🏆 36th Jim Bush USATF SoCal Track & Field Championships – Saturday, June 3 @ Pomona College

Rai Benjamin wins the 400m hurdles in a meet record 47.74 at the 63rd Mt. San Antonio College Relays, Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Walnut, Calif. (Kirby Lee via AP)
Rai Benjamin en route to win and meet record. CREDIT: Image of Sport

Charleston Upsets Norman in 100m at Mt. SAC Relays

Six meet records, two stadium records, seven world leading times led by Benjamin’s masterful 47.74 in 400m hurdles at 63rd edition

By John Ortega

WALNUT, Calif. – Anyone who thought Michael Norman was going to make a seamless transition from being the dominant men’s quarter-miler in the world last year to being one of the United States’ 100 meter sprinters in the World Athletics Championships in August got a rude awakening in the 63rd Mt. SAC Relays on Saturday afternoon.

That’s when Norman finished third in the elite section of the men’s 100 in a wind-aided 10.02 seconds at Hilmer Lodge Stadium.

While his time was not bad for a season opening race, the fact that it left Norman behind first-place Cravon Charleston (9.87) and second-place Kyree King (9.98) was not a good omen for someone who is aspiring to make a U.S. team that swept the medals in the men’s 100 in the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon last July.

Although Norman did not get off to a great start, he appeared to be within striking distance of first-place Charleston about 40 meters into the race. But he simply did not make up ground on Charleston during the second half of the race and fell behind King.

“I’m just happy to finally open up,” the typically talkative Norman said as he quickly exited the track. He did not make any other comments, other to say there was a lot of work to be done.

As the defending World champion in the 400, Norman has an automatic bye into the World Championships in that event if he chooses to go that route. But he announced earlier this year that he wanted to concentrate on the 100 for the first time in his career after excelling in both the 400 and 200 since his prep days at Vista Murrieta High School in Murrieta, California.

He said he was looking forward to the challenge of focusing on a different sprint event, but he also seemed drawn to the allure of being called the world’s fastest human.

“If you’re the 400 World champion, you don’t get that coveted title of the world’s fastest man,” Norman was quoted as saying in a post on the olympics.nbcsports.com site in February. “[The 100] is the race that the world watches… I think the moment’s now. I feel like I’m reaching my prime.”

Charleston, 23, was eliminated in the semifinals of the 100 in the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships last year and did not make it out of the first round of the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2021. However, he refrained from getting overly excited about his victory.

He said he was focused only on himself and staying relaxed during the race.

“You can feel the pressure if someone’s there,” he said when asked if he knew where he was in the race in relation to Norman. “If not, you’re like, Okay. I’m good, relax and concentrate on turning over.”

While Norman was the only individual gold medalist from last year’s World Championships to compete on the final day of the four-day meet, silver medalists Rai BenjaminMykolas Alekna and Camryn Rogers were victorious in the men’s 400 meter hurdles, men’s discus and women’s hammer throw, respectively, producing top world class efforts.

Benjamin, as one of the public address announcers commented, ran one of the easiest-looking 47.74-second clockings in the intermediate hurdles that you’re ever going to see.

The second-fastest performer in history with a best 46.17, the 25-year-old Benjamin roared to a huge lead in the first half of the race and was never seriously challenged for the victory as he finished nearly two seconds in front of second-place Cass Elliott of Washington, who ran 49.65.

His time was the fastest in the world this year, but Benjamin said he could have run substantially faster had he wanted to.

“Today was just a technique race,” he said. “It was just about working on the first three hurdles. . . I didn’t want to run too fast and then have people saying I’m running too fast for this early in the season.

Benjamin seemed to make his comments with some disdain, as he said he was aware that some people believed he had run too fast for this point in the season when he lowered his personal best in the 400 to 44.21 a week earlier.

Continue reading at: trackandfield.substack.com

Find more 63rd Mt. SAC Relays presented by NIKE meet info HERE, including complete results.

RunnerSpace.com MSR Division summaries and videos HERE.