AUSTIN, TEXAS – Sophomore Reheem Hayles moved toward first-team All-American status for the second time in his career. During the first day of competition for the men at the 2023 NCAA Track and Field Championships at the University of Texas’s Mike A. Myers Stadium on Wednesday, Hayles qualified for the 400 meters NCAA final.
Reheem Hayles made it to his first career NCAA outdoor championship final as an individual in style. He ran a personal-best 44.81 in the third heat of the semifinals to finish third in the race with the fifth-fastest qualifying time by two/one-thousandths of a second as Hayles was clocked at 44.807 officially, and Arizona State’s Dubem Nwachukwu came in at 44.805.
The top two finishers in the three heats automatically make it to the finals, followed by the next three fastest times. Hayles had the fastest time among the three runners who had to qualify based on time. Friday’s 400m final starts at 10:02 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST).
If Hayles finishes in the top-8, he will be deemed a first-team All-American by the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Hayles earned first-team All-America honors last season as an Aggies 4×400-meter relay team member.
In his heat, Hayles had to compete against Arizona State’s Justin Robinson, who ran a 44.65 at the 2023 NCAA Division West Preliminary Round quarterfinal, and Florida’s Emmanuel Bamidele, who came into the race with a personal-best 44.71 performed at the 2023 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Hayles’ personal record coming into the meet was 45.47.
But on Wednesday, Hayles led around the 200-meter mark as the runners started to make up the stagger. But as Hayles came down the straightaway, Robinson and Bamidele started to pull away from him before Hayles made one final push to stay competitive with the duo before finishing third. In doing so, Hayles took more than half a second off his PR.
Also, in Wednesday’s third 400m heat, Hayles’ junior teammate Shemar Chambers failed to qualify for Friday’s final. Chambers had one of his best times this season despite not making the final. Chambers ran under 46 seconds for the fifth time this season, finishing his heat in 45.93. He finished 18th overall and will earn honorable mention All-America accolades in the event this season.
Chambers saw his season end in Wednesday’s final event – the 4×400. Despite the North Carolina A&T team of junior Caleb Jackson, Chambers, Hayles and graduate Ryan Saint-Germain running a 3:02.62 PR, the foursome finished fifth in the third heat for the 13th fastest time. The top teams from the three heats and the following three fastest times qualified for the 4×400 final.