FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The 1,500 meter final at Friday’s NCAA Division 1 Track and Field championships in Oregon will feature runners from Westport and New Canaan.
Virginia’s Henry Wynne, a Staples High grad, and James Randon of Yale, a New Canaan resident, both qualified for Friday’s final. Wynne won his heat and enters Friday’s final with the top time, 3:40.62. Randon ran 3:41.22 in the same heat as Wynne and had the seventh fastest time among the 12 qualifiers for the final.
Wynne, the indoor NCAA champion in the mile, traded the top two spots with Washington’s Izaic Yorks during the race. Wynne surged past Yorks on the outside in the last 200 meters to win the semifinal. The race was much quicker than the first heat, which was won by Clayton Murphy of Akron in 3:49.03. The top five finishers of each semifinal plus the next two fastest times advanced to the final.
“That is how I have been racing the 1,500 all year,” Wynne said on the Virginia sports website about the pace of the race. “We knew the pace of the first heat was pretty slow, so we wanted to get seven runners from our race into the final and we were able to do that. The pace was lagging a little in the beginning, so I decided to take over (the lead). Izaic (Yorks) then helped me out by taking the lead for a little and then I went around him towards the end of the race.”
“If you are going to win an NCAA title, you have to survive each round,’’ Virginia coach Pete Watson said of Wynne, who won the 1,500 at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships. “Henry survived a very tough section and looked good doing it. Now it’s on to the final.”
Randon is the first Yale runner to reach the finals of an NCAA event since 2005. He attended Middlesex School in Massachusetts during high school. He had a breakout season at Yale, breaking multiple Yale records and becoming the first athlete in school history to run a mile in under four minutes. Randon broke the Yale record and vaulted onto the national leaderboards with his blistering 3:40.15 1,500-meter time in the Virginia Challenge. Randon won the 1,500-meter run at the Ivy League championships.
Friday’s final will be held at 8:42 p.m. Eastern time. The race will be televised on ESPN, which begins its coverage of the championships at 8:30 p.m.