NCAA Men’s 400 — Morales Williams Takes A Tight One

Teen Christopher Morales Williams, undefeated on the year, got nervous with 100 to go, then won one more. (MIKE SCOTT)

AN AIR OF ANTICIPATION has followed Christopher Morales Williams ever since he ran faster than the World Indoor Record, timed in 44.49 at the SEC Indoor in February. The buzz grew louder after his world-leading 44.05 in the SEC Outdoor final on May 11. Could the Georgia soph, who won’t turn 20 until August, run the first sub-44 lap of the year?

Morales Williams, who was undefeated this outdoor season at 400 and only lost once en route to the NCAA indoor title, ran controlled races through the regionals and semifinal. That only increased the drama.

He lined up in lane 6 with Johnnie Blockburger, the USC senior, to his outside. Blockburger, who missed the 2023 NCAA due to injury, came in as the second-fastest collegian of the season at 44.51.

Alabama frosh Samuel Ogazi started just to Morales Williams’ left and Virginia Tech soph Judson Lincoln, No. 2 on the T&FN formchart, was in lane 3.

Morales Williams went out hard and had an unexpected realization at 200 meters. “I felt like I was a little tired,” he said. “And I was like, ‘I’m gonna push it from here because I feel like if I don’t push it, at the 300 line I might not have enough to come home at the end.”

With 50 meters to go, five runners — including Morales Williams — raced in a line across the straightaway.

“I haven’t been in a line in a long time,” the Canadian said. “I’ve been quite ahead towards the end, so now I’m under pressure. And it’s been a while since I’ve been under pressure and I’m fighting and fighting and fighting, but I’m thinking to myself, ‘I really don’t want to lose.’”

Morales Williams threw form out the window to overtake Ogazi and fend off Florida senior JeVaughn Powell.

“I kind of just hit another extra gear the last 20 meters and I wanted to just get my chest ahead,” said Morales Williams, who clocked 44.47.

Ogazi finished in 44.52, followed by Powell (44.54), Blockburger (44.90) and Lincoln (45.31). Justin Robinson, the NCAA indoor runner-up, was 8th in 45.92.

Morales Williams didn’t make it to the finals at SECs or NCAAs last season. But his indoor 44.49, which could not be ratified as a World Indoor Record for lack of false-start detection blocks, signaled he had become a vastly improved athlete in ’24.

“It’s the most 400s I’ve run and won in a year and it starts to get tiring after a while,” Morales Williams said. “I’m only human, right? I can’t run 400 and win and PB every single race. I’m just going to burn out eventually.”

He’ll have time for some rest before the Canadian Olympic Trials, although placement is not the only criteria for selection.

“I probably don’t have to win Trials,” Morales Williams said, “but I think I’m still going to go for it.”


FINAL (June 07)

1. **Christopher Morales Williams’ (Ga-Can) 44.47;

2. ***Samuel Ogazi’ (Al-Ngr) 44.52 (6, x WJ);

3. JeVaughn Powell’ (Fl-Jam) 44.54;

4. Johnnie Blockburger (USC) 44.90;

5. **Judson Lincoln (VaT) 45.31;

6. Emmanuel Bynum (Tn) 45.75;

7. *Reheem Hayles’ (Fl-Jam) 45.78;

8. *Justin Robinson (AzSt) 45.92;

… dq—*Auhmad Robinson (TxAM) (44.75).

HEATS (June 05)

I–1. Morales Williams’ 44.96; 2. Robinson 45.00; 3. Bynum 45.50; 4. **Nathan Kent (Navy) 45.85; 5. Jevon O’Bryant (TxAM) 45.87; 6. Jamel Miller’ (Camp-Jam) 45.87; 7. **Jaden Smith (SJSt) 45.95;… dq—Eugene Omalla’ (KsSt-Neth).

II–1. Ogazi’ 45.14; 2. Powell’ 45.17; 3. Khaleb McRae (Al) 45.76; 4. James Benson (Ar) 45.79; 5. *Antonie Nortje’ (UCLA-SA) 45.84; 6. **Shaemar Uter’ (TxT-Jam) 46.31; 7. **TJ Tomlyanovich (Ar) 46.33; 8. ***Nabil Tezkratt’ (UTSA-Fra) 47.16.

III–1. Blockburger 45.13; 2. Robinson 45.21; 3. Lincoln 45.42; 4. Hayles’ 45.59; 5. **Logan Popelka (Tx) 46.06; 6. *Dillon Bedell (LSU) 46.28; 7. Solomon Strader (Mia) 46.63; 8. D’Andre Anderson (Clem) 47.10.