Florida Relays Men — Fast Times Despite The Breeze

Rai Benjamin, in his first race since last summer’s World Championships, busted rust with a flat 400 win. (ERROL ANDERSON/THE SPORTING IMAGE)

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, March 31–April 01 — On an otherwise perfect-weather weekend, wind gusts wreaked havoc on some performances at the Florida Relays.

Fresh off last summer’s gold medal World Champs performance, the Athletics Canada foursome of Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre DeGrasse showed no signs of dropping off as they raced to a track and relays record of 37.80 to win convincingly over the Gainesville Elite group of Dedrick Vanover, Erriyon Knighton, Grant Holloway and Joseph Fahnbulleh who finished second in 38.13. The time shattered the previous track record of 38.09 by the adidas team that featured Erriyon Knighton, Grant Holloway and Ronnie Baker set in 2021.

Aiding wind bedeviled a slew of sprint and hurdle performances. Knighton, now 19 and in his last season as a Junior, edged to a win in the tightly contested 100 final to post a 9.98 (wind 2.1) from Jamaican Jelani Walker (10.01w) and Joe Fahnbulleh (10.04w). The dash was Knighton’s second career sub-10, following a 9.99w in ’21. His search for a wind-legal trip under the barrier continues. But for how long?

Robert Dunning raced to a wind-legal 13.33 in the men’s’ 110H heats, but his 13.14 finals win by 0.21 from USC senior Omotade Ojora was aided by a 3.0 breeze.

Host Florida’s 4×1 squad posted a 38.81 in Friday preliminaries, but in the final, Gator first leg Ryan Willie wasn’t able to catch second leg Jacory Patterson, who appeared to leave early and fell to the track trying to extend to make the exchange. Alabama State went on to win over Texas A&M 39.43–39.68.

The winds were not bad for everyone. The Gators’ PJ Austin continued his impressive senior season as he cranked out a smooth looking 10.10 century to win by 0.16 over DeMarkes Stradford of Charlotte.

Soph teammate Robert Gregory ran 20.31 with a -0.5 wind to win the collegiate 200 on Friday. Olympic 400 gold medalist Steven Gardiner looks to be coming back strongly from last year’s injury that kept him out of the World Championships as he pulled away to win the Invitational 200 on Friday in 20.14 from Trevor Bassitt’s 20.53.

A much anticipated season opener in the flat 400 by Rai Benjamin had mixed results. In his first race since the World Championships 400H final, Benjamin went out fluidly and in control over the first 250m, but down the homestretch began to show signs of fatigue as he gave up some ground but held on to win from Quincy Hall, 44.94–45.36. The race was Tokyo relay gold medalist and 44.31 man Benjamin’s first open 400 since a 44.98 outing in April of ’21.

The men’s 4 x 400 gave a rare glimpse of Noah Lyles running a full lap off the training track. Taking the baton at anchor from brother Josephus (45.35), Lyles turned an unpressed 47.6 as his AdiPure team’s 3:02.99 won by 5.48 from a Canada squad.

On the field, Harvard junior Alexander Kolesnikoff launched a 65-9½ (20.05) PR to win the shot.


FLORIDA RELAYS MEN’S RESULTS

100: I(1.5)–1. PJ Austin (Fl) 10.10 PR (AL, AmCL).

Inv100: I(2.1)–1. Erriyon Knighton (adidas) 9.98w (a-c AL) (a-c: =7, =11 WJ; =4, =6 AJ);

2. Jelani Walker’ (Jam) 10.01w; 3. Joe Fahnbulleh’ (Lbr) 10.04w; 4. Andrew Hudson’ (Jam) 10.05w.

200: I(-0.5)–1. **Robert Gregory (Fl) 20.31 out PR (out AL, out AmCL);

2. Evan Miller (SC) 20.48; 3. Jacory Patterson (Fl) 20.49.

Inv 200: I(1.0)–1. Steven Gardiner’ (Bah) 20.14 (out WL);

2. Trevor Bassitt (unat) 20.53.

400: I–1. **Reheem Hayles (NCAT) 45.47 PR (out CL);

2. ***Judson Lincoln (VaT) 45.66 PR. II–1. *Shemar Chambers’ (NCAT-Jam) 45.73 PR.

Inv 400: I–1. Rai Benjamin (Nike) 44.94; 2. Quincy Hall (adidas) 45.36.

