After waiting calmly in the blocks, Trayvon Bromell accelerated powerfully through the stretch of his 100-meter race, finding some propulsive internal gear to blow past the competition at Saturday’s Great Southwest Classic. And he did it in a time so fast he broke through a barrier that had never been surpassed before in this country by a high school sprinter.
What Bromell saw on the clock as he crossed the finish line after a wide-eyed effort was 9.99 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded at the high school level by an American sprinter under any conditions.
More important, he became the nation’s first scholastic runner to finish in under 10 seconds.
Once the scoreboard flashed, the crowd roared at the sight of his time. Bromell dropped to the ground.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Bromell said. “I got off to a good start, but I thought I ran maybe a 10.1 or a 10.2. The crowd was quiet through the whole race. But once the time showed on the scoreboard, it got so loud, like I was at a concert or something.”
According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, Bromell’s time is the second-fastest ever recorded in the world at the junior outdoor level. Mark Lewis-Francis of Great Britain ran the 100 in 9.97 at a meet in Edmonton in 2001.
Bromell, who graduated from Gibbs High last week, also is the eighth sprinter in the world at any level this year to run the 100 in under 10 seconds.
But because of a stiff tailwind, Bromell’s astounding time will not be considered legal.
Bromell's performance did not qualify as a record because of a tailwind that more than 4.0 meters per second – far above the 2.0 allowable for records – but it was still the fastest 100 run in any wind conditions. That means former Florida Gator and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Jeff Demps’ time of 10.01 recorded in 2008 will still count as the national high school and junior record.
Bromell wasn’t finished. He ran anchor leg on a 4x100 meter relay team that included Reggie Glover, Jerimy Strainge and Walter Tucker to win in 40.11, the fastest time in the nation this year.
And despite not having his 100 time officially marked as a record, Bromell still got the star treatment at the University of New Mexico, where the meet was held.
“After the 100 race, I had so many people coming up to me asking for my autograph and taking pictures with me,” said Bromell, who will run track at Baylor. “Even Sunday, I still had people congratulating me and wanting to take my picture in the hotel room. I don’t think that was something I was prepared for, to have that much publicity over recording a time like that.”
It was that time that had Bromell feeling redeemed more than anything. Two weeks ago, he battled damp and cold conditions at the Dream 100 in New York and finished a disappointing fifth.
“Those were not my elements in New York,” Bromell said. “I had never run in cold weather like that before. These were more my elements in New Mexico. It was hot. It was sunny. That’s what I’m used to. I wanted to put my last race behind me and show everyone just how fast I was capable of running.”
There were still some conditions Bromell had to overcome. The thin air from the high altitude made it difficult to breath for Bromell, who has asthma.
“It was tough at times, especially for the runners from Florida,” Bromell said. “We were constantly winded. I couldn’t run the 200 because the other races took too much out of me.”
Bromell’s performance put a fitting punctuation mark on a weekend of fast times by county sprinters.
Lakewood’s Tim Holmes won the 300 hurdles in 37.06 seconds, the second-fastest in the naton this year. He also was second in the 110 meters in 14.06 seconds and ran a blistering anchor leg in the 4x400 relay to make up enough ground to help Team Florida win in 3:11, currently the second-fastest time in the nation.
Holmes' split time in the 4x400 was 46.5 seconds, the second-fastest he's ever run. In the homestretch, Holmes was rapidly gaining ground and leaned forward at the finish just enough for the win.
More impressive was that he did it after running two other events while battlling the thin air.
"Being in the mountains was tough for everybody," Holmes said. "My nose, throat and chest all hurt. No one wanted to run the 4x400 because we were all tired. We just had to gut it out. There was one runner ahead of me in the 4x400 and he was trying to cut me off, but I went to the outside and had enough to get the win."