NCAA Women’s 100 — An Inspired Long Closed Fast

Following an emotionally challenging season, McKenzie Long found strength at the start and victory at the finish. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

CALL IT AN OMEN. All year Mississippi’s McKenzie Long has been sprinting for her mother, who passed away during the indoor season. It’s been a hard campaign, but she managed to hold it together, focusing mostly on the 200, but dropping to the 100 for the East Regional, which she led in 10.92.

In the first heat on Thursday, Oregon’s Jadyn Mays dominated in 11.04, Ohio State’s Leah Bertrand getting the second auto Q in 11.17. Heat 2 brought LSU’s Brianna Lyston to the line in 10.99, with Georgia’s Kaila Jackson (11.04) and Texas Tech’s Rosemary Chukwuma (11.16). In heat 3, Long showed her sharpness by running a PR 10.91 with no wind ahead of LSU’s Tima Godbless (11.08).

Long, an Ohio native who ran 11.78 while at Central High in Pickerington, had clearly improved significantly from where she was last year, when she had a best of 11.00 and finished 9th in the NCAA final.

When she came out for the final to her assigned lane 5, she knelt down to set her blocks and found they were already set perfectly for her. “The 100 is the event that I am less confident in than the 200,” she said, “and when I went out there and that block was already set to my numbers, I was shook. I was like ‘Mom, this is instantly you,’ because that has never happened to me before.” She continued, “I will remember that race for the rest of my life. That was her. I’m really just grateful and blessed.”

To her right in lane 6 was Lyston, who had captured the Indoor 60 crown as well as the SEC 100. In 7 was Jackson, who had run 10.95 for 2nd in the SEC. Pac-12 champ and formchart favorite Mays, who had run 10.83 windy at the West Regional, would start in 4. In lane 2 would be the other sub-11 performer in the field, Chukwuma, who had run 10.88 at her Regional.

At the gun, Mays, Jackson and Lyston all got out well, leaving Long behind in the opening strides. At 10m, Mays had a clear lead, with Jackson 2nd. Then Chukwuma entered the picture, edging ahead of the two, as Long still fought to get up to speed. At 50, it was Chukwuma and Jackson.

Then Long hit her stride, an amazingly quick turnover visibly different than the others’. She reeled in Lyston and Mays, then Jackson. At 70 she caught Chukwuma. Lyston, also now at top speed, pressed hard and moved into 2nd as Jackson faded.

Long hit the line in 10.82, the wind barely over the limit at 2.2. Lyston held on in 10.89, topping Chukwuma’s 10.90. Mays finished 4th in 10.95, Jackson 5th in 11.00.


FINAL (June 08; wind +2.2)

1. McKenzie Long (Ms) 10.82w;

2. **Brianna Lyston’ (LSU-Jam) 10.89w;

3. Rosemary Chukwuma’ (TxT-Ngr) 10.90w;

4. Jadyn Mays (Or) 10.95w;

5. **Kaila Jackson (Ga) 11.00w;

6. Thelma Davies (LSU) 11.04w;

7. *Leah Bertrand’ (OhSt-Tri) 11.05w;

8. ***Tima Godbless’ (LSU-Ngr) 11.10w;

9. *Iyana Gray (TCU) 11.28w.

SEMIS (June 06)

I(1.5)–1. Mays 11.04; 2. Bertrand’ 11.17; 3. Gray 11.18 PR; 4. Jaslyn Gardner (BYU) 11.24; 5. Success Umukoro’ (TxT-Ngr) 11.32; 6. **Ariane Linton (Ar) 11.33; 7. Nya Bussey (OhSt) 11.38; 8. *Adriana Tatum (AzSt) 11.49.

II(0.7)–1. Lyston’ 10.99; 2. Jackson 11.04; 3. Chukwuma’ 11.16; 4. Davies 11.18; 5. *Joella Lloyd’ (Tn-Ant) 11.19; 6. Dennisha Page (Tn) 11.24; 7. **Jassani Carter (USC) 11.27; 8. **Camryn Dickson (TxAM) 11.40.

III(0.0)–1. Long 10.91 PR (=10, x C);

2. Godbless’ 11.08; 3. *Alyssa Colbert (TxT) 11.18(11.175); 4. **Dajaz Defrand (FlSt) 11.19; 5. **Shenese Walker’ (FlSt-Jam) 11.23; 6. Semira Killebrew (TxAM) 11.26; 7. **Joyasia Smith (Char) 11.29; 8. Odell Frye (Mn) 11.30.