NCAA Women’s 4 x 100 — A Longhorn Runaway

The Texas strategy was simple: Alfred to Abba to Adeleke to Davis. Gone in 41 seconds — and change. (MIKE SCOTT)

THE LAP RELAY is the one event where nothing is inevitable. Regardless of how good your quartet is, dropped batons, zone violations, or popped hamstrings hide like landmines waiting to destroy well-laid plans.

But the cosmopolitan Longhorn 4×1, comprised of runners from 4 different nations, seemed about as sure a bet as possible. Three-quarters of the squad made the 100 final, including the juggernaut that is Julien Alfred. The other quarter would produce an upset in the 400 later in the evening.

Texas lowered the CR 3 times this season: 42.00 at the Texas Relays, 41.89 at the Big 12 and finally 41.55 in Thursday’s semi. The only thing that could stop Texas was themselves.

Instead, they delivered exactly as expected. It wasn’t quite as quick as the semi — merely 41.60, the No. 2 all-time collegiate mark.

Alfred drove out of the blocks with her expected power, almost making up the stagger on Kentucky. Kevona Davis achieved that just a few steps after the handoff, and passed to 400 star Rhasidat Adeleke well clear of the field. By the time Adeleke passed to anchor Kevona Davis, there were two separate competitions — Texas and everyone else.

Emphasizing just how good Texas is, Kentucky’s 42.46 and LSU’s 42.52 — well behind the Longhorns — would have made the all-time top 10 schools list if those teams didn’t already have faster marks.

“We know each other really well,” Adeleke said. “We’re friends on and off the track. We have a really good bond, we have really good team chemistry, so it’s more than just running for our school. We’re running for each other, we’re running for each other’s families. We’re just really close, and it makes it that much more special.”

Anchor Davis said she relished the pressure of being the closer: “Honestly, it’s not really that big of a burden, but I trust my teammates, and when they bring the stick around, I know that I have to get across the line.”

For Alfred, it was the beginning of a great birthday. Asked if winning was on her wish list, she said, “Definitely, but if we do anything, it’s to win a team title. That would be a good birthday gift to me.”

She now faced the daunting task of delivering nearly a quarter of the points Texas could rack up — the 100 and 200 lay ahead (but she didn’t have to worry about the 4×4, as the Horns were DQed in the semis).

“I feel great,” she said. “We started out great, all we have to do is just keep it going, and we’ll see where it leads us.”


FINAL (June 10)

1. Texas 41.60 (2 C, NCAA)

(Julien Alfred’, Ezinne Abba, Rhasidat Adeleke’, Kevona Davis’);

2. Kentucky 42.46 (10 NCAA)

(Victoria Perrow, Anthaya Charlton’, Masai Russell, Karimah Davis);

3. LSU 42.52

(Alia Armstrong, Favour Ofili’, Brianna Lyston’, Thelma Davies);

4. Arkansas 42.83

(Ackera Nugent’, Ariane Linton, Mekenze Kelley, Rosey Effiong);

5. Ohio State 42.85

(Yanique Dayle’, Nya Bussey, Columba Effiong, Leah Bertrand’);

6. Georgia 42.87

(Kaila Jackson, Autumn Wilson, Brandee Presley, Aaliyah Butler);

7. Oregon 43.06

(Lily Jones, Jadyn Mays, Shana Grebo’, Ella Clayton’);

8. Baylor 43.12

(Mariah Ayers, Imaobong Nse Uko’, Bria Bullard, Michaela Francois);

9. USC 43.13

(Caisja Chandler, Samirah Moody, Jan’Taijah Jones, Jassani Carter).

(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: 3, 5–9)

SEMIS (June 08)

I–1. Kentucky 42.30 (5 NCAA);

2. Georgia 42.93; 3. Tennessee 43.25 (fastest non-Q ever) (Sears, Ross, Taylor’, Sreenan); 4. Texas A&M 43.30 (Martin, Dickson, Burr, Killebrew); 5. Texas Tech 43.32 (Clark, Chukwuma’, Roswell’, Nwonumah); 6. Minnesota 43.78 (Frye, Hansen, Lewis’, Young);… dnf—Duke (King, Geiser, Bieber, McGinnis), UCF (Lampkin, Jones, Defreitas’, Wilson).

II–1. Ohio State 42.68 (#9 school);

2. USC 42.88; 3. Oregon 43.09; 4. Arkansas 43.10; 5. Mississippi 43.49 (Long, Matthews’, Eckford, Augustine); 6. Oklahoma 43.52 (Kubickova’, Hayes, Obijiaku’, Blackmon); 7. Cal 43.83 (Hicks, Grady, Mills, Shaheed);… dnf—Louisville (Herbert, Yeast, Kelley, Savage).

III–1. Texas 41.55 CR (old CR 41.89 Texas ’23);

2. LSU 42.84; 3. Baylor 43.15; 4. Florida 43.54 (Elliott, Stark, Hollis, Flannel); 5. Stanford 43.77 (Wright, Jones, Valmon, Rossum); 6. Florida State 44.11 (Webster, Defrand, Banks, Wilson); 7. BYU 44.60 (Tabugbo, Gardner, Shaw’, Barber);… dq—Alabama (Brown, Fields, Conteh, Ballard).