TRACK AND FIELD: Runner wins NCAA individual title, sets school record

Krista Simkins picked the season’s most opportune moment to fully display her best work last weekend, setting new records and cementing her All-American status en route to winning the 400-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Despite entering the meet seeded only seventh, it didn’t take long for Simkins to establish herself as the athlete to beat. Running in the first heat Friday, her 51.95-second time set not only a new University of Miami record, but also the record for the fastest time of the collegiate year, sending a clear message to the following day’s competition.

“I don’t like being in the first heat. I like to watch the others before I run,” said Simkins, a junior, who is still relatively new to the event. “But I had never run against that field and felt I had to run all out.”

It was more of the same in the final: Simkins leading after a 24.36 first lap, but Alabama’s Trish Bartholomew very close at 24.37. Simkins’ second lap 27.80 gave her the clear win and the prestigious title.

Simkins became the sixth Hurricane to win an individual track title and the first since Tabia Charles won the triple jump two years ago. Simkins also ran the 4×400-meter relay, helping the young Hurricanes squad finish ninth.

On the men’s side, Tim Harris again turned in a strong performance, coming within feet of winning the men’s 800-meter, but having to settle for fourth after being forced to regroup from serious jostling.

In the four-lap final Saturday night, Harris led for the first 2 1/2 laps before being engaged in bumping from Abraham Mach of Central Michigan.

“I really think Tim would have won if not for the physical contact,” Ward said. “It took a lot to get it back together. The other guy ended up running 1.57 [because of it]. He made a huge move on the straightaway, and from where I was sitting I thought he had pulled it out.”

Ward said Harris’ outdoor debut will beat the Hurricane Challenge at Cobb Stadium March 29, a season they hope to extend well into the summer.

Harris and Simkins both earned All-American honors, Harris’ fourth acknowledgment and Simkins’ second.

UM’s two other individual national qualifiers Viktoria Andonova and Khadija Talley finished with solid performances, ninth and 15th, respectively.

Arizona State won both the women’s and men’s team titles. Miami’s women finished tied for 17th out of 62 thanks to Simkins’ 10 points, and Miami’s men finished 44th out of 60 teams, thanks to Harris’ five points.

Krishen Rangi may be contacted at