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Marshall’s Coby Hilton reaches U.S. Olympic Trial semifinals

Hilton's 10.15 100-meter dash puts him 18th in semis

Photo submitted by Coby Hilton Coby Hilton (left) runs through the finish line during a 100-meter dash race. Hilton qualified for Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Trial 100-meter semifinals with his performance in the first preliminary round in Eugene, Ore. on Saturday. He then ran a time of 10.15 in the semifinals to place 18th.

EUGENE, Ore. — Coby Hilton placed fifth in the fourth heat of the men’s 100-meter dash at the United States Olympic Track and Field trials on Saturday, where his run at a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team came to an end on Sunday with an 18th-place finish.

In the first of three qualifying rounds, Hilton ran an official time of 10.19 to advance to the event’s semifinals. His fellow Tracksmith runner Elijah Hall-Thompson and unattached Ameer Webb finished less than one-hundredth of a second ahead of him. To be exact, Webb clocked in at 10.182, Hall-Thompson at 10.184 and Hilton at 10.188. As he awaited the final results, Hilton said with a laugh that the only concern on his mind was seeing his name above sixth place.

“I didn’t execute what I wanted to so I had no clue what time I was going to see on the board,” Hilton said. “When it comes to these qualifying rounds, time isn’t as big a factor, it’s all about where you place. I was really just praying to see a fourth or fifth place next to my name.”

Nike’s Christian Coleman and Cooper Bibbs of S.H.A.R.K.S Athletic Club took first and second at 9.99 and 10.14 respectively.

The top five runners in each of the four heats advanced to the semifinals, as well as the next two fastest runners regardless of heat.

After he finished Saturday’s preliminary, Hilton went back to his Airbnb to get some nutrition and electrolytes to recover physically and played a Nintendo Switch to keep his stress levels down so he could get a good night’s sleep. After sleeping in on Monday, he went to the Tracksmith hospitality house to grab a meal and socialize before heading to the track for the semifinals.

“I work under the belief that if you have to get ready the day before the race, you aren’t ready. I know what I’m supposed to do, what I need to execute… so I took it like another day,” Hilton said. “Don’t want to do anything that will throw you off your normal routine. The mind and body are very fragile things, any sort of unnecessary stress can hurt you. Of course, the nerves get to you beforehand like any other race but I know I’ve trained well and prepared for the moment.”

In Sunday’s semifinals, Hilton ran a time of 10.15, just shy of his personal-best 10.14 set in 2022. While Hilton ran up to his potential, only the top two from each heat and three wildcards advance to the finals. Hilton finished eighth in his heat, with Courtney Lindsey and Fred Kerley taking the top two spots at 9.88 and 9.89 respectively, and the last wildcard spot went to Adidas’ Kendal Williams in heat 2 at 9.97.

Since his time as a member of the South Dakota State University track team, Hilton has shown plenty of growth. He’s cut 0.09 seconds off of his personal best, a significant margin for such a quick sprint. His best finish at the Division I West Regional meet in the 100-meter dash was 29th; now he’s a top-20 100-meter runner in the country. 

“I view [my growth] as a mix between well-deserved and a blessing,” Hilton said, emphasizing that he’s worked his butt off to reach this peak. “Made even more sacrifices. I’ve missed weddings of my best friends, holidays with my family and summer trips just to stay and train, to perfect my craft. It hasn’t been easy at all, but it all pays off and will continue to pay off.”

In the finals, Noah Lyles, Kenny Bednarek and Fred Kerley qualified for the United States. Lyles won the final at 9.83, followed by Bednarek at 9.87 and Kerley at 9.88.

Hilton will now turn his attention to two confirmed meets in Ireland as he awaits word from his agent regarding what other meets he can enter. Hilton added that he’ll be training like business as usual until late August, with his plan including “hills, blocks and more hills.”

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