Ronnie Baker & TCU 4x100m Teammates Advance to NCAA Final with 2015 US #1 Time

TCU opened the 2015 NCAA Championships by running the fastest 4x100 relay time in the country this season at 38.65 seconds at Hayward Field on Wednesday.

Running out of lane six, sophomore Cameron Echols-Luper opened up on the first curve, giving the baton to junior Sam Watts at the first exchange. Holding strong through the first two legs, Watts passed the stick to junior Ronnie Baker, who ran a fantastic third split. Coming around the final stretch, Baker handed it off to Kolby Listenbee, who stepped on the gas and crossed the finish line with the top time at 38.65 seconds.

"First of all, we started off the day with a great running in the 4x100 relay," TCU director of track and field Darryl Anderson said. "They ran 38.65. It was the fastest time of the day, the fastest time in the country and just missed the track record.

"Any time you're close to a track record at the great Hayward Field, that says a lot. We were very pleased. We'll take tomorrow to recover, come back on Friday and see what we can do."

The stadium record is 38.53 set in 2013 by Florida. Last season, the same TCU group of four finished 10th at the NCAA Championships at 39.52 seconds.

TCU's 4x100 relay is rooted in tradition. With their race on Wednesday, the Horned Frogs cracked the school's all-time top 10 list at No. 9. It's the best time since 2001 when a TCU quartet put together a mark of 38.58 seconds.

"The sky is the limit at this point for those four guys," Anderson said.

They'll return to the track on Friday, June 12, at 4:35 p.m. PDT/6:35 p.m. CDT.

But Listenbee's day wasn't over with the 4x100. An hour and a half later, the Arlington native ran the best 100-meter dash of his career, posting a wind-legal personal-best of 10.04. The time gave him the win in heat three, automatically advancing him to Friday's final.

"Kolby continues to get better in the 100, he's down to 10.04 now," Anderson said. It's unprecedented. He continues to get better every race and he's really learning the track game. He's getting savvy and he's getting more patient in his races.

"The starter held them for a long time today and he was late to the gun, which is a good thing. I'm sure he's still a little shell-shocked with Ronnie false-starting in the regionals. But at 20 meters into the race, he was five meters behind. He just stayed patient, went through his phases and caught everybody, and he caught some really good people. I think he continues to surprise himself."

His time of 10.04 was tied for the fourth-best overall and moved him up to No. 5 all-time among wind-legal marks in TCU history. It was the third-straight meet he had set a new PR.

The 100-meter dash final is slated for 5:25 p.m. PDT/7:25 p.m. CDT on Friday.

Echols-Luper also had a busy day, beginning competition in the long jump at the same time as the 100. After a rough first two attempts, the Auburn, Alabama, native matched his wind-legal seasonal-best with a mark of 7.73m (25-4.5). His third jump would be his best of the evening, giving him a ninth-place finish and Second Team All-America accolades.

It was the third time in his young career that he's earned the distinction.

In the 4x400 relay, the Horned Frogs switched up the order, moving Ronnie Baker, who normally runs the anchor leg, to the leadoff spot. Baker gave TCU an early lead, but the Horned Frogs fell behind and finished sixth in heat one and 10th overall at 3:06.25. Running with Baker was Sam Watts, Lavon Collins and Joshua Washington, also earning Second Team All-America honors.

Watts ran in three events on Wednesday, with the 200-meter dash sandwiched in between the two relays. Running out of lane one, the junior from London, England, posted a sixth-place time at 20.74 seconds. His mark gave him Honorable Mention All-America accolades, his fifth All-America nod of his career.

On Thursday, the Horned Frogs will only have one competitor, junior Brianna McGhee in the 100-meter hurdles, which is set for 5:02 p.m. PDT/7:02 p.m. CDT.