By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
GRAND Bahamian national record holder Jeffery Gibson powered from behind for a victory in the men’s 400m hurdles at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.
And Purdue Boilermaker Devynne Charlton saw her bid for an upset in the women’s 100m hurdles bumped out on the seventh hurdle.
During the meet on Saturday in the Drake Stadium at Drake University, Gibson trailed in third place for the majority of the race until he cleared the last flight of 10 hurdles. That’s when he got a clean clearance and he surged past American leader Bershawn Jackson, who clipped his bar.
The 6-foot, 4-inch Gibson, running for Nike in lane six, used his height to get the extra steps to the finish line to clock 49.09 seconds for the win.
Jackson, coming out of a brief retirement to run for Nike as well, slipped to fourth place in 49.64 in lane four after he was passed by three other competitors, including Jamaica’s Annsert Whyte, who was fourth in 49.34.
“I know he caught me very early and this is a 400m hurdles, so you still have a lot of race to run,” said Gibson in a post interview with American Butch Johnson after the race.
“I know I’m in my own lane and I’m focusing on my own run.”
Gibson, a former 400m specialist, said he relied on his strength and that was the difference in the outcome. “Coming from the 400 to the hurdles, the straight away I know I’m very strong,” he admitted. “I just had to focus on clearing it easily and the rest of it is just running.”
The 27-year-old Gibson picked up the victory after he turned in a silver medal performance at the Commonwealth Games two weeks ago in the Gold Coast, Australia in 49.10. He joined strongman Bradley Cooper as the only Bahamian to return to the games to win another medal in the same event, improving on his bronze from 2014 in Glasgow.
With the IAAF World Championships heading to Doha, Qatar in 2019, Gibson is hoping to add to the bronze he collected at the last championships in Beijing, China where he lowered his national record to 48.17 in 2015.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t quite the finish that Chalton anticipated in the women’s 100m hurdles. In fact, the Boilermaker senior led the race through the first seventh flights of hurdles. That was when she clipped the eighth, ran through the ninth and watched as the race slipped away from her as she didn’t get to finish.
World record holder Kendra Harrison kept her composure in lane four as she surged ahead of Charlton in two for the win in 12.37 to erase the previous meet record of 12.40 that was held by fellow American Jasmin Stowers, who was in the race and had to settle for fourth in 12.85 in lane six.
Although they were hoping to add Charlton’s performance to their triumph, the 11th ranked Boilermakers went on to win the Hy-Vee Cup for the first time in Purdue’s history as they won eight events and broke two school records and a meet record on the final day of the meet.
Bahamian and Purdue head coach Lonnie Greene, who is assisted by Norbert Elliott, was quite thrilled by the performances from the Boilermakers.
“This is the beginning of postseason for us. We’re still working and our work volume is still high,” Greene said. “We have 10 days before Big Tens and I’m very pleased with how we’re performing. We need to maintain this through the next few weeks for Big Tens, then for regionals and nationals. The big thing for me right now is that we’re healthy.
“We were very aggressive and we walked away from the meet healthy. Even Devynne Charlton. She was leading the world-record holder in the 100-meter hurdles until she hit the seventh hurdle and pulled out. It was nice to win the trophy today. Now, we just need to keep the distractions down and keep working.”
On Friday, Charlton was second in the women’s 200m final in 23.73. The race was won by her team-mate Brionne Thomas, a senior as well, in 22.99.
The Drake Relays got started in 1910 and was the first major track and field event to be broadcast on the radio. It is now the second longest running track and field event in the USA, trailing the Penn Relays, which is 124 years old and was held this weekend as well in Philadelphia.