NCAA Men’s 100/200 — Big Fahnbulleh Double

Joe Fahnbulleh twice showed that the end of the race is more important than the beginning. (ERROL ANDERSON/THE SPORTING IMAGE)

NEW RULE: No one is allowed to criticize Joe Fahnbulleh’s start ever again.

OK, maybe it’s not an enforceable rule, but seriously — after Friday, who cares?

“All freshman year, they had been saying my start was bad, my start is worse,” the Florida soph said. “I won. Please leave me alone now. I’m good. Please.”

He’s more than good — he’s double good. As in, 100/200 double — 20 big points that accounted for more than a third of the Gator’s team championship. (He also contributed 8 more with a torrid 4×1 anchor that very nearly caught USC.)

Indeed, Fahnbulleh was clearly dead last out of the blocks in the 100, and he was still in that position at halfway. But then the speed endurance that won him a 200 crown last year kicked in.

With 20m left he was in arm’s reach of a medal. With 10 remaining, he finally claimed the lead. His 10.00 shaved 0.03 off his PR. Tennessee frosh Favour Ashe, who surely had visions of gold as the line approached, suddenly found himself with silver in 10.08. The same time was clocked by bronze medalist Javonte Harding of North Carolina A&T.

The T&FN formchart was a wreck even before the race began, as predicted 2nd-placer Udodi Onwuzurike of Stanford failed to advance. Fahnbulleh leaped up from a forecast 4th to the title while our pick to win, Oregon’s Micah Williams, landed in 7th (10.19).

Much like Carl Lewis in days of yore, starting slow was no reason for Fahnbulleh to be nervous.

“Never, no. Never never that, you know what I’m saying? Because why would I get nervous? You know, it was my race plan and I’m confident in it, right? So, if I’m with them, if I’m just arm’s length away, I’m good.”

His 200 was far less teeth-clenching for Gator fans, and expectedly so — he was the defending champ, and calmly showed he is still the big dog in the half-lap. His 19.83 was the second fastest wind-legal time in meet history and ranked as the fourth-fastest performer in collegiate history.

He ran a solid turn and by the straightaway, he was in the medal mix. He took the lead with about 60 to go and steadily pulled away from Georgia’s Matthew Boling (20.13) and Onwuzurike (20.15).

He exuded confidence as he seemingly strolled to his repeat win, but that self-assuredness was the end result of a long process.

“A year ago, I was still scared,” Fahnbulleh said. “You know, a year ago I had something to prove. A year ago I was getting beaten every meet by Terrance [Laird, of LSU]. I was tired of it. Shout-out to Terrance — really good athlete. But I had something to prove this year, right?”

After placing a soundly beaten 7th in last year’s 100, that confidence-building process began. He defeated the favored Laird in the 200, and then found himself on the biggest stage of all — the Olympic final. Representing Liberia, he placed 5th.

“I fixed it this year, but last year I had race anxiety,” Fahnbulleh said. “I was still young. I do give credit to the Olympics for helping me get over that race anxiety because I’ve been at the top. I raced against Andre De Grasse, Kenny [Bednarek], Noah [Lyles], Erriyon [Knighton]. So it’s like I’m not scared anymore.”


MEN’S 100 RESULTS

FINAL (June 10; wind +0.6)

1. **Joe Fahnbulleh’ (Fl-Lbr) 10.00 PR;

2. ***Favour Ashe’ (Tn-Ngr) 10.08;

3. **Javonte Harding (NCAT) 10.08;

4. *JoVaughn Martin (FlSt) 10.09;

5. Dedrick Vanover (Fl) 10.16;

6. **Matthew Boling (Ga) 10.18;

7. **Micah Williams (Or) 10.19;

8. **Da’Marcus Fleming (LSU) 10.20;

9. **Shaun Maswanganyi’ (Hous-SA) 10.26.

SEMIS (June 08)

I(-0.6)–1. Williams 10.03; 2. Fahnbulleh’ 10.11; 3. Boling 10.18; 4. Eric Harrison’ (OhSt-Tri) 10.23; 5. **Terrence Jones’ (TxT-Bah) 10.23; 6. Isaiah Cunningham (Bay) 10.27; 7. *Edward Sumler (Hous) 10.30; 8. Joseph Manu’ (Copp-Gha) 10.30.

II(1.2)–1. Martin 10.10; 2. Vanover 10.15; 3. Maswanganyi’ 10.15; 4. Fleming 10.16; 5. *Courtney Lindsey (TxT) 10.19; 6. ***Udodi Onwuzurike’ (Stan-Ngr) 10.21; 7. Demarius Smith (Ok) 10.23; 8. **Ismael Kone (NOrleans) 10.23.

III(-0.1)–1. Ashe’ 10.15; 2. Harding 10.23; 3. *Alaba Akintola’ (MTn-Ngr) 10.25; 4. **Taylor Banks (FlSt) 10.25; 5. *Lawrence Johnson (Wi) 10.28; 6. Brendon Stewart (USC) 10.33; 7. Micaiah Harris (Tx) 10.44; 8. **Devon Achane (TxAM) 10.48.

MEN’S 200 RESULTS

FINAL (June 10; wind +0.6)

1. **Joe Fahnbulleh’ (Fl-Lbr) 19.83 PR (CL) (4, 6 C; 2, 2 NCAA);

2. **Matthew Boling (Ga) 20.13;

3. ***Udodi Onwuzurike’ (Stan-Ngr) 20.15;

4. Micaiah Harris (Tx) 20.45;

5. ***Tarsis Orogot’ (Al-Uga) 20.48;

6. **Shaun Maswanganyi’ (Hous-SA) 20.51;

7. **Robert Gregory (TCU) 20.54;

8. *Courtney Lindsey (TxT) 20.67;

9. Eric Harrison’ (OhSt-Tri) 20.71.

(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: 9)

SEMIS (June 08)

I(-0.3)–1. Harrison’ 20.18; 2. Onwuzurike’ 20.24; 3. Gregory 20.34; 4. *Evan Miller (SC) 20.35; 5. *Alaba Akintola’ (MTn-Ngr) 20.44; 6. Kasaun James (USC) 20.46; 7. *Dorian Camel (LSU) 20.64; 8. Tinotenda Matiyenga’ (TCU-Zim) 20.68.

II(0.4)–1. Maswanganyi’ 20.26; 2. Lindsey 20.32; 3. *Lawrence Johnson (Wi) 20.41; 4. ***Wanya McCoy’ (Clem-Bah) 20.54; 5. **Lance Lang (Ky) 20.63; 6. **Ismael Kone (NOrleans) 20.64; 7. *Jeremiah Curry (SFA) 20.85;… dq[lane]—[1]**Javonte Harding (NCAT) [19.98].

III(-0.1)–1. Fahnbulleh’ 20.10; 2. Boling 20.24; 3. Harris 20.28; 4. Orogot’ 20.32; 5. David Dunlap (NnAz) 20.51; 6. Joseph Manu’ (Copp-Gha) 20.75; 7. Demarius Smith (Ok) 20.80; 8. *Edward Sumler (Hous) 20.86.

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