COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Sydney McLaughlin, who graduated from Union Catholic last spring as arguably the greatest high school female track and field athlete in U.S. history, continued her jaw-dropping freshman season at Kentucky on Sunday with one of the greatest performances in NCAA history at the SEC Championships at Texas A&M's Gilliam Indoor Stadium.
The 18-year-old McLaughlin, a 2016 Olympian, blasted a World Junior, SEC, and meet record 50.52, the fastest time in the world this year, to win the 400-meter run as she held off fellow freshman Lynna Irby of Georgia (50.62).
McLaughlin's 50.52, No. 2 all-time in NCAA indoor history behind the 50.46 that Phyllis Francis ran for Oregon in 2014, broke the World Junior record (under 20 years old) of 50.82 that Sanya Richards-Ross ran for Texas in 2004, and took down the previous collegiate freshman record of 50.88 that was set by 2016 Olympic gold medalist Shaunae Miller-Uibo when she ran for Georgia in 2013.
McLaughlin, who also ran on Kentucky's third-place 4x400, helped the Wildcats place third in the final team standings.
"I think I got out well, I think just my last 50 meters needs some work," McLaughlin said. "Other than that I'm happy. It's crazy, I've watched (the SEC Championships) on TV for so long, and now to be able to be here and be able to score points for my team is amazing."
McLaughlin will be favored to win the 400 at the NCAA Championships (March 9-10 at Gilliam Indoor Stadium) in a race that could feature a rematch vs.Irby, who came back 75 minutes after the 400 to win the 200 on Sunday in a world-leading 22.66 .