USATF Men’s 200 — Rain Made Webb’s Defense Easier

Clearly, first came Ameer Webb; then it was all up to the camera in the half-lapper. (KEVIN MORRIS/PHOTO RUN)

There’s no sugar-coating this one. When the 3-hour rain delay caused Michael Norman to bypass the half-lap final, that changed everything.

Defending champ Ameer Webb had won the first heat at 20.39, while Norman ran an eased-up 20.46 to win the third, still wearing his USC singlet despite his recent go-pro announcement. In the semis, Webb captured the first with a season-best 20.13, helped by a 1.5 wind. Norman took the second, again greatly eased up, in a 20.35 into an 0.6.

The chatter before the final was not about who would win but focused almost entirely about how fast Norman might go. The Trojan superstar has a legal best of 20.06, but every indication—from a windy 19.84 to a 43.61 world leader at 400 to an undefeated season—points to a monster 200 in the offing.

Instead, the 27-year-old Webb lined up in lane 4 with an empty lane to his right. He said he had seen Norman packing up several hours earlier. His thought? “It just got easy!” His own decision: “I didn’t come all the way to Des Moines, Iowa, not to run.”

A sharp start put Webb, last year’s World Champs 5th-placer, in the lead immediately, with the next best turn coming from Texas Tech’s unheralded Andrew Hudson in lane 6. Journeyman sprinter Justin Walker, in his first USATF 200 final ever, also ran a great curve but lost a stride as soon as they hit the straight. Facing a 1.9 wind, the race came down to Webb’s strength. He powered away from the field to win by a solid 4m in 20.47.

Kansas State’s Terrell Smith, who had never made an NCAA or USATF final before, forced his way past the crowd on the straight to take runner-up honors in 20.74. Hudson barely edged Walker for 3rd, both timed in 20.80 (an 0.002 margin) and Arkansas’s Kenzo Cotton nipped Amir James of Northwestern Louisiana as both ran 20.82s (an 0.001 gap).

For Webb, who had surgery on a torn labrum in his hip just 9 months earlier, a win’s a win even if it was the slowest time since ’01. He added that he had been looking forward to the matchup with Norman, whom he had beaten handily in their only previous meeting, the ’16 OT: “I really was. I was hoping he would show up. He’s running real fast and I like to run against the best. It kind of took away from the victory a little bit. There were still a lot of good athletes out there. But it definitely made it easier.”


USATF MEN’S 200 RESULTS

FINAL (June 24; wind –1.9)

1. Ameer Webb (Nik) 20.47 (10.6/9.9);

2. Terrell Smith (KsSt) 20.74;

3. Andrew Hudson (TxT) 20.80 (20.797);

4. Justin Walker (unat) 20.80 (20.799);

5. Kenzo Cotton (Ar) 20.82 (20.817);

6. Amir James (NWnLa) 20.82 (20.818);

7. Marqueze Washington (unat) 24.67;

… dnc—Michael Norman (USC).

HEATS (June 23)

I(0.3)–1. Webb 20.39; 2. Dedric Dukes (Nik) 20.48; 3. Hudson 20.61; 4. Washington 20.85;

5. Demek Kemp (SCSt) 21.13; 6. Ryan Clark (Fl) 21.13; 7. Jarrion Lawson (Asics) 21.27.

II(0.3)–1. Walker 20.53; 2. John Lundy (DCI) 20.63; 3. Cotton 20.72; 4. Jason Crow (unat) 20.95; 5. Kyree King (Nik) 20.95; 6. Tevin Hester (unat) 21.03.

III(0.0)–1. Norman 20.46; 2. Smith 20.80; 3. Brandon Carnes (adi) 20.92;

4. Remontay McClain (unat) 21.03; 5. Joshua Hammond (DomTC) 22.67.

IV(-0.3)–1. Bryce Robinson (unat) 20.66; 2. James 20.79; 3. Curtis King (unat) 21.77;

… dq—Riak Reese (Kent).

SEMIS (June 24)

I(1.5)–1. Webb 20.13; 2. Hudson 20.38 PR; 3. Smith 20.44; 4. Washington 20.47;

5. Robinson 20.53; 6. Hester 20.59; 7. King 21.28;… dnf—Dukes.

II(-0.6)–1. Norman 20.35; 2. Walker 20.61; 3. Cotton 20.70; 4. James 20.71;

5. Lundy 20.83; 6. Carnes 20.89; 7. King 20.90; 8. Crow 20.90.

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