Posted on July 8, 2023
Sprint fans are happy to see Sha’Carri Richardson back in form and running fast and dominating a preliminary heat of the 100 at the U.S. Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on Friday.
But the runner in lane eight of the same race may have captured as much attention as the flamboyant Richardson, who tore off her bright orange wig and threw it on the track in a dramatic statement of her return.
Six weeks ago, 17-year-old Mia Brahe-Pedersen was running here at Hayward Field against high school competition, drawing audible gasps from the crowd with the margin of her victories in the 100 and 200.
Brahe-Pedersen’s best of 11 flat is the third-best ever run by an American high school girl.
She squeaked through the semifinals as the last-time qualifier, edging out Shawnti Jackson, the only current high schooler who has been able to beat Brahe-Pedersen.
Jackson was the winner in their race at the Brooks PR Meet in June, and her PR is .11 faster than Brahe-Pedersen’s best. However, Brahe-Pedersen has been more consistent at nationals.
Racing against the pros highlighted the one weakness in Brahe-Pedersen’s sprint form: her start.
Twenty meters into the final on Friday, Brahe-Pedersen was already several meters behind the other seven runners. She is tall and not as explosive as the other women.
But her top-end speed is something else. By 50 meters, she was gaining on everyone except Richardson. She passed Tennessee sophomore Jacious Sears just before the line to finish seventh in 11.08.
Given the limitations of her start, it will be very interesting to see how she does in the 200 meters today and tomorrow.
Brahe-Pedersen runs the curve well and has twice as far to make up for a slower start. Her best in the 200 is 22.43, which is faster than any other high school girl except the GOAT, Allyson Felix.
Brahe-Pedersen said that she was watching fireworks at home in Lake Oswego, Oregon when she saw the start list for her first round heat of the 100.
Seeing that she would be starting between Sha’Carri Richardson and Jenna Prandini, 2015 winner of the Bowerman Award and two-time Olympian, brought the reality of all home.
“I told my dad, ’I think I am going to be sick!’” she said. “But it turned out for the best.”
Richardson dominated the preliminary heats of the 100, running 10.71 and looking like the Sha’Carri of two years ago. She overcame a sluggish start in the race and breezed past her competitors in the last 30 meters for the win.
At 10.82, it clearly wasn’t her best race of the meet, but it still left no doubt about who the best American female sprinter is right now.
Friday’s 800 semis didn’t go as well for the Stanford duo of Roisin Willis and Juliette Whittaker as Thursday’s first round. Willis withdrew from the competition, and Whittaker fell to the track just 10 meters before the finish.
At the time, Whittaker was in fourth place, but it appeared her legs just gave out.
ASU’s 400 standout, Justin Robinson placed second in his semi in 45.22 and advanced to today’s final.
—More from Steve Ritchie—
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- Oregon-Arizona Desert Duals have been Wildly Unpredictable
- Ritchie: Raised a Tiger, Bo Nix Finds his Place with Ducks
- Ritchie: Can Georgia Continue SEC Dominance over Oregon?
After Dramatic USATF Nationals, Focus Turns to WorldsIf performances last weekend are any indication, the American squad should do well in Budapest - July 16, 2023
USATF: BYU’s Rooks Overcomes Fall to Win Men’s SteepleThe Hayward crowd was in full roar mode, the loudest it has been during these championships - July 9, 2023
USATF: Prep Star Brahe-Pedersen Holds Her Own vs. ProsThe 17-year-old squeaked through the 100-meter semifinals as the final time-qualifier - July 8, 2023