Michael Norman (center) and Ria Benjamin place first and second in the 400m in 43.45 and 44.31 during the 61st Mt. San Antonio College Relays, Saturday, April 20, 2019, in Torrance, Calif. Norman's time moved him into a tie for fourth on the all-time world performer list.

Michael Norman steals the show at Mt. SAC Relays

By Jeff Parenti MileSplit CA

TORRANCE, Calif. — Michael Norman remembers the first time he ran at the Mt. SAC Relays. It was the spring of 2013, his freshman year at Vista Murrieta High School, and his 4×400 meter relay team didn’t do so well.

Norman, undoubtedly, will also remember Saturday’s performance at the 61st edition of the venerable meet, for much different reasons.

Running his first 400 as a professional, alongside Rai Benjamin — his roommate, training partner and former teammate at USC — Norman ran the one-lap race in 43.45 seconds, the fastest ever 400 run in the month of April. That time is also the fastest in the world at the dawn of the 2019 track season, and equals the #6 mark all-time and equals the #4 performer.

“Honestly, I’m pretty shocked and surprised about the race as a whole,” Norman said. “These past couple weeks we’ve been focusing on executing, running specific components of the race to the dime, so just being able to go out here and hopefully execute the race the way Coach (Quincy) Watts wants me to is great.

“I’m really happy about the opener. You can never complain about a PR as an opener.”

The meet was held for a second year at El Camino College because of stadium reconstruction on the Mt. SAC campus in Walnut. A mostly overcast and cool day warmed into the afternoon as the sun broke through the coastal clouds and made for ideal conditions when the gun went off in the late afternoon for the Men’s Elite / College 400 meter race.

“I wasn’t expecting to run THAT fast,” Norman said. “Maybe between 43.9 and 44.4 range were more my expectations. But to just come out here and run that fast is just mind blowing.”

Benjamin, running on Norman’s inside in Lane 4, ran 44.31.

“That was pretty fun,” Benjamin said immediately after exiting the track when swarmed by reporters and photographers. “We’ve been going at it all week in practice. The past two weeks I’ve kinda been talking mess to this guy, telling him I’m going to stomp his face in. But I got beat today again.”

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