Favour Ashe moved a step closer to making history after punching his way into the 60m final with a scorching 6.51s to win his heat as the 2022 NCAA indoor championships began on a roaring note on Friday in Birmingham, Alabama.
The time, a new personal best and University of Tennessee Freshman record makes him the top overall qualifier for Saturday’s final.
The time has also made the 19 year old Nigerian the third fastest all-time performer in Tennessee history.
Ashe has also moved up to joint fourth with Davidson Ezinwa in the Nigerian all-time list in the event behind Deji Aliu (6.48s), Olusoji Fasuba (6.49s) and Tosin Ogunode (6.50s).
The Nigerian is now the favourite to win the 60m title in his first attempt after the pre-championship favourites Terence Jones of Texas Tech who tops the world list with 6.45s and Oregon’s Micah Williams failed to advance to the final.
Also through to the final of the women’s 60m and 200m is Favour Ofili.
The Louisiana State University student ran 7.18s in the 60m and 22.66s in the 200m to fly into Saturday’s final.
While the 19 year old will require a miracle to make it to the podium in the 60m, she is the second favourite to win the 200m title behind world leader, Kentucky’s Abby Steiner who ran the fastest qualifying time (22.45s) to make the final.
Rosemary Chukwuma failed to qualify for the 60m final after running 7.21s in her heat to finish 13th overall while her fellow Texas Tech Nigerian compatriot, Ruth Usoro failed to make the podium in the women’s long jump as her 6.52m leap was only good enough for the fifth position.
Usoro will however be in action again on Saturday as she bids to defend her triple jump crown she won last year.
It was also the end of the road for Middle Tennessee State University’s Alaba Akintola after running 21.49s to finish 14th in the overall classification in the 200m after the first round heats.
Emmanuel Ineh’s 7.71m leap could only fetch him the fifth spot in the men’s long jump.