NCAA Men’s 400 Hurdles — Dean Smashes American CR

“To be right after Rai Benjamin means a lot to me,” said Caleb Dean, who missed the Collegiate Record by just 0.05. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

FOUR MEN STOOD APART from this field on the basis of best times: defending champion Chris Robinson (Alabama), 2023 3rd- and 4th-placers Nathaniel Ezekiel (Baylor) and Caleb Dean (Texas Tech), and much-improved Tennessee senior Clement Ducos.

These were also the four quickest in the Wednesday semis, but standing out among them was Dean, who equaled his PR with an unnecessarily hard 48.05 — the fastest semi in meet history.

Also emerging was ’21 and ’22 champion Sean Burrell (LSU), the USA Junior recordholder. The T&FN formchart proved remarkably prescient, picking 8 of the 9 finalists.

Dean drew lane 6 for the final, with Ezekiel inside him in 5, Ducos and Robinson outside in 7 and 8, respectively. With four of the eight top collegians of all-time in the race, and ideal weather conditions with little wind, this was going to be a quick one.

The Texas Tech senior was off fastest and a clear leader over the first two hurdles, with Burrell 2nd. Robinson accelerated, and it became a two-man race with Ezekiel trailing, after Ducos slowed to a stop on the backstretch.

At halfway, Dean led Robinson by 2m, with Ezekiel another 2m back, a meter ahead of Burrell and Eklund.

The top 2 ran strong curves, and Dean maintained his lead. Ezekiel and Oskar Eklund (Texas Tech) were now even, with Texas A&M junior Ja’Qualon Scott moving up.

Dean powered to the line over the last two barriers and down the straight, widening his advantage over Robinson and showing no signs of fatigue. He finished in 47.23, becoming the second-fastest collegian of all time and the first to win the indoor 60H and the outdoor 400s in the same year.

His time took a Red Raider’s axe to the American Collegiate Record, 47.56, set by Kerron Clement at the ’05 NCAA. (The Collegiate Record of 47.02 was set by Rai Benjamin before he was eligible to represent the United States.)

Robinson finished within a few inches of his PR in 47.98, while Ezekiel held onto 3rd in 48.88. Scott, who 40 minutes earlier had produced a 13.27 PR for 3rd in the 110 hurdles, notched another one here, improving from 49.93 to 49.08, good for 4th ahead of Eklund’s 49.23.

The new champion had anticipated his improvement. “It kind of surprised me,” he said, “but I knew I could run a 47 easily, it’s just a matter of when and what competition. I knew I was capable, and I expected it to be here. I’ve been aiming for 47 for the past couple of years.”

Thinking about what lies ahead, he said, “It means the world to know that I’m here to stay, and I’m ready to compete with whoever. Running the second-fastest of all time, it’s history. To be right after Rai Benjamin means a lot to me.”


FINAL (June 07)

1. *Caleb Dean (TxT) 47.23 PR, AmCR (old Am CR 47.56 Kerron Clement [Fl] ’05) (=10, x W; 5, x A; 2, 2 C);

2. Chris Robinson (Al) 47.98 (x, =8 C);

3. *Nathaniel Ezekiel’ (Bay-Ngr) 48.88;

4. *Ja’Qualon Scott (TxAM) 49.08 PR;

5. *Oskar Edlund’ (TxT-Swe) 49.23;

6. Corde Long (Al) 49.47;

7. Jakwan Hale (Tn) 49.49;

8. Sean Burrell (LSU) 51.17;

… dnf—Clement Ducos’ (Tn-Fra).

SEMIS (June 05)

I–1. Ezekiel’ 48.93; 2. Burrell 49.03; 3. Long 49.51; 4. ***Ryan Matulonis (Penn) 50.12; 5. Craig Saddler (NC) 50.15; 6. **Yan Vazquez’ (Az-PR) 50.42; 7. Clayton Elder (Al) 50.89; 8. Jonathan Birchman (Wa) 51.05.

II–1. Dean 48.05 =PR (fastest NCAA prelim ever); 2. Edlund’ 49.44; 3. Scott 49.93 PR; 4. Javed Jones’ (LaL-Jam) 50.47; 5. Caleb Cavanaugh (Tx) 50.64; 6. Noah Langford (How) 50.84; 7. **Devontie Archer’ (SFl-Jam) 51.22; 8. *Darek Hackett (AF) 51.60.

III–1. Ducos’ 48.64; 2. Robinson 48.79; 3. Hale 49.88; 4. **Kody Blackwood (Tx) 50.14; 5. Rasheeme Griffith’ (Tn-Bar) 50.22; 6. Robert Williams (Il) 50.99; 7. *Bryce McCray (TxAM) 51.10; 8. *Omri Shiff (LBSt) 51.50.