The story of how USC won the 2021 Women’s NCAA Division 1 Track & Field Championships reads like a made-for-TV movie! No points on day one, and then a 74 point total on day 2? Amazing! But that is how it happened and how David Hunter told the story today.
— NCAA Track & Field (@NCAATrackField) June 13, 2021
Thanks to David Hunter for covering the NCAA Champs in 2021. We will see his daily pieces begin once again on Friday, June 18, and continue until June 27 as we cover the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials live from Eugene, Oregon!
Congrats to all of the athletes who made us cheer and scream at our TVs and computers and iPhones this past weekend!
And for all who ventured to Hayward Field, this past weekend-you saw something amazing!
Thank you, Hayward Field!
— NCAA Track & Field (@NCAATrackField) June 13, 2021
Day Four: All Hail USC !
Southern Cal Fights On, Wins Women’s Team Title
June 12 , 2021
When you think about the NCAA track & field championship team competitions, any points are good points. And points in the first day count just as much as points on the last day. But outside of very rare circumstances, team titles are not won on the first day. They are won on the second day.
As Day Four – the final day of the women‘s competition – was set to unfold, the leader in the women‘s team title competition in the 2021 NCAA outdoor track & field championships was the University of Georgia with 20 points with Oregon in 2nd with 14 points. But it must be noted that at the beginning of the Day Four competition a total of 10 teams had amassed between 10 and 20 points as the day got underway. In other words, the women‘s team title race was wide open as the competition got underway.
After the women‘s first day of competition, the University of Southern California had no points, Nada. Bupkis. Nothing. But they weren‘t worried. They knew that after the preliminary rounds were completed, that their qualified athletes represented many potential points that hopefully would be harvested on the final day – the more important day.
First up on the track was the final of the 4×100. Crisp exchanges and a smoldering third leg by Symone Mason put LSU in the lead entering the homestretch. But a blistering drive by USC‘s anchor Twanisha “T.T.” Terry allowed the Trojan quartet [42.82] to nip the LSU squad [42.84] right at the line for the win. Just like that USC was on the board with its first points of these championships.
40 minutes later USC struck again in the 100m hurdles final. The Trojan‘s Anna Cockrell, the defending champion in the women‘s 400m hurdles, was poised for the 100m hurdles final. Aided by a great start, the USC senior breezed on to an easy victory in 12.58. Her 10 points tied USC with first-day leader Georgia and suddenly it was a whole new ballgame.
Next was the 100-meter final. And while Texas A&M sophomore Cambrea Sturgis‘s wind-aided 10.74 – the fastest NCAA clocking for the century under all conditions – earned her the crown,the Trojans’ Terry and her teammate Lanae-Tava Thomas went 2 – 7. Their 10 points pushed the USC point total to 30 and gave them the team race lead.
In the 400m final, it was the Athing Mu Show as the Texas A&M freshman phenom was never challenged as she crossed the line in 49.57 – a meet record and PR performance that lowered her own collegiate record. Not to be overlooked was USC‘s continued drive for points as Kyle Constantine, Nicole Yeargin, and Bailey Lear went 3-4-7 amassing 13 more points for the Trojans, now at 43 points.
Up next for USC was Anna Cockrell, fresh off her 100H victory, to defend her 2019 title in the 400m hurdles. Her decisive win [54.68] not only raised the USC point total to 53 but also allowed Cockrell to join Olympian Queen Harrison as the only two female athletes to win NCAA titles in both the 100H and the 400H in the same year. “I really can’t even put it into words,” said Cockrell. “Ever since I came to college this was my dream honestly, to double.”
In the 200m final, NC A&T‘s Sturgis [22.12] completed her impressive sprint double while the USC point machine rolled on with Terry [5th in 22.69] and Doha 200m finalist Angleme Annelus [6th in 22.72] racking up 7 points for the Trojans and lifting their point total to 60.
Field event results began rolling in and with Morgan Smalls [6‘1â„2“] earning 5 team points in the high jump and Temitope Ojora [44“4‘] picking up a point in the triple jump. The two freshmen had pushed the new USC point total to 66 and beyond the reach of all other competitors.
This terrific national championship ended with the 4x400m relay. Although the team title was settled, everyone wanted to see Texas A&M‘s Mu on the anchor for the Aggies. Down about 20 meters when she got the baton, Mu went right to work. It didn‘t take long for the freshman to forge into the lead and complete a winning effort for Texas A&M. The Aggies clocking – a mind-numbing 3:22.34 – set a new collegiate and Hayward Field facility record and is now #1 on the world list. The win gave Texas A&M a 2nd-place final point total of 63. The women of Troy, finishing 2nd in the 4×4 [3:24.54], ended up with a final team point count of 74 – all earned on the meet‘s final day.
At the post-championship infield celebration, Caryl Smith Gilbert, head coach of the jubilant victors, outlined how the University of Southern California women got it done. “We knew we were going to be a tough competitor. We had to keep in mind the goal we wanted. I told them to concentrate and just wait for the opportunity. This group is probably the toughest group I‘ve ever coached. They worked together; they get along, and they shared everything to win this championship.” / Dave Hunter /
*** Trackside Tidbits
After a dawdling tempo in the early going of the 1500m. BYU senior Anna Camp uncorked a final lap of 62.11 featuring a strong homestretch drive to win in 4:08.53.
In a final that wasn‘t settled until the run-in, Air Force senior Mahala Norris won the event on the final lunge at the line. Her winning time of 9:31.79 is #2 on the collegiate list. “It was crazy,” said the winner and native of nearby Roseburg, Oregon, “I always wanted to be back. A win on my home turf is what I wanted.“
In the 800m final, Virginia senior Michaela Meyer stayed patient in the early going and unleashed a perfectly executed drive over the final 150 meters to win in 2:00.28. “With Covid, I got more hungry. I wanted it more than ever. With one extra year of training I was able to do it,” said the new champion. “I saw the finish line and I wanted to get there as fast as possible.
In a stirring 5000m final, North Carolina State senior Elly Henes was the strongest over the final lap [64.29] to finish in 15:28.05 and to capture her first NCAA title.
In the women‘s discus, Arizona State junior Jorinde Van Klinken launched a 6th round throw of 213‘ 5″to snatch the national crown. “The sixth throw is your last attempt, so the pressure is on. I love the pressure,” revealed the winner. “It’s never over until the last round.“
The final day attendance was announced as 6600.
On the final day of the competition, Mother Nature once again cooperated when forecasted
rain never materialized until after the competition had concluded. Hayward Magic?