DES MOINES, Iowa — Sophomore Keyunta Hayes raced to a fourth-place finish in the national 400-meter hurdles final on Friday night at the NCAA Championships. It is the second-best NCAA Outdoor finish by a Roadrunner in program history.
The two-time Southland Conference Champion circled the Drake Stadium oval in a school-record 49.38 to become the ninth All-American in program history (eighth under head coach Aaron Fox/first hurdler). The time was more than a half second faster than the school mark (49.95) he established in Wednesday's semifinals and it stands as the third-fastest clocking in league history (best Southland time in 21 years). The mark also surpassed USA Track & Field's "A" standard, which gives him an automatic berth in this month U.S. Olympic Trials (June 28-29 & July 1 in Eugene, Ore.), and it vaulted him to 11th place on the 2012 United States leaderboard. Hayes picked up five points for UTSA, which sits in a 33rd-place tie in the team standings through 14 scored events with seven more remaining on Saturday.
"I've never been more disappointed with a result of a race than I was today, only because I wanted to win so bad," Hayes said. "I thought a ran a good technical race, much better than I did the other night, because I trusted my better judgment. I want to thank (assistant hurdles) Coach (Adam) Hudson and (head coach) Coach (Aaron) Fox for everything they've done for me. They have helped me prepare, inspired me and given me the confidence I've needed because they have believed in me all season long."
"For this to be Keyunta's first national meet and to finish fourth out of lane eight, this was truly an amazing performance," head coach Aaron Fox said. "He really was close to winning today and to finish this high as a sophomore shows that he should be a contender for a national title the next two years. The future definitely is bright going forward.
"I also want to recognize the work of (assistant hurdles) Coach (Adam) Hudson, who joined our program under tough circumstances this season. To do what he's done with Keyunta this year is amazing."
Stanford's Amaechi Morton won the national title in 48.79, while Texas Tech's Jamele Mason (48.89) and USC's Reggie Wyatt (49.11) rounded out the top three. Morton and Mason are seniors and Wyatt is a junior.
Former three-time All-American Leonard Byrd holds UTSA's highest national finish with his third-place performance in the 400m at the 1996 NCAA Championships.
The Roadrunners will wrap up competition at the four-day meet on Saturday when junior All-American Richard Garrett Jr. competes in the shot put at 10 a.m.