BATON ROUGE, La. – Texas senior Courtney Okolo highlighted the LSU Alumni Gold meeting after she became the first collegiate woman to run sub-50 for the 400m on Saturday (23).
Okolo came into the weekend as one of the nation’s leading women’s quarter-final, and she proved it at the meet when she clocked and outstanding time of 49.71 seconds to shatter her own previous collegiate record of 50.03, which was set at the 2014 Big 12 Championships.
He closest challenge was teammate Chrisann Gordon, who was a distant second in 51.03.
The mark posted by the 22-year-old American at Bernie Moore Track Stadium this weekend is the second-fastest in the world this season behind the 49.69 secs by Bahamian Shaunae Miller, while the mark ranks her No. 13 on the USA all-time list.
Okolo admitted that she entered the meeting hoping to run fast and was delighted with the display.
“I wanted to run that fast,” Okolo said on the Longhorns official website.
“We’ve been talking about it and training has been looking like I could run that fast so it was just about executing.
“I was relieved. I put a lot of pressure on myself to execute my race right.”
She is even looking to go faster.
“Definitely. Oh yea,” she said when as if she thinks there is room for improvement. “The last 100, it was rough.”
Texas head coach Mario Sategna was full of praises for Okolo after her performance, noting that the outing put her in a very good position for even bigger things in the 2016 Olympic year.
“You knew that she was capable of doing it, but until you see that time flash up you’re thinking, ‘Holy cow,’” Sategna said.
“To do it this early it’s her attention to detail. It’s the plan that Coach Tonja Buford-Bailey has laid out for her.
“And that was one of the things when she was coming back for her senior year.
“What can we do to help Courtney to achieve success not just at the NCAA level but also at the Olympic Trials in July and ultimately at the Olympic Games in August.”
Former LSU NCAA champion Vernon Norwood won the men’s race in 45.01 secs, the fifth fastest time of his career and the fifth quickest in the world for 2016 behind Kirani James’ world-leading time of 44.36.
Norwood, who won golds in the 4×400 with the USA team at the 2015 Beijing World Outdoor Championships and Portland 2016 World Indoor Championships, got home ahead of two LSU runners in Michael Cherry, who ran 45.17 for second place and Fitzroy Dunkley (45.52).