Texas A&M won the race with a 3:25.57, the fastest time in the world, but despite the Aggies’ terrific run to the finish, it was the third leg that became the story when USC found itself in all sorts of trouble and lost a chance to win the team title. Entering the meet’s final event, USC and Arkansas were tied for the team lead and their 4×4 squads were fairly evenly matched. Arkansas stood 5th among college teams for the season at 3:29.22; USC was 6th at 3:29.23. Their order here, in no matter what places, could decide things.
Opening Leg: No Clear Advantage
Fairly even opening legs didn’t tell much until the start of the homestretch where South Carolina’s Stephanie Davis appeared to have a slight lead. Arkansas’s Paris Peoples drew even in the stretch, both runners splitting 52-flat. USC’s Bailey Lear (52.3) passed off ahead of Florida’s Doneisha Anderson (52.1), but it was Florida which got to the midway point of the zone ahead as second runner Taylor Manson took off quickest. A&M’s Tierra Robinson-Jones put her team in solid position with a 52.3.
Second Leg: South Carolina To The Fore
South Carolina and Florida were even at the backstretch break point, but the Gamecocks—running a lane to the inside of the Gators—held the position as they cut for the curb. At the end of the straight, South Carolina’s Aliyah Abrams, 5th in the 400, had built a 1m advantage over Manson, with another meter back to A&M’s Jaevin Reed and 2 more to USC’s Kyra Constantine with another 3 to Arkansas’s Kiara Parker. Around the turn Abrams had added another meter over Reed, but Manson had slipped backward, and Constantine had moved into 3rd. Abrams was first to touch off, her 50.0 giving South Carolina a 5m lead on USC as Constantine ran 50.5. Reed ran 51.1 to hold 3rd, while Arkansas was back in 6th place, more than 10 meters behind USC.
Third Leg: The Trojan Stick Goes Astray
Tatyana Mills took off around the turn for South Carolina, extending the lead to 5m ahead of USC hurdle champion Anna Cockrell. But Mills’s pace wore on her, and nearing the end of the second turn she drifted wide in lane 1 as A&M’s 800 victor Jazmine Fray swung outside to pass. Cockrell, running tight to the rail, led a pack of runners moving up on Mills, and the USC runner boxed herself with insufficient space to pass Mills on the inside. As Mills continued to falter, Cockrell clipped her heel, sending the USC runner lurching forward and bouncing into Alabama’s Mauricia Prieto, now on Cockrell’s outside and about to pass. Prieto was knocked wide, bumping Arkansas’s fast-moving Payton Chadwick, the anchor hero of their indoor 4×4 which clinched the undercover team title.
Fray, out in front and never affected by the mess, suddenly found herself with a quickly expanding lead, with only Chadwick able to give serious chase. At the exchange, A&M had a good 10m margin over Arkansas. Cockrell, having lost perhaps 9 seconds while backtracking to retrieve the baton, was now a deep last, at least 40m behind Arkansas.
Anchor Leg: A&M Moves Away
With the tension of a close race shattered, Syaira Richardson, 7th in the 400, immediately began padding the A&M lead, ripping around the first turn, up by almost 20m at the top of the backstretch. Behind her came Arkansas’s Kethlin Campbell, 4th in the 400. Campbell and 1-lap 3rd-placer Sharrika Barnett of Florida began to whittle away the lead around the final turn, Campbell within 10m at the top of the final straight with Barnett another 2m back. Richardson’s 50.83 was enough to hold off Campbell, whose storming 49.78, the No. 8 carry in meet history, brought Arkansas home in 3:25.89 and made up all but 2m of the deficit. Barnett was unable to hold Campbell’s tempo, and clocked 50.40, allowing 400 champ Wadeline Jonathas to bring South Carolina home for 3rd in 3:26.90, only a half-meter ahead of Florida’s 3:27.02.
