USATF Women’s 100 — Hobbs Repeats Her NCAA Dominance

Whether it was cold or hot, Aleia Hobbs was the fastest in both nationals this year. (MIKE SCOTT)

After splashing to a runaway victory down the dash straight in a downpour at the NCAA, Aleia Hobbs had to be considered the favorite to win here as well. With world champion Tori Bowie, the U.S. No. 1 Ranker the last 4 years, skipping the meet, the LSU senior’s path was cleared, and she took it to her first USATF crown in 10.91, making her only the fourth NCAA/USATF doubler in event history.

Along the way several rivals revealed unforeseen form. Hobbs led off in heat I with a 10.97 clocking—her sixth wind-legal sub-11 of the year—from Tiger teammate Mikiah Brisco (11.13), the ’17 NCAA champion. No great surprise there. In heat II, 25-year-old Kentucky alum Dezerea Bryant, never before a USATF 100 finalist but the ’12 U.S. Junior champ, knocked out a 10.99, an 0.01 improvement on her PR from the ’15 nationals. Behind Bryant came Tennessee’s Shania Collins (11.10), one of two others in the field with sub-11 clockings this year, and ’17 runner-up Deajah Stevens (11.18). Heat IV, blown by a 3.0mps wind, saw a 10.91w win from Ashley Henderson from Jenna Prandini’s 10.95w. San Diego State junior Henderson had turned her first sub-11 in April but didn’t qualify for the NCAA century.

Rio 200 Olympian Prandini, also 25, broke the barrier 5 times in ’15 (best of 10.92), while at Oregon, and ’16, but struggled last season with a stress-fractured foot. She showed her return was real the next day taking semi I in 11.00 from Henderson’s 11.03. Semi II was all about Hobbs, with a 10.89w clocking pushed by a 2.2 wind, in front of Brisco (11.04w) and Bryant (11.07w).

A trio of top contenders seemed to have shaken out and for the final they lined up in the central corridors: Henderson in lane 3, Prandini in 4, Hobbs in 5 (in LSU yellow singlet over purple shorts with Brisco kitted identically to her right). Hobbs started with the biggest bang, although the pair to her left, Brisco and Texas A&M Aaliyah Brown in 2 also acquitted themselves well. By 40m Hobbs was drawing clear and by 60 Prandini and Henderson found separation from the rest as well.

Hobbs’s form as she held her lead looked the stuff of technique clinics but for a nearly imperceptible hitch 9m from the line. “I just kind of stumbled at that time,” she said. “I was like, ‘Alright, you gotta finish running.’ So that’s what that was.”
Hobbs surely finished running, the 10.91 her seventh time of the season in the 10.90s (plus three windies, two of those under 10.9).

At 80m Henderson got a lead of inches over Prandini in the race for 2nd, and she held it over the line to notch a 10.96 PR to Prandini’s 10.98. Brisco placed 4th (11.10) from Brown (11.13).

Undefeated in 100s all season, Hobbs said, “Every race I went into I was very confident I could execute the race and I didn’t panic at all. So I think that’s what got me.” Having run her final race in Tiger colors—”I may shed a couple tears”—she reflected on the NCAA/USATF championships pairing that capped her senior campaign after soph year knee surgery and her low-altitude Collegiate Record, 10.85, in ’17. The deluge dumping on her NCAA race “was horrible,” she said, “but Coach [Dennis] Shaver said it was the same in every lane, so in that respect we had some pretty decent weather here. So I had to execute the race.”

Asked about the absent world champion, Hobbs said, “That’s Tori Bowie so I would love to race against her. I know it’s coming soon so I’m looking forward to it.”


FINAL (June 22; wind +0.6)

1. Aleia Hobbs (LSU) 10.91;

2. Ashley Henderson (SDi) 10.96 PR;

3. Jenna Prandini (Puma) 10.98;

4. Mikiah Brisco (LSU) 11.10;

5. Aaliyah Brown (unat) 11.13;

6. Dezerea Bryant (Nik) 11.17;

7. Shania Collins (Tn) 11.21;

8. Kiara Parker (Ar) 11.22.

HEATS (June 21)

I(1.7)–1. Hobbs 10.97; 2. Brisco 11.13; 3. Lekeisha Lawson (unat) 11.19; 4. Tawanna Meadows (unat) 11.27;

5. Jada Baylark (Ar) 11.34; 6. Kaylin Whitney (Nik) 11.37; 7. Akia Morris (unat) 11.91.

II(1.8)–1. Bryant 10.99 PR; 2. Collins 11.10; 3. Deajah Stevens (Nik) 11.18; 4. Gabriele Cunningham (NCSt) 11.21 PR; 5. Destinee Brown (unat) 11.33.

III(1.8)–1. Brown 11.20; 2. Ariana Washington (Or) 11.21; 3. Barbara Pierre (unat) 11.28;

4. Jeneba Tarmoh (unat) 11.40; 5. Felicia Brown (adi) 11.53.

IV(3.0)–1. Henderson 10.91; 2. Prandini 10.95; 3. Parker 11.16; 4. Candyce McGrone (unat) 11.21;

5. Kimberlyn Duncan (Nik) 11.34; 6. Gabrielle Farquharson (unat) 11.67; 7. Miki Barber (GState) 11.70.

SEMIS (June 22)

I(1.5)–1. Prandini 11.00; 2. Henderson 11.03; 3. A. Brown 11.15; 4. Parker 11.17;

5. Washington 11.20; 6. Pierre 11.23; 7. D. Brown 11.36; 8. Cunningham 11.40.

II(2.2)–1. Hobbs 10.89w; 2. Brisco 11.04w; 3. Bryant 11.07; 4. Collins 11.09w;

5. Meadows 11.19w; 6. Lawson 11.21w; 7. Stevens 11.26w; 8. McGrone 11.52w.