A Star-Making Moment: Issam Asinga Left The Best For Last

* Issam Asinga Is our MileSplit50 Indoor AOY for the 2023 season

Graphic by Cory Mull - Photo by Cara Mooney

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Call him the Demolition Man. 

By the end of the 2023 indoor track and field season in March, Issam Asinga had officially knocked off one high school national record and had tied another, the latter being a 24-year-old mark, the very one that many had tried and failed to beat.  

Perhaps that moment was only building, courtesy of a few efforts at the Millrose Games and at the Legends of Alachua County. After all, Asinga had been just two hundredths of a second shy of the 60m national record in January. 

But theory is not reality, and when the Texas A&M signee finally answered the challenge at New Balance Nationals Indoor earlier this month, tying Casey Combest's 60 national record of 6.57 in the prelims, he had become a star spectacle. 

What separated his season, however, was what came next. Just days later, Asinga obliterated the national record in the 200m, hitting 20.48 seconds on the clock to net the third-fastest performance in World U20 history. 

"It's the little things I knew that would make a big difference," he said.

And that sealed it. Asinga, who was No. 3 on our last national subjective ranking, is our 2023 MileSplit50 Athlete of the Year. 

"I knew I was in contention for something special," Asinga said on March 12, just moments after his 200m national record. "I didn't know it was going to be that special."

Perspective might best explain just how important those performances were. 

Asinga did not just pass Jaylen Slade's former 200m record of 20.62, but he shattered it, going a full 0.14 seconds under. He also carried Brody Buffington, one of the top athletes of 2023, under 21 seconds as well. Both athletes are now in the top six of all-time at the distance. 

More meaningful, however, was the 60m, where Asinga tied Combest's mark of 6.57 from 1999. Combest, who was in attendance during the race -- his son, King, ran in the freshmen category -- last set the mark at the Nike Indoor Classic. 

The time has had many challengers in recent years, like Anthony Schwartz (2018), Micah Williams (2019), Lance Lang (2019) and Justin Braun (2022), but few have even gone under 6.6. Schwartz went 6.59 five years ago. Now only Combest, Asinga and Schwartz are in that category. 

Asinga had given the nation a preview of his talent in January when he stopped the clock in 6.59 seconds at the Legends of Alachua County in Gainesville. 

What he needed from that point, then, was a scenario befitting of the moment. 

He got that at New Balance Nationals Indoor. 

In heat 8, Asinga blew away from the field. The next closest competitor, Christian Andersen, produced an effort of 6.77. 

"It's the little things I knew that would make a big difference," he said. "I'm glad I was able to come out here and execute." 

On the season Asinga also added times of 6.18 seconds in the 55m, 33.57 in the 300m and 48.14 in the 400m. 

He finished the year ranked at U.S. No. 1 in the 55m, 60m, 200m; U.S. No. 2 in the 300m; and U.S. No. 27 in the 400m. 

MileSplit50 2022 Season Outline:

Update 5, March 8: Connor Burns Enters Into Top 5 Territory

Update 4, Feb. 24: A New No. 1, Plus Buffington Into The Top 10

Update 3, Feb 2: Nyckoles Harbor Moves To No. 1 For First Time

Update 2, Jan. 20: Andre Korbmacher Moves Up To No. 1

Update 1, Jan. 11: Zyaire Nuriddin Starts The Year At No. 1

MileSplit50 Athlete Of The Year History: 

2023 Indoor AOY: Issam Asinga, Montverde Academy (FL)

2022 XC AOY: Kole Mathison, Carmel (IN)

2022 Outdoor AOY: Cade Flatt,  Marshall County (KY)

2022 Indoor AOY: Will Sumner, Woodstock (GA)

2021 XC AOY: Colin Sahlman, Newbury Park (CