NCAA Women’s 100 Hurdles — Windy Yet Quickest Ever

Against a pair of super-elite hurdlers Nugent finished ahead by 0.07. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

3 OF THE WORLD’S 6 fastest dominated the entry list. Defending champion Alia Armstrong (LSU) finished 4th at last year’s World Championships. ’21 & ’23 NCAA Indoor winner Ackera Nugent (Arkansas) was the No. 6 all-time collegiate performer, and is the indoor 60H CR-holder. And Kentucky senior Masai Russell improved substantially to record a CR 12.36 in March, before finishing a very close 3rd behind the Tiger and the Razorback at the SEC.

With conditions apparently optimal for impressive performances Armstrong (12.54) and Nugent (12.55) coasted cleanly through their semis. Russell was not as fortunate. She clobbered the second hurdle with her lead leg, was instantly well behind (“I could see everyone’s backs”), but kept her composure, shot over the remaining barriers, and ran down a good field to win in 12.76.

At 8:45 on the meet’s concluding night, 9 women took their marks in 90-degree, windy weather. From the inside, they were Paula Salmon (North Carolina A&T), Grace Stark (Florida), Alexis Glasco (Coastal Carolina), Russell, Armstrong, Nugent, Talie Bonds (Arizona), Rayniah Jones (Central Florida) and Aasia Laurencin (Michigan).

The start was even. Armstrong and Russell were slightly ahead at the first hurdle. Russell then bashed the second barrier — again — and was suddenly 3rd…but not by much.

By flight 5, 21-year-old Jamaican Nugent (“I can’t afford to make any mistake”) had a very narrow lead, when Armstrong smacked the hurdle with her trail leg and was thrown off stride. Nevertheless, she was moving so fast that she held off Russell for one more flight before yielding, both trailing the flying Nugent.

Over 8-9-10 and the final sprint, the order remained Nugent-Russell-Armstrong, with Russell closing fastest and despite Nugent hitting the last hurdle with her lead leg. Somewhat overlooked was Bonds, who was never far behind and edged Stark for 4th with a great lean.

The winning time was a wind-assisted (3.8) 12.25, the fastest all-conditions mark in collegiate history. Russell finished in 12.32 (third-fastest ever) and Armstrong in 12.49.

“It feels amazing to know that I’ve just got to trust my coach, and I follow instructions very, very well,” said an ecstatic champion, sporting her distinctive mouse-ears hairstyle. “I had been working for this, it’s our time to shine. I’m patient, and I just need to stay in my lane, stay focused. Don’t listen to the crowd around me and just keep going.”


FINAL (June 10; wind +3.8)

1. *Ackera Nugent’ (Ar-Jam) 12.25w (a-c CL) (a-c: =6, =10 W; 1, 1 C, NCAA);

2. Masai Russell (Ky) 12.32w (a-c: 6, x A; 3, 3 C);

3. *Alia Armstrong (LSU) 12.49w;

4. Talie Bonds (Az) 12.71w;

5. *Grace Stark (Fl) 12.72w;

6. **Alexis Glasco (CCar) 12.74w;

7. *Aasia Laurencin (Mi) 12.82w;

8. Paula Salmon (NCAT) 12.92w;

9. *Rayniah Jones (UCF) 13.00w.

(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: 1–6, 9w)

SEMIS (June 08)

I(0.5)–1. Nugent’ 12.55; 2. Glasco 12.90; 3. *Paige Magee (Ia) 13.08; 4. ***Jaiya Covington (TxAM) 13.16; 5. **Marissa Simpson’ (UTEP-Jam) 13.21; 6. *Myreanna Bebe (Ia) 13.41; 7. *Destiny Huven (Wi) 13.54; 8. Kaylor Harris (UCF) 13.82.

II(0.2)–1. Russell 12.76; 2. Jones 12.91; 3. Salmon 12.91; 4. Charisma Taylor’ (Tn-Bah) 12.94; 5. Demisha Roswell’ (TxT-Jam) 12.99; 6. Sedrickia Wynn (TxSt) 13.42;… dnf—Keira Christie-Galloway (GCan), Madison Langley-Walker (Ar).

III(0.0)–1. Armstrong 12.54; 2. Bonds 12.75; 3. Stark 12.76; 4. Laurencin 12.80 PR; 5. *Leah Phillips (LSU) 13.07; 6. *Darci Khan (How) 13.20; 7. Jada Hicks (Cal) 13.29; 8. *Alexandra Webster (FlSt) 13.34.