One Gophers sprinter missed an NCAA cut by 0.01 seconds — but rallied to make it anyway

Devin Augustine set the school record and won the Big Ten title in the 100-meter dash this spring, so everyone was shocked when he didn't make the cut for the NCAA championships in his top event.

The fastest man in the Big Ten ran a 10.08, which was 0.01 seconds short of the 100-meter qualifying mark at the NCAA West Regional in Arkansas last month.

That's faster than the blink of an eye. The same time would've beat others in the East Regional. To say the Gophers junior sprinter was disappointed would be putting it lightly.

"It was tough," said Augustine, who set the school record in the 100-meter at 10.02 seconds at LSU in April. "I did a great job of putting those thoughts behind me. I had to prepare the same and work just as hard in the next event and execute."

Augustine and freshman Charles Godfred, both Big Ten champions, regrouped after missing out on other opportunities to get to nationals, including in their 4x100 relay.

After Augustine qualified in the 200-meter, Godfred punched his ticket in the long jump to be part of the 11 Gophers athletes, including eight women from the Big Ten title team, who will compete at this week's NCAA outdoor track & field championships in Eugene, Ore.

"Devin's grown up a lot from freshman year until now because he's more mature, coachable, faster and stronger. And his confidence level is super high," Gophers assistant coach Ibrahim Kabia said. "Charles is a highly driven, talented guy. I wouldn't be surprised if he made the national meet in another event in addition to the long jump one day."

The first Gopher to compete in the long jump at the NCAAs since 1995, Godfred is one of six U freshmen competing in Oregon. After arriving in the U.S. in January, the true freshman from Nigeria quickly blossomed into one of the best long jumpers in the country.

Before winning the Big Ten long jump title last month, Godfred broke a 29-year-old team record with a jump of 26-10½ at Texas A&M in early April. He eclipsed the old school mark by nearly 3 inches to finish with what's still the third-best distance in the NCAA this year.

"My friends in Nigeria asked me, 'Charles, how do you jump that far in that weather?' " Godfred joked. "The weather has been good. But it's about just focusing on the training, and you will see results. I thank God to have won the Big Ten title, and now I'm going for the NCAA title, but everything is about commitment and dedication. I also thank my coach [Kabia]."

Godfred's running steps before his long jumps were tweaked by Kabia to translate into big gains this spring. Augustine, whose development took years of ups and downs, admitted his relationship with Kabia as a freshman two years ago "wasn't that good" while he dealt with injuries. He was limited to just three races in 2022.

"I didn't use to train as much because I was naturally fast," Augustine said. "But when I got more coachable, I was able to practice, train better and break records."

Is Augustine now the fastest Gophers sprinter ever? He owns the school records for the 100- and 200-meter after this spring, surpassing former teammates Kion Benjamin and Carlon Hosten. Benjamin was a two-time Big Ten 100-meter champion. Hosten was the first Gophers athlete to reach the NCAAs in the 200-meter last year.

Augustine's first appearance at nationals was as part of the Gophers' Big Ten-record-setting 4x100 relay team with Benjamin and Hosten last June.

His fellow countrymen from Trinidad and Tobago aren't with him in Eugene this year, but Augustine feels pride in making the NCAA meet for the first time individually — even if it's not for his fastest event.

"It was a great feeling because I had a lot of doubters in the past," he said. "Feels good to prove the doubters wrong."