Fred Kerley wins the 400m at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships (© Shawn Price / Texas A&M University)
Fred Kerley broke a 25-year-old collegiate record in the 400m with a time of 43.70 at the NCAA West Preliminary rounds in West Austin on Friday (26).
Kerley had a significant lead at half way and continued to pull away from the rest of the field during the second half, winning by 1.74 seconds from Ricky Morgan.
The Texas A&M student, who two weeks ago ran a world-leading PB of 44.09, now moves to seventh on the world all-time list. USA’s 1992 Olympic champion Quincy Watts, who held the previous collegiate record of 44.00, was in attendance to view the effort.
“I was running smart yesterday to set up the race for today,” said Kerley. “Coach Francique and I were talking about the collegiate record being set in Austin and it would be wonderful to break it here in front of him. I just want to keep on improving.”
“That was maybe one of the best collegiate performances in history,” added Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “You start looking at big-time, huge performances and 43.70 is just one of the greatest performances of all time. He was ready to go, and it’s a pretty good day but not a perfect day to run a 400m.
“He set it up real well, maybe a little bit quick at 200m, but it was a really good race. His 300m time was just about what he wanted to do and he looked strong coming down the line. Quincy coaches at USC, so I got to introduce Fred and Quincy underneath the stadium here before the race. Quincy asked him if he could wait one more week to break it.”
Strong winds rendered most of the times ineligible for PBs in the shorter sprint events. After a strongly wind-assisted 9.90 (4.5m/s) in the 100m heats, Cameron Burrell was again denied a PB in the semifinals, running 9.95 with a wind of 2.1m/s behind his back, just over the allowable limit.
Oregon’s Deajah Stevens clocked 10.89 in the women’s 100m, aided by a 2.9m/s following wind. The Olympic finalist followed it with a 22.31 (2.1m/s) run in the 200m heats.
Although not quite as dominant as Kerley in the men’s event, USC’s Kendall Ellis was an impressive winner of the women’s 400m, winning her heat by exactly one second with a PB of 50.45.
Sydney Conley opened the long jump with a first-round PB of 6.69m. Had it not been for the marginal extra assistance of a 2.2m/s wind in round two, her following leap of 6.81m would have also counted as a PB.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF