5-Minute Guide to the INCREDIBLE Sprint Action at the 2022 NCAA Outdoor Champs

By Jonathan Gault
June 8, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. — The 2022 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships get underway today at Hayward Field, and as always, it is expected to be one of the best track meets of the entire year. And while the distance action should be great (check out our 4 mid-d and distance previews here), the NCAA’s true strength comes in the sprints. As the feeder system for the world’s top sprint nation, the NCAA is always chock full of rising American stars in their late teens and early 20s, not to mention scores of international athletes who come over each year to develop their talent. Plus there are genuine stakes — these sprinters have been building toward this week since the fall, and winning an NCAA title actually means something.

I’m not overselling this. Here are some sprint highlights from just the last three editions of NCAA Outdoors:

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2018: Michael Norman wins 400 in 43.61 (#1 time in the world that year); Rai Benjamin wins 400 hurdles in 47.02 (#2 time in world history at the time); Sydney McLaughlin wins 400 hurdles

2019Grant Holloway wins 110 hurdles in 12.98, Daniel Roberts 2nd in 13.00 (#1 and #2 times in the world that year); Sha’Carri Richardson wins 100 in 10.75 at age 19; Divine Oduduru runs 9.86/19.73 to win 100/200

2021Athing Mu wins 400 in 49.57; Randolph Ross wins 400 in 43.85

The next Sydney McLaughlin or Grant Holloway? Their coming-out party is this weekend in Eugene, and you’re invited. To get you ready, here’s a quick guide to all 10 sprint events at NCAAs.

*TV/streaming information *Schedule/results

Men’s 100

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NCAA record: 9.82 (Christian Coleman, Tennessee, 2017)
2022 NCAA leader: 9.86 (Micah Williams, Oregon)

Micah Williams of Oregon, who was 5th at last year’s US championships, isn’t just the NCAA leader but the US leader as well (and he’s only .01 off Ferdinand Omanyala‘s world lead). Oh, and did I mention he’s 20 years old? If conditions cooperate, Williams has a shot at Christian Coleman‘s collegiate record this weekend. And if he breaks that, NCAAs might not be the only title he wins at Hayward Field this year…

Women’s 100

NCAA record: 10.75 (Sha’Carri Richardson, LSU, 2019)
2022 NCAA leader: 10.81 (Julien Alfred, Texas)

Four of the world’s 10 fastest women in the world in 2022 are in the field, led by Julien Alfred of Texas and St. Lucia. Indoors, Alfred blasted a collegiate record of 7.04 in the 60-meter prelims only to wind up 5th in the final; she’s looking for her first NCAA title this weekend. Coastal Carolina’s Melissa Jefferson (10.88), Kentucky’s Abby Steiner (10.92), and SEC champ Favour Ofili of LSU/Nigeria are the other women in this event in the world top 10 in 2022.

Men’s 200

NCAA record: 19.69 (Walter Dix, Florida State, 2007)
2022 NCAA leader: 19.92 (Matthew Boling, Georgia/Joseph Fahnbulleh, Florida)

This should be a classic. Between 2021 indoor champ Matthew Boling, 2021 outdoor champ Joseph Fahnbulleh, and 2022 indoor champ Javonte Harding of North Carolina A&T, there are three NCAA champs in the field. Boling and Fahnbulleh share the NCAA lead at 19.92, and while Boling won their head-to-head matchup at SECs (20.01 to 20.13), Fahnbulleh was 5th at the Olympics last year and may have the best final 100 in the entire sport. And don’t sleep on Micaiah Harris of Texas (19.72 with +3.8 wind at Big 12s).

Women’s 200

NCAA record: 21.96 (Favour Ofili, LSU, 2022)
2022 NCAA leader: 21.96 (Favour Ofili, LSU)

Favour Ofili and two-time NCAA indoor champ Abby Steiner (22.05) rank 1st and 4th on the NCAA all-time list and there’s a good chance that it will take a time faster than Ofili’s 21.96 collegiate record to win Saturday’s final. Ofili got the narrow win at SECs (22.04 to 22.07). It’s a testament to how strong this event is in 2022 that Anavia Battle, who ran 21.95 last year to make the US Olympic team in this event, might not even finish in the top two.

