The 2018 NCAA DI women's track and field championships were decided by a dramatic comeback and photo finish in the 4x400 relay that gave Southern California the exact points needed for the NCAA title.
This was no ordinary 4x400 relay. With championship implications, a watery track and a nearly costly error, Southern California's victory became an instant classic in the annals of college sports.
Let's break down how the improbable finish happened:
1. The Trojans had to win or go home
USC entered the race with 43 points. They were in third place, trailing Georgia, who had 52 points, and Stanford, who had 51 points. Neither the Bulldogs nor the Cardinal had a team in the 4x400, which left the Trojans hope. The only way that USC was winning the 2018 national championship was with a first-place finish and ten points from Kyra Constantine, Anna Cockrell, Deanna Hill, and Kendall Ellis.
That's just what Southern California did, winning by one point and the narrowest margin of victory since 2004. For the second straight year, Georgia watched its championship slip away in dramatic fashion after finishing as national runners-up to Oregon similarly in 2017 by 1.8 points.
2. The runners dealt with unfavorable conditions
3. USC bobbled the handoff
4. The announcers were stunned
Dwight Stones and Jill Montgomery's call of the race help to make this dramatic finish that much more memorable. The emotional roller coaster everyone at Historic Hayward experienced is expressed in their voices to a tee, especially in the final meter of this instant-classic. Convinced the race was Purdue's to lose, they quickly changed their tune in the final 15 seconds of the dramatic finish.
3:09.5 Montgomery: “I just don’t know if Purdue is going to get caught.”
5. The fans' reaction
Oregon, the "home team" at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, had plenty of fans on hand. Despite watching their Ducks fall from second to third alongside Purdue fans in the improbable finish, fans rose to their feet, including a couple of Purdue fans in disbelief. Check out those with their cell phones out in complete awe of one of women's outdoor track and field's most memorable moments.