A record day for USC’s Andre De Grasse

Blazing to victory: USC sprinter Andre De Grasse crosses the finish line in the 100 meters in record time at the 2015 Pac-12 Conference Track and Field Championships on Sunday, May 17, 2015. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman
Blazing to victory: USC sprinter Andre De Grasse crosses the finish line in the 100 meters in record time at the 2015 Pac-12 Conference Track and Field Championships on Sunday, May 17, 2015. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

They say records are made to be broken. Well, the only thing that USC sprinter Andre De Grasse had on his mind when he showed up to run the 100 and 200 meters on the second day of the Pac-12  Conference Track and Field Championships at UCLA’s Elvin Drake Stadium, was just to run his race and let everything flow. Breaking records was the furthest thing on his mind. But that is exactly what De Grasse wound up doing.

De Grasse put an exclamation point on his growing status as one of the best runners in the world when he smashed the 100-meter meet mark, clocking in at 9.97 seconds to erase Ato Bolden’s 10.03 record that was established way back in 1996. He also shattered a 35-year old stadium record with his sub-10 seconds time that was formerly held by legendary Trojan sprinter James Sanford.

That’s some pretty impressive stuff. De Grasse was just getting warmed up after his 100-meter explosion. De Grasse then went out and put on another show for the spectators by breezing to victory in the 200 meters with a swift time of 20.05 seconds, just missing Bolden’s 20-flat mark.  There’s something special about De Grasse.

On the second day of the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships, De Grasse showed everyone just how special he is as one of the top short sprint runners in the country and the world with his two record-breaking marks.  De Grasse said his approach to those two races was simple.

Man of the hour: USC star  runner Andre De Grasse after winning the 100 meters in 9.97. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman
Man of the hour: USC star runner Andre De Grasse after winning the 100 meters in 9.97. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

“Just go out there and focus, run my race, just focus on me and don’t worry about nobody else,” De Grasse said. “I wasn’t thinking about breaking any records; just worrying about lowering my time, beating myself.”

With that kind of speed, De Grasse doesn’t have to worry about beating himself. What he does think about is working on and improving his running technique. Once he does that, well, look out.

“Once I get technically sound I’m sure that I’m going to run much faster,” De Grasse said. “I give the credit to God and my coach. My coaches come here and they train me hard. I think that this is the hardest I’ve worked in my life. Because of that…it’s all because of them. I give them all of the credit.”

There’s fast. Then there is warp-speed fast.  The best way to describe how quickly De Grasse gets to finish line after he leaves the starting block is liken to grabbing a handful of morning mist. You think it’s there and then it’s gone. That’s the way De Grasse runs the sprints. With the stealth-like precision of a cheetah, De Grasse closes the deal at the finish line with a kick that even Secretariat would envy.

There were plenty of performances that would have earned top billing any other time. However, De Grasse became the center of attention for the entire meet with his stunning times in the 100 and 200 meters. The wow factor came by way of what De Grasse did in the 100 meters. De Grasse smoked the field with relative ease, streaking to his 9.97 clocking.

But given the way De Grasse ran in the 100-meter trials the day before his time in the finals should not be so shocking. De Grasse won his heat in the trials with a time of 10.12 seconds. Now that he’s conquered the Pac-12 Conference, it’s on to bigger and better challenges for De Grasse, who will soon find out where he really stands among the best in collegiate track and field when he competes in the NCAA championships and beyond.

“Right now I’m not focused on the Olympics,” De Grasse said. “I’m just focused on this year, making the Pan American team, focusing on the NC(AA)’s and making the world championship team, so just taking it one step at a time.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1132 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.