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6 10 21 Athing Mu

Texas A&M Freshman Is Rewriting Many Record Books


2021 NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships

Hayward Field, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon



June 10, 2021

Every year freshman track & field athletes who start off performing better than expected - punching above their weight, if you will - inevitably are placed in the spotlight, often touted as the next dominant, record-breaking athlete. A good many live up to those lofty expectations. Perhaps an even larger number does not. This annual ritual has caused many cynical track & field followers to view talented rising freshmen with a jaundiced eye.

Rest assured, there is no need to be skeptical about Texas A&M's phenomenal freshman and 400m/800m specialist Athing Mu. The Trenton, New Jersey native has been on the collective radar screen since 2019 when at age 16 she raced 1:23.67 to set a new U20 world record at 600 meters. Earlier this year, the Aggie sprinter moved up to set two additional U20 indoor world records: 50.52 for 400m and 1:58.40 for 800m.

Mu is being artfully managed by Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry and his coaching brain trust. It seems apparent that the Aggie front office respects Mu's bountiful natural gifts and is building a pathway that will allow that talent to fully blossom at a pace consistent with the maturation of this incredible teenager's physical development.

In early March of this year, the highly-respected Henry spoke with candid reverence about his extraordinary freshman. "Athing Mu is better than Michael Johnson was as a freshman. We're fortunate to have her. She's a hard worker and is earning everything she's getting. To run a 1:58 has never happened in college, and only one American ever has run faster than that." She's leading the country in the 400m and the 800m right now. She also runs the relay, and it's much more difficult to do with the condensed meet schedules we have now."

When the outdoor season opened up this year, the maturing Mu had the opportunity to put her long stride to the test on the larger oval. She ran negative splits to clock 1:57.73, a new collegiate record. "Athing Mu started that 800m race differently than usual, jumping out to an early lead. It was over after about 200m. She ran a faster second 400m, and that doesn't happen very often.

That tells you there is a bit more in the tank," explains Henry. "From a pure performance, I have not seen that kind of performance in all of my years from a time and weather standpoint. Mu was also running against the NCAA Champion. 1:57.73 is outstanding. Olympic Standard gets her into the US Championships." Coach Henry marvels at the range Mu has been exhibiting. "Mu has only run one mile this year, but she's not enthused at running a mile. Right now, she's kind of a half-miler who can step down to the 400m. She's also a great 400m (runner) who can run a great 800m. She really wants to run fast 400m races. Everyone expects her to run faster than 1:57 now, but that can't happen all of the time. It's going to take a special situation for to run faster than that."

In the 400m final at the SEC Outdoor Championships, Mu won with ease, lowering her collegiate record. "Athing is just fantastic," exclaims Henry who witnessed over four decades of talent in his coaching career. "For Mu, 49.68 is just a tremendous run. People say, 'Dang, this girl is something.' She's the best that has ever been."

On Day Two of the NCAA outdoor track & field championships, you could sense that the Hayward Field crowd - perhaps a couple thousand - was eager for the in-person opportunity to witness this budding talent compete. In her 400m semi-final round - her first appearance in a collegiate outdoor national championship venue - Athing Mu turned in an impressively effortless yet nonetheless stunning performance. Slowly rising out of the blocks at the crack of the gun, the long-legged athlete was in no hurry to run through the gears. At the 200m meter mark, it was clear she would complete the circuit unchallenged. All alone on the homestretch, Mu, fresh as a daisy, jogged smoothly across the line to complete the easiest 51.04 you'll ever see. In the final event of the day - the women's 4x400m relay - the lanky freshman ran fourth for A&M and got the stick with the lead. While the hard-charging UCLA anchor cut into MU's lead, all the Aggie had to do was employ a modest tempo change to fend off the late surge with ease. Mu's easy circuit was clocked in 50.91 to give the Aggie women the best 4x4 time of the day at 3:26.74. Those in Hayward Field had to be thinking, "Will we get to see her in full throttle in the final?". Perhaps we'll see a little Hayward Magic on Saturday! / Dave Hunter /

6 10 21 Athing Mu 2


Trackside Tidbits

In the women's hammer, Cal junior Camryn Rogers twice broke the collegiate record. On her final throw, the Canadian got the ball and chain out 247'9" to win with ease.

In the semi-finals of the w3000mSC, BYU junior Courtney Wayment posted the fastest clocking of 9:32.52

LSU senior Tonea Marshall looked impressive in her semi-final race. Her 12.48 was the fastest time in the w100m hurdles.

LSU junior Lisa Gunnarsson was victorious in the women's PV with a winning clearance of 14'51⁄4".

Ohio State sprinter Anavia Battle posted the fastest time in the w200m semi-finals when she won her heat in 22.50. Bis coached by former collegiate national 200m champion and OSU head coach Karen Dennis.

Texas sophomore Tara Davis broke into a dance of joy when she captured the crown in the women's long jump. Her winning leap was 21'1 "3⁄4

Ohio State junior Adelaide Aquilla, who won the 2021 NCAA indoor shot put crown, was the buzzer-beater victor in the women's shot put. Her 6th round mark of 62'31⁄4 was the winning heave.

In the women's javelin, Georgia senior Marie-Therese Obst, with 3 throws over 180 feet, was the victor. Her best mark was 195'10".

• In a thrilling 10,000-meter final, Alabama sophomore Mercy Chelanget and Oregon senior Carmela Baez broke away from the field and battled over the final 2 miles. Baez made her decisive move with 900 meters to go. Exhorted onward by the partisan crowd, the 2019 runner-up in this event employed a long grind over the final two laps to claim the title in 32:16.13 with Chelanget finishing 2nd in 32:22.11.  The University of Georgia is the leader with 20 points. Oregon is in second place with 14 points. The remaining 15 events will conclude on Saturday, the final day of these championships.

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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