Conference Takeaways: A World Record And A Pair Of Blowouts

Conference Takeaways: A World Record And A Pair Of Blowouts

From Christopher Morales-William's world record to Wisconsin's distance showcase to UConn's blowout win over the Big East, a lot went down this weekend.

Feb 26, 2024 by Maxx Bradley
Conference Takeaways: A World Record And A Pair Of Blowouts

In one of the busiest weekends of the collegiate track and field season, dozens of conference championships came and went.

Some streaks lived to see another year, while others were snapped in half. 

Across the SEC, Big East and Big Ten, there were more than a few headlining performances.

Here are three of the biggest storylines coming out of conference championship weekend, highlighted by a new world record.

Georgia's Morales Williams Clocks Indoor 400m WR

Throughout NCAA history, there have been just 11 men to ever dip under 45 seconds for the indoor 400m, and up until this weekend, no one -- not even Michael Norman -- had ever ran sub-44.5.

That's where Georgia sophomore Christopher Morales Williams came into play. 

Entering the weekend, Morales-Williams had been having a solid second-year in Athens. He had scored a a 45.39 PB earlier this month and was sitting within the top 10 in the NCAA, with his ticket to the indoor national championship all but booked.

Honestly, minimal eyes were on Morales Williams, solely because Alabama's Khaleb McRae was entered, and was, at the time, the fastest man in the world at 45.02. 

Behind him, Florida's JeVaughn Powell was the eighth fastest in the NCAA and perceived as the most likely challenger to McRae. Little did we know, Morales-Williams just needed everything to fall into place to show the world what he was capable of. 

After finishing second overall in prelims with a solid 45.58, the Bulldog was set to go head-to-head with Powell as McRae failed to advance. 

At 200m, Morales Williams came across in front in 21.09, on his way to a new world record performance of 44.49, lowering his previous PB by over a second.

You couldn't really ask for a better day if you are Morales Williams, and he now heads into NCAA's as a true contender, and arguably the favorite.

UConn Men Obliterate Big East Field, Earn Three-Peat

In the Big East preview that I wrote last week, I said it was possible that the UConn men score more than 200 points, but I didn't think they would put up 237 points -- that's ridiculous!

Out of all 18 events, the Huskies scored points in 16 of them, winning seven conference titles along the way.

None other than Kasey Savage was named the High Point Performer of the Meet, finishing 2nd, 3rd and 3rd in the triple, high and long jump. Alongside Savage was Kyle Johnson, who was named Men's Most Outstanding Performer in Field Events, winning a Big East crown in the triple jump, and finishing 2nd in the long.

Additionally, Anish Rajamanickam (400m), Mawali Osunniyi (HJ), Travis Snyder (PV), Marc Morrison (LJ), Nicholas Connolly (SP), and Joshua Mooney (Hep.) all won conference titles in their respective events.

All-in-all, the UConn men had seven Big East champions, five runner-ups and seven third-place finishers, absolutely dominating the entirety of the conference.

Badger Distance Dominates, Men Go Back-To-Back 

It's not really all that surprising when a program with the distance pedigree such as Wisconsin puts up huge numbers during the conference championships. 

However, it's still definitely impressive when you break their stifling performances down.

At the Big Ten Indoor Championships, there were five total distance events run, including the 800m. 

Out of the five, the Badgers claimed titles in four; the 800m was the lone exception. While neither Abdullahi Hassan or Andrew Casey won the 800m, they were second and fourth and both under 1:49.2.

On the longer side of things, it was Jackson Sharp and Bob Liking that shined brightest, just like they have in years past. 

The pair went 1-2 in both the 5,000m and 3,000m, with Sharp winning his third and fourth individual titles, successfully defending his pair of wins from a year ago as well. Sharp won in 7:46.62 and 13:56.28, 

Liking was runner-up to Sharp in both, while Benjamin Nibbelink (3k), Rowen Ellenberg (3k) and Micah Wilson (5k) scored for Wisconsin in the two events as well.

Adam Spencer, who currently ranks No. 3 in the NCAA, won both the prelims and the final of the mile, replicating what he did in 2023, adding another conference title to his trophy case.  

If all of that wasn't enough, Nibbelink, Hassan, Spencer and Elliott Harris held off Michigan in the DMR, winning 9:43.95 to 9:43.96.

If you add that all up, it comes out to 73 total points from Mick Byrne's squad, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the team's total score.

To put it into perspective, the distance squad alone would have placed 5th in the Big Ten.