NCAA WOMEN’S 4 x 400 RESULTS
1. Texas A&M 3:25.57 (WL, CL) (#6 school, #5 NCAA school)
(Tierra Robinson-Jones 52.3, Jaevin Reed 51.1, Jazmine Fray’ 51.38, Syaira Richardson 50.83);
2. Arkansas 3:25.89
(Paris Peoples 52.0, Kiara Parker 52.5, Payton Chadwick 51.63,
Kethlin Campbell 49.78 [#8 NCAA split]);
3. South Carolina 3:26.90
(Stephanie Davis 52.0, Aliyah Abrams’ 50.0, Tatyana Mills 54.65, Wadeline Jonathas 50.21);
4. Florida 3:27.02
(Doneisha Anderson’ 52.1, Taylor Manson 51.9, Nikki Stephens 52.62, Sharrika Barnett 50.40);
5. Alabama 3:27.12
(Takyera Roberson 52.6, Katie Funcheon 51.1, Mauricia Prieto’ 53.23, Natassha McDonald’ 50.16);
6. Kentucky 3:29.13
(Faith Ross 53.4, Abby Steiner 52.4, Masai Russell 52.88, Chloe Abbott 50.47);
7. Baylor 3:32.37
(Aaliyah Miller 54.0, Kiana Horton 51.1, Sydney Washington 53.79, Leticia De Souza’ 53.49);
8. USC 3:35.55
(Bailey Lear 52.3, Kyra Constantine’ 50.5, Anna Cockrell 60.95, Kaelin Roberts 51.82).
I–1. Alabama 3:28.51 (Prieto 51.85, McDonald 51.87); 2. Arkansas 3:31.18 (Peoples, Parker, Burks Magee 53.60, Campbell 52.09); 3. Stephen F. Austin 3:36.12 (Nave, Teel, Burch 52.64, Carr 56.02); 4. Miami 3:36.75 (Johnson, Gonzalez, Ellis 52.55, Mason 54.70); 5. Clemson 3:37.52 (Clarke’, Mallard, Foster’ 54.31, McIntosh 53.92); 6. Colorado 3:39.25 (Johnson, Welch, Henderson 55.74, Scott’ 54.71);… dq—Oregon [3:31.77] (D’Arpino, Waller, Jackson 55.32, DesRosiers 51.24), Liberty  [3:37.15] (Ealum, Dansbury, McDowell 55.12, Dowling 54.43).
II–1. USC 3:28.31 (Cockrell 52.28, Roberts 51.03); 2. Florida 3:29.32 (Stephens 53.33, Barnett 51.13); 3. Texas A&M 3:32.18 (Owens, Robinson-Jones, Reed 52.16, Richardson 53.33); 4. Kentucky 3:32.20 (Ross, Abbott, Steiner 53.05, Russell 54.08); 5. San Diego State 3:33.64 (Roberson, Barrow’, Harris 53.27, McNeil 51.93); 6. Arizona 3:34.14 (Meisberger, Waggoner, Pahlitzsch’ 53.10, Gajda’ 52.36); 7. LSU 3:34.24 (Misher, Oviosun, Woodward 53.42, Humphrey 54.48); 8. Kansas 3:37.26 (Kuykendoll, Caldwell, Eubanks’ 54.41, Finley 53.06).
III–1. South Carolina 3:31.97 (Mills 55.99, Jonathas 51.85); 2. Baylor 3:32.69 (Miller, Washington, Powell 53.45, De Souza 52.33); 3. Tennessee 3:32.88 (White, Weil’, Broadwater 52.89, Dyer 53.28); 4. Texas 3:35.38 (Douglas, Simon, Flannel 54.41, Abdul-Rashid’ 55.57); 5. Duke 3:35.71 (Lowe, Kerr, Simmons 54.75, Aveni 53.21); 6. Penn 3:36.84 (Wilson, Ene, Brown-Soler 54.60, Nwogwugwu 52.86); 7. North Carolina A&T 3:37.00 (Ray, Williams, Florence 54.13, Barnes 55.18); 8. Oklahoma 3:37.21 (Merriweather, Blackmon, Giles 55.31, Merriweather 53.31). ◻︎