THE WAY COLLEGIANS performed in February, it’s going to be a heckuva NCAA Indoor Championships. Highlights:
Abby Steiner Flying In The 200
The new, recovered and improved Abby Steiner continued to light up the track for Kentucky with a pair of Collegiate Records in her flagship event, the 200.
At Clemson’s Tiger Paw Invitational on February 12, she blistered a 22.37 to nick 0.01 off the mark she shared with Harvard’s Gabby Thomas. That world leader moved her to No. 2 all-time among Americans and No. 5 in the world.
Kentucky head coach Lonnie Greene proved an able prognosticator, saying, “When we get to the Conference meet or the National Championships, I could see her putting it to a point where it’s going to be there for 30 or 40 years.”
Sure enough, the real fireworks came at the SEC meet in College Station two weeks later. There, she burned a 22.09 that was not only a CR, but also an American Record. The former U.S. best was a 22.33 by Mizuno’s Gwen Torrence, set in ’96. Steiner’s mark is now No. 2 in world history, and on a combined in/out list it puts her in a tie for No. 3.
Steiner told station WKYT, “It was just insane. Me and my coach always come up with goals for the season and American Record was definitely one of them. I heard the crowd go and once you hear the crowd make that noise you are thinking ‘OK, I hope I just ran super fast’ and I turned around and [the board] said that and I did not even know what to say. It was crazy.”
SEC Women’s 4×4 One For The Ages
Superlatives fail in describing a 4 x 400 in which 3 teams all bettered the Collegiate Record. The Arkansas women led the way at the SEC with a world-leading 3:24.09 that crushed the old CR of 3:26.27 that Texas A&M set last year and moved to No. 4 on the all-time world list. Also under the old mark were Texas A&M (3:25.43) and Kentucky (3:25.89).
Arkansas soph Rosey Effiong led the first leg, her 51.97 keeping her safely ahead of A&M’s Laila Owens (52.12), South Carolina’s (Makenzie Dunmore 52.63) and Kentucky’s Megan Moss (52.76).
On leg 2, frosh Jayla Hollis kept the Razorbacks ahead with her 51.69, though A&M lurked just 0.23 behind (Tierra Robinson-Jones 51.77) and Abby Steiner moved Kentucky to 3rd with her 51.86.
Leg 3 saw the Razorbacks build more of a comfortable margin, as senior Shafiqua Maloney turned a 50.60 to hand off 1.1 seconds ahead of A&M (Syaira Richardson 51.47), with Kentucky another 0.18 behind (Karimah Davis 50.92).
Arkansas anchor Britton Wilson, a frosh, made a decisive statement with her 49.83 to cross in 1st. A&M’s Charokee Young impressed with a 50.07 to round out the No. 2 collegiate time ever and Kentucky’s Alexis Holmes closed in 50.35 for the third-fastest.
“We had to score big in those last pair of events,” said Razorback boss Lance Harter. “I asked [associate head coach] Chris Johnson how does the mile relay look, and he said, ‘We’re going to win it.’”
Nuguse Claims CRs In 2000 & 3000
Traveling to Boston’s Hemery Valentine Invitational to challenge the Collegiate Record for 3000, Notre Dame’s Yared Nuguse didn’t seem to mind that he was left on his own after 1700m.
Despite dealing with a mild case of COVID a week earlier, Nuguse clocked 7:38.13 to slice 0.43 off the mark set by Alistair Cragg for Arkansas in ’04. He also put away Grant Fisher’s American CR of 7:42.42 from ’19.
A first kilo of 2:33.47 helped him pass 1600 in 4:05.81. The 2K mark flashed past in 5:07.31, that too a CR for the little-run distance. He closed with a 2:30.82 kilo, helped along by a 58.03 final 400.
His coach reportedly told him to back off during the race if he didn’t feel he had recovered from his sickness enough, but Nuguse never slacked. “I’m not the kind of person to let those kinds of excuses bring you down,” he said.
Brandon Miller Runs American CR In The 800
Frontrunning has always been Brandon Miller’s best card, and he played it well at the SEC Championships, running to an American Collegiate Record of 1:45.24. The U.S.-leading mark came off a scintillating pace. The Texas A&M soph passed the 200 in 24.87, the 400 in 50.17 and the 600 in 1:16.88.
With a lead of 1.26 seconds over Mississippi’s John Rivera at that point, he still produced the fastest closer the race, a 28.36 final lap. The mark betters the ACR (and the school record) of Devin Dixon, a 1:45.27 set in ’19. It also puts Miller at No. 3 on the collegiate ATL, and No. 4 among Americans.
Miller, the defending champion, also gave the Aggies their fifth-straight win in the Conference 800. On Instagram, Miller staked himself as the NCAA Indoor favorite, saying, “My time is now!”
Another Hurdle Record For Leonard Mustari
Another record for North Carolina A&T frosh Leonard Mustari in the 60H, this time of the World Junior variety.
Already the AJR holder with his January 7.58, Mustari blitzed a 7.55 at Clemson’s Tiger Paw Invitational to break his AJR and tie the WJR that China’s Xiang Liu set 20 years ago, two years before he won Olympic gold.
Mustari needed all of it to beat Clemson’s Devon Brooks 7.55–7.56, having streaked to a big early lead and then hanging onto a margin as Brooks closed fast.