Record Book Update: Historic Weekend From Okolo, Vaulters, Card & More
NEW ORLEANS – Just how special was Courtney Okolo’s 49.71 to win the LSU Alumni Gold 400 meters on Saturday?
To simply call it a “new collegiate record” doesn’t do justice to the speed with which the Texas senior traversed the quarter-mile track in Baton Rouge.
— NCAA Track & Field (@NCAATrackField) April 24, 2016
First of all, no collegian has ever run that fast. Ever. Not during the collegiate season, not at the USATF Outdoor Championships or Olympic Trials, and not at the Olympics. The question of who is the fastest collegian ever – do you go with the fastest time at or prior to the NCAA Championships (Courtney Okolo in 2014, 50.03) or the fastest time at any point (Natasha Hastings in 2007, 49.84)? – has been definitively answered.
No collegian had ever broken 50 seconds during or prior to the NCAA Championships – and Okolo did it in her 2016 debut in the event. Okolo, herself, had previously come closest when she set her former collegiate record of 50.03 at the 2014 Big 12 Championships.
By default, no collegian has also run this fast in the month of April – and, in fact, only two women in the history of the world have ever gone faster on the fourth page of the calendar. That would be Marion Jones in 2007 (49.59) and Shaunae Miller just last weekend (49.69).
Among Americans all-time, she just missed the all-time top-10 performers list by .07.
Among collegians, she now owns three of the seven fastest times in collegiate history, and has broken 50.25 three different times. Only Hastings in 2007 has done it twice in collegiate competition.
If her race pattern holds consistent to years past, we likely won’t see her run an open quarter mile until the Big 12 Championships. Could another collegiate record be in the offing? Stay tuned.
While Okolo took center stage in the record book updates, there were plenty of other all-time achievements around the nation.
Women’s Pole Vault
Never before in one collegiate season have three women cleared 15 feet in the pole vault. Make that “never before had” it been done, as both indoor NCAA Champ freshman Lexi Weeks of Arkansas and Duke senior Megan Clark this weekend joined Alysha Newman of Miami (Fla.) north of the 15-feet plateau in 2016.
Weeks cleared 4.64m (15-2¾) at the Arkansas John McDonnell Invitational for the seventh-best jump in collegiate history, while to the northeast at the Duke Invitational Clark made it over 4.63m (15-2¼) for the eighth-best clearance ever. Weeks is the first freshman to join the 15 foot club outdoors after accomplishing that same feat indoors.
Here’s Weeks’ historic clearance.
And here’s Clark’s.
Had they jumped these marks on the same dates a year ago, both would have surpassed the collegiate record at the time (though both would have been topped one day later on April 24 by Demi Payne).
Speaking of Payne, she hasn’t competed since a snapped pole at the Texas Relays in late March. But once she’s right again, the possibility is strong that we have a fourth 15-foot vaulter this season.
A fifth might not be out of the realm of possibility, as UL-Lafayette’s Morgann Leleux (formerly of Georgia) moved to No. 9 on the all-time college performers list with a leap of 4.51m (14-9½) at the LSU Alumni Gold.
Women’s Shot Put & Discus
Wisconsin senior Kelsey Card had herself a weekend at the UC San Diego Triton Invitational. She posted career-bests in both the shot put at 18.04m (59-2¼) and in the discus at 62.10m (203-9) to win both while putting her own unique stamp on collegiate history. Only two other women in college history have thrown for 18 or more meters in the shot put and 62 meters or farther in the discus in their NCAA careers: Meg Ritchie of Arizona – the owner of the collegiate records for both events – and Nebraska’s Becky Breisch.
Card accomplished both on the same weekend, joining Breisch as the only two women in collegiate history to have achieved that feat.
She now stands No. 11 on the all-time college performers list in the discus as the 11th woman to surpass 62 meters, and at No. 24 on the shot put list as just the 24th collegian to surpass 18 meters outdoors. Among collegians in 2016, she’s No. 1 in the discus and No. 2 in the shot put.
She’s now the fourth active woman who has thrown farther than 200 feet in the discus, joining two-time national champion Shelbi Vaughan of Texas A&M, Kellion Knibb of Florida State and Tera Novy of Southern California.
Men’s 4×400 Relay
Running at their home LSU Alumni Gold, the Bayou Bengals ran 3:00.38 for the 12th-fastest time in college history. The quartet of Lamar Bruton, Michael Cherry, Cyril Grayson and Fitzroy Dunkley just missed becoming the seventh team in collegiate history to break the three-minute barrier.
