SACRAMENTO – Texas A&M senior Fred Kerley cruised to a 44.03 victory in claiming the USATF Championship in the 400 meters at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium on Saturday afternoon and will represent the United States in the event along with the 4x400 relay during the IAAF World Championships in London later this summer.
During the Junior Championships competition, Aggie freshman Jaevin Reed placed second in the women’s 400m final with a career best time of 51.52 seconds. She earns a place on the United States team that will compete in the Pan American Junior Championships in Lima, Peru.
Meanwhile, at the Jamaican Championships, Texas A&M sophomore Jazmine Fray finished second in the 800m final with a time of 2:02.28 to earn a berth to the World Championships with Jamaica.
With the win Kerley becomes the 18th sprinter, dating back to 1927, to win NCAA and US titles at 400m in the same season, and just the fourth person to do so in the past 30 years. Recent sprinters to accomplish the feat include Butch Reynolds (Ohio State) in 1987, Steve Lewis (UCLA) in 1990 and Jeremy Wariner (Baylor) in 2004.
Running in lane 4 Kerley was able to gauge the competition, particularly Gil Roberts in lane 6, who pressed the field in the early stages of the race. As the race reached homestretch after the 300m mark, Kerley edged ahead of Roberts and Tony McQuay in lane 2. As Kerley maintained a lead over Roberts and McQuay to the finish, Will London of Baylor surprised the rest of field from lane 1.
Kerley finished in 44.03 seconds, his second fastest time this season behind a world-leading 43.70, while Roberts placed second in 44.22. London, who placed eighth in the NCAA final, grabbed third place in 44.47 ahead of a 44.50 for Bryshon Nellum and McQuay (44.51).
The rest of the final field included LSU’s Michael Cherry (44.67), USC’s Michael Norman (44.80) and Texas Tech’s Kyle Collins (45.49).
Kerley’s season includes the top five performances on the 2017 world list. His collegiate record of 43.70 is the world leader and is followed by 44.03 (USATF final), 44.09 (SEC prelim), 44.10 (NCAA final), 44.11 (USATF semifinal).
Titles in the 400m for Kerley, a finalist for the Bowerman Award, during senior campaign with Texas A&M include SEC Indoor, NCAA Indoor, SEC Outdoor, NCAA Outdoor and USATF Outdoor.
Audie Wyatt placed sixth in the pole vault, clearing 18-4 ½ (5.60). Wyatt made the first three bars on first attempts, which included 17-8 ½ (5.40) and 18-0 ½ (5.50) prior to 18-4 ½. Three misses at 18-6 ½ (5.65) knocked Wyatt out of the competition. Sam Kendricks won the title with a 19-8 ¼ (6.00) clearance.
Jessica Beard finished seventh in the women’s 400m final with a 50.85 from lane 2. Phyllis Francis, who placed fifth in the 2016 Olympics and trains in College Station, placed second with a time of 49.96 behind the 49.72 winning effort from Quanera Hayes.
Sam Hardin placed 11th in the javelin with a best of 228-7 (69.69). Riley Dolezal won the event with a throw of 268-3 (81.77).
Shamier Little won her semifinal heat in the 400m hurdles, producing a time of 53.78 over a 53.84 by Georganne Moline. Little’s time led the field heading to Sunday’s final. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad claimed the second semifinal heat in 53.95.
“Even though it was a pretty sloppy race, I came out with one of my top five times,” noted Little. “So, I’m actually really happy with the outcome. I’m glad to have made it out of this round and I live to fight another day.”
In the men’s 400m hurdles, Robert Grant initially placed fourth in his semifinal heat with a time of 49.25. However a protest was filed and Grant was disqualified for hooking a hurdle, which moved Bershawn Jackson into the final with a time of 49.52.
“It was my first time running the hurdles in lane 8,” said Grant prior to his disqualification. “It was interesting since I didn’t know where anybody was until I was coming off the last two hurdles. It was a bit of an advantage, because I ran smooth and within myself. But it was also a disadvantage since I didn’t know what was about to come. I put everything out there today to get that fourth spot.”
Racing in the 200m prelims Aggie alum Webb won his heat in 20.50 to auto qualify for the semifinals. In the women’s 200m, Diamond Spaulding ran 23.29 to place sixth in her heat. Aggie alum Jeneba Tarmoh finished sixth in another heat with a time of 23.65.
In running a time of 51.52 as runner-up in the 400m, Jaevin Reed improved her previous best of 51.67 set during the NCAA semifinals as she remains the No. 4 performer on the Aggie all-time list.
Reed finished behind Alabama’s Takyera Roberson, who clocked 51.35 for the win. Roberson takes over the top U.S. junior time for 2017 from Reed and is No. 2 on the world junior list. Reed remains No. 3 on the world junior list with her 51.52.
“I’m just excited to have this opportunity,” said Reed. “To get top two is really exciting. It was amazing to run another career best and I still have a long ways to go, so I expect lots of improvement.”
Texas A&M recruit Gabriel Oladipo won the discus title with a throw of 196-9 (59.97) and will be part of Team USA that competes in the Pan American Junior Championships. Oladipo series included throws of 191-11, 193-3, 196-9, 191-9, foul, and 189-11. Two other competitors threw over 192 feet as Oladipo won by a foot and seven inches.
Jace Comick reached the final of the 200m, placing fourth with a 21.19 (-1.1 wind). In the semifinal, Comick finished third in his heat with a 21.30 (-0.5 wind).
Aggie frosh Ashton Hutcherson ran 10:58.00 to finish seventh in the 3,000m steeplechase.
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