The NCAA Has Never Seen A Sprinter Like Hannah Cunliffe

The idea of "range" in track and field tends to bias in favor of distance events. And that makes sense theoretically--the 1500/mile, 3K/5K, and 10K are all substantially different events that are rarely mastered by one person. When someone does come around who is at or near the very best in all of those distances, we quickly recognize his or her greatness, because elite mile speed and elite 10K strength are usually mutually exclusive. But it's not unprecedented in collegiate circles. Versatile stars like that--think Jenny Simpson and Lawi Lalang--do seem to pop up ever so often. In the NCAA right now, Edward Cheserek is the undisputed king of range and probably the greatest college distance runner ever. His bag of tricks has made him a 15-time NCAA champion. Still, though, what impresses us most about King Ches--say, going scorched earth on the DMR after winning the 5K just minutes prior--has been done before.

But what about the sprints? Does the fact that the 60m, 100m, and 200m are all very short (and seemingly similar) races mean that less credit should be given to a master of all three?

The NCAA record books say no.

No man or woman is currently in the all-time top 10 in three separate individual flat sprint distances. (Hurdler Keni Harrison has all-time marks in the 60m, 100m, and 400m hurdles.) Meanwhile, distance stars Simpson (five events) and Lalang (four) have easily surpassed this criterium in their disciplines. This is not counting duplicate indoor/outdoor events, as Lalang is in the indoor and outdoor 5K top 10.

But in NCAA history up to this point, sprinters haven't come close--no one has more than two top 10 all-time marks between the 60m, 100m, 200m, and 400m. Due to a much more limited selection of events to choose from, a propensity for top sprinters to turn pro early, and an always crazy deep pool of talent to compete against, there is simply no historical NCAA comp in the mold of a Simpson, Lalang, or Cheserek in track's speediest events.

But that could soon change. The current collegiate king of range may just have to pass the versatility crown to the new queen--Oregon teammate Hannah Cunliffe. The latest Ducks sprint superstar has a skill set that we've never seen in collegiate history.

Last weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the junior broke the all-conditions 60m NCAA record with her blistering 7.07. That's remarkable on its own, but Cunliffe isn't your typical elite 60m runner. She is now the only woman in NCAA history to run sub-7.10 and sub-11.00 in the 100m. Oh, and she can run the 200m too. Her 22.60 on February 11 is currently the fastest time in the world in 2017.

So, she now has the a collegiate record in the 60m, the ninth-fastest 100m in history (10.99), and is nearing the top 10 in the 200m. If Cunliffe runs 22.51 or faster indoors (22.60 PR) or 22.25 outdoors (22.49 PR) she'll have reason to call herself the rangiest sprinter in college history.

Just for fun, let's look at some other U.S. women who have run 7.10, 11.00, and 22.50 and faster…

Athlete 60m 100m 200m
Marion Jones 6.95 10.65 21.62
Me'Lisa Barber 7.01 10.95 22.37
Lauryn Williams 7.01 10.88 22.27
Gwen Torrence 7.02 10.82 21.72
Carmelita Jeter 7.02 10.64 22.11
Tianna Bartoletta 7.02 10.78 22.37
Carlette Guidry 7.04 10.94 22.14
Hannah Cunliffe 7.07 10.99 22.49
Allyson Felix 7.10 10.89 21.69

It's not a long list! Everyone on it has either won an Olympic or world title. This isn't to say that Cunliffe is the next Allyson Felix--Cunliffe has yet to win an NCAA title--but the tools are absolutely there to make her a superstar at the next level.

She was close to an NCAA title last year (second in the 60m and third in the 200m indoors) before a hamstring injury in the 100m prelims forced her to end her 2016 campaign. That's probably why she has been overshadowed thus far by teammates Ariana Washington (2016 100m and 200m NCAA champ) and Deajah Stevens (2016 Olympic finalist 200m). The Ducks are so good that someone of Cunliffe's ability can be underrated.

But she likely won't go home empty-handed again this year. And if she does in fact break through with a title, perhaps the uniqueness of her ability will be justifiably highlighted a la King Ches.

Get all the hype!

Sign up for the FloTrack newsletter for instant access to: Breaking News, Results, Rankings, Archived Race Footage, Live Broadcasts and more!

Leo Daschbach Becomes 11th U.S. Prep To Break 4:00 With 3:59.54


On Saturday night in El Dorado Hills, California, high school senior Leo Daschbach (AZ) became the 11th U.S. prep runner to break 4:00 in the mile with his 3:59.54 clocking.

Is NCAA Track/XC Dying?


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

The recent announcements of program cuts to men's cross country at Akron and men's track at Central Michigan have resurfaced a feeling of uncertainty for the future of NCAA cross country and track. Here is a breakdown of where our sport currently stands within the NCAA system.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Understanding Resting And Maximum Heart Rate

Throughout the past years, business has combined the health and technology industries to create a society where fitness tracking has become a regular pastime. People have become more invested in their health and want fun devices to assist in that. These smartwatches and apps have made it easier than ever to know what your exact heart rate is, how many hours of sleep you get, or how far you run. However, with all the knowledge presented to you, it’s equally important to actually understand what those numbers mean to best achieve all of your fitness goals. A big part of this is knowing the different active and resting heart rate zones. 

Pre-Run And Post-Run Stretches

Stretching before and after your run can add a lot of benefits to your exercise routine. It allows you to warm up your muscles and safely progress into your run and also provides your body time to cool off and continue to activate your muscles. It’s important to set aside a couple of minutes before and after exercising so you can make sure you’re taking proper care of your body. 

The History Of Track And Field

Track and field has been around since the start of the Olympics in Ancient Greece in 776 B.C. It was created alongside religious events and celebrations for the Greek gods where men (no women were allowed) could show off their athletic abilities. From there it spread to the Romans who continued the games until the Christian Emperor Theodosius I banned them in 394 A.D. because of their ties to pagan beliefs. 

Don't Miss The Quarantine Clasico Sub-4 Live On MileSplit


History could be headed our way on Saturday in California. 

How To Prevent & Remove A Tick

Summer is right around the corner, and that means more time to get out and run in the great outdoors. However, while it's a perfect time for us humanoids to get outside, it's also the perfect time for those nasty little buggers we call ticks! 

How To Run Long Distance

Long-distance running is a whole different animal to short sprinting, and it's no secret that it can really kick our butts. Whether it's fatigue, pain, or mental obstacles, there are a number of factors that make long runs seriously challenging. 

Running FAQs: What Time Does It Get Dark?

Going for a nice jog has dozens of benefits for both our mental and physical well-being. Not only does it get our bodies in better shape, but it also helps us to clear our minds and let go of any stress or anxiety we may have stored up. 

Jakob Ingebrigtsen Smashes Norwegian 5km Record

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: an Ingebrigtsen brother broke a Norwegian national record on Wednesday as 19-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen ran a 13:29 road 5km in Stavanger, Norway, to better Sondre Moen’s 13:37 mark from 2019.