NCAA Men’s 400 Hurdles — A Stunning Collegiate Record For Rai Benjamin

Rai Benjamin was well on his way to his historic 47.02 as they came off the final curve. (BILL LEUNG)

Caution was a priority for Rai Benjamin in the drippy conditions. It resulted in a nearly unbelievable victory at 47.02, which tied him with Edwin Moses for the No. 2 time in history. Only Kevin Young’s WR of 46.78—set in winning ’92 Olympic gold—is faster.

“I ran different than usual,” the USC junior said. “I was cautious the first 200. I started with 12 steps, but chopped between hurdles 2 and 3. I was super-patient.”

His patience allowed Arkansas senior Kemar Mowatt—the ’17 World Champs 4th-placer—to stay close. They matched strides down the backstretch, then the favored Trojan decided to accelerate, but the SEC champ couldn’t match the increased pressure. Hurdling cleanly, Benjamin picked up a couple of staggers around the curve.

Maintaining the 13-step pattern, Benjamin stayed with the plan, explaining, “I just tried to keep the fast pace. I fought myself to keep running fast. I trusted what my coaches told me: ‘Run through the line.’”

And then he looked at the clock: “I almost couldn’t believe it.” The mark, a PR by an other-worldly 0.96, destroyed the Collegiate Record of 47.56 set by Florida’s Kerron Clement in ’05.

While Benjamin was smoothly closing in on the win, Kenny Selmon overtook Mowatt. The wet track wasn’t a problem for North Carolina’s ACC champ, who said, “I felt strong and steady until the 10th hurdle. Then I just dug down. I wanted to run fast.” He did just that, lowering his PR from 48.60 (set in finishing 4th last year) all the way to 48.12, moving him to =No. 6 on the all-time collegiate list.

Down the homestretch, David Kendziera also sprinted past Mowatt for 3rd, 48.42–48.83. It was a monumental PR performance by the Illini senior, as less than an hour earlier he had taken 2nd in the 110s, for 16 points. Auburn’s James Walker also tallied 16 in ’79, while Jerry Tarr of Oregon won both in ’62 for 20.


NCAA MEN’S 400 HURDLES RESULTS

FINAL (June 08)

1. *Rai Benjamin’ (USC) 47.02 CR (old CR 47.56 Kerron Clement [Fl] ’05) (WL) (=2, =2 W);

2. Kenny Selmon (NC) 48.12 PR (=6, =6 C; 5, 5 NCAA);

3. David Kendziera (Il) 48.42 PR (12, x NCAA);

4. Kemar Mowatt’ (Ar) 48.83;

5. *Taylor McLaughlin (Mi) 49.59;

6. **Jacob Smith (NnIa) 50.60;

7. ***Maksims Sinčukovs’ (Az) 50.63;

8. **Infinite Tucker (TxAM) 50.76.

(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: 1, 3)

 

SEMIS (June 06)

I–1. Benjamin’ 49.66; 2. Smith 50.85;

3. Gregory Chiles (VaT) 50.87; 4. **Malcum Tatum (MsSt) 52.01; 5. ***Charles Brockman (MsSt) 52.08; 6. *Walter Briggs (Alb) 52.24; 7. *Rasheed Tatham (MsSt) 52.81;… dq—*Amere Lattin (Hous).

II–1. Selmon 49.27; 2. Kendziera 49.54; 3. Tucker 49.84; 4. Sinčukovs’ 50.49;

5. ***Boaz Madeus (Rut) 51.24; 6. ***Cameron Samuel (USC) 51.37; 7. Deron Gordon’ (Clem) 52.05;… dnf—***Norman Grimes (TxT).

III–1. Mowatt’ 49.98; 2. McLaughlin 50.27;

3. ***Cory Poole (Fl) 50.68; 4. *Ilolo Izu (TxAM) 50.97; 5. *Eric Fogltanz (IaSt) 51.89; 6. *Chris Douglas (Ia) 52.16; 7. Caleb Corprew (Belm) 52.80; 8. *Christian Boyd (LSU) 53.34. □

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