Sacramento, CA- The last day of track at the NCAAChampionships was a hot one. I actually can’t recall a better NCAA Championship for sprint performances. What’s amazing is that most of the top performers are coming from underclassman. A perfect example of the underclassman shining was the men’s 200m. Sophomore Wallace Spearmon (Arkansas),Frosh Xavier Carter (LSU) and Senior Tyson Gay entered the final with the top 3 times in the world this year. Spearmon and Gay got out hard and left Carter (whose blocks slipped forcing him to stumble)quite a ways back at the midway point. Carter wasn’t out of it though and charged past all but Spearmon who finished in a blazing 19.91 with Carter at 20.08. Amazing as that race was, the full-lap races stole the show. Monique Henderson(UCLA) blew away a stellar field in the women’s 400m and almost cracked50 seconds on the way. In the men’s 1-lapper, Kelly Willie (LSU) got out real fast (too fast it would turn out) and led for about 300m until Darold Williamson of Baylor passed him up and cruised to victory. In the 400H, another Tiger, Bennie Brazell, put on a show and ran the best race of his career. Bennie ran a near perfect race and led by about 3m coming off the last hurdle. Unfortunately, Kerron Clement (UF)charged past Bennie to win the race looking as if he knew he was going to win all along. And while Kerron’s race was no where near as ugly as the previous night, his time and the manner in which he ran it (poor race distribution,stutter-stepping, etc.) only support my opinion that he’s got the potential to crush the world record in the 400H. As good as that race was though, the men’s 4 x 4 lapper was the proverbial icing on the cake…..
THE SCENARIO: With one event remaining, the LSU trackand field teams were on the verge of not winning an individual or relaytitle at the NCAA OutdoorChampionships since 1986. Add to this the fact that if the Tigersdidn’t come in 1st or 2nd in the 4 x 400m relay the best they could do was 4th place in the team standings. LSU was picked by most to finish no better than third.
Despite the odds, the Tigers lined up and silenced all doubters.The Bayou Bengal foursome surprised practically everyone in the stadium by leading off with Reggie Dardar, followed by Olympians Kelly Willie and Bennie Brazell, and anchoring with super-freshman Xavier Carter. The end result, a collegiate record 2:59.59 and third place in the men’s team standings. Despite the lower-than-usual team placings for both the Tigers (3rd) and Lady Tigers (24th), both teams performed better than expected making this rebuilding year a successful one. Watch out for the Bayou Bengals next year.