USC capped a bonkers final NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field with a comeback for the ages, needing a win in the very last event to claim the women’s team title.
The Trojans’ Kendall Ellis was in fifth place going into the 4x400m anchor leg after a mangled handoff. Ellis, the fourth-fastest 400m runner in the world this year, made up a staggering deficit on Purdue’s Jahneya Mitchell in the last 100 meters to win by .07.
Ellis split 50.05 seconds, 2.03 seconds faster than Mitchell, to pull off the comeback. USC needed to win the relay to pass Georgia, which didn’t have a team in the 4x400m final, for the NCAA team title.
Notably, University of Kentucky freshman Sydney McLaughlin split 50.03 on the third leg, then announced she’s turning professional at age 18. McLaughlin won the NCAA title in the 400m hurdles earlier Saturday. She is the fastest woman in the world in the event this year by nine tenths of a second.
McLaughlin reached the Rio Olympic 400m hurdles semifinals as a 17-year-old, the youngest U.S. track and field athlete to make an Olympic team since 1980 and the youngest to compete in the Olympics since 1972.
The University of Oregon’s Hayward Field is to be demolished this summer and replaced by 2020.
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