Kendall Ellis
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USC wins NCAA women’s track and field title in epic relay finish (video)

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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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Second-fastest 400m hurdles ever, steeplechase spill at NCAA track champs (video)

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USC junior Rai Benjamin tied Edwin Moses with the second-fastest 400m hurdles time ever, headlining a highlight day at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Friday.

Benjamin clocked 47.02 seconds in the rain at the last major meet at Hayward Field, which will be demolished and rebuilt for 2020. Only 1992 Olympic champion Kevin Young‘s world record of 46.78 seconds is faster. Benjamin lowered his personal best from 47.98.

The legendary Moses, a two-time Olympic champion who won 122 straight races in the 1980s, also ran 47.02 in 1983.

Benjamin is a runner without a country, reportedly born in the Bronx to parents from Antigua and Barbuda. The IAAF lists Benjamin with Antigua, but he said Friday that he’s still in the process of trying to switch to the U.S. The IAAF currently has a freeze on nation transfers, though, so Benjamin cannot compete at the USATF Outdoor Championships in two weeks.

NCAAS: Full Meet Results

Also Friday, USC sophomore Michael Norman ran the 11th-fastest 400m ever, winning in 43.61 seconds. Norman, fifth in the 2012 Olympic Trials 200m at age 18, now ranks sixth all-time in the event.

Norman trails Wayde van Niekerk (43.03), Michael Johnson (43.18), Butch Reynolds (43.29), Jeremy Wariner (43.45) and Quincy Watts (43.50) in 400m history.

Finally in the men’s steeplechase, Houston’s Brian Barraza crashed hard off a barrier on the last lap after leading the whole race. He finished 10th.

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Watch Christian Coleman smash NCAA 100m record

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Christian Coleman broke the NCAA 100m record, ran the fastest time ever for somebody that young and put Usain Bolt and the sprint world on notice Wednesday evening.

And the Tennessee junior did it in a semifinal heat.

Coleman, a 2016 U.S. Olympic 4x100m relay runner, clocked 9.82 seconds (+1.3 meter/second wind) to open the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.

“You know if you execute your accelerations, hit your zones properly, but you never know what pace you’re on,” Coleman said. “I came across the line. I saw the time. I was pretty ecstatic about it. So, it was a pretty good run.”

He is now the joint-ninth-fastest man all time on a list topped by Bolt with his 9.58 world record. The only Americans to run faster than Coleman are either Olympic or world 100m champions — Tyson GayJustin Gatlin and Maurice Greene.

Coleman, 21, improved his personal best from 9.95 seconds. That was set at the 2016 Olympic Trials, where Coleman placed sixth to squeak onto his first Olympic team.

Now he’s primed to make his first world championships team, should he finish top three in the 100m at the U.S. Championships in two weeks.

Coleman’s 9.82 is the fastest time in the world this year by .06. Bolt won the Rio Olympics in 9.81 seconds, albeit with less tailwind. Bolt debuts in his farewell season Saturday.

Coleman is best known for a viral 40-yard dash from earlier this spring. He clocked 4.12 seconds, one tenth faster than Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross‘ NFL combine record. Ross had challenged Bolt to a 40-yard dash, but Coleman’s effort hushed the No. 9 overall draft pick.

Coleman is now the overwhelming favorite in Friday’s 100m final in Eugene. How fast can he go?

“The sky’s the limit,” he said.

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