In the first few days after the NCAA championships, Todd Harbour was bombarded with the same question over and over again. Even when the words were rearranged, everyone sought the same answer.
Where was Trayvon running next — Sacramento or Eugene?
That’d be Trayvon Bromell, Baylor’s freshman sprinting sensation who won the NCAA title in the 100 meters with a splendid 9.97, a world junior record. No doubt Bromell could have competed at last weekend’s USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento. In fact, his time at the NCAA meet would have been good enough for gold there, too.
Instead, Bromell will make a furious dash back to Eugene, Ore., Tracktown USA, to compete in this weekend’s USA Junior Track and Field Championships.
That news was met with giddiness by the track officials in Oregon.
“They’re excited about getting Trayvon back,” Harbour said. “I don’t know how many people ask me, ‘Is he going to seniors or going to juniors?’ I said, ‘He’s coming to juniors.’ Oh, they were pumped. The organizers are excited. The people running the world (junior) championships, they’re excited. They just know what that does for them. Having a guy like that, who’s not only the best in the United States as a junior, but he’s the best in the world, that’s big.”
Bromell, who will celebrate his 19th birthday July 10, said he didn’t give much consideration to competing against the pros in Sacramento this year. The top amateur in the world, Bromell is enticed by the idea of returning to Eugene again July 22-27, when the United States hosts the World Junior Track and Field Championships for the first time.
“I just really want to stay at the level I’m at right now, competing against the younger generation,” Bromell said. “Just to see where I am at that level. I’ve never been able to run at (USA) Juniors, so I just wanted to take this opportunity.”
The show that Bromell unveiled in winning the NCAA title electrified the track community. Adjustment periods are common for 18-year-olds making the transition to college track. But Bromell has always been adept at playing beat the clock.
Upper echelon record
Harbour couldn’t remember a better first-year effort.
“World junior record? No, I really can’t. That’s pretty special,” the Baylor coach said. “A world junior record your freshman year. Michael (Johnson) didn’t have that his freshman year. Robert (Griffin) getting (third in the 400 hurdles) up there at NCs, that was pretty special. Jacob Norman won nationals as a freshman in the indoor 60, and he was being talked about as the next Carl Lewis, but we knew that Jacob didn’t have that kind of discipline.
“Trayvon is just different. He’s got talent, but he’s got a work ethic to match it. That’s what you’re excited about for him. He’s not going to be just a meteor. He’s going to be around for a while.”
Bromell is one of four Baylor freshmen on the medal prowl at the USA Juniors, along with hurdler T.J. Holmes, distance runner Maggie Montoya and pole vaulter Annie Rhodes.
Bears as favorites
Like Bromell, Holmes enters as the odds-on favorite in his event, the 400 hurdles. He owns the top qualifying time in the event at 49.98, and is coming off a fourth-place finish at the NCAA meet in which he loped in with a time of 50.07.
For Holmes, nothing but gold will satisfy, especially since the top two finishers in each event qualify for the worlds.
“I’m trying to win, because I don’t want to worry about whether I made the team or not,” said Holmes, who like Bromell hails from the track-rich haven of St. Petersburg, Fla. “Last year I got third. I didn’t make it. So this year I’m out to win, because I want that guaranteed spot.” Montoya will test her stamina with two races — the 3,000 meters and the 5,000. She finished 13th at the Big 12 Championships in the 5,000, clocking 17:47.23.
Rhodes, a former state champion from Midway, may as excited as anyone to make the trip to Eugene. She missed out on the NCAA meet this year, finishing 27th at the NCAA West Preliminary Meet, and didn’t compete in last year’s USA Junior meet due to injury and illness.
Rhodes can hardly contain her glee over the idea of vaulting in Tracktown.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Rhodes, who cleared 14 feet once this year, at the Texas Invitational. “We’ve been to a few pretty big meets this year, and I’ve heard that this one was just unbelievable as far as Eugene being such the big track town that it is. So I can’t wait to hear the crowd. I’ve heard the track’s nice and that it’s a beautiful state in general. I’m just so excited.”