Kyra Jefferson Chomps Collegiate Record

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Kyra Jefferson Chomps Collegiate Record

June 10, 2017

Fast runs in Kyra Jefferson’s family.

Thomas Jefferson, her biological father, earned an Olympic bronze medal in the 200 meters as part of a historic 1-2-3 sweep by Team USA at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Michele Watkins (nee Morris), her mother, was the first woman in NCAA DI history to anchor the title-winning 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams at the same NCAA Championships meet, doing so as a member of the 1985 LSU team that jump-started the program’s dynasty.

Kyra matched her mother’s relay prowess exactly 30 years later in 2015, albeit not in the same, exact way. She anchored Florida’s first – and still, only – women’s 4×100 relay win at the NCAA meet and then doubled back to carry the baton second on its championship 4×400 relay squad.

Fast forward two years and Kyra stood alone in history at the conclusion of the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field. That’s because Kyra won her second career 200-meter national title in a meet- and collegiate record-setting time of 22.02, taking down the 28-year-old standards of 22.04 established by Dawn Sowell in 1989 (Sowell clocked that mark at altitude in Provo, Utah).

Even though Kyra already had one 200-meter national title to her credit from the 2015 indoor season, very few expected her to win as a senior. She entered the meet as the fourth best performer of the season at 22.43, 0.34 seconds slower than Deajah Stevens of Oregon, who ran 22.09 at the Pac-12 Outdoor Championships in mid-May for what was the second fastest mark in collegiate history at the time and was an Olympic finalist the previous year. Also in the NCAA final was defending champion Ariana Washington of Oregon, who became the first freshman to complete the 100-200 double in meet history the year before.

Once the race started, though, it was clear that either Deajah or Kyra would win. Everybody else would likely be competing for third. Deajah and Kyra ran stride-for-stride down the backstretch and pushed the pace even harder as the finish line neared (Meet officials flipped the track so the competitors would have the 1.1 m/s wind at their back). The only remaining logical question was, “How fast would they go?”

Then, with less than 10 meters left, Kyra pulled slightly ahead of Deajah. The former Duck, who had begun to lose her form about 10 meters earlier, caught an edge and crashed to the track. Kyra avoided her fallen rival and crossed the finish line in 22.02 with a yell and exuberant fist pump.

“I didn’t know what happened,” Jefferson told ESPN reporter Jill Montgomery after the race. “I was just focusing on the finish line. I saw her in my peripherals and I was just trying to make sure I just kept digging and just trusted myself and trusted in God to get me through this race.”

posted: August 18, 2020
The NCAA's First Championships

The NCAA and collegiate track & field will mark a momentous milestone in the spring of 2021 -- the 100th anniversary of the NCAA Championships and with that, the NCAA Track & Field Championships. In June 1921, the University of Chicago hosted the first track & field championships in NCAA history.

This point can’t be emphasized enough: Not only was the event the first for NCAA track & field, but the first championships for any sport under the sponsorship of the NCAA.

To celebrate, over each of the next 365 days, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) will celebrate moments, student-athletes, and coaches that have made a century’s worth of championships special. From humble beginnings to important historical milestones to the modern-day, collegiate track & field has evolved with the American society.

The 2021 edition of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships begin with preliminary round action on May 27-29 in Jacksonville, Fla., and College Station, Texas. The championships final site and culmination of the celebration is slated for June 9-12, 2021 at the newly rebuilt Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Memorable Moments
Reese Left Her Mark On NCAA LJ
June 12, 2008

Brittney Reese won the long jump at the 2008 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships with a mark of 6.93m (22-9). Reese missed the meet record by just 1cm (½ inch).

Tupuritis Shocked The Field In 1996
May 31, 1996

Einars Tupuritis won the 800 at the 1996 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships by 0.14 seconds! Turpiritis crossed the finish line in 1:45.08.

Ellis Sent USC To A Thrilling Victory
June 9, 2018

Kendall Ellis had a remarkable come-from-behind victory in the 4×400 relay at the 2018 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships that sent Southern California to the meet title.