Campus News

Abby Steiner Strikes Gold, Ties Collegiate Record at NCAA Indoor Championships

Photo provided by UK Athletics
Photo provided by UK Athletics.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 15, 2021) — Kentucky junior sprinter Abby Steiner won the 200-meter dash gold medal in a collegiate-record-tying time at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships Saturday in Fayetteville, Arkansas, smashing numerous records in the process. 

Running in lane five of the banked oval in the Randal Tyson Center, Steiner got a great start from the blocks. She had to battle University of Alabama’s Tamara Clark the entire way, but — as she has done in all seven races this season — held on to strike gold. Her time of 22.38 seconds:

  • tied the all-time indoor collegiate record and the NCAA Indoor Championship record (also 22.38 by Gabby Thomas of Harvard)
  • tied for second-fastest indoors in United States history (record is 22.33 by Gwen Torrence)
  • tied for fifth-fastest indoors in world history (record of 21.87 by Merlene Ottey of Jamaica)
  • set a personal best (previous best 22.41 at this year’s SEC Indoor Championship preliminaries)
  • broke her own school record of 22.41
  • broke her own SEC record of 22.41
  • broke the facility record (previous record 22.40 by Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas and Bianca Knight of the University of Texas)

“Abby had to go get it tonight,” Coach Lonnie Greene said. “Abby is very talented but she got a great challenge from Tamara Clark and had to earn it.  

“Abby did exactly what Coach Hall (UK sprints coach Tim Hall) instructed her and executed it. There is a connection that she and Coach Hall have. They work hand-in-hand and she believes in his vison. The best is yet to come for her, I’m excited.”

“Coach Hall told me to be aggressive from the start, never letting off the gas, never getting caught,” Steiner said. “We executed the same way we have all season, and had to because I had amazing competition to pull me along.”

“It’s amazing, it hasn’t sunk in yet,” Steiner said of the win. “Way back in the fall, Coach Hall and I started talking about this title and the record when training began. Tonight we talked about ‘Isn’t it amazing that we are here?’ He believed in me from the beginning and that’s how it played out.”

Also shining was the UK men’s 4x400 relay, which turned in a school-record performance, and only the nation’s best time of the year by North Carolina A&T prevented the Wildcats from bringing home gold. The unit of Jacob Smith, Lance Lang, Kennedy Lightner and Dwight St. Hillaire zipped the course in 3:03.61 en route to the second-place finish. Lang had the best leg with a blazing run of 44.94 seconds.  

The Kentucky women’s 4x400 relay of Megan Moss, Steiner, Masai Russell and Dajour Miles completed the evening with a fifth-place finish to pick up four team points.  

St. Hillaire got Saturday afternoon started with a 45.89 time in the 400m dash, improving his mark by .08 from Friday. He finished eighth in the event to get a point for the Wildcats. Lang followed with a sixth-place showing in the 200m final, timing at 20.88 seconds.

As a team, the Kentucky women finished in 13th place with 17 total points while the men tied for 14th with 12 points. For the Wildcat men, it was the best team finish in a quarter-century, since the Cats were seventh place with 22 points in 1996.

“I’m always pleased when our kids run well and break school records,” Greene continued. “I’m proud of how they competed, ran exceedingly well.”

The meet began Thursday and UK hit the scoreboard when Annika Williams posted a personal best 4173 points to finish sixth in the women’s pentathlon. Preliminaries in the individual running events were held Friday, with St. Hillaire, Lang and Steiner advancing.

The Kentucky men’s and women’s track and field teams won 17 All-America honors during the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced Sunday.

With the NCAA Championships held Thursday through Saturday at the University of Arkansas, UK picked up 12 first-team All-America honors and five second-team All-America laurels. Junior sprinter Abby Steiner led the way with three honors, while Dwight St. Hillaire, Lance Lang, Megan Moss, Masai Russell and Dajour Miles received two each. Four more Wildcats were honored once. 

Competitors were named first-team All-America for finishing in the top eight in an individual or relay event. Second-team All-America was earned for finishing 9-16 in an event. Here are the awards won by the Wildcats:

Kentucky Men

Four UK men earned six All-America notices, all of them first team. Lang, St. Hillaire, Jacob Smith and Kennedy Lightner were honored for the 4x400-meter relay team that earned the silver medal with a school-record 3:03.61 time. Lang and St. Hillaire also were recognized for the 200- and 400-meter dashes, respectively. 

Lang also received two indoor All-America awards last season and St. Hillaire had one in 2020.

Kentucky Women

Six Wildcat women combined to garner 11 honors, six of them first-team All-America and five on the second team.

Steiner led the way with three places, twice on the first-team for her gold medal performance in the 200-meter dash and for the 4x400 relay. She also was second team for the 60m dash. The highlight, of course, was the 22.38-second time in the 200m. Steiner is now an eight-time All-American for indoor track, receiving three of those honors last season and two as a freshman.

Dajour Miles received first team for the 4x400 relay and second team for 200m. She had one All-America award a year ago.

Megan Moss also is a two-time All-American this year, first team for the relay and second team for the 400-meter dash. She now has four All-America awards, including two from last year.

Masai Russell picked up first-team All-America for the relay and second team for the 60m hurdles. She has four indoor All-America honors, including one from 2020 and one from 2019.

Annika Williams was first-team All-America for the pentathlon. Tori Herman is second-team All-America for the mile run. 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.