The ’18 NCAA Indoor will be forever remembered for records falling like rain, and several of them involved USC athletes running 400m, either alone or on relays.
So this reporter couldn’t resist asking: Is it time for the old Baylor nickname “Quartermiler U” to move 1400M west?
Men’s 400 champion Michael Norman (see p. 21) deflected the question, but his women’s counterpart Kendall Ellis had no such hesitation.
“I think USC is Quartermiler U,” the 22-year-old senior said with a big smile. “You have the men’s Collegiate Record holder and NCAA champ, you have the women’s Collegiate Record holder and NCAA champ, and you have two 4×4 record holders. USC could be called Quartermiler U.”
She’s actually selling the Trojan résumé—and her own—a bit short. Norman’s time was actually a world record, the men’s 4×4 set a world’s best (albeit not an official WR), and Ellis’s 50.34 also set an American Record.
The women’s 4×4 was the only one that didn’t get in on the record party… but with a 3:27.45 that rated No. 5 on the all-time collegiate performances list and fell only 0.42 short of the school’s ’17 recordsetter, they weren’t exactly slouches.
“It feels great to do it back-to-back and show SC is a force,” Ellis said of the repeat champions.
She was certainly a force on her own. Her semi-solo run in the 400’s first section erased the 50.46 AR/CR of Oregon’s Phyllis Francis from ’14, and it was just enough to hold off a 50.36 WJR from Kentucky super-frosh Sydney McLaughlin in the second section.
“It was amazing,” said Ellis, who split 23.63/26.71, compared to Francis’s 24.17/26.29 in her record run. “I’ve been training hard and really wanted to get the national title, and the fact that a record came with it was just icing on the cake. It was incredible.
“It had been a goal of mine to get the Collegiate Record. As a senior, getting ready to leave, I wanted to have my name in the recordbooks. But we always go for the win. The goal is the win, and the time will come with it.
“Me and coach [Quincy] Watts, we never say, ‘Let’s go for this time or let’s go for a record,’ we say, ‘Go for the win and everything else will come,’ and that’s what happened.”
As for the relay, second leg Anna Cockrell said USC’s repeat title was the product of what came before it: “I think it was the momentum that went throughout the day.”
She was a big part of that surge, taking silver in the 60H with a PR 7.93, matching the winning time and yearly list-leader of Arkansas’s Payton Chadwick.
Cockrell continued, “We started, we watched Mike and [Zach] Shinnick and the 4×4, we watched Kendall win the 400 and break a record, and I said, ‘Alright, we need to just keep moving with this. We’re doing good.’
“I love watching Kendall run, so I just got in my blocks and said, ‘I’m going to do the best I can.’ And then it was just like, ‘Let’s just finish this for the team.’ ”