U.S. sprinter breaks collegiate 400m record in consecutive races
University of Arkansas sprinter Britton Wilson continued the season of her life over the weekend, breaking her own collegiate 400m record in consecutive races. Competing at the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Wilson entered the weekend with a lifetime 400m best and NCAA record of 49.51 seconds. She proceeded to run 49.40 seconds in the preliminary heats on Friday and followed that up with a massive PB of 49.13 in the finals on Saturday. She now owns the three quickest 400m times in NCAA history.
Thanks to her impressive clocking, the 22-year-old sprinter has climbed up the ranks of the U.S. all-time list, currently sitting fourth. Wilson now holds a faster personal best than U.S. Olympic legend Allyson Felix, whose 400m best of 49.26 was set at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.
A hot streak
Wilson has had a phenomenal 18 months on the track. In 2022, she and her Arkansas teammates won the NCAA 4 x 400m indoor title, and a few months later, she ran to an individual win in the 400m hurdles at the NCAA outdoor championships. She followed that up by qualifying for the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore., where she was part of the American team that ran to gold in the 4 x 400m relay.
Wilson rode a massive wave of momentum as she flew into the 2023 season, and it didn’t take long for her to get back to her winning ways. In February, she won two more NCAA indoor titles, helping the Arkansas women defend their 4 x 400m crown and taking the win in the individual 400m (her winning time of 49.48 seconds is a U.S. indoor record).
She didn’t slow down transitioning from indoor to outdoor track, flying to the NCAA 400m record at a race in Florida in April when she ran 49.51 seconds. This time beat Athing Mu‘s previous collegiate record of 49.57 seconds.
A successful weekend
With the NCAA record already under her belt, as she worked toward the SEC championships, all eyes were on Wilson in the women’s 400m. It likely came as a shock, however, when she beat her record in the heats on Friday. With her final time of 49.40, she was well ahead of the rest of the field (second place crossed the line in 50.78 seconds).
Wilson was the obvious favourite for the win on Saturday, but after her prelims record, the question was whether she could run yet another PB. It turned out that she could, and although she had already run a blazing race just 24 hours before (and a 400m hurdles heat on Thursday), she smashed the record once more, crossing the line in 49.13. As in Friday’s race, she finished more than a second ahead of the next-closest runner.
Later that day, Wilson won the 400m hurdles title, cruising to the line with a 53.28 win and beating the second-place woman by almost two whole seconds. Wilson will be a favourite for the NCAA title in both events come June at the outdoor championships.
posted Monday May 15th
by Ben Snider-McGrath