Kyra Jefferson wins the 200m at the NCAA Championships (© Kirby Lee)
Kyra Jefferson sped to a collegiate record of 22.02 to win the women’s 200m on the final day of the NCAA Championships in Eugene on Saturday (10).
The Florida student trailed pre-race favourite Deajah Stevens going into the home straight, but gradually closed the deficit over the final 50 metres. Struggling to keep the 2015 winner at bay, Olympic finalist Stevens lost her footing in the closing 10 metres and tumbled to the ground, leaving Jefferson to cross the line in a lifetime best of 22.02.
“I saw Deajah come through inside me, but I kept fighting through the entire race,” said Jefferson. “This year I’ve been doing a lot better with running the curve and the whole race. It was kind of exciting; I didn’t know which one of us would win, but I stopped looking around and focused on the finish line. I didn’t want to give up.”
It was the second major disappointment for Stevens this year, following her experience at the NCAA Indoor Championships where she ran a would-be North American indoor 200m record of 22.28 in the heats, only to be disqualified for a lane violation.
She had also finished second in the 100m on Saturday as hurdles specialist Mikiah Brisco took a surprising victory in 10.96 to Stevens’ 11.04 (0.3m/s).
But the 22-year-old’s championships ended on a high after she contributed to Oregon’s crucial victory in the women’s 4x400m, landing the hosts with the overall team title in a tight battle with Georgia.
Stevens took the baton from first-leg runner Makenzie Dunmore, putting Oregon level with USC at the half-way point. A 50.80 split from Elexis Guster gave Oregon a slight lead as Raevyn Rogers – who had earlier won the 800m in 2:00.02 – set off on the anchor.
Rogers was passed on the inside by 50.45 runner Kendall Ellis of USC on the first bend, but she kept her cool and waited until the final 200 metres to respond, edging into the lead and holding off Ellis to win in a world-leading 3:23.12 to smash the 13-year-old collegiate record. Helped by Ellis’s 49.63 split, USC also finished well inside the previous collegiate record with 3:23.35.
“My heart was beating so fast,” said Rogers after running a 49.77 split. “This is what we train for, so to be able to bring it all together and show it off in the 4x400m was something remarkable for us.”
Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan scored top points for UTEP by winning the 100m hurdles in a lifetime best of 12.57. Defending champion Jasmine Camacho-Quin of Kentucky made up significant ground in the latter stages but couldn’t quite catch the fast-starting Amusan before the line. Camacho-Quinn, who had earlier helped Kentucky win the 4x100m title in 42.51, set a Puerto Rican record of 12.58 in second place.
The finish in the 1500m was almost as close but even more exciting. Going into the last lap, Michigan’s Jaimie Phelan was right at the back of a tightly bunched 12-woman pack, but she timed her finish to perfection and caught Nikki Hiltz of Arkansas just before the line, winning by two hundredths of a second in 4:13.78.
Jamaica’s world 4x400m champion Chrisann Gordon couldn’t quite match her time from the semifinals, but the Texas student found 50.51 to win the 400m from Miami’s Shakima Wimbley.
Arizona’s Sage Watson came within 0.13 of the Canadian record to win the 400m hurdles in 54.52, winning by 0.84 from world U20 champion Anna Cockrell of USC.
The women’s discus played out in much the same way as the men’s contest 24 hours earlier with the eventual winner moving from third to first in the latter stages of the competition. Shadae Lawrence of Kansas State was in third place after four rounds before moving into second place with her penultimate throw. The Jamaican record-holder saved her best for last, throwing 61.37m in round six to take a convincing win.
Elsewhere, North American record-holder Keturah Orji comfortably won the triple jump with a wind-assisted 14.29m (3.3m/s).
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF