Report12 Mar 2023

Alfred, Garland and Wilson threaten world records at NCAA Indoor Championships


Julien Alfred in the 200m at the NCAA Indoor Championships (© Kirby Lee)

History was made in many ways on the final day of action at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque on Saturday (11).

Three athletes – Julien Alfred, Kyle Garland and Britton Wilson – not only broke collegiate records, but catapulted themselves to second on the world all-time lists in their respective events. The women’s 4x400m squad from Arkansas, meanwhile, produced the fastest indoor performance in history, but their 3:21.75 won’t stand as a world record because all four runners aren’t from the same nation.

Alfred claimed two titles by winning the 60m in 6.94 and the 200m in 22.01 – the best ever one-day indoor sprints double. Garland won the men’s heptathlon with 6639, just six points shy of Ashton Eaton’s world indoor record. And Wilson took the women’s 400m in 49.48 – a time that, up until a few weeks ago, would have been a world indoor record had it not been for Femke Bol’s run in Apeldoorn. She added to her medal haul by anchoring the victorious 4x400m quartet with a 49.20 anchor.

St Lucia’s Alfred, a student at the University of Texas, started as the favourite in the 60m, after being undefeated all year and having set collegiate records of 6.97 and 6.96. She went even quicker in Saturday’s final, winning in a Commonwealth record of 6.94, giving a share of the world lead and of the No.2 spot on the world all-time list, tied with USA’s Aleia Hobbs.

Kaila Jackson, who equalled the world U20 record of 7.07 in the heats, finished second in the final in 7.08.

Just 40 minutes later, 21-year-old Alfred was back on the track for the 200m, but was up against LSU’s Favour Ofili, one of her biggest rivals on the collegiate circuit, and leader in the heats with an African record of 22.10.

Alfred, drawn in the outside lane, got off to a strong start and was never headed. Ofili almost drew level on the final bend, but Alfred pulled away again and crossed the line in 22.01. Only world indoor record-holder Merlene Ottey has ever gone faster, with the 21.87 she clocked in Lievin 30 years ago. Ofili finished second in 22.20.

Garland, pushed all the way by arch rival Ayden Owens-Delerme, put together the series of his life to take the heptathlon crown. He broke or came close to his PBs in almost every discipline, starting with a 6.87 clocking in the 60m, which was followed by a PB of 7.96m in the long jump and a 16.45m throw in the shot put. He ended the first day with a 2.12m clearance in the high jump, which gave him a 155-point lead over Puerto Rico’s Owens-Delerme.

The second day started with Owens-Delerme getting the better of Garland in the 60m hurdles, 7.73 to 7.74, but it barely made a dent in Garland’s lead. Garland then extended his lead even further in the pole vault, thanks to a huge lifetime best of 5.16m – 20 centimetres higher than Owens-Delerme managed.

It gave Garland a 214-point lead going into the final discipline – which, even with Owens-Delerme being a superior 1000m runner, meant Garland was an almost guaranteed winner. He was also within touching distance of the world record.

He produced the run of his life in the 1000m, clocking a PB of 2:41.36, giving him a final score of 6639. Owens-Delerme crossed the line first in the 1000m in 2:33.14, which brought his tally to 6518.

Before today, only one man had ever broken 6500 in the heptathlon. And never before had two men broken 6400 within one heptathlon. But in this one competition, both Garland and Owens-Delerme – both of whom were born on the exact same day – surpassed that mark, moving to second and third respectively on the world all-time list.

Less than a month after Bol broke the long-standing world indoor 400m record of 49.59, fellow hurdles specialist Wilson also bettered that mark to win in Albuquerque with a North American record of 49.48.

Ireland’s Rhasidat Adeleke had won the first section of the final in 50.45, but Wilson and defending champion Talitha Diggs were drawn in the second section. Diggs led at the bell, 23.17 to 23.56, but Wilson closed the gap and overtook Diggs with about 100 metres remaining, going on to open a huge gap to win in 49.48. Diggs was a distant runner-up in 50.49, giving her third place overall across the two sections.

Exactly one hour after the individual final, the leading collegiate 400m runners were back in action for the 4x400m. Britain’s Amber Anning gave Arkansas a marginal lead with her opening 51.47 leg, then Joanne Reid gave them some breathing space thanks to her 50.52 split. Rosey Effiong maintained the momentum with a 50.57 effort before handing over to individual 400m champion Wilson, who anchored the squad to victory with a 49.20 leg, stopping the clock at 3:21.75.

