2024 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

British Sprinter Louie Hinchliffe And His Emergence At Speed City

British Sprinter Louie Hinchliffe And His Emergence At Speed City

FloTrack sat down with Houston sprinter Louie Hinchliffe ahead of the NCAA Outdoor Championships to discuss his history in the sport and his Olympic future.

Jun 3, 2024 by Cory Mull

There are the stars of the NCAA, and then there are the sleepers. 

Surprise finishes and shocking moments are are always a hallmark of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships

But what exactly will 2024 bring? 

Few athletes have shot up the NCAA ranks quite like 21-year-old Louie Hinchliffe after the NCAA West Regionals. 

The native of Sheffield, England ran a wind-aided 9.84 seconds in the 100m -- and added a wind-legal 10-flat race in the prelims -- to claim his first region title and stamp his name among the collegiate elite vying for an NCAA 100m belt. 

But the fascinating part of this story is that he's one of two athletes from Houston to reach that level, and it's his teammate, Shaun Maswanganyi, who will be the incumbent in Eugene as the two-time top eight finisher in the 100m final. 

It's been a surprising and exciting turn for Speed City, which came agonizingly close to claiming team titles in 2018 and 2019. And this week, not only does the program have two candidates for a 100m title, but its 4x100 team is ranked third heading into the rounds at NCAAs. 

And then there's Hinchliffe, whose ascent doesn't just put him on the NCAA championship radar, but also on Great Britain's. At the end of the month, he now has a reasonable chance of making the British team in the 100m. 

Two years prior, he wasn't even competing in college -- rather, Hinchliffe was a normal student taking IT and business classes at Lancaster University.

Seem unbelievable? 

Check out the interview above and more of Hinchliffe's story below.

Hinchliffe Is From Sheffield, England and Once Was An Accomplished Golfer

Well before the 21-year-old was scorching the track for fast times, he was an accomplished golfer in England. 

He played on the youth circuit and was competing alongside peers who would go on to become professionals themselves. He followed his father, a former professional soccer player, into golf and used to play every day until he was about 16. 

In One of Hinchliffe's Earliest Championships As Teenager, He Showed Up In Basketball Shorts And An Oversized Vest

Hinchliffe said this was important for reasons most don't give him credit for. 

While he did finish last in the New Balance English Schools 100 meter Championships in 2019 as a 16-year-old, clocking a time of 11.12 seconds, it was how he moved through the rounds to accomplish the feat.

With little-to-no training, Hinchliffe qualified through the two-round race, against peers who were a year older than him. Showing up with a shaved head, basketball shorts and an oversized vest, he hung with some of the top prep athletes in the England region.

"People blow it out of proportion a bit," Hinchliffe said. "I was the youngest in that race. For me, I did well. I did well to even get to the final." 

If anything, that moment solidified Hinchliffe's belief that he had some serious potential.

"I was very proud of myself to be top 10, top 8 in the country for my age, with very little preparation, basically," he said. 

After Winning An English Senior Championship During His First Year Of College In 2022 -- Despite Not Running Competitively For A Team -- Hinchliffe Used A Management Company To Find A U.S. College

The process that led Hinchliffe to his first U.S. college was done through a management company which connected him to recruiting coordinators from programs like Texas A&M, Minnesota, Purdue and Washington State. 

At the time, he was at Lancaster University, a public research university located 60 minutes north of Manchester. 

He had preliminary conversations with the Aggies, though that opportunity fell through. 

Then Hinchliffe spoke with Washington State's coaching staff and felt like the program, which competed in the Pac-12, had the most confidence in him. 

"They really had belief in me," Hinchliffe said. "...other schools were a bit questionable about me. Am I going to improve? I've only run 10.3 one meet. It was kind of shaky. But after watching my races, he had a lot of belief in me." 

Luckily, Hinchliffe related to the cold weather in Pullman -- it was much like his experience in England. 

Hinchliffe Made NCAAs As A Freshman, Then Was Shocked When He Experienced Weather In Austin For The First Time

Hinchliffe took one step outside the Austin airport last June and was immediately shocked with the weather. 

