NCAA Women’s 200 — How About A 21.80?

Abby Steiner did herself one better than her preseason goal of 21.90. (ERROL ANDERSON/THE SPORTING IMAGE)

IT’S DIFFICULT TO UPSTAGE the 100, but the “furlong” was probably the most anticipated race at this year’s women’s NCAA.

That’s because it featured two collegians who had dipped under 22 seconds — Ohio State’s Anavia Battle, who ran 21.95 to make last year’s U.S. Olympic team, and LSU’s Favour Ofili, who set the CR of 21.96 in April — along with a third runner who was knocking on Door 21, Kentucky’s Abby Steiner.

Steiner had won the Indoor 200 in an AR 22.09, but at the SEC she had lost narrowly to Ofili twice, in the century (10.93–11.02) and the deuce (22.04–22.07).

All three were also running multiple events, so who would survive the best late in the day on Saturday? Everyone was running the 1, the 2 and the 4×1, and Steiner was also in the 4×4 — though she did not run in the heats of that race, so the 200 final would be the same for all of them, race No. 6.

To Steiner, the additional workload can be a boost. “We always say those shorter races are kind-of a bonus,” she said. “That just means I get to work on my acceleration patterns. I get to work on clearing a block the way I need to in a 200.”

Nevertheless, would she be a bit worn-down? “Not really,” she said. “This meet is so quick that you don’t really have time to dwell on anything that’s happened in the past because 30 minutes later you’re running again.”

As they took those blocks for the final on a cool afternoon, Steiner had the inside position — lane 6 — while Ofili (7) and Battle (8) — had slightly gentler turns.

For a time, they were even. Then Steiner, with her distinctive shortened steps and sideways arm carry, the trademark clenched fists, pulled away from her rivals down the straightaway, still going all-out in the final strides.

The time? 21.80 (wind +1.4), a Collegiate Record, a yearly world leader, a quarter of a second up on Ofili, half a second on Battle. “We’ve been chasing 21 for a long time,” Steiner said. “That was really satisfying to see it all come together at the right time, and race execution I was really proud of.”

Even for Steiner, 21.80 was a stunner. “I write out my goals every year on a little whiteboard in my room, and I had 21.90.

“I didn’t think I was going to get that far below 22.”


WOMEN’S 200 RESULTS

FINAL (June 11; wind +1.3)

1. *Abby Steiner (Ky) 21.80 CR (old CR 21.96 Favour Ofili’ [LSU] ’22; old AmCR 22.02 Kyra Jefferson [Fl] ’17 & Steiner in semis (WL, AL) (8, =13 A);

2. **Favour Ofili’ (LSU-Ngr) 22.05 (x, =7 C; 4, 5 NCAA);

3. Anavia Battle (OhSt) 22.33;

4. *Kynnedy Flannel (Tx) 22.35;

5. **Kevona Davis’ (Tx-Jam) 22.50;

6. ***Grace Nwokocha’ (NCAT-Ngr) 22.52;

7. Edidiong Odiong’ (FlSt-Ngr) 22.70;

8. **Joella Lloyd’ (Tn-Ant) 22.80;

9. **Melissa Jefferson (CCar) 22.90.

(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: 1–2, 5–7)

SEMIS (June 09)

I(0.9)–1. Flannel 22.25; 2. Battle 22.26 PR; 3. Odiong’ 22.43; 4. Jessika Gbai (How) 22.82; 5. **Rosemary Chukwuma’ (TxT-Ngr) 22.94; 6. **Laila Owens (TxAM) 22.97; 7. Wurrie Njadoe’ (KsSt-Gam) 23.45; 8. **Jada Seaman (Va) 23.94.

II(-0.2)–1. Ofili’ 22.13 (4, 4 NCAA) (fastest NCAA Q);

2. Lloyd’ 22.66 PR; 3. **Lasarah Hargrove (Ia) 22.72 PR; 4. **Rhasidat Adeleke’ (Tx-Ire) 22.88; 5. Iman Brown (Or) 22.96; 6. **Amari Brown (Al) 22.99 PR; 7. ***Iyana Gray (UTA) 23.57;… dq—*Yanique Dayle (OhSt).

III(0.5)–1. Steiner 22.02 =MR, =AmCR (=AmCR Jefferson) (=2, =2 C; =1, =1 NCAA) (fastest NCAA Q;

2. Davis’ 22.38 PR; 3. Nwokocha’ 22.44 PR; 4. Jefferson 22.54; 5. *Karimah Davis (Ky) 22.81; 6. **Mariah Ayers (Bay) 22.98; 7. ***Jasmine Montgomery (Or) 23.15; 8. ***Adriana Tatum (AzSt) 23.33.

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