EUGENE, Ore. — Just call Trayvon Bromell “the Blur.”
In one college season, Bromell has already established himself as the fastest man in the NCAA. The Baylor freshman ran to his first national title in the 100-meter dash at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Friday at Oregon’s Hayward Field.
Bromell clocked a time of 9.97, his fastest ever wind-legal time and a world junior record. Dentarius Locke of Florida State was second at 10.02.
Before the meet ever started, Baylor coach Todd Harbour said, “If Trayvon gets a clean start, nobody will catch him.”
Those words turned out to be prophetic in the final. Bromell charged out to a strong start, then kept Locke at hip’s length over the last 40 meters.
“Going into the race, I was just thinking of mostly getting out of the blocks,” Bromell said. “I knew I had great competitors who had great block starts. I knew if I could get out before them I could hold them off, because I have a strong finish. That was basically my main goal, just get out the blocks and execute my race.”
Bromell had twice gone under 10 seconds in windy conditions this year, including a 9.92 in Wednesday’s prelims. But this marked the fastest wind-legal time for the 18-year-old freshman, who became Baylor’s first-ever 100-meter national champion. He’s also Baylor’s first outdoor national champ since the Bears won the 4x400 relay in 2008.
“It’s a blessing,” Bromell said. “It’s a humbling experience, just the fact of getting the record and winning as a freshman. I really don’t know what to say. I’m real happy I was able to do it. I felt like you can accomplish a lot, if you just keep faith in God.”
In other events, Baylor’s Rachel Johnson made a valiant charge at her own national title. Johnson took an early lead in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, lost it to Michigan State’s Leah O’Connor, moved back out in front with about two laps to go, then was passed again by a surging O’Connor. Eventually, Boise State’s Marisa Howard outran Johnson down the stretch for second, but the Baylor junior still finished with a bronze medal with a school-record time of 9:44.47.
O’Connor, who powered through the water jumps as if they weren’t even there, won the title with a time of 9:36.43.
In the 400-meter hurdles, BU freshman T.J. Holmes picked up the first All-America honor of his career with a fourth-place finish in a time of 50.07. Nebraska senior Miles Ukaoma held off Kansas’ Michael Stigler, the defending national champion, for the win, running 49.23 to Stigler’s 49.90.
Back on the women’s side, Baylor sophomore Brianna Richardson also tallied All-America recognition with a sixth-place showing in the triple jump. On her final attempt, Richardson flew 43-31/4. She briefly held fifth place, but was surpassed by LSU’s Lynnika Pitts on her final leap and Richardson finished sixth.
On Saturday, Baylor’s Tiffani McReynolds will try to win the 100-meter hurdles and become the program’s first outdoor women’s national champion since triple jumper Stacey Bowers in 1999. In other action, Everett Walker and Ashley Fields will run for titles in the men’s and women’s 200 dashes, respectively, and Baylor will also compete in the men’s 4x400 relay final for the 34th time in 35 years.