There were 12 men’s finals on the second day of the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships. Here’s how they played out on a day when Gator superstar Grant Holloway’s footprints were all over Florida’s comfortable 55–44 team win over sprint-strong Houston:
A massive event for Grant Holloway and Florida. The Gator junior put up his second win of the meet after an historic hurdles, becoming the first since Terrence Trammell in ’00 to win the straightaway flat and hurdles, although Trammell’s was a 2-day combo. The list leader at 6.50, in the final Holloway got out even with the field, weathered a swift early dash by Oregon’s Cravon Gillespie on the outside left and Houston’s Mario Burke to his immediate right, then moved ahead to score a 6.50 PR win (=8, x C). Burke and Florida’s Hakim Sani Brown clocked 6.55 for 2nd and 3rd. Florida, with 3 finalists, earned 19 decisive team points.
Lane draws being a near-impossible factor to outrun indoors, ’18 outdoor champ Divine Oduduru of Texas Tech had to be happy as he started in the second section that he was in 5, the corridor from which Alabama’s Keitavious Walter established the time to chase, 20.76, in the first section. Propitiously, the Nigerian junior also saw a quick first half from Florida State’s Kasaun James to his outside, another target to chase. The Seminole junior battled with determination well into the final stretch but Oduduru prevailed in the final 15m, 20.49–20.56.
Kahmari Montgomery, the USATF outdoor champ, enjoyed favorite’s status, having run a 45.04 CrossPlex Record at conference before leading qualifying at 45.32. In the final, Montgomery in next-to-outermost lane 5 nearly closed the stagger on Tyrell Richard to his outside, yet Richard found the pole at the break. Zooming through lap 1 in 21.06, the South Carolina State senior gave no ground as Montgomery tentatively moved out to pass on the backstretch, and held the lead to win 44.82–45.03, with Baylor’s Will London 3rd at 45.16. “Tyrell’s performance is a major milestone for SC State, our track program and the MEAC,” said Bulldog coach Tim Langford. “He ran an awesome race. The goal was for him to get to the break point first and make everyone else march to his rhythm and he executed it perfectly.” Richard’s 0.57 PR reduction advanced him to No. 4 on the U.S. and collegiate all-time lists.
Not many observers touted Kansas junior Bryce Hoppel of Kansas for the title although he had won at the Big 10. More expected was that Texas A&M’s heir to Donavan Brazier, Devin Dixon, would race from the front after dropping a 1:45.27 to reach No. 3 on the collegiate ATL two weeks ago. Dixon ripped his first half splits in 24.35 and 51.20 and then gave over the lead around 500m to Mississippi State soph Marco Arop (1:19.43 at 600). Off the last bend, though, Hoppel, who was 3rd at the bell, pulled outside to win impressively down the stretch, 1:46.46 to Arop’s 1:47.00. Dixon at 1:47.54 placed 4th after the 1:45.45 of Wake Forest’s Robert Heppenstall.
Open the door with a tactical pace and you can never be sure who’ll run through it. This time it was Northern Arizona junior Geordie Beamish, whose PR was 4:06.94 in his heat, though he’d turned an outdoor 1500 of 3:41.87 two years ago. When 440 and 880 went by in 61.73 and 2:10.66, Wisconsin’s Oliver Hoare took the lead for the next lap-plus with all still in it. Sam Worley of Texas hit the front with 400 to run, but Beamish, a Kiwi with flowing locks reminiscent of legendary countryman John Walker, attacked from 300 and reached the bell inches in front of Hoare with Villanovan Casey Comber coming on. Beamish, arms pumping, held off Hoare down the backstretch and ran home 1st in 4:07.69 (finish splits of 26.17 and 53.57) as Comber overtook Hoare off the last turn for 2nd, 4:08.03–4:08.14.
After an NCAA Cross win for Morgan McDonald and then payback in the Millrose 3000 from harrier runnerup Grant Fisher, this would be a rubber round, of sorts. Wisconsin senior McDonald had won the previous night’s 5000, Fisher essayed a 3:54.23 leg on Stanford’s DMR for 2nd. A 4:18.36 split led by BYU’s Conner Mantz left the pack intact. From 600 out, McDonald slipped into the lead, Fisher shadowing close. On the backstretch after 400 to go, 5K runner-up Joe Klecker tried to move past. McDonald held him off, and entering the homestraight for the next-to-last time Fisher wove inside of Klecker into 2nd. Rematch on! Despite Fisher’s resolute efforts, McDonald stayed in front to finish the race about as far ahead as he’d started the last circuit, 7:52.85–7:53.15. Closing splits for the Aussie: 26.32, 54.76, 1:58.38. Fisher’s, oh, so close: 26.45, 54.84, 1:58.59.
Grant Holloway, the Collegiate Record holder coming in at 7.42, merely dropped his best by 0.07 to claim the American Record on a surface not overly generous in the time department. The Gator junior’s win included drama, though. He clipped hurdle 1 and at the third barrier had company, the win not chomped; Kentucky’s Daniel Roberts was still with him. But Holloway dug down to cross in 7.35 with Roberts at 7.41 also under the previous CR. The three men who shared the AR he lifted are well credentialed: Greg Foster, 3 outdoor world titles, Allen Johnson 7 Worlds golds in and out plus ’96 Olympic gold, and Terrence Trammell, 2 indoor Worlds golds, 2 Olympic silvers, 2 outdoor Worlds silvers. “I’m still speechless,” Holloway told ESPN’s John Anderson after the flat 60. “I went back there and after the [hurdles] it was kind of just shell shock at that point but God doesn’t put us on this earth so we don’t—we can accomplish as many things as we want.”
4 x 400
Not quite a classic final showdown, Houston’s potential final tally with a win would take the Cougars to 44 points, 5 shy of Florida’s 49 before the race. Still, a time for UH to represent with strength even with a 3-section final leaking some air from the showdown and the track seeming to drive times upward. Arkansas’s 3:06.82 section 1 win was the time to beat for stacked section 3, and Florida stood primed to beat it after Grant Holloway’s 45.99 on leg 2. Houston, however, had Kahmari Montgomery on anchor, and he shot past Gator finisher Chantz Sawyers off their first turn. Sawyers rolled outside of Montgomery on the last bend but could not get past as the Cougar ran to a 3:05.04 win. Montgomery’s 45.42 split was bettered by A&M’s Dixon, who came up for 3rd at the end with a 45.25 split and minor redemption for a disappointing 800.
Third last year and 2nd at the ’18 NCAA Outdoor, Alabama’s Shelby McEwen rose to the top rung this time, clearing 7-6 (2.29), the second-highest jump of his career, on third time of asking. The field was cut to three after 7-3¾ (2.23): Tide junior McEwen with no misses, plus Tennessee’s Darryl Sullivan and LSU’s JuVaughn Harrison, each with two clattered bars on his card. Sullivan got over 7-5 (2.26) on first try, as did Harrison. McEwen, clearing on second attempt, held his lead as the bar went to the winning height. He jumped his winner and watched Harrison’s third-try miss seal his win. Before the comp McEwen, who PRed at 7-7 (2.31) 5 weeks ago, observed, “The goal is to stay focused through the whole meet and doing the things it takes to be successful.” Check.
The pre-comp withdrawal of list leader Tahar Triki of Texas A&M leveled the playing field as determined by seasonal bests. Virginia junior Jordan Scott, second on the list, seized strongest advantage. He bounded 55-¼ (16.89) to take the lead in round 2 and bettered that with 55-5 (16.89), a half-inch and centimeter off his PR set a month ago. Texas Tech’s Odaine Lewis claimed 2nd in round 3, his 54-7¼ (16.65) besting the 54-6 (16.61) of TCU’s Chengetayi Mapaya from round 2. “I do not have the words to describe my feeling for Jordan Scott,” said Cavalier head Bryan Fetzer. “He embodies our team principles, especially being grateful. His best is yet to come.”
Shot winner Payton Otterdahl, the favorite here also, made it a 2-win weekend. Denzel Comenentia led the first round at 76-6¼ (23.32) over Otterdahl’s 75-11½ (23.32) but the Georgia senior fouled his next five throws. North Dakota State senior Otterdahl improved on four of his next five trips to the ring, his last two measuring 77-6¾ (23.64) and 79-1¼ (24.11). That final throw, a PR by an inch, improved Otterdahl’s status as No. 4 on the ATL. Princeton’s Adam Kelly came up big on his last, a 76-8½ (23.38) heave that jumped him up to 2nd.
Fifth after day 1 and 3rd coming off the 60H to start day 2, Stanford’s Harrison Williams vaulted 16-11 (5.16) to turn a 154-point deficit to leader Gabe Moore of Arkansas into a 28-point lead before the concluding 1000. Nebraska senior Jared Seay sat another 20 points back. Moore needed to best Williams by some 2.6 seconds to grab back the win. The Cardinal senior wanted no part of that and ran aggresively in the K (2:43.38, 5th) to finish 3.68 and 67 points up on his Razorback foe for a 6042-point win. Michigan State junior Nick Guerrant surpassed Seay for 3rd. □