ATHLETICS-St Lucian Alfred steals the show on the final day of the NCAA Championships.

0
376

AUSTIN, Texas, CMC – St Lucia sprint darling Julien Alfred celebrated her 22nd birthday when she signed off her American collegiate career in spectacular fashion at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships on Saturday in the United States.

Alfred won the 100 meters and the 200. He ran the opening leg of the 4×100 relay for the University of Texas women to earn 22.5 points on the final day of the championships at the Mike A. Myers Stadium. The Longhorns won the overall team title for the fifth time in the program’s history and the first time in almost two decades.

The Longhorns women finished with 83 points – a record for the program at the outdoor championships – 32 more than runners-up Florida, and Arkansas finished third with 46.

Alfred led off for the Longhorns women, and they sped to victory in the 4×100, stopping the clock at 41.60 seconds – 0.05 outside the collegiate record they had set in the semi-finals two days before.

Less than an hour later, Alfred was in the blocks for the 100, and the Commonwealth Games silver medallist defended her title when she powered away from the field to win in a marginally wind-assisted 10.72 secs.

She became the first Longhorn to win the 100 twice and only the sixth in NCAA history to win consecutive 100 titles.

About 45 minutes later, Alfred took on the 200 and won by the same margin, running to victory in a wind-assisted 21.73 (2.5m/s), the fastest all-conditions mark in collegiate history, to become the first woman in seven years to complete the sprint double and third in the past quarter century.

“My coach has been my biggest influence in my life, my five years here at Texas,” she said. “Before beginning the championships, I went to speak to him, and he said let’s not focus on myself, focus on the team. That changed the pressure. It made a huge difference.”

Her part in the 4×100 gold medal relay team pushed Alfred to become the first female sprinter to complete the feat of three sprint gold medals at the same NCAA Championships since Carlette Guidry 32 years ago, and she is only the fifth woman to achieve the triple.

Winning coach Eldrick Floreal said Alfred made a strong case for being the most outstanding female sprinter in NCAA track and field history.

“Without a doubt, the greatest sprinter in NCAA history,” Floreal said.

Longhorns leaper Ackelia Smith of Jamaica followed up her victory in the women’s long jump on Thursday with a personal best of 14.54m to finish runner-up in the women’s triple jump.

The mark also improved her previous Longhorns program record mark, giving her the top eight spots in the university’s history.

She accumulated 18 points over the weekend and was the second-highest scorer for the Longhorns behind Alfred.

Rhasidat Adeleke of Ireland stunned the crowd and caused one of the biggest upsets of the championships with a dominant run to beat one-lap star Britton Wilson of Arkansas in the women’s 400 final with a time of 49.20, setting the second-fastest time in NCAA history and a record for the Longhorns.

Adeleke is the eighth Longhorn to win the 400m title and the first since Christian Gordon six years ago. She now has three of the five fastest outdoor times in school history.

Wilson had a slight edge when the duo entered the home straight, but Adeleke pulled ahead in the final 50 meters to win in a national record – the fastest time by a European athlete for 11 years.

Wilson was second in 49.64, and Jamaican Nickisha Price, her teammate, ran a personal best 50.23 for third.

In the 100 meters hurdles, Jamaican Ackera Nugent exploded through the early portion of the race and held on to win for Arkansas.

Nugent finished in 12.25 and was 0.07 faster than the runner-up, Kentucky senior Masai Russell, with LSU junior Alia Armstrong taking third in 12.49.

“It feels amazing to know that I’ve just got to trust my coach, and I follow instruction very well,” Nugent said. “I feel very pleased to follow those instructions and see the time.”

Nugent’s time was a season-best and the fastest all-conditions time in NCAA history.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here