"The minute I walked out of the airport, it like just hit me," he said. "It's crazy. I've never been to such a humid place. I did not expect it. I could taste the air. It was a new experience for me." 

Hinchliffe finished 20th in the prelims, clocking a time of 10.19 (+1.3).

After His First Year At Washington State, He Transferred To Houston. But That's A Wild Story, Too

When Hinchliffe entered the transfer portal, several options presented themselves. 

He got close to signing with Miami. 

"And then ultimately I took too long," Hinchliffe said, "I took too long with the process and then (Miami) they said 'I don't have a place for you there anymore.' So I was like, OK, I called Washington State. I should stay. I'm not really sure about leaving anymore. I don't really like a lot of the places." 

Then Washington State coaches told Hinchliffe they had filled his roster spot, too. 

"So now I'm in panic mode," he said. 

Out of the blue, Hinchliffe sent an email to Carl Lewis, the nine-time Olympic champion. 

"He got back to me," he said. "I knew from the first conversation. It was a blessing. It was a blessing to me. All of other places didn't work out. He was like, 'We're going to make the Olympic team.'" 

Hinchliffe Is Still In Disbelief With His Sub-10w Performance At Regionals

The thing with the sub-10 performance at regionals? 

Hinchliffe doesn't want that to be the end of his story. He knows there's more work to do. 

"The job's not finished. The job still isn't finished," he said. "I'm hoping I can run like that in the final. Then I can talk about it. I can manifest it and say, 'Oh yeah, I ran that.' I'm trying to keep it humble still."

He says he's wary of overconfidence and the assuredness that comes with a fast time. 

Technically, he said, it wasn't even legal. 

"Thinking I got like a tornado behind me," he said. 

He Credits His Youth Coach For His Success, Saying It Was His Belief and Training Which Made Hinchliffe Believe In Himself

Hinchliffe's coach from his youth days at Dearne Athletics Club, Rudolph Paul Hohn, instilled a crucible of life: You have to work for everything in this world.

"The one who turned me into who I am was definitely my coach back in the UK, who coached me back when I was kid, (it was) Coach Paul," Hinchliffe said. 

Interview Segments:

  • Louie describes an important early period in his life (5:00)
  • The momentum winning the the England Athletics 100m Championships In 2022 (7:30)
  • Louie breaks down how he made it to the U.S. as a collegiate athlete (11:30)
  • What he learned most after his first year at Washington State (15:20)
  • Hinchliffe Qualified For NCAAs As A Freshman In The 100m (16:30)
  • The Decision To Transfer To Houston (18:30)
  • On Training With His Teammates Every Day (22:50)
  • On working alongside Shaun Masawangyi (24:10)
  • On his massive run in the NCAA West Regional (26:50)
  • Important figures on Louie's life as he finds more success (35:00)

How To Watch The NCAA Track And Field Championships 2024

The 2024 NCAA outdoor track and field championships will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN.

When Is The NCAA Track And Field Championships 2024?

The NCAA Track And Field Championships 2024 takes place June 5-8 in Eugene, Oregon. 

Here's the schedule:

All Times Eastern

Thursday, June 6

  • Women's Day 1: 8:30 PM | ESPN2

Friday, June 7

  • Men's Day 2: 9:00 PM | ESPN2

Saturday, June 8

  • Women's Day 2: 5:30 PM | ESPN

Where Is The NCAA Track And Field Championships? It's Going To Be At Hayward Field

Last year the 2023 NCAA Track and Field Championships were held in Austin, Texas but it't be back there any time soon. 

For now, the home of the biggest outdoor college track and field meet in the sport lives in Eugene. Hayward Field is hosting the meet every year until 2027.

This is the 15th time Eugene, or "Track Town, USA" as it's called, has hosted the meet. 

Here are the future dates: 

  • 2024: Eugene, Ore., Hayward Field, June 5-8    
  • 2025: Eugene, Ore., Hayward Field, June 11-14    
  • 2026: Eugene, Ore., Hayward Field, June 10-13    
  • 2027: Eugene, Ore., Hayward Field, June 9-12

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