EUGENE, Ore. – Florida State’s Michael Cherry provided the topping to one of the most dominant sprint performances by a United States Junior World Championships team, anchoring the 4×400 relay to a gold medal in Sunday’s final event at Historic Hayward Field.
The US won in 3:03.31, in large part due to Cherry’s brilliance. Though Jamaica anchor Jaheel Hyde received the baton before the US, Cherry never relinquished the lead, pulling teammate and third leg Ricky Morgan through the start-finish line before taking the baton in front of Hyde.
Cherry maintained his lead down the backstretch, came off the final turn in front, then pulled away over the final 50 meters, unofficially bringing the stick around the track in 44.8 seconds. Japan’s Nobuya Kato used a hard charge to the finish for silver (3:04.11), while Jamaica was third (3:04.47).
The victory gave the United States men not only a sweep of the 4×100 and 4×400 relays, but the 100 and 200 as well, which would not have been possible without the contributions from three Seminoles over the course of the six-day meet. Incoming freshmen Kendal Williams (100) and Trentavis Friday (200) grabbed individual gold medals, then teamed up over the final two legs to lead the US to the 4×100 triumph Saturday.
“Those young men showed that the future is quite bright for Seminole track & field,” Braman said.
The United States won the medal count with 21 overall, including a Championships-leading 11 golds.
Sunday was Cherry’s turn. After anchoring the US to a heat win with a 45.21 leg on Saturday, the Chesapeake, Va. native had no intention of being left out of the US gold rush.
The United States team of Josephus Lyles, Tyler Brown and Morgan were never worse than second through three legs. That’s when Cherry put the pre-planned final exchange with Morgan into practice, just as they discussed before the finals.
“Ricky was my suite mate and I told him I was going to pull him (through the exchange zone), because that was the only way I could get clear, instead of fighting everybody,” Cherry said. “All my old teammates in high school and college used to pull me through and I knew if I could pull him I could be clear and get the baton and I would be good.”
Jamaica’s Hyde, a 400-meter hurdler by trade, was no match for Cherry’s open 400 horsepower, which produced the fastest split of his life.
“It was real relaxed,” Cherry said. “Coming down the home stretch I was standing up. I didn’t feel too bad. I’m just excited to get the gold. I was thinking, ‘I can’t get walked down. I didn’t make the open (400), so this is the least I could do for my team.’”
That he could celebrate a dominant sprint performance by the United States with two of his newest teammates made the closing event gold medal even sweeter.
“The younger guys were out here winning gold medals for FSU,” Cherry said. “It wouldn’t have been right if I didn’t come home with a gold medal. I just wanted to make my college team proud and my US team proud.”