It doesn’t hurt in a 4×1 if three of your four are scheduled to run in the 100 final and your fourth has run a none-too-shabby 10.13w in an open dash. That scenario described defending champion Houston in a nutshell. Coming into the meet, the favored Cougar foursome of John Lewis, Elijah Hall, Mario Burke and Cameron Burrell had “only” run 38.95, although a different squad—one without Burke—ran 38.92 in March.
The stage was set for something big, and big was just around the corner.
As in all lane events, the first 2 from each semi automatically advanced to the final, with the remaining 2 spots going to the next fastest overall. Florida State’s 39.00 took the first race, followed by North Carolina A&T (39.05). Semi II went to Florida, whose 38.49 was the yearly collegiate leader, ahead of former leader Arkansas’s 38.54, Ohio State’s 38.67 and Northwestern Louisiana’s 38.92. The field was set after Houston won semi III in 38.53, 0.38 better than Southern Mississippi’s 38.91.
A steady rain greeted the finalists, but the Houston quartet, which started in lane 5 and were flanked by Florida in 4 and Florida State in 6, were ready to run. Northwestern State was in 1, North Carolina A&T in 2, Arkansas in 3 with Southern Miss and Ohio State rounding out the field in 7 & 8.
At the gun, Houston’s Lewis ran an exceptional leg, nearly making up the stagger on Florida State’s Keniel Grant before handing off to Hall, who extended the lead down the backstretch. At the second exchange, Hall supplied Burke with what appeared to be a sizable advantage over the Buckeyes in lane 8 and Arkansas in 3.
A superior third leg by Florida’s ubiquitous Grant Holloway moved the Gators into 3rd, but it wasn’t nearly enough to catch Houston or Ohio State. Houston held a 5m lead over Ohio State at the final exchange and Burrell did not surrender a bit of it to OSU’s Zack Bazile or the Gators’ Ryan Clark.
Given the wet conditions, any winning time would have been commendable, but coming away with a CR was neither anticipated nor expected. Houston’s 38.17 edged TCU’s ’89 mark of 38.23, ahead of the 38.75 school record by Ohio State and 0.72 in front of Florida’s 38.89. Arkansas (39.01) and FSU (39.37) followed. Houston’s edge over the runners-up was a remarkable 0.58. In a race frequently decided by 100ths, this was the largest margin since the USC powerhouses of ’67 and ’68 forged hand-timed 0.7 gaps.
Commenting on how much the rain affected their race, Hall surmised, “Honestly it was all about precision; just get the stick around, that’s one thing we practice on. We had our focus on, you know. We weren’t worried about anybody else. Just get the stick around. We’ve been precise all season long, I mean even when we had different people on the relay we were still precise.”
On breaking the CR, leadoff man Lewis summed it up best, saying, “It was crazy, but it wasn’t anything that we hadn’t expected. If you go in believing that you are going to do something great, then you have a better chance of doing something great, and we did something great today.”
NCAA MEN’S 4 x 100 RESULTS
FINAL (June 08)
4 x 100: 1. Houston 38.17 CR (old CR 38.23A TCU ’89; old lo-alt CR 38.24 LSU ’98)
(John Lewis, Elijah Hall, Mario Burke’, Cameron Burrell);
2. Ohio State 38.75
(Eric Harrison, Duan Asemota’, Drelan Bramwell, Zack Bazile);
3. Florida 38.89
(Michael Timpson, Chantz Sawyers’, Grant Holloway, Ryan Clark);
4. Arkansas 39.01
(Kristoffer Hari’, Kemar Mowatt’, Kevin Harris, Kenzo Cotton);
5. Florida State 39.37
(Keniel Grant, Darryl Haraway, Darryl Gay, Andre Ewers’);
6. Southern Mississippi 39.49
(Chedlin Sagesse, McKinely West, Cra’Vorkian Carson, Alexander Richemond);
7. Northwestern Louisiana 39.63
(Kie’Ave Harry, Micah Larkins, Amir James, Tre’Darius Carr);
… dnf—North Carolina A&T
(Michael Bell, Joel Thomas, Michael Dickson, Rodney Rowe).
(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: 1)
SEMIS (June 06)
I–1. Florida State 39.00; 2. North Carolina A&T 39.05;
3. TCU 39.26 (Maloka’, Matiyenga’, Flowers, Miller); 4. Arkansas-Little Rock 39.31 (Clark, Okeze’, Calhoun, Andrews); 5. Penn State 39.53 (Henderson, Porter, Smith, Moffett); 6. Sam Houston State 39.54 (McCall, Jefferson, Tisdel, Coleman); 7. Kentucky 39.56 (Roberts, St Hillaire’, Dorsey’, Floreal); 8. Stanford 39.86 (Kurtz, Navarro, Brandt-Sims, Body).
II–1. Florida 38.49 (CL);
2. Arkansas 38.54; 3. Ohio State 38.67; 4. Northwestern Louisiana 38.92
5. Western Kentucky 38.94 (Minor, Morris’, Gates, Bush); 6. Illinois 38.99 (Maat, Henderson, Haight, Quinn); 7. Texas State 39.81 (Allen, Wilson, Porter, Warren); 8. Cal State Fullerton 40.10 (Matos’, Smith, House, Espinoza).
III–1. Houston 38.53; 2. Southern Mississippi 38.91;
3. Texas Tech 39.37 (Tennon, Oduduru’, Hudson, Brown); 4. Iowa 39.63 (Woodard, Wilson, Hofacker, Harris); 5. Purdue 39.99 (McGee, Dotson, McLaren’, Williams’); 6. Georgia 40.59 (Jenkins, Nicholls’, Nance, Raines);… dq—Oklahoma (Wesley, Sheffield, Webb, Brown);… dnf—LSU (Vincent, Howell’, Mosby, Flournoy).