2024 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

Cheickna Traore On The Cusp Of NCAA D1 Track And Field Championship

Cheickna Traore On The Cusp Of NCAA D1 Track And Field Championship

The men's 200 meter final may come down to some of the fastest men in the world on Friday, including the former NCAA Division III champion from Penn State.

Jun 6, 2024 by Campbell Choate

What a day it was for Cheickna Traore on Wednesday at Hayward Field. 

The Penn State University graduate student finished first in the 200 meter rounds at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a wind-legal time of 20.02. 

Traore said he was content with his time, but that he didn't give himself an "A" rating. 

"Overall I give that a 'B' in terms of execution, so definitely a few things I can work on," Traore said. 

But Traore's race was ultimately part of a larger goal -- of winning his first NCAA Division I Outdoor title -- and it comes after his previous career-best wind-legal mark of 19.93, which he ran at the NCAA East Regional. That performance also gave him the Olympic Standard, booking his trip to Paris with the Ivory Coast. 

Coming off of a career best time, Traore said this motivated him in the semis. 

"Running that time proves that I'm one of those guys, that I can can come in here and easily win it," Traore said. 

He'll have his hands full, though. Alabama's Tarsis Orogot, who entered Wednesday with the fastest time in the NCAA at 19.75, was the second-fastest qualifier with a time of 20.09. Florida's Robert Gregory (20.15), Alabama State's Jamarion Stubbs (20.15) and Auburn's Makanakaishe Charamba (20.16) rounded out the top five. 

If Traore can pull off the win on Friday, it would cement himself in history. 

In 2023, Traore was the 200m champion at NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships with an all-time record in the event. He transferred to Penn State from Ramapo College over the past calendar year. 

Traore, a New Jersey native with a high school PR of 23.22, said that it wasn't until this season that he realized that he could run past the collegiate level. 

"A year ago at the Division III level, look at me now," Traore said. 

Orogot shouldn't be overlooked. The Alabama sprinter became the third-fastest athlete at 200m in collegiate history at the SEC Outdoor Championships in May and is currently the fourth-fastest man in the world at the distance. 

Shaun Maswanganyi from the University of Houston was one of the the top two qualifiers for the men's 100m dash, but ended up placing seventh overall and third in his heat. 

Florida's Wayna McCoy, who ran 19.95 at the East Regional, was qualified for the final on Friday with a time of 20.22.

Looking Toward the Finals

If Traore focuses on executing like he said he intended to do, it looks like Friday's final could come down to him and Orogot. 

Gregory, however, could steal the show, too. He was fourth in the 2023 final, clocking a time of 19.89.

McCoy is also in a similar boat as his teammate Gregory, as he trailed Orogot in the semis and was just 0.18 slower.

Men's 200 Meters, Semifinal Results 

  1. Cheickna Traore - Penn State [SR] - 20.02 (Q)
  2. Tarsis Orogot - Alabama [JR] - 20.09 (Q)
  3. Robert Gregory - Florida [SR] - 20.15 (Q) (20.143) (SB)
  4. Jamarion Stubbs - Alabama State [SO] - 20.15 (Q) (20.144)
  5. Makanakaishe Charamba - Auburn [JR] - 20.16 (q)
  6. Wanya McCoy - Florida [JR] - 20.22 (Q)
  7. Shaun Maswanganyi - Houston [SR] - 20.25 (q)
  8. Saminu Abdul-Rasheed - South Florida [SO] - 20.30 (Q) (PB)
  9. Lance Lang - Arkansas [SR] - 20.31 (q)
  10. Nyck Harbor - South Carolina [FR] - 20.32
  11. Shevioe Reid - South Florida [SR] - 20.36 (20.351)
  12. Cameron Miller - Purdue [SO] - 20.36 (20.353)
  13. Garrett Kaalund - Nebraska [SO] - 20.38
  14. Kennedy Lightner - Kentucky [SR] - 20.39
  15. John Rutledge - Texas [SO] - 20.50
  16. De'montray Callis - Baylor [JR] - 20.51
  17. Devin Augustine - Minnesota [JR] - 20.54
  18. Trayvion White-Austin - Arizona [SR] - 20.59 (20.582)
  19. Chase Mars - CSUN [JR] - 20.59 (20.583)
  20. Laurenz Colbert - Baylor [JR] - 20.59 (20.590)
  21. Nolton Shelvin - Texas [SR] - 20.60
  22. Max Thomas - USC [SO] - 20.88
  23. Kashie Crockett - TCU [JR] - 20.98
  24. Jaleel Croal - South Florida [SO] - 20.99

* Cory Mull contributed to this report

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