Men’s 400

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NCAA record: 43.61 (Michael Norman, USC, 2018)
2022 NCAA leader: 44.23 (Randolph Ross, North Carolina A&T)

2021 Olympian Randolph Ross ran 43.85 (#3 in NCAA history) to win this race last year and hasn’t lost to a collegian at all in 2022 at 400 meters, highlighted by a 44.62 win at NCAA indoors (#3 time in world history indoors). He’s the favorite here, but Texas’ Jonathan Jones, the runner-up in the 800 indoors, has run 44.43 this year and will be a threat.

Women’s 400

NCAA record: 49.57 (Athing Mu, Texas A&M, 2021)
2022 NCAA leader: 49.87 (Charokee Young, Texas A&M)

Charokee Young of Texas A&M/Jamaica became just the fifth collegian to break the 50-second barrier in Gainesville in April, though she didn’t win the SEC meet, finishing second behind Arkansas’ Britton Wilson (who is running the 400 hurdles at NCAAs). Fellow Jamaican Stacey Ann Williams of Texas figures to be Young’s top rival as she’s #6 in the world this year thanks to her 50.21 at Big 12s.

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Men’s 110 hurdles

NCAA record: 12.98 (Grant Holloway, Florida, 2019)
2022 NCAA leader: 13.07 (Trey Cunningham, Florida State)

When Grant Holloway ran 12.98 to break Renaldo Nehemiah‘s legendary 40-year-old collegiate record of 13.00 at the 2019 NCAA meet in Austin, it seemed destined to stand for a decade at least. There just isn’t much room for improvement when the world record is 12.80. And yet Holloway’s mark may not even last a full Olympic cycle. At the NCAA East Regional, Florida State’s Trey Cunningham ran 13.07, and he ran it into a 1.5 m/s headwind. One online calculator converts that to 12.91 in still conditions, which means that the collegiate record is at least on the table for Cunningham this weekend…though it would still take a legendary performance to actually do it.

Michigan’s Joshua Zeller has also run 13.19 this year.

Women’s 100 hurdles

NCAA record: 12.39 (Brianna McNeal, Clemson, 2013)
2022 NCAA leader: 12.44 (Demisha Roswell, Texas Tech)

Texas Tech’s Demisha Roswell (12.44) and Baylor’s Ackera Nugent (12.45) are #2 and #3 on the 2022 world list after their lightning runs at Big 12s, and SEC champ Alia Armstrong should be right in that range once she gets a legal wind reading (she ran 12.33 with a +2.5 at the Texas Relays — the fastest all-conditions time in NCAA history — and 12.46 with a +2.1 at SECs).

Men’s 400 hurdles

NCAA record: 47.02 (Rai Benjamin, USC, 2018)
2022 NCAA leader: 48.42 (Nathaniel Ezekiel, Baylor)

After LSU’s Sean Burrell ran a world U20 record of 47.85 to win NCAAs last year as a true freshman, he seemed destined to own this event moving forward. But while he made it back to NCAAs, he has struggled to repeat his success and hasn’t broken 50 all year. That leaves Nathaniel Ezekiel of Baylor and Nigeria the top seed at 48.42 (#5 in the world in 2022).

Women’s 400 hurdles

NCAA record: 52.75 (Sydney McLaughlin, Kentucky, 2018)
2022 NCAA leader: 53.75 (Britton Wilson, Arkansas)

Arkansas’ Britton Wilson, who ran 53.75 as part of an incredible triple at SECs, is the NCAA leader and favorite. That’s over a second faster than anyone else in the field, so she will be a heavy favorite in Eugene. The #2 seed is US heptathlon champion Anna Hall of Florida, who will be busy at NCAAs — she’s also competing in the heptathlon (the 400 hurdles final starts just 16 minutes before the heptathlon 800).

Team Competition

In terms of the team competition, Track and Field News is projecting a Texas women’s victory as a super tight race on the men’s side that may come down to the 4 x 400 with Texas, Florida and NC A&T.

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More: Complete 2022 NCAA Outdoors Coverage

Mid-d and Distance Previews:

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