This piece is from Deji Ogeyingbo on Godson Oghenebrume and his season at LSU. 

Godson Oghenebrume’s patience is vindicated as he begins to fulfill his potential.

“Always run through the line.” That’s the first lesson you learn as a kid when you get introduced to Track and Field. A head drop, a lean, or perhaps a jump at the finish line. It doesn’t matter. The aim is to win. With time, amateur and Professional runners have found ways to entertain the fans and add a bit of fun to races. It’s all fun and eye-catching when you are guaranteed to win. But in a high-stake race, you should run through the line. Always. 

On that premise, Louisiana State University Sophomore Godson Oghenebrume missed out on being crowned the men’s NCAA Track and Field 100m Champion by 0.01s, losing out to Texas Tech’s Courtney Lindsey in the final. Godson had put together a fine series of races culminating in this final while also being part of LSU’s 4x100m team that recorded a collegiate record of 37.90 to win the SEC Championships at Baton Rouge in May. He also anchored them to NCAA 4x100m Gold in Texas.

On a taught, sweaty, occasionally indigestible night at the Mike A. Myers Stadium, Godson finally turned the on the after-burners, almost reaching the end point of what has been an incredible season that certainly has given the world a glimpse of what to expect from this precocious talent. LSU is grateful they remained patient with him, especially his coach, Dennis Shaver. 

From the most talented teenage sprinter in Nigeria to finishing last at the world U20 championships and now the third fastest Nigerian in history. 

If Godson’s redemption had always seemed inevitable in the abstract, it still feels like a moment of double-take, of pure sporting vertigo. A very good sprinter in the same track clothes as last season as the one that seemed for so long the embodiment of gallows humor, familiar underachievement, a roll of the eyes in human form, is now indisputably, and by some distance judged on mainly because of this season’s performance after his comeback from Injury. 

Top Nigerian sprinters, from Making of Champions

Godson, the younger brother to Nigeria’s world and Olympic medalist Ese Brume, joined LSU in the summer of 2021, shortly after coming unstuck at the World Junior Championships in Nairobi in 2021. That injury that hampered his progress during his freshman year as he struggled to regain some of his best form made him the number one runner heading into the championships. 

Letsile Tebogo emerged as champion in 2021 and defended his title in 2022. Godson was also eligible to compete, but he opted not to after struggling in his Freshman year at LSU. 

In this first year at the NCAA East Preliminary Round, he secured a commendable tenth position in the 100m. Additionally, in the 2022 Baldy Castillo Invitational, he contributed to his team’s success by finishing third in the 4x100m relay with a time of 29.74. 

Furthermore, he competed in the UF Tom Jones Memorial, where he attained fifth place in the 100m and ninth place in the 4×100-meter relay. Notably, his time of 10.12 seconds in the 100-meter dash represents his personal best in college, with a wind reading of 1.4 m/s. In the LSU Alumni Gold event, he contributed to his team’s victory by finishing first in the 4x100m relay, completing it in 39.16 seconds. He finished his first year in fifth and third positions at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championship.

Overall, it meant he played second fiddle to his friend Favour Ashe who finished his season on the high by placing second at the NCAA and won the Nigerian National title, leaving Godson in his wake. It didn’t fluster him as he took his time to fully heal from his hamstring and prepare well for this season. 

And it was a move that was worth its weight in Gold. A new Personal Best of 6.60s over the 60m and comfortable wins at the LSU Invitational, beating world 200m Bronze medallist Erriyon Knighton, accompanied by his outstanding performances at the SEC Championships.

Godson Oghenebrume, from NCAA

Godson has raced nine times outdoors this year and has only lost twice. In fact, for the first time in his college career, he won the USTFCCCA Athlete of the Week and twice won the SEC Runner of the Week. 

At the NCAA Championships Semis, Godson ran an astonishing 9.93s before going on to bolt to 9.90s, making him the third-fastest in Nigeria’s history over the distance. And if he had just run through the line, he would have become the first Nigerian since Divine Oduduru won the double in 2019.

A win would have felt like a remarkable turnaround, but given the mountains he has already scaled to reach this point in his career, it would be remarkably on-brand if he did so to complete his most dramatic and unexpected turnaround yet.