trackfield-outdoor-men-d1 flag

Stan Becton | | July 27, 2022

NCAA Video Vault: Christian Coleman burns his way to the 100m record — in just the semis

Watch Christian Coleman break the 100m dash NCAA record in 2017 semifinals

What happens when an American Olympian runs Division I track and field? We got the answer to that question in 2017 when Tennessee's Christian Coleman — fresh off the 2016 Rio Olympics — ran at the 2017 Division I outdoor track and field championships.

As we go inside the NCAA Video Vault, we'll take a look at Coleman's record-breaking race — in only the semifinal round — in collegiate track and field.

The stage

The 2017 Division I outdoor track and field championships began on Wednesday, June 7. The men took the track first to kick off the action.

Enter Christian Coleman.

The Tennessee sprinter was undefeated in the 2017 outdoor season, with his only loss all year coming in the 200 meters at the SEC indoor championships. Coleman swept the short sprint titles at the NCAA indoor championships, winning the 60 and 200 meters, tying the collegiate record in the latter.

All of this success came after Coleman competed deep into the summer, running at the Rio Olympics.

Coleman entered the outdoor championships with four sub-10 second 100-meter times and a world-leading 19.85-second time in the 200 meters, the second-fastest in collegiate history. With professional aspirations looming, a pair of NCAA titles was all that was needed for Coleman to close his collegiate career.

WATCH: The track comeback to end ALL comebacks

The competition

With the Olympics and indoor titles under his belt, Christian Coleman was the clear 100-meter favorite entering the 2017 DI outdoor championships. However, Coleman still had competition set on dethroning him from atop the NCAA. 

LSU's Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake pushed Coleman to the limit at the SEC outdoor championships, finishing .02 seconds behind him. Houston's Cameron Burrell entered the championships fresh off running the second-fastest time all year at the NCAA West prelims, finishing in 9.95 seconds, only .02 seconds behind Christian Coleman's season's-best time.

In total, there were nine sub-10 second sprinters — not including Coleman — competing in the 100 meters at the DI championships. Yet, Coleman had just two of the nine in his heat to open the semifinals, Georgia's Kendal Williams and Oregon's Kyree King. Each would be positioned one lane outside of Coleman, all running in heat one of the semifinals.

Here's the complete field of entries for semifinal heat one:

Lane Athlete School
1 Raheem Chambers Auburn
2 Ryan Clark Florida
3 Kendal Williams Georgia
4 Christian Coleman Tennessee
5 Kyree King Oregon
6 Kenzo Cotton Arkansas
7 Tatenda Tsumba BYU
8 Mario Burke Houston

MORE: The race that put Olympic hurdler turned NFL player Devon Allen on the map

The race

The 100 meters is a sprint, and this race was so fast that if you blinked, you might've missed it.

Out the blocks


The starting gun fired. The runners were off out of the blocks. In a race that's only 100 meters long, a start can make or break a sprinter. Thirteen meters into the race, it was clear Christian Coleman had a fantastic start out of the blocks, already leading the pack. In just seven steps, Coleman had the lead.

50 meters in

Halfway through the race, around the 50-meter mark, Coleman created a visible gap between him and the rest of the field. 

Coleman took 25 steps in the first five seconds of the race. That's five steps per second and approximately two steps per meter. It was Coleman's race to lose.

MORE: The greatest collegiate hurdle race we've ever seen

The final sprint

With 20 meters left, it was clear that Coleman would win his heat and advance to the 100-meter final. The finish line was rapidly approaching.

Coleman slowed down. Yes, he slowed down; it was only the semifinals after all. Then, as he crossed the finish line, Coleman looked over at the clock.

9.82 seconds.

9.82 seconds, a new NCAA record. Christian Coleman ran the fastest 100 meters in NCAA history without finishing through the finish line.

Here are the complete results from the 100 meter heat one:

Place athlete school time
1 Christian Coleman Tennessee 9.82
2 Kyree King Oregon 10.00
3 Kenzo Cotton Arkansas 10.11
4 Mario Burke Houston 10.19
5 Raheem Chambers Auburn 10.20
6 Ryan Clark Florida 10.25
7 Tatenda Tsumba BYU 10.29
8 Kendal Williams Georgia 10.50

RESULTS: See the complete results for every men's event in the 2017 championships

Breaking down the performance

Christian Coleman's set a new 100-meter collegiate record in just the semifinals. His 9.82-second finish improved his personal-best time by 0.13 seconds. The time was the ninth-fastest all-time in world history and the fourth-fastest all-time in American history. The only Americans in history to run faster than Coleman were Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin and Maurice Greene — all Olympic or world 100-meter champions.

Moreover, Coleman ran this time while slowing down to cross the finish line. It was the semifinals after all, and he left some gas in the tank. 

Coleman had enough gas left to win the 100 and 200-meter titles two days later. With the wins, Coleman joined fellow Tennessee product Justin Gatlin as the only NCAA athlete to win the 60 and 200 meters indoors and the 100 and 200 meters outdoors.

WOW: Kentucky's Sydney McLaughlin wins NCAA championship after a hail storm

What did they say

Coleman on if he expected to run that fast in the prelims: "I think the sky's the limit as far as how fast I think I can run. I just wanted to come out here and execute to make it to the final."

Coleman on the collegiate record as one of his goals entering the year: "I set it as one of my goals. I knew I could accomplish that... I knew it was something inside of my reach."

British newspaper the Daily Mail on Coleman's potential to replace the soon-to-be-retired Usain Bolt: "Sprinting could have found its new king."

Here's what your Twitter feed may have looked like after Coleman broke the record:

Watch the race again

Below, you can watch Coleman's win in the 100 meters one more time.

Nebraska, Wisconsin volleyball fight for top spot and Tennessee enters Power 10 rankings

Michella Chester ranks her top 10 women's volleyball teams heading into Week 5 of the 2023 season.

D1Softball's top 100 college softball players from 2023

Who were the best players of the 2023 college softball season? Based on offensive stats, defensive impact, value to their team, advanced metrics and a splash of postseason success, D1Softball compiled the best 100 players of this past season.

How all 8 Men's College World Series teams advanced to Omaha

The MCWS field is set, here's a recap of how each squad punched its ticket to Omaha. ➡️