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May First Weekend Digest – Track & Field News

May First Weekend Digest - Track & Field News

At the Oxy Invitational ’22 world champion Michael Norman served up his fastest 400 season opener since ’19. (JEFF COHEN)

BIG NAME PROS began their Olympic season ramp-ups and frosh Sophia Beckmon equaled the long jump American Junior (U20) Record as April turned into May.

Oxy Invitational — Norman, Hiltz, SML Wins

Eagle Rock, California, May 04 — A number of elite pros showed rising form at the Oxy Invitational, with comeback races of a kind for Michael Norman and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone eliciting interest in the still young pre-Paris Games campaign.

Norman returned victorious to the lap wars with his fastest opener since 2019. The ’22 world champion, who turned in just 3 races in shorter sprints early last season, roared into the final stretch well ahead of the field and stopped the clock at 44.21.

There was a USC flavor up front. Alum Norman turned back current Trojan senior Johnnie Blockburger (45.20) and Isaiah Jewett (45.50), who earned a Tokyo Olympic 800 spot as a USC senior in ’21.

Norman — who led the 400 world lists in ’18, ’19 & ’22 and authored 4 of the 5 fastest marks put up since ’17 — had parted ways with coach Quincy Watts for a time last summer but is now back in training with the Trojan head as his guide.

All-conquering 400 hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has not raced that event since her World Record victory at the ’22 World Championships and saw limited action in other events last season.

Here — apparently with the “minor knee issue” that cut short her ’23 season healed — McLaughlin-Levrone stayed clear of the lap hurdles also but turned a 100H/200 double that may have been targeted as training for her signature event.

The hurdles came first and she took charge mid-race to run away from NCAA indoor 60H titlist Jasmine Jones 12.71–12.86. Run into a -0.4 wind, the time is SML’s career No. 2 clocking after a 12.65 run at Mt. SAC last year.

Some 3½ hours later, McLaughlin-Levrone took to the oval for her first 200 since ’18. She churned the half lap in 23.38w (wind 2.9) to win by 0.88 from training mate Morolake Akinosun.

World Indoor 1500 medalist Nikki Hiltz also turned a double, 400/800 in that order with about 90 minutes in between. Hiltz, with no known prior 400s on their career record, covered the lap in 54.40.

Hiltz had said after scoring 1500 silver in Glasgow, “I know how good my last 200 is,” and here it was that portion of the race which delivered a 2:00.33–2:00.81…

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