USATF Men’s 400 — Kerley Draws Even With Norman

Fred Kerley convincingly avenged his Pre Classic loss to yearly list leader Michael Norman. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

THE RIVALRY between Fred Kerley and Michael Norman may be one of the recurrent themes of this season, but for now, at least, it’s settled. The decisive competition started on Thursday when both cruised through their heats. Kerley eased up to run 45.09 to win his. Norman was up next, producing an easy 44.81. The fastest clocking went—not surprisingly, given his predilection for not hanging back in early rounds—to North Carolina A&T’s Trevor Stewart at 44.76.

On Friday, the two superstars ended up in the second semi, Kerley in lane 4, Norman in 5. They hit the final straight together and with the stubbornness of champions, neither eased up. Norman grinded best, crossing in 44.04 to Kerley’s 44.09.

The first semi had been dominated by Blake Leeper, whose application to have his prosthetic below-knee blades approved for competition is pending on an IAAF desk. His PR 44.38 put him in the running for a team berth. However, the debate over whether Leeper’s blades provide an advantage may only intensify, especially in light of how fast he moves after the first 100. His nearly even splits of 22.0/22.4 don’t reflect a race pattern that bladeless humans can typically match.

For the final, Norman drew lane 5, Kerley 7. Sandwiched between them was Michael Cherry. Leeper stood in 4, Nathan Strother in 8. From the gun, the race quickly broke open, with Kerley and Norman moving evenly and fast and leading the other outer lanes with them. Kerley powered the backstretch, reaching the 200 in 21.1. Norman, inches behind, seemed to run with a hitch in his step, his typical smoothness absent. Vernon Norwood (21.6) held 3rd, with Strother (21.8) a couple of steps behind. After the final turn, Kerley hit the 300 a long stride ahead of Norman, 32.0–32.2. Norwood (32.3) and Strother (32.6) drew closer on the curve.

With the crowd roaring, Norman tried valiantly to catch Kerley, but the Texas A&M alum never let up, driving furiously to the finish in a lifetime best 43.64, finally beating his 43.70 from ’17. Norman finished in 43.79, his first loss in the event since the ’17 USATF, a race won by Kerley. Strother closed swiftly, hitting a PR 44.29. Norwood tied up but still improved his best to 44.40. Leeper, after putting himself into the mix with a lightning turn, hit 32.5 at 300 then lost form on the final stretch and finished 5th in 44.48.

Norman, without specifying the nature of his issue beyond calling it a strain, indicated that he hadn’t trained in the 2 weeks previous and only decided to race after warming up on Thursday. “It’s not an excuse,” he said. “He got the best of me and he was the better athlete. I’ve just got to go back and fix things.”

Kerley said he didn’t feel it was a disadvantage to run on the outside of Norman and not be able to see him for much of the race, offering, “From lane 1 to 8, it’s the same 400.”


USATF MEN’S 400 RESULTS

FINAL

(July 27)

1. Fred Kerley (Nik) 43.64 PR (7, 15 W; 6, 12 A)

(21.1, 10.9 [32.0], 11.6) (21.1/22.5);

2. Michael Norman (Nik) 43.79

(21.1, 11.1 [32.2], 11.6) (21.1/22.7);

3. Nathan Strother (adi) 44.29 PR

(21.8, 10.8 [32.6], 11.7) (21.8/22.5);

4. Vernon Norwood (NBal) 44.40 PR

(21.6, 10.7 [32.3], 12.1) (21.6/22.8);

5. Blake Leeper (Nik) (prosthetics) 44.48;

6. Michael Cherry (Nik) 44.69;

7. Trevor Stewart (NCAT) 44.94;

8. Tyrell Richard (adi) 45.07.

LANES

1. Richard; 2. Norwood; 3. Stewart; 4. Leeper; 5. Norman; 6. Cherry; 7. Kerley; 8. Strother

REACTION TIMES

Norman 0.157; Cherry 0.179; Kerley 0.182; Richard 0.186; Strother 0.190; Norwood 0.206; Stewart 0.233; Leeper 0.280

HEATS

(July 25)

I–1. Obi Igbokwe (unat) 45.18; 2. Richard 45.55; 3. Kahmari Montgomery (Nik) 45.74; 4. Quintaveon Poole (unat) 45.92; 5. Myles Pringle (unat) 46.03; 6. Marqueze Washington (unat) 46.77; 7. Rashard Clark (TxAMC) 46.92.

II–1. Stewart 44.76; 2. Leeper 45.09 PR; 3. Wil London (unat) 45.47; 4. Mylik Kerley (unat) 45.56; 5. Josephus Lyles (adi) 45.99; 6. Bryce Deadmon (TxAM) 46.06; 7. Kyle Clemons (adi) 46.27; 8. Champ Page (unat) 47.52.

III–1. Kerley 45.09; 2. Norwood 45.39; 3. Marcus Chambers (unat) 45.62; 4. Aldrich Bailey (unat) 46.84; 5. Donte Holmes (DCI) 47.80; 6. Joshua Hammond (DomTC) 48.11;… dq—Michael Berry (unat).

IV–1. Norman 44.81; 2. Strother 45.17; 3. Cherry 45.42; 4. Tony McQuay (adi) 45.78; 5. Gil Roberts (unat) 46.35; 6. Dontavius Wright (unat) 46.50;… dq—Mar’yea Harris (Ia).

SEMIS

(July 26)

I–1. Leeper 44.38 PR; 2. Cherry 44.85; 3. Stewart 45.16; 4. Richard 45.21; 5. M. Kerley 45.26; 6. Igbokwe 45.78; 7. Montgomery 45.91; 8. Lyles 46.12.

II–1. Norman 44.04; 2. F. Kerley 44.09; 3. Strother 44.69; 4. Norwood 44.81; 5. London 45.12; 6. McQuay 45.41; 7. Chambers 46.58; 8. Poole 47.13.

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