800: 1. John Lewis (unat) 1:46.94 PR; 2. **Darius Smallwood (PennSt) 1:47.67 PR (out AmCL); 3. *Callum Dodds’ (PennSt-GB) 1:47.80.

1500: 1. Marco Arop’ (Can) 3:38.36 PR; 2. **Camden Marshall (In) 3:39.51 PR (out CL); 3. *Evan Dorenkamp (PennSt) 3:40.30 PR; 4. **Hillary Cheruiyot’ (Al-Ken) 3:40.34; 5. *Robert Pedroza (NFl) 3:40.69 PR.

110H(3.0): 1. Robert Dunning (adidas) 13.14w (a-c WL, AL) (13.33h AL);

2. Omotade Ojora’ (USC-GB) 13.35w; 3. ***Jahiem Stern’ (Hamp-Jam) 13.40w; 4. *Justin Leaston (Char) 13.43w;

5. *Connor Schulman (TxAM) 13.56w; 6. **Samuel Bennett’ (Harv-GB) 13.56w; 7. *Filip Demsar’ (SC-Slo) 13.57w; 8. **Johnny Brackins (USC) 13.59w.

400H: 1. *Aaron Shirley (Harv) 50.75; 2. James Rivera (FlSt) 50.84.

4 x 100: 1. Alabama State 39.43; 2. Texas A&M 39.68; 3. North Carolina A&T 39.87;… dnf—Florida;… dnc—USC.

Inv 4 x 100: 1. Canada 37.80 (WL) (Brown, Blake, Rodney, De Grasse);

2. Jamaica 38.61 (Forde, Walker, Allen, Hudson).

4 x 200: 1. South Carolina 1:24.81.

4 x 400: 1. Florida 3:02.01 (Miley 46.11, Bamidele’ 45.54); 2. Iowa 3:03.70 (Gillum 445.26, Belken 47.1); 3. Texas A&M 3:04.30 (Rosales 45.34); 4. USC 3:04.97; 5. North Carolina A&T 3:05.77; 6. Virginia Tech 3:06.39.

Inv 4 x 400: 1. AdiPure 3:02.99 (Williams, Richards’, J. Lyles 45.35, N. Lyles 47.60); 2. Canada 3:08.47.

4 x 800: 1. Florida 7:23.80; 2. South Carolina 7:25.33; 3. Iowa 7:26.00; 4. Indiana 7:27.35.

4 x 110H: 1. Charlotte 57.96 (WL, AL, CL).

Field Events

HJ: 1. *Romaine Beckford’ (SFl-Jam) 7-4¼ (2.24) out PR (=out CL); 2. Corvell Todd (Fl) 7-3 (2.21).

PV: 1. Zach Davis (TxAM) 17-7¾ (5.38) out PR.

LJ: 1. *Sean Dixon-Bodie (Fl) 26-3w (8.00) (25-4/7.72 out PR); 2. **Johnny Brackins (USC) 26-1½ (7.96); 3. ***JC Stevenson (USC) 26-¾w (7.94) (25-10¾/7.89 PR); 4. **Caleb Foster (Fl) 25-8¼ (7.83); 5. **Malcolm Clemons (Fl) 25-7½ (7.81); 6. ***Curtis Williams (FlSt) 25-6¼ (7.78).

TJ: 1. Donald Scott (adidas) 53-11¾w (16.45) (53-9¾/16.40); 2. Chauncey Chambers (VaT) 53-9¾w (16.40) (52-0/15.85).

SP: 1. *Alexander Kolesnikoff’ (Harv-Aus) 65-9½ (20.05) PR; 2. **Dylan Targgart (SC) 64-11½ (19.80) PR.

DT: 1. Milton Ingraham (FlSt) 194-8 (59.35); 2. Jamir Gibson (GaT) 185-7 (56.56).

HT: 1. Decio Andrade’ (Mia-Por) 239-1 (72.89); 2. **Kenneth Ikeji’ (Harv-GB) 237-9 (72.48) PR; 3. Tyler Merkley (PennSt) 234-8 (71.53); 4. **Nikolaos Polychroniou’ (USC-Gre) 220-4 (67.16); 5. **Sean Mockler’ (In-Ire) 217-0 (66.15).

JT: 1. *Sam Hankins (TxAM) 235-7 (71.81) PR; 2. *Steven Coponi (Rut) 231-2 (70.47) PR; 3. *Joshua Mather’ (Rut-Can) 224-2 (68.32). ◻︎