Broward High Schools

The USC runner whose title-winning relay went viral? Her career began in South Florida

Southern California's Kendall Ellis, left, crosses the finish line first in the women's 1,600 relay, next to Purdue's Jaheya Mitchel on the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field on Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Eugene, Ore.
Southern California's Kendall Ellis, left, crosses the finish line first in the women's 1,600 relay, next to Purdue's Jaheya Mitchel on the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field on Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Eugene, Ore. The Register-Guard via AP

The University of Southern California's Kendall Ellis was in a distant third place — close to 20 meters behind Purdue's anchor runner — heading into the final turn of the 1,600-meter relay at the NCAA Track and Field Championships on Sunday.

But with each step, each passing second during her final 100 meters to the finish line, Ellis made up ground.

The Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas alumna picked up speed and trudged through the puddle-soaked track at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field, hoping for a miracle.

And with one final kick down the homestretch, Ellis powered her way past Purdue's Jaheya Mitchel at the finish line to give USC the team event and its second women's track and field national title in program history.

Ellis' split: 50.05 seconds, fast enough to make up the almost two-second deficit and win the event by 0.07 seconds. The win gave USC its final 10 points to finish the meet with 53 points overall, ahead of second-place Georgia (52) and third-place Stanford (51).

Ellis also finished second in the 400-meter dash earlier in the day and helped the 400-meter relay team earn bronze to earn three first-team All-America honors.

Not bad for the Pembroke Pines native who was named to the Miami Herald's All-Broward track and field first team all four years she was at St. Thomas Aquinas.

Ellis is the second St. Thomas Aquinas alumnae in the last week to play a pivotal role in her college team's national championship endeavors.

Meghan King led the Florida State softball team to its first Women's College World Series title after an incredible run in the circle during the Seminoles' time in Oklahoma City. FSU clinched the title Tuesday with an 8-3 win over the Washington Huskies.

King appeared in all seven games and gave up just one earned run in 34 1/3 innings, good for a WCWS-record 0.20 ERA.

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