NCAA Sprint Preview: Make Way For The Sydney McLaughlin & Lynna Irby Show

While last year's women's sprint finals were dominated by the women of Oregon, the 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships look quite a bit different. Deajah Stevens and Hannah Cunliffe (as well as 4x4/800 star Raevyn Rogers) turned professional this year, and Olympian Duck Ariana Washington did not qualify for the championships after being a bit off her game this winter.

True freshman Sydney McLaughlin of Kentucky and Lynna Irby of Georgia have eagerly stepped up to fill the void, with potential team titles and podium finishes on the line for their respective Wildcats and Bulldogs — UK is ranked No. 4 in our most recent NCAA team rankings and UGA slots in at No. 1

Read on for highlights and insights into women's sprint and hurdle action this weekend, as well as why the 400m battle between McLaughlin and Irby could be the race of the meet.

Women's 60m

When: Prelims on Friday @ 6:15 PM CT; Final on Saturday @ 4:40 PM CT

Top Seed: Mikiah Brisco, LSU, 7.10

Top Returner: Ashley Henderson, San Diego State, 4th

Analysis: Reigning NCAA 100m champion Mikiah Brisco looks to lead an LSU 1-2 punch in the 60m this weekend as she and fellow senior Tiger Aleia Hobbs have been on fire all winter. 

Brisco's season-best mark of 7.08, clocked at altitude in Albuquerque, ties for the second-fastest collegiate time ever recorded — behind only Hannah Cunliffe of Oregon, who ran 7.07 last year and recently turned pro.

Watch Mikiah Brisco's 7.08 at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic:

TASTY RACE: Mikiah Brisco Runs Second-Fastest Time Ever In NCAA

The Tigers even have a shot at sweeping the top three podium spots, as junior Kortnei Johnson ties for No. 3 in the NCAA this year with Auburn's Jonielle Smith at 7.18. She was just fifth, however, at SECs, behind Auburn's Smith and Natalliah Whyte as Brisco and Hobbs went 1-2.

Women's 200m

When: Prelims on Friday @ 7:50 PM CT; Final on Saturday @ 6:00 PM CT

Top Seed: Lynna Irby, Georgia, 22.66

Top Returner: Deanna Hill, USC, 3rd

Analysis: The women's 200m is going to be spicy from the gun as NCAA leader Lynna Irby is matched against her quarter mile rival Sydney McLaughlin in the Friday evening prelims. McLaughlin has run 22.95 (NCAA No. 9) to Irby's 22.66, but still, I don't think we've ever been so excited for a preliminary race.

Realistically, though, Irby's mark — which ranks No. 1 in the world this year — made the SEC 200m final look like a cakewalk. Brisco of LSU, the overwhelming favorite for the NCAA 60m title, ran the second-fastest mark in the world behind Irby at SECs in 22.81 and, well, she was well behind Irby.

The X-factor on Saturday, though, is how athletes handle doubling back from other races. The 400m final is at 5 PM on Saturday, one hour before the 200m final, and it's sure to be a barn-burner after McLaughlin and Irby clocked world-leading marks of 50.52 and 50.62 at SECs.

Brisco, meanwhile, has 80 minutes to recover from the 60m final before the 200m final.

The most dangerous woman on the line may be USC's Deanna Hill, who will be fresh for the final. She placed third last year behind Washington and Cunliffe, neither of whom is competing this year, and ranks No. 3 in the NCAA this winter with a season's best of 22.82.

Women's 400m

When: Prelims on Friday @ 6:40 PM CT; Final on Saturday @ 5 PM CT

Top Seed: Sydney McLaughlin, Kentucky, 50.52

Top Returner: Kendall Ellis, USC, 2nd

Analysis: The women's 400m final very well could be the best race of the entire NCAA Championships. At SECs, Olympic hurdler Sydney McLaughlin took things out hard in 23.75 for the opening 200m and had just enough gas at the end to hold off a fast-closing Lynna Irby as the true freshmen clocked 50.52 and 50.62, the fastest times in the world this year and the No. 2 and No. 4 times in NCAA history.

This is far from a two-woman race, however. 

Don't forget about USC's Kendall Ellis, who made the world team last summer with a PB of 50.00 and placed second indoors and third outdoors at NCAAs in 2017. 

