Pike product Lynna Irby emerging as America’s next sprinting sensation
On a damp, dreary day at Oregon’s Heyward Field, ESPN announcer Dwight Stones narrated the final strides of the women’s 400m championship race, exclaiming, “It’s going to be Lynna Irby, she wins the front end of the impossible double, 49.79!”
In her first NCAA Outdoor Championship the Pike product didn’t just win the 400 title, she crushed the meet record and clocked the third fastest time in the world this year.
“I knew that I was going to run 49 but to actually see it in that moment and grab my first NCAA title and also grab the meet record, I was just so ecstatic but I couldn’t celebrate too long because I had get off the track and get ready for the 200,” Irby, who just completed her freshman year at the University of Georgia.
Racing the 400m and 200m, which was called the “impossible double,” had Irby back on the track just over a half hour later.
“You have to absolutely have amnesia,” the NCAA 400m champ admitted. “I couldn’t dwell too much on what happened in the 400 because I had a 200 right in front of me. It was tiring, but it was more mental than physical.”
Having swept the 100m, 200m and 400m titles at the state meet all four years at Pike High School, Irby is used to challenging what is possible.
“It was comforting knowing I had done it before and that I’d be ready to do it again, as long as my training was going in the right direction and that’s when trusting my coaches really came into play.”
Irby would double back to finish third in the 200, but she’s currently the second fastest American at the distance this year. That means that she’s is not only the favorite for more NCAA titles but also for the 2020 US Olympic team.
“I have a few goals that i want to discuss with my coach later on when I head back to school in August and I’m just going to take the next few weeks easy and just relax, something I feel like I haven’t done in a while and get back to training pretty soon.”
Until she heads back to Athens, Irby will be a fixture at youth meets, supporting her former Indiana Storm team, and enjoying being the hometown hero the rest of the world is beginning to notice.
“It’s truly inspiring and motivating to know that all these kids do look up to me and I just want to be the perfect role model and just make sure that they’re having fun and know that I’m having fun.”