St. Augustine’s Sincere Rhea punched his ticket to Austin in the 110-meter hurdles Friday evening with a commanding win in the 2nd of three quarterfinal races at the NCAA Championships East Preliminaries.

Rhea, a Miami junior, easily won his heat at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville in 13.56 with a 2.7-meters-per-second assisting tailwind, finishing well clear of 2nd-place Tayshaun Chisholm of Delaware State, who was 2nd in 13.66.

The first three finishers in each of the three races along with the next-three-fastest times advance to the NCAA Championships in Austin June 7-10. The top 12 hurdlers from the NCAA Western Prelims in Sacramento later Friday will race in the semifinals at 7:32 p.m. Wednesday, June 7.

Rhea’s 13.56 is his 2nd-fastest ever under any conditions. He ran 13.48 with legal 1.2 wind in the trials of the ACC Championships two weeks ago in Raleigh.

Rhea ran 13.70 Wednesday in the first round and was only the 20th-fastest qualifier out of 24 into Friday’s quarterfinals. But he was 5th-fastest of those 24 hurdlers on Friday, and the four who ran faster were all aided by a 5.8 meters-per-second wind. Any race assisted by a tailwind over 2.0 meters per second is considered wind-aided and those times are not eligible for record purposes.

But that’s irrelevent here because all that matters is surviving to the next round, and Rhea had never done that before outdoors. He placed 30th in the 2021 prelims, also in Hodges Stadium, and that was his final race competing for Penn State. He placed 35th in last year’s prelims. His best NCAA finish was 14th place at the 2021 indoor championships over the 60-meter hurdles in Fayetteville.

But he’s clearly a much better, much more consistent, much more confident hurdler these days, and it’s showed over the last two months with a series of very fast races against very strong fields.

Rhea, who turned 22 last month, is now ranked 35th in the world and 12th among U.S. men, 2-100ths of a second behind Eagles wide receiver Devon Allen, who ran 13.46 at the Penn Relays.


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