By Kylee O’Connor / TrackTown USA
EUGENE, Ore. – Day One of the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships featured six event finals, but it was Christian Coleman in the 100-meter semifinals who stole the show in front of 9,717 fans at Hayward Field on Wednesday.
Coleman, a junior out of Tennessee, ran a collegiate record of 9.82 seconds (+1.3) to lead a strong field into Friday’s final. Coleman was the NCAA leader coming into the meet with a time of 9.96, set at the East Preliminary Round in late May.
“I came across the line and I saw the time,” Coleman said. “I was pretty ecstatic about it. It was a pretty good run.”
Coleman’s “pretty good run” was a personal best by .13 seconds as he shattered the previous collegiate record of 9.89 set by Florida State’s Ngoni Makusha in 2011. Coleman’s time is also just .01 of a second slower than what Usain Bolt ran to win the gold medal at the Rio Olympics.
Last year at this meet, Coleman ran 10.23 into a headwind to take second behind Arkansas star and 2016 Bowerman award winner Jarrion Lawson. Prior to this year, his PR during the NCAA season was 10.03; however, he showed a glimpse of his potential when he ran 9.95 in the 100 prelims at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. He finished the Trials in sixth place.
Coleman will face some stiff competition in Friday’s final.
North Carolina A&T’s Christopher Belcher and Houston’s Cameron Burrell both clocked 9.93 in the prelims to win their respective 100m heats, which vaulted them into a tie for fourth place on the all-time collegiate list.
“It’s one of the fastest semi-finals ever, [the final] should be a good race,” Coleman said. “I’m looking forward to it. I can’t really worry about the other competitors, I’ve just got to go try and worry about myself.”
It took a time of 10.03 to qualify for the final. With three athletes running the final who are in the collegiate all-time top-10 list and Coleman just beginning to discover his potential, it is sure to be a compelling race come Friday.
“The sky’s the limit,” Coleman said. “Everybody on the line is capable of running fast, capable of winning. So, I’ve got to make sure I’m on my A-game, make sure I execute properly. You never know, I’m running to win, so whatever time that takes, I’ll take it.”