping Pinnock off the podium.
Pinnock tried to respond but could only match his 8.33m leap in the final round. Crump, meanwhile, ended his series with 8.15m and had to settle for second place.
Nugent and Alfred break collegiate records in heats
Ackera Nugent and Julien Alfred stormed to collegiate records in the preliminary rounds of their respective events.
Nugent added to the Jamaican success on Friday, speeding to a lifetime best and collegiate record of 7.72 in her heat of the 60m hurdles. Nugent, the 2021 world U20 champion and a student at the University of Arkansas, took 0.02 off the Jamaican record that had stood to Michelle Freeman since 1998, and now moves to equal fifth on the world all-time list, just 0.04 shy of the world record.
Masai Russell, who set the previous collegiate record of 7.75 earlier this year, won the next heat in 7.78.
Just 40 minutes prior, St Lucia’s Julien Alfred – a student at the University of Texas – blitzed to a PB of 6.96 in her heat of the 60m, taking 0.01 off the collegiate record she set just a few weeks ago.
Tennessee’s Jacious Sears won the second heat in 7.04, just ahead of Kaila Jackson, who equalled the world U20 record of 7.07 in second place.
LSU’s Favour Ofili set a PB of 7.14 to qualify for the 60m final, but it’s in the 200m where she excels and the 20-year-old Nigerian won her heat in a stunning African record of 22.11, the fourth-fastest indoor clocking in history and just 0.02 shy of the collegiate record. Alfred won her heat comfortably in 22.38.
There were swift times in the men’s 200m heats, too. Nigeria’s Udodi Chudi Onwuzurike and Uganda’s Tarsis Orogot topped the qualifiers for the finals, both winning their respective heats in lifetime bests of 20.17, taking them to equal seventh on the world indoor all-time list.
The action continues on Saturday (11).