DES MOINES, Iowa — Very few, if any, of the thousands of spectators on hand at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium could identify who won the men's 100-meter final.
Illinois' Andrew Riley knew.
"I knew I had it," he said. "I knew it would come down to the lean. I perfected the lean and got it this time. I knew Adams and Mitchell were right there. I might have been behind by 8 meters (during the race) but I remembered my coach said to pump my arms and open those strides and I added my lean and got the win. I knew I had it."
Riley won his third NCAA championship Friday, edging runner-up Harry Adams of Auburn and Maurice Mitchell of Florida State.
Riley stopped the clock in 10.272 seconds. Adams in 10.274 and Mitchell in 10.277 in a race officials had to break down into thousandths of a second because the top three runners all showed 10.28 seconds at the finish.
"The timing is so sophisticated now that we knew in a matter of seconds, that was such a close race," Illinois coach Mike Turk said. "I was actually behind it and I couldn't see the finish line, but I just knew when they crossed the finish line that he had won it. He got off to a good start and he stayed in his drive phase for a real long time and you could just see that he was building momentum."
With his win, Riley, a senior from Jamaica, becomes the first Illinois man to win the 100 since Willie Williams in 1954. Williams was also the last athlete from the Big Ten to win the 100-meter crown.
"It's a very big deal. The format that we use now, these guys have to run all these rounds. It's tough. You make one mistake like Stanley Azie did in the (200) semifinals and you're not in the finals. It's so competitive," Turk said. "I don't want to take anything away from anybody who wins a national title in any event. Coming from our climate in the Midwest, it certainly is a rarity. It's a real special person who did it. It's a real tribute to Willie Williams, the one who did it in 1954. It took 58 years for someone to do that."
Riley, the 2010 NCAA champion in the 110 hurdles who also won an NCAA title in the 60 hurdles earlier this year, has the chance to win the 110s again today, and he's a part of the 400 relay team vying for a national title.
Friday's 100 race, however, will likely be the last one he runs.
"When you are from Jamaica you can say that. We have like 10 people running 9.8s so it is kind of impossible with that talent," the 10-time All-American said. "I have to stick to the hurdles. That's the only thing I can dominate right now. Or at least can try."