It’s the second-fastest time in program history, but getting that school record might be tough: it also doubles as the collegiate record. The Tigers ran 2:59.59 in 2005. Still, only the 2014 Florida Gators have ever run faster in the month of April. Interestingly, three of the men from that team return this year.
It was going to take a lot to displace Maggie Malone of Texas A&M from the collegiate lead – after all, she posted the third-best throw in collegiate history earlier this march at 60.36m (198-0). A lot is exactly what Hannah Carson of Texas Tech did. Carson – who finished a heartbreaking runner-up at last season’s NCAA Championships after a come-from-behind, sixth-round winner from Irena Sediva of Virginia Tech – overtook Malone for the college lead and the No. 3 spot on the all-time list with a heave of 60.42m (198-2) to win the Michael Johnson Classic at Baylor.
That wasn’t all from Carson, though. She ended the first round of three throws with a 57.98m (190-2) heave that checks in as the 23rd-best throw in college history, opened the final three throws with her all-time historic mark, and then followed it up with a fifth-round 59.10m (193-10) that landed at No. 13 on the all-time list.
We’ve known for some time that Kyra Jefferson of Florida is one of the most versatile sprinters in the country, but we can now put some metrics to it. The former NCAA indoor 200-meter champion ran a career-best 11.17 over half that distance to finish fourth at the Florida Tom Jones Memorial this past weekend, adding to career-bests of 22.24 at 200 meters and 51.50 at 400 meters.
Thanks to some excellent research over in Gainesville, it has been revealed that Jefferson is the only woman in college history with wind-legal career bests in the 100, 200 and 400 faster than or equal to 11.20, 22.25 and 51.50.
Women’s 400 Hurdles
Nnenya Hailey might be on track for a very special senior season. Her 54.98 to finish runner-up to pro Ashley Spencer at the LSU Alumni Gold this past weekend moved her into a share of the No. 22 spot on the all-time college performers list as just the 24th college woman to dip under 55 seconds.
She’s also running very fast, very early. Among collegians in the month of April, she’s tied for the fifth-fastest time ever with another great Wildcat hurdler, Georganne Moline. Moline, an Olympian, also ran 54.98 in 2013 and went on to become the third-fastest collegian in history.
And like Moline, who dueled with collegiate record holder Kori Carter of Stanford that year, Hailey will have superb competition in IAAF World Silver Medalist and two-time NCAA Champ Shamier Little of Texas A&M.
Evan Karakolis of Rice became just the 18th man in collegiate history to surpass the 260-feet barrier, throwing 79.30m (260-2) to win the Kansas Relays. He’s the third man to break that barrier this year, joining Texas A&M’s Ioannis Kyriazis and Curtis Thompson of Mississippi State. The only other year in which three men have broken that threshold was 2009, and there’s still potential for a fourth member of the 2016 260-foot club; John Ampomah of Middle Tennessee threw 81.55m (267-6) in last year’s Penn Relays.
Women’s Triple Jump
Keturah Orji of Georgia had a special frosh campaign a year ago, and this year is shaping up to be even more historic. The reigning NCAA indoor and outdoor champion posted back-to-back marks of 14.10m (46-3¼) and 14.11m (46-3.3½) to win the Virginia Challenge for the 10th and ninth-farthest marks in collegiate history, respectively.
What’s more, those two marks double as the two-longest ever posted in the month of April by a collegian. In fact, until this past weekend no other college woman had ever surpassed either the 14-meter or 46-foot barriers (take your pick, they’re roughly the same thing) before the calendar turned to May.
Women’s Hammer Throw
DeAnna Price of Southern Illinois continued her historic march through the 2016 season, posting her 11th throw of 230 feet or farther this season alone. She won the Pacesetter Invitational at Indiana State with a heave of 71.24m (233-8) – the 14th-best throw in college history and her sixth-best mark this year. Overall, she is closing in on owning a majority of the top-25 throws in collegiate history with 11 now to her name (as well as the No. 26 throw she displaced from the list).
Women’s Long Jump
Reigning indoor and outdoor national champion Quanesha Burks is seemingly already in championship-ready form, having twice jumped 6.76m (22-2¼) on consecutive attempts at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational. Both of those leaps landed in a tie for the 25th-best jump in college history.