Irby did beat Ellis back in January at the Razorback Invitational, 51.48 to 51.53, but the veteran will have a lot less racing on her legs than rookies McLaughlin and Irby, both of whom are running the 200m and 400m prelims on Friday.

Sharrika Barnett of Florida, fifth in the NCAA outdoor final, has split under 51 seconds on the 4x400m relay this season and ranks No. 4 with a season's best of 51.64.

Women's 60m Hurdles

When: Prelims on Friday @ 7:05 PM CT; Final on Saturday @ 5:20 PM CT

Top Seed: Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, Kentucky, 7.95

Top Returner: Pedrya Seymour, Illinois (now competes for Texas), 3rd

Analysis: The only woman who has defeated Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Kentucky in the 60m hurdles this season is Keni Harrison, who won the world indoor title and tied the American record last weekend in Birmingham. Both women train in Louisville under UK head coach Edrick Floreal, so can you blame us for favoring Camacho-Quinn for her first NCAA indoor title?

She's already won two outdoor titles: the 2016 100m hurdles crown and the 2017 4x100m relay gold.

Only two women in the field have come close to her NCAA-leading mark of 7.95: USC duo Dior Hall and Anna Cockrell have both clocked 7.96 and of the two, Hall has been more consistent and won the MPSF title in the event.

Watch Dior Hall win the MPSF Indoor Championships 60m hurdles:

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Women's 60m Hurdles, Round 2 Heat 2 - Dior Hall Goes Sub-8, Wins MPSF Title

Alaysha Johnson of Oregon looked great taking runner-up honors behind Hall at MPSF in 8.03, the fifth-fastest time in the NCAA this year tied with Georgia's true freshman Tara Davis, while wildcard Jeanine Williams of Georgia Tech has run 8.02.

Pedrya Seymour of Texas is the top returner after placing third last year while competing for Illinois. She owns a season's best of 8.09, though she appeared to be injured after winning the Big 12 Championships.

Live Play-By-Play: 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships, Day Three

Travis Miller


On The Run: Noah Lyles Puts On A Show

Kirby Lee/USA Today

The FloTrack crew in Des Moines breaks down the second day of action from the U.S. Championships, including:

Evan Jager Looks To Extend Steeplechase Legacy At U.S. Championships

David Monti
Evan Jager Wants To Check-Off The Sub-8 Box

(c) 2018 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

DES MOINES (22-Jun) -- Running in the first round of the men's 3000m steeplechase here today at the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium, Evan Jager was thinking about more than just qualifying for Sunday's final.  The 29 year-old Nike Bowerman Track Club athlete, who won his heat in workman-like fashion in 8:31.79, was also thinking about his legacy. 

Demolition Of Hayward Field Begins

If you're brave enough to see the carnage unfold, go ahead and watch this:

6 Weird Things That Happened The Second Day At USAs

Travis Miller
Noah Lyles Thinks He Can Run 19.4 In The 200m This Summer

Day two of the 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships is in the books! If you missed any of the action, click here for a full play-by-play, and here for the full results. Below are our top six things that happened on Friday.

Tori Franklin & Oiselle's Contract Dispute Is More Complex Than You Think

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Tori Franklin After Triple Jump Battle With Keturah Orji

A thrilling women's triple jump battle at the USATF Outdoor Championships yesterday in Des Moines between American record holder Tori Franklin and reigning U.S. champion Keturah Orji was marred by a viral blog post from Franklin's former sponsor, Oiselle, that revealed she broke her contract to wear Nike while competing at the national championship.

Play-By-Play Recap: 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships, Day Two

Travis Miller


Start Lists: 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships, Day Two

Travis Miller

Check out the start list for today's events below!

On The Run: Lopez Lomong's Throwback Win

Kirby Lee/USA Today

Kevin, Gordon, Jojo and Travis discuss the first day of action at the USATF Outdoor Championships, including:

12 Crazy Things That Happened The First Day At USAs

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Lopez Lomong Is The First Man Since 1916 To Win U.S. 1500 and 10K Titles

Day one of the 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships is in the books! If you missed any of the action, click here for a full play-by-play, and here for the full results. Below are our top 12 things that happened on Thursday.