CLERMONT, FLORIDA, April 23 — The latest from Florida prep Issam Asinga has heads spinning. At the Pure Athletics Spring Invitational, the Montverde Academy senior upset Noah Lyles in the finals of the 100, recording the fastest all-conditions time in prep history (see box), a stunning 9.83 with a 2.6 tailwind. The World 200 champ finished a stride behind in 9.92, with Kendal Williams 3rd in 9.98.
Starting from lane 4, with Lyles in 5, Asinga caught the best start,and from 30 through 50m kept pulling away from Lyles. In the last third of the race, it appeared that Lyles had started to narrow the gap, but it was too late. Afterward, Lyles patted the prep on the back and shook his hand.
This came after a set of prelims that were amazing in themselves: Asinga won the first in 9.86w, with a more substantial 4.1 wind. Lyles won heat 2 at 9.90w (4.3), and Williams led heat 3 in 9.99w (2.1).
The Montverde coach, Gerald Phiri, described the outing as a visit to his “old stomping ground.” The Zambian Olympian, PRs 10.03/20.29, trained at Clermont under Lance Brauman after he finished his NCAA eligibility at Texas A&M, where he had made All-America 10 times. In the last years of his career, Phiri trained with Brauman’s prize pupil, Noah Lyles, on occasion.
“Coach Brauman was hosting the meet,” says Phiri. “He was my coach when I competed professionally; Noah Lyles was my old training partner. So to go to my old stomping ground to show them my work and everything I’ve been working hard for was kind of special to me as well.”
Said Phiri of Asinga’s performance: “I was very excited for him. He’s been trending toward these kinds of performances over the last month. To see it actually happen, albeit wind-aided, was pretty incredible to watch… I was very pleased with his race. A few technical errors here and there, but overall it was a spectacular performance.”
Lining up next to the world 200 champion did not appear to rattle the youngster. “It didn’t appear that way,” observes Phiri. “You know, he’s very confident in his abilities. Having run the prelims and seeing what he did [9.86w], he was obviously looking forward to it. He’s a competitor. Win or lose, he’s going to go out there and do what he needs to do to get the best outcome possible.
“Unlike regular high school meets, here you could be losing by a meter or two and be running the race of your life, so don’t panic and just run your race. It’s kind of ironic that he’s the one who ended up being ahead by a meter. He has a maturity that most 18-year-old high schoolers do not have when it comes to his approach to the sport. I think he was able to show that.
“He and Noah were even joking around at the starting line. I know Noah pretty well, Noah’s come out to practices sometimes, so he’s familiar with him. I think that helped as well.”
The times, says Phiri, were not a huge surprise. He explains, “When we went to Miami, his previous meet, he got left in the blocks. His reaction was probably 0.25, around there, you know, my eyeball test. And it was a headwind. So when I consider the reaction time plus a good wind, I’d expect him to be around 9.9-high/10.0, in regular wind conditions. So with a +2.6, I’m not surprised. Maybe not 9.83, but 9.89 or 9.90, yeah.”
Afterwards Asinga started warming up for the 200, he cramped a bit. “I was like, ‘See? We probably don’t want to be catching that at high-speed on the track.’” Phiri pulled the young sprinter from the event.
“I think we made the smart choice. I mean, he ran 9.8 twice. I think you start entering dangerous territory when you start asking the body to do another event. He’s 18 years old, he’s still a kid.
“It’s easy to look at his performances and compare him to people who are in their mid-to-late 20s. He’s not there physiologically. Plus, this is his first year actually training for track. He was a soccer player who ran track 9–10 weeks a year. So we have to be careful about load management, especially when you’re doing this kind of stuff.
“You are one mistake away from a disaster, in terms of my ability to use my discernment and protect his gift at certain times.”
PURE ATHLETICS RESULTS
100(2.6): 1. Issam Asinga (FlHS) 9.83w (a-c AL, HSL) (a-c: =2, =2 WJ, AJ; 1, 1 HS);
2. Noah Lyles (US) 9.92w; 3. Kendal Williams (US) 9.98w; 4. Joshua Hartmann (Ger) 10.13w; 5. Jona Efoloko (GB) 10.14w; 6. Ryiem Forde (Jam) 10.14w; 7. Miles Lewis (PR) 10.17w.
Heats: I(4.1)–1. Asinga 9.86w (a-c AL, HSL) (a-c: 3, 3 WJ, AJ: 1, 1 HS).
200(1.6): 1. Jereem Richards (Tri) 20.40.
110H(4.4): 1. Rafael Henrique Pereira (Bra) 13.29w.
100(1.8): 1. Adaejah Hodge (FlHS-BVI) 11.12 NR, NJR (HSL) (5, 10 HS);
2. Gina Lückenkemper (Ger) 11.14; 3. Celera Barnes (US) 11.16; 4. Rebekka Haase (Ger) 11.23; 5. Murielle Ahouré-Demps (CI) 11.25.
Heats: I(1.3)–1. Hodge 11.16 PR (HSL) (=10, x HS).
200(2.5): 1. Hodge 22.76w; 2. Angie Annelus (US) 23.20w.
100H(3.7): 1. Yuwei Lin (Chn) 12.85w.