Although their time is superior to the official world indoor record of 3:23.37, it cannot stand for record purposes because World Athletics rules state that, for a relay record to be ratified, all four athletes must represent the same country. It is still a collegiate record, though, and is quicker than the outdoor collegiate record.

The relay triumph meant that Arkansas had done enough to win the overall team title for the championships.

Moore makes history with horizontal jumps double

One day after winning the long jump with 7.03m, Jasmine Moore of the University of Florida completed a horizontal jumps double with another stunning series, this time taking the triple jump with 15.12m. In so doing, the 21-year-old became the first woman in history to break seven metres in the long jump and 15 metres for the triple jump indoors.

She broke the US indoor record with her first leap of the competition, sailing out to 14.74m. She then improved to 15.08m in round two, which remained the best mark of the day until the final round when she improved to 15.12m.

Tennessee’s Charisma Taylor kept the pressure on Moore throughout the competition, jumping a Bahamian record of 14.61m in round one and improving that to 14.88m in round two. In between the rounds, she also finished third in the 60m hurdles in 7.93, having placed fifth in the long jump with a 6.64m one day prior.

Ackera Nugent of Arkansas showed her collegiate record in the 60m hurdles on Friday was no fluke, as the 20-year-old Jamaican came within 0.01 of that mark to win the final in 7.73. It was close, though, with Masai Russell finishing runner-up in 7.75.

Elsewhere, Roisin Willis won the women’s 800m in 1:59.93, consolidating her No.3 spot on the world U20 indoor all-time list. Fellow teenager Juliette Whittaker was second in 2:00.05, an indoor PB. The shot put was also close with Adelaide Aquilla winning with 19.28m from Axelina Johansson (19.12m). Katelyn Tuohy added to her NCAA title collection by winning the 3000m in 9:10.07.

Hibbert leaps world U20 record

Last year, Jaydon Hibbert leapt a championship record of 17.27m in the first round to win the triple jump at the World Athletics U20 Championships Cali 22. In similar fashion, his first attempt in Albuquerque was also superb and by recording 17.54m the 18-year-old set an outright world U20 record, beating the outdoor mark of 17.50m that had stood for 38 years.

A collegiate record and senior Jamaican indoor record, it was achieved in Hibbert’s only third ever indoor competition – all from this year – and he remains an U20 athlete next year.

The Arkansas athlete decided to pass the rest of his attempts and won by 75cm. Salif Mane finished second with 16.79m.

Matthew Boling won the first section of the men’s 200m final in 20.12, a PB that moves him to sixth on the world indoor all-time list. The same place on the 400m all-time list is occupied by Elija Godwin thanks to the 44.75 he ran in Fayetteville last month and he matched that mark in Albuquerque to win his first individual NCAA title.

Bahamian sprinter Terrence Jones, who jointly holds the men's collegiate 60m record of 6.45, was just 0.01 off that, clocking 6.46 to win the final ahead of Jordan Anthony in 6.55.

Fouad Messaoudi won the 3000m ahead of Drew Bosley, 7:48.10 to 7:48.34.

Arkansas completed a sweep, also winning the overall team title for the men’s championships.

Hodge breaks world U20 indoor 200m record in Boston

A world U20 record also fell at the New Balance Nationals Indoor in Boston on Sunday (12), Adaejah Hodge storming to the 200m title in 22.33. Aged just 16 – with the final in Boston taking place the day before her 17th birthday – the British Virgin Islands sprinter improved the women’s world U20 indoor record of 22.40 set by Bianca Knight in 2008 and moved to joint seventh on the senior world indoor all-time list.

She ran a PB of 22.77 to win her heat on Saturday, having started the year with a best of 24.30. That same day, she also clocked a lifetime best of 7.27 to win her 60m heat.

Issam Asinga also impressed in both disciplines, clocking 20.48 to win the boys championship 200m final and move to third on the world U20 indoor all-time list. An hour later, he also claimed the 60m title, running 6.59 after a PB of 6.57 in the first round of the competition on Saturday to sit joint sixth on the world U20 all-time list.

Two close mile contests on Sunday were won by Jackson Heidesch and Sadie Engelhardt, Heidesch pipping Devan Kipyego by 0.05 to win in 4:02.25 and Engelhardt kicking to win in 4:38.65 ahead of Tatum David with 4:38.80.