The focus was on Justify’s Triple Crown victory yesterday afternoon, but one Kentucky Wildcat followed it up with a trophy-winning performance of her own to add to the long list of records and accolades she has already claimed.
And it may have solidified her spot as the most dominant athlete in UK history.
That’s right, not a star basketball or football player. A track and field sensation has officially taken over the top spot as the most dominant athlete in school history. And if things go as planned, Kentucky freshman Sydney McLaughlin will be the face of U.S. Track and Field for years to come.
McLaughlin, an 18-year-old track phenom from New Jersey, ran away with the 400m Hurdle title at the NCAA Championships last night with a final time of 53.96 seconds to bring another banner back home to Lexington.
Check out the victory, where despite the horrible weather conditions, the Wildcat freshman was able to pull off the 8th fastest time in collegiate history.
Sydney McLaughlin runs away with the 400m Hurdles championship. The most dominant athlete in Kentucky history. pic.twitter.com/BFWWG8UfeI
— Sam Gormley (@GormleyKSR) June 10, 2018
Nobody even close.
This came right after McLaughlin destroyed the 400m hurdle semifinals with a time of 54.15, over two seconds faster than anyone else in the field.
The footage is hilarious, as the camera crew tried to keep the view as wide as possible to keep other runners in the frame, but McLaughlin was so far ahead they eventually just gave up.
NCAA Championships, 400M Hurdles
“A very easy 54:15.”
Kentucky’s Sydney McLaughlin out here looking bored. She’s unbelievable. Pure dominance. pic.twitter.com/KItkYHcUl8
— Jamie McCracken (@jamieamccracken) June 8, 2018
She came on the national scene by representing the United States in the 2016 Rio Olympics at just 16 years old.
As a senior in high school, McLaughlin recorded the fastest legal time by a high school female in the 200m event with a time of 22.96, a record that had stood since 1993. She followed it up with New Jersey meet records in the 400m hurdles, 400m, and the 200m. The 400m time (54.03) broke the World Junior and overall high school records.
As the fastest runner in all of high school, she had sponsors begging her to skip college and turn pro. Instead, she decided to be a kid for one more year and attend the University of Kentucky.
To no one’s surprise, she quickly became the fastest collegiate female in the nation.
Back in March, McLaughlin set the world junior 400m record with a time of 50.36 at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships. She followed it up with a 400m time of in 50.07 seconds, a new NCAA Freshman record. With that time, McLaughlin became the second-fastest person to run the 400m at the collegiate level ever behind Courtney Okolo and now leads the world in the event.
Just two months later, the track phenom broke the NCAA record in the 400m hurdles, finishing with a 52.75 to win the event in her first SEC championship appearance. In the process, McLaughlin destroyed the World U20 time and broke Shamier Little’s time of 53.21 set at the 2013 NCAA Championships to become No. 13 on the all-time world list.
At 52.75, McLaughlin is just 0.41 seconds away from becoming the fastest woman hurdler in the world.
And according to Kentucky Track and Field coach Edrick Floréal, McLaughlin could easily break Russia’s Yuliya Nosova-Pechonkina 400m hurdle record of 52.34 in the very near future. In “perfect” runs at practice, Floréal said she can finish in the 51.9-second range, which would make her the fastest woman in world history by a whopping .44 seconds.
Unfortunately for UK fans, we won’t be able to see her break that record in a Kentucky uniform. After her national title victory last yesterday, McLaughlin announced she will be turning pro.
— FloTrack (@FloTrack) June 10, 2018
— FloTrack (@FloTrack) June 10, 2018
So now that her one (and only) season at Kentucky is over, is it safe to say she is the most dominant athlete in school history?
Here’s the competition:
Anthony Davis had the most decorated season at Kentucky, finishing as a national champion, National Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, Olympic gold medal winner, No. 1 draft pick, etc. Most have had him penciled in as the most dominant.
Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones was a three-time basketball All-American and led the team to back-to-back national championships under Adolph Rupp. And he was also a star under Bear Bryant on the football team. Oh, and he dabbled in UK baseball in his “free” time. He was one of the best multi-sport athletes in school history.
Dermontti Dawson was a pro football Hall of Famer. Tim Couch was the most dominant quarterback in UK history and became the No. 1 overall pick. A.J. Reed was the unanimous National Player of the Year in baseball as a hitting/pitching sensation. Dan Issel was a two-time consensus All-American and holds just about every scoring record Kentucky has to offer.
That being said, no one dominated their sport in effortless fashion the way McLaughlin has done in her one-and-done season at Kentucky. She breaks records, but hardly breaks a sweat in doing so. She once clipped a hurdle, but was so far ahead in the race, still casually strolled across the finish line with zero worries.
Scary moment for Sydney McLaughlin pic.twitter.com/W719kSR4O2
— FloTrack (@FloTrack) May 25, 2018
Her runs are ridiculously effortless. Her competition sees nothing but her back at all times, and the records show for it.
Has she officially taken over the top spot? I think so.