Beckford, Hibbert, Lemonious, end collegiate season with victories, but Jevaughn Powell’s Florida Gators takes Men’s Team title at NCAA Outdoor Champs

By June 10, 2023
(from left) Romaine Beckford, Phillip Lemonious and Jaydon Hibbert (from left) Romaine Beckford, Phillip Lemonious and Jaydon Hibbert

Such is the impressive form of triple jump sensation Jaydon Hibbert that he only required two attempts to win the event and end his freshman year of college undefeated.

In fact, it was on his very first jump that Hibbert cut the sand at the winning mark of 17.56m, in a negative 0.3 metres per second wind, on Friday's third and penultimate day of the NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas.

Hibbert representing University of Arkansas followed that with another big leap of 17.38m, but later pulled out of his run up for a third and fourth attempts, as he suffered what appeared to be cramps or some discomfort in his right leg.

However, the damage was already done, as his initial mark which bettered the previous Facility Record of 17.13m and was just shy of the Meet Record of 17.57m, ensured that the former Kingston College stalwart added another accolade to his South-eastern Conference indoor and outdoor titles, as well as the NCAA indoor honours. The 18-year-old, also smashed a number of records, including the World Under-20 mark for indoor and outdoor, along the way.

Hibbert won ahead of University of Miami's Russell Robinson (16.94m) and Florida State senior, Jeremiah Davis (16.67m).

Owayne Owens (16.36m) of University of Virginia and Malik Cunningham (16.17m) of Villanova, were sixth and seventh, while Hibbert's Arkansas teammates Carey McLeod (15.99m), who won the long jump in a Jamaican sweep, and Ryan Brown (15.89m), finished 11th and 12th respectively.  Apalos Edwards of Louisiana State, did not turn up.

On the track, Phillip Lemonious of Arkansas capped his college career in style with victory in the men’s 110m hurdles to claim his first individual national title and in the process became the first Arkansas athlete to win the event since 2006.

Lemonious, who clocked a personal best 13.28 seconds in qualifying, lowered that time when he stopped the clock in 13.24s, running in a positive 1.8m/s wind. He maintained his composure over the 10 obstacles from a good break in lane five, to stave off the late challenge of De'Vion Wilson (13.26s) of Houston and Jaheem Hayles (13.28s) of Syracuse.

Giano Roberts of Clemson was fifth in 13.31s.

It was sweet redemption for the 24-year-old Lemonious, who endured a rough patch last season.

"To be honest, I try so hard. Last year took a toll on me and coming back this year was also hard battling injuries, but I just had to trust my coach, who told me that this is my championship to win so I went out there and got it," Lemonious said shortly after the race.

University of South Florida junior, Romaine Beckford, also showed good form on the night to win the men’s high jump and successfully complete the double, adding this outdoor championship to his indoor title. 

Beckford soared to a new personal best height of 2.27m on his way to victory, denying Oklahoma senior, Vernon Turner, who also cleared 2.27m, but had to settle for second on the count back. Roberto Vilches of Missouri was third with a season's best leap of 2.24m.

Former St George’s College student Zayne Palomino of Southern Mississippi finished down the pack after he only managed to clear 2.06m.

Elsewhere in the field, Roje Stona of the University of Arkansas, who placed 14th in the shot put, produced a stronger showing in the discus, placing second behind the vibrant Turner Washington of Arizona State.

Stona, launched the instrument to a big fourth round mark of 65.55m and seemed well on his way to the gold, before Washington snatched victory with his very last effort of 66.22m, a season’s best.

Former Petersfield standout Kevin Nedrick of Liberty University was fifth with a mark of 61.93m, while Stona's Arkansas teammate Ralford Mullings was 16th at 57.68m.

Meanwhile, Jevaughn Powell, finished seventh in the men’s 400m final in 45.32s, as his University of Florida teammates Emmanuel Bamidele and Ryan Willie both clocked personal best times of 44.24 and 44.25 in a close one-two finish. Emmanuel Bynum of Tennessee also clocked a personal best 44.49 for third.

Powell later joined forces with Bamidele, Jacory Patterson and Willie to clinch victory in the 4X400m relay, to retain the Men’s Team crown.

There were no signs of tired legs on display as all four athletes clocked blistering splits, with Powell on the third leg being clocked at 44.94s, passing to Willie, who closed in 44.28s to stop the clock in 2:57.74, a new Facility, Meet and Collegiate Record.

Arizona State (2:57.78) and UCLA (2:59.82) were second and third respectively.

The Mike Holloway-coached Gators tallied 57 points, four ahead of Arkansas, with Stanford (44 points) and Louisiana State University (43 points), placing third and fourth.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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