The New Jersey native's mark was fast enough to equal the third fastest junior women's performance of all-time, and Gardner now owns the Pac-10 meet record, previously held by Olympic champion Gail Devers.
Gardner admits that she was not trying to run a personal best or break any records when she stepped onto the track. "I didn't imagine in a million years that I would win at Pac-10's. I was just amazed that I won. Once I looked at the time on the scoreboard, I almost passed out."
Gardner initially didn't realize that she had set any records. When the meet record was announced in-stadium, Gardner was shocked to learn that she broke the record that previously belonged to Devers.
"When I was 13, I was at a Nike event at the Penn Relays, and Gail Devers taught me how to start out of the blocks," Gardner said. "I thought it was cool that I'm now using that start to break her record."
While Gardner isn't sure what her goals are beyond the NCAA championships, she knows she wants to continue to turn heads on the track.
"I'm going to be around for a while, I hope I'm able to continue to put on a show for everyone. I'm excited for the years to come."
Now in its tenth year, USATF's Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on the USATF website. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
Winners: January 5, Bill Tribou; January 12, Tyler Sorensen; January 20, Josh Cox; January 26,Ben Shorey; February 2, Ashton Eaton; February 9, Ashton Eaton; February 16, Bernard Lagat; February 23, Ryan Crouser; March 2, Jillian Camarena-Williams; March 10, Bill Collins; March 16, Miles Batty; March 23, Shalane Flanagan; March 30, John Nunn; April 6, Aries Merritt; April 13, Gunnar Nixon; April 20, Desiree Davila; April 27, Nolan Shaheed; May 4, Emma Coburn; May 11, Willie Gault; May 18, English Gardner
– but the sailors praise the new boats