AFTER HER DOMINATING 56.05 in the semis—a time better than the PR of any other finalist—Anna Cockrell had all eyes focused on her for the final. Still, several others appeared to be primed to run well. LSU soph Jurnee Woodward had run 56.81 in the same heat as Cockrell, just ahead of Rutgers frosh Reanda Richards (56.87). LSU’s Brittley Humphrey won the first heat in 56.94.
However, Cockrell, the former World Junior (U20) champion, was perhaps in the best shape of her life—as evidenced by her 12.69 prelim in the 100H. On Saturday she had run the final of those hurdles just 45 minutes before she lined up for the 400s, clocking 12.80 in 5th. In this final, the USC junior ran without doubt, bursting out to an imposing lead by hurdle 1. On the backstretch she continued to pour it on, leading with her left leg as Humphrey ran a distant 2nd and Richards battling with Colorado’s Gabby Scott for 3rd.
By the second turn, Richards had caught Humphrey, but no one looked like they could catch Cockrell, who started alternating her lead led at hurdle 8. By the final barrier, the 21-year-old favorite had 6m on the field. Humphrey and Scott came off hurdle 10 at the same time, with Richards a smidgen behind them. As they sorted out their places Cockrell ran through the finish in 55.23, a yearly leader and just 0.09 off her ’17 PR. After 2 straight years as the runner-up (last year behind Sydney McLaughlin, who then turned pro), Cockrell had a win.
Scott won the run-in for 2nd, clocking a PR of 56.04—a notable improvement from her 58.27 best at the start of the season. This was her first NCAA Outdoor. “It’s amazing,” she said. “I fell at Regional prelims last year and that was in my head even this year, but I came back stronger.”
Humphrey in 3rd (56.11) also scored a PR, another big improvement, as she had run 58.42 as a Tiger frosh. Richards claimed 4th in 56.42. Woodward, who had been pegged on the formchart for 2nd, never found her rhythm and ended up 6th in 57.48.
In Cockrell’s eyes, the win was all about the team battle: “I had to do this for my team. I had to do this for the shield. I just went after it and came around the turn and just thought, ‘Go, go, go, go’ and I went. We knew we needed to execute. We knew we needed to put forth our best effort. That’s what we did, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re going to keep doing it, and we’re going to keep fighting.”
NCAA WOMEN’S 400 HURDLES RESULTS
1. *Anna Cockrell (USC) 55.23 (CL);
2. Gabby Scott’ (Co) 56.04 PR;
3. *Brittley Humphrey (LSU) 56.11 PR;
4. ***Reanda Richards’ (Rut) 56.42;
5. Brenna Porter (BYU) 57.26;
6. **Jurnee Woodward (LSU) 57.48;
7. *Darhian Mills (Wa) 57.76;
8. Samantha Gonzalez (Mia) 58.43.
I–1. Humphrey 56.94; 2. Gonzalez 57.07; 3. *Faith Ross (Ky) 57.46; 4. **Xahria Santiago’ (Md) 57.62; 5. ***Masai Russell (Ky) 57.76; 6. ***Sydni Townsend (Pitt) 57.92; 7. **Lauren Hoffman (Duke) 58.79;… dnf—Ranae McKenzie (KsSt).
II–1. Cockrell 56.05 (CL);
2. Woodward 56.81; 3. Richards’ 56.87; 4. Porter 57.03; 5. Karolina Pahlitzsch’ (Az) 57.28; 6. **Shannon Meisberger (Az) 58.75; 7. *Rachel Schow (Mn) 59.44; 8. *Lakeisha Warner’ (Clem) 62.29.
III–1. Mills 57.43; 2. Scott’ 57.50; 3. *Andrenette Knight’ (Va) 57.66; 4. *Michaela Pešková’ (Nb) 57.99; 5. **Milan Young (LSU) 58.15; 6. Jasmine Barge (Nb) 58.64; 7. **Kate Sorensen (Web) 60.09; 8. Alaysha Johnson (TxT) 60.40.