The last meet in the current incarnation of Hayward Field promises to generate a plethora of digital ink. Great team matchups and compelling storylines are only part of the story. The remainder belongs to a number of supremely talented, world-class individuals who will be competing on a fast track in conditions that might be near-perfect, as long as the “chance of showers” promised for Friday and Saturday stays on the “light and refreshing” end of the rain spectrum.
Being the stat geeks that we are, it’s natural for us to keep an eye on the Collegiate Record list and the chances that we’ll see some new ones. This year, the chances seem better than most:
1. The 800: Saruni vs… Saruni!
Maybe the safest bet for a CR is when you tab the guy who already holds it. Michael Saruni of UTEP blasted his 1:43.25 in what looked like a tailor-made race in Tucson in late April. The power he finished with was undeniable. Since then, the Miner soph hasn’t had the need to race all-out, but we can only assume he has maintained his fitness. Yet he has had trouble with traffic from time to time, barely making his NCAA Indoor final this winter, and falling late in last year’s NCAA title race. Maybe that’s all the encouragement he needs to get out in front early and run so fast that no one can thwart him. At the West regional, teammate Jonah Koech did the early pacework before Saruni kicked home. If Koech makes the Eugene final, we might have the perfect rabbit.
2. The 110H: An End To Nehemiah’s Reign—Is It Possible?
Grant Holloway has made it clear he wants to take down Renaldo Nehemiah’s 13.00 in the high hurdles. That mark—merely not only a CR for the Maryland soph back in 79, but also a World Record—was run in an April invitational, not at the NCAA Championships (there he won with a windy 12.91). However, in Eugene, Holloway will not be thinking about himself. He’s a Gator through and through. Everything will be about maximizing team points. He will have competed in the long jump two days earlier, but when he lines up at 6:12pm on Friday for the 110H, he will also know that his biggest battle of the evening will be the relay 99 minutes later. In that context, slicing more than 0.15 off his hurdle best would seem to be a luxury. Holloway, instead, may be focused on the bigger picture. Then again, this is Grant Holloway. And if he’s en fuego, well…
3. The 1500: Kerr Doesn’t Need Pace Help
Josh Kerr already holds the record at 3:35.01. But 1500 records don’t often fall in the usually tactical environment of the NCAA Championships. However, as the New Mexico junior told us in April, “I feel comfortable running the front. I’m not really a guy that hangs back and plays around at the back before kind of doing this massive kick at the end.” And given that the 20-year-old Scot would appear to tower over the rest of the field as the favorite, he doesn’t gain much of an advantage by playing sit-and-kick in a slow race. He’d be better off making a break early. And with a hugely supportive Eugene crowd, fan noise just might help carry him to a faster time.
4. 400: Maybe Norman Breaks The CR… And Doesn’t Win?
Fred Kerley’s 43.70 would seem a daunting target in a business-as-usual NCAA meet, but Michael Norman does not conduct business as usual. The USC soph showed what he could do when he won the long sprint double at the Pac-12 meet in 19.84w/44.40. Then at the West Regional he followed up his 44.67 winner with a 43.06 relay anchor, the No. 2 split in history. In Eugene, he won’t be running the 200, so it would almost be surprising if he doesn’t get near or under 44.00 in the one-lap final.
But given the quality of the field, there are plenty who can stay close to him for most of the race, or even upend him. Auburn’s Nathon Allen (a list-leading 44.28), Tennessee’s Nathan Strother (44.34, plus a sub-44 relay credentials of his own), Kentucky’s Dwight St. Hilaire (44.55) and Baylor’s Wil London (44.73) will provide all the competition Norman needs to bring out his best.
5. 400H: Does Benjamin Have The Rhythm?
Kerron Clement’s 47.56 has lasted for 13 years, but it might meet its match, the way Rai (as in rye) Benjamin has been running. The Trojan junior, still only 20, broke through with his 47.98 to win the West Regional. In comparison, Clement’s PR before he ran his record at the ’05 Nationals was 48.29. So maybe Clement is ready for another big jump, especially now that he is dabbling with using a pulled-off-successfully-by-few 12 strides between hurdles.
6. 4×4: Back Into Sub-3:00 Territory?
Another race with a USC imprint on it, the final relay is ripe for a new CR. LSU set the standing mark of 2:59.59 to win at the ’05 edition. The SoCal crew has the team that would have broken the World Record indoors with a 3:00.77 but for Rai Benjamin’s nationality problem. Outdoors, one would naturally expect the Trojans to run faster. And with competition coming from Florida (3:01.00), Texas A&M (3:01.17) and LSU (3:01.98), among others, it could possibly take a CR to even win. Note that the three fastest teams in the field, USC, Florida and A&M, are all in the first heat, and only 2 teams are guaranteed to advance. That could get a little interesting!
Bonus: The Decathon (no really)
This one is the Big Stretch because Lindon Victor’s standard of 8539 is a really big number. It’s nearly 400 points higher than the 8145 PR of Kentucky’s Tim Duckworth. However, Eugene is a great venue for the deca (see Ashton Eaton’s ’12 WR) and Duckworth has every interest in finishing up his Wildcat career with a bang, especially if he wants to be selected for Britain’s Euro Championships team. His PRs put him into the ballpark (well, at least through the front gate): they add to 8589, and 7 of them have come this season. The 21-year-old Briton—who grew up in Arizona—is improving fast. He says, “The first mentality is to win. My confidence is high, there’s a few things that need to be tweaked, but I’m ready to roll.”
|Men’s Collegiate Records|
|Keep in mind that by T&FN’s longstanding definition (and one subsequently adopted by the USTFCCCA) Collegiate Records can only be set during the collegiate season, which ends as of the NCAA Championships. The all-time bests, in events contested at the Nationals:|
|100||9.82||Christian Coleman (Tennessee) ’17|
|200||19.69||Walter Dix (Florida State) ’07|
|400||43.70||Fred Kerley (Texas A&M) ’17|
|800||1:43.25||Michael Saruni (UTEP) ’18|
|1500||3:35.01||Josh Kerr (New Mexico) ’18|
|Steeple||8:05.4||Henry Rono (Washington State) ’78|
|5000||13:08.4||Henry Rono (Washington State) ’78|
|10,000||27:08.49||Sam Chelanga (Liberty) ’10|
|110H||13.00||Renaldo Nehemiah (Maryland) ’79|
|400H||47.56||Kerron Clement (Florida) ’05|
|4 x 100||38.23(A)||TCU ’89|
|4 x 400||2:59.59||LSU ’05|
|HJ||2.38 | 7-9¾||Hollis Conway (Louisiana–Lafayette) ’89|
|PV||5.98 | 19-7½||Lawrence Johnson (Tennessee) ’96|
|LJ||8.74 | 28-8¼||Erick Walder (Arkansas) ’94|
|TJ||17.57 | 57-7¾||Keith Connor (SMU) ’82|
|SP||22.00 | 72-2¼||John Godina (UCLA) ’95|
|DT||68.16 | 223-7||Julian Wruck (UCLA) ’13|
|HT||81.94 | 268-10||Balázs Kiss (USC) ’95|
|JT||89.10 | 292-4||Patrik Bodén (Texas) ’90|
|Dec||8539||Lindon Victor (Texas A&M) ’17|