Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Sports

Winning NCAA 100-meter title as freshman puts Gibbs grad at top of class

Baylor University's Trayvon Bromell accelerated powerfully at the start of his 100-meter race, sprinting by a fast field at last week's NCAA Division I track and field championships.

The former Gibbs High School standout kept running, screeching past the record books while pumping his fists as he solidified himself as the premier up-and-coming sprinter in the nation, if not the world.

Bromell, 18, won his signature event in a wind-legal 9.97 seconds to set the world junior record (under 20). He was the only sprinter in the field to finish in under 10 seconds and became the first freshman to win the 100 since Florida State's Walter Dix in 2005.

To get an idea of how fast Bromell ran, consider that his time would have been good enough for seventh place at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

"I knew I had a shot to win because I got off to such a good start," Bromell said. "I was pumping my fists, more because I just won the 100 as a freshman. It was the fact that I was able to go out and do it. That's what I was worried about more than anything else. If I won, I knew I would post a really good time."

The time Bromell recorded was just the third-fastest of his brief college resume. Last month at the Big 12 championships, Bromell won in an eye-popping 9.77. That would have shattered the collegiate record of 9.89 set by Florida State's Ngoni Makusha if not for a strong tailwind (a legal wind is 2.6 meters or less).

In last week's NCAA preliminaries, Bromell won in 9.92, but it was wind aided. Still, it was the second-fastest time recorded under any conditions in Division I championship history.

Those performances helped Bromell become the Big 12 freshman of the year and put him in the mix for the Bowerman Award, which is presented to the nation's top male track and field athlete each year. Bromell also is on the fast track to a spot with the 2016 Olympic team, though he doesn't have his eyes trained that far down the road.

"To get to the Olympics would be the ultimate goal," Bromell said. "But there's so much that can happen in the next two years. All I can do is keep having faith and see what God has in store for me. I'm just trying to look at the next race and build from there."

Fast times are nothing new to Bromell. As a senior at Gibbs last year, Bromell was a conference, district and state champion, and became the first high school sprinter to run the 100 under 10 seconds when he finished in 9.99 at the Great Southwest Classic. His season culminated with his selection as Gatorade's National Track Athlete of the Year.

Bromell still is held in high regard at his alma mater. The trophies he won are displayed in the gym. The jersey he wore when he went under 10 seconds is framed and hangs in the front office.

"Trayvon is a shining light for the school," Gibbs athletic director Javan Turner said. "Not only is he a great athlete, but a great student, too. And he is so humble about everything he has accomplished."

All the acclaim Bromell garnered as a high school standout did not translate into fast times when he first started running for Baylor. He struggled during the indoor season in the 60 meters. Turns out, that was not his element. He said he felt too confined being inside and running a shorter race.

"Outdoor track is where I thrive," Bromell said. "The 60 meters is all about whoever gets a fast start. There's more technique that goes into the 100. Plus, when I was running the 60 I was more worried about what time I was running. You can't do that. Now, I'm more focused on just running the race and knowing that a fast time will come with that."

Overcoming obstacles has been Bromell's specialty. In high school, he broke both his knees, fractured his forearm and cracked a hip. His senior year was his only full high school season in track.

"What I try to represent when I run is possibility," Bromell said. "A lot of people have things go wrong in their lives and they let that get to them. I could have easily given up on track after all those injuries. But I had faith in God, and he gave me the strength to keep going.

"I now know that anything is possible."

Bob Putnam can be reached at [email protected]

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Published: 06/20/18