March 7, 2009
Jarrin Solomon finally lost a head-to-head 400-meter race, but it took the fastest time in the world this year to beat him. The University of New Mexico senior, however, lowered his school record time in the event to 46.33 and all but clinched his first NCAA Indoor Championship bid with a second place finish this afternoon at Iowa State's NCAA Qualifier meet. Illinois' Gakologelwang Masheto was the only man faster, clocking a blazing 45.80 - the fastest in the world by 0.23 seconds.
Masheto, who lost to Solomon three weeks earlier on the same track, is a five-time Big 10 Conference champion, two-time All-American, and represented Botswana in the Beijing Olypics in the 400.
Solomon's impressive performance came one week after cruising to the Mountain West Conference title. Today's race was the first he's lost in six 400 competitions this winter, but just as head coach Joe Franklin predicted, Solomon's appearance at Iowa State was critical.
Tied for 12th in the country entering the day with a previous best of 46.69, Solomon was one of five men at the Lied Recreation Center to run under 46.60 in what should be the fastest last chance 400 race of the weekend. With only 14 athletes expected to be selected to compete in the NCAA 400, Solomon would have been a longshot to qualify had he not made the trip and turned in such a clutch performance.
Now he will almost certainly see his name appear when the NCAA release the list of qualifier for the 2009 Indoor Championships on Sunday night.
UNM hasn't had a sprinter advance to the Indoor meet since 1978. Solomon's father, Michael, was the Lobos' last individual national champion indoors, winning the 600-yard run in 1977.
Meanwhile, back at Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational, junior Ashley Gibson also lowered her school record in the mile with time of 4:44.58 (ninth) and fifth-year senior Ariel Burr ended her magnificent collegiate career with an eighth place finish in the women's 400 (54.86). Both Gibson and Burr have recorded NCAA provisional qualifying times in their respective events, but neither are expected to advance to the national meet.
Watch Solomon's school record performance, courtesy of Flotrack.org:
Watch Solomon's postrace interview on Flortrack.org