Henderson Eyeing History in Final Race as an Aztec

June 8, 2018

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EUGENE, Ore. -- Senior sprinter Ashley Henderson will compete for a national championship in the 200 meter dash Saturday at historic Hayward Field.

This list of Henderson's career accolades at San Diego State is as extensive as it is impressive -- nine-time First-Team All-American and 14-time Mountain West Champion to name a few. But the one thing left to check off her unprecedented list of accomplishments is a national championship.

Henderson has finished second at the NCAA Championships twice. First in 2016 in the 100 meter dash at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships, where she was just one hundredth of a second behind future Olympian Ariana Washington of Oregon.

More recently, Henderson finished in second in the 200 meter dash at the NCAA Indoor Championships this past February. Running in the first of two heats, Henderson finished in 22.41, once again just one hundredth of a second away from history. At the time, the all-time collegiate record was 22.40 set by Oregon's Bianca Knight in 2008.

What looked like a surefire gold medal vanished just moments later when Harvard's Gabrielle Thomas set a new collegiate record by finishing in 22.38.

"I'm not one of those athletes who gets upset about someone else's success," Henderson explained. "I was a bit hurt, because I had (the record) first, and then she ended up getting it right after I did. But that's what competition does. I set the tone with my time in the first heat, but there's always going to be someone in the second heat who's going to chase it."

On Thursday, Henderson once again ran a PR in the 200 on the national stage, finishing in 22.49. Her mark was the third best of the day. The top time was set by none other than Thomas to set up Saturday's showdown, which will be Henderson's last race as an Aztec before she enters the professional ranks.

While Thomas' Thursday time was 0.13 seconds better than Henderson's, she was aided by a tailwind of 2.2 meters per second. Racing just moments later, Henderson was running in to a headwind. In a sport where every hundredth of a second can be the difference between glory or agony, the extra wind support for Thomas, an extra 2.5 meters per second, is not insignificant.

"I've been prepared for this moment that's coming in the next 48 hours," Henderson explained. "I'm looking forward to it and I think we will pull the best out of each other and I think it's going to be a good fight."

Henderson races at 5:07 p.m. and will be in lane three, right next to Thomas who is in lane four. The race will broadcast nationally on ESPN and is also available on WatchESPN.com or through the ESPN app.

Further Reading...

Henderson takes the long way around to track stardom - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Former Olympic heptathlete Shelia Burrell 'creating success as SDSU track coach - San Diego Union-Tribune

Ashley Henderson Nears Finish Line in Race Against Time - GoAztecs.com

Ashley Henderson takes aim at NCAA titles in the 100 and 200 meters - San Diego Union-Tribune

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