There were 12 women’s finals on the second day of the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships. Here’s how they played out on a day where Arkansas’s vaulting power keyed a 62–51 team win over USC’s big sprint/hurdle surge:
As only the No. 7 seed out of the heats, Twanisha Terry was consigned to lane 1, far from the favorites. But the USC soph got a solid start and was near the lead all the way. She moved solidly ahead in the last 10-15m and slipped across the line in a PR 7.14, equaling the yearly collegiate lead as she beat a closely packed trio by 0.05. Teahna Daniels of Texas, Ka’Tia Seymour of Florida State and Destiny Smith-Barnett of UNLV were all given 7.19s as they ran 7.181, 7.183 & 7.188.
Some 90 minutes after she took 2nd in the hurdles, Kayla White’s third PR of the year, 22.66, gave her back the yearly world lead she had surprisingly claimed in early February at 22.82. Anavia Battle had lowered that to 22.80 at the Big 10, but here the Ohio Stater ran poorly in the heats and was stuck in lane 3 for the final, doomed not to be a factor. Instead, North Carolina A&T senior White boomed out of lane 5, pulling even with Kynnedy Flannel of Texas on the final curve, then steadily moving ahead. As they entered the straight Flannel wandered into White’s lane, initiating contact which led to a DQ after she followed the winner across the line.
USC’s Kaelin Roberts finished her soph indoor season in style, getting PRs 3 and 4 in a 4-race campaign. Her 52.01 led the heats and supplanted Lynna Irby of Georgia as U.S. leader by 0.01. In the final, Irby was drawn in 4, Roberts in 5. Irby went out very hard, burning a lot of energy as she ran the first lap in 24.02. Roberts (24.24) started to close at the bell and ran the entire second lap basically in lane 2, passing Irby coming off the curve. As Irby faded to 4th, Roberts finished strongly to lower the world lead to 51.50.
There was lots of place-changing in the 4-lapper. After the first (28.62) it was Jazmine Fray (Texas A&M), Martha Bissah (Norfolk State) and Danae Rivers (Penn State). Then the pace slowed, so at halfway (60.17) it was Fray, Susan Aneno (UConn), Bissah and Rivers. The 600 (1:31.71) was paced by Allie Wilson of Monmouth, followed by Aneno (1:32.07), Bissah (1:32.12), Rachel Pocratsky of Virginia Tech (1:32.28) and Nia Akins of Penn (1:32.32), with Rivers (1:32.34) just 6th. With a half-lap to go, Akins passed Wilson on the inside, but would end up 2nd (2:03.74) as Rivers had the fastest last lap of all, 31.35, and swooped up on the outside in the straight for a 2:03.69 win.
Everybody in the 11-woman field was still in it with 3 laps to go, only 0.62 separating the front of the pack (2:59.74) from the back (3:00.36). Not much changed on the next circuit, the gap with 2 to go being just 0.67 (3:34.97–3:35.64). Then the race sprang to life, a sequence of 35-second laps suddenly turning into 31s for the leaders. At the bell, it was Julia Rizk, who had crushed her PR in taking the runner-up spot at the Big 10, in the lead, with Karisa Nelson of Samford and Carina Viljoen of Arkansas right with her. Nelson made a strong move down the backstretch, but Rizk slingshotted off the final curve to pull away for a 4:37.63–4:38.24 win.
After Jessica Hull’s 4:30 anchor on Friday’s distance medley, it was obvious that it was unlikely anybody could outkick her here. And they couldn’t. Nicole Hutchinson of Villanova did the pacing work for the first two-thirds of the race before New Mexico’s Weni Kelati took over for a couple of laps. At 2600m Taylor Werner of Arkansas was at the front, but Hull had run the fastest lap, 33.38, and the Oregon senior was also fastest on laps 14 and 15, upping the ante to 32.42 and 31.26. She smoothly moved away from Werner on the last lap as they ran 9:01.14 and 9:01.75.
Defending champ Payton Chadwick got a great start in the heats, equaling her PR at 7.93. USC’s Chanel Brissett was given the same time, 0.005 behind. Chadwick (7.97) got a poor start in the final, but flanking her in the middle of the track Brissett (7.90 =PR for =No. 8 on the all-time collegiate list) and North Carolina A&T’s Kayla White (7.92 PR) got good ones to relegate the Razorback to 3rd.
4 x 400
The climactic relay was the SEC Championships revisited, with the top 4 teams from that most powerful of conferences filling the 4 lanes in the last of 3 sections. The SEC had seen Texas A&M’s 3:29.15 beating South Carolina (3:29.56), Florida (3:29.57) and Arkansas (3:29.69). This time, none of them broke 3:30, and none ended up in the same place: South Carolina 3:30.76, A&M 3:30.85, Arkansas 3:30.86, Florida 3:32.02. The Gamecocks led almost all the way as Stephanie Davis split 53.17 and Aliyah Abrams 51.88 before the Hogs took over at the end of the third leg. But Wadeline Jonathas produced the fastest split of the day, 51.59, and South Carolina moved back to the fore.
Quamecha Morrison of Bethune-Cookman was the only perfect jumper through the modest first three heights of 5-7¼ (1.71), 5-9¼ (1.76) and 5-11¼ (1.81). Just 4 of 8 who attempted 6-½ (1.84) were successful, with only Zarriea Willis making it on first attempt, thus taking the lead. And when the Texas Tech senior went over 6-1½ (1.87) on her third try that cemented the title—and gave her a share of the yearly list lead—when the 3 others who were left all missed. Willis missed at 6-2¾ (1.90) to end the competition.
Arkansas figured to pick up big points here and didn’t disappoint, taking 1 (Lexi Jacobus), 3 (Tori Hoggard) and 4 (Desiree Freier). Breaking up the monopoly was San Diego State senior Bonnie Draxler (14-11½/4.56), who actually led much of the competition. When bar was lifted to 15-1½ (4.61) she was on top, joined in vaulting at that height by twin sisters Jacobus and Hoggard (the latter having only 2 attempts remaining). Jacobus went over on her second try and that proved to be the winner.
Yanis David came in as the favorite, and while she upped her national lead to 46-½ (14.03) to win, the victory took a while to come to fruition. Oregon’s Chaquinn Cook took the first-round lead at 44-6 (13.56), then improved that with a PR 45-4½ (13.83) in the third. But 5 jumpers later David struck back, barely, reaching 45-5 (13.84) for a mark that would be good enough to win. Nonetheless, she improved in each of the three final rounds, hitting 45-8 (13.92), 45-9 (13.94) and 46-½ (14.03).
Sade Odatoye came away disappointed in the shot, finishing only 5th after coming in as the year leader. There was no such disappointment in the weight, where she also came in as No. 1. She ended up a stronger No. 1, raising her list-leading mark to 80-3 (24.46), which moved her to No. 3 on the all-time collegiate list (with the No. 6 performance ever). The Ohio State senior took the lead with her 75-11½ (23.15) in the first round and never looked back. She improved to 76-8¼ (23.37) in the second round before putting up her monster in the fourth stanza. Makenli Forrest of Louisville was a distant 2nd at a PR 73-11½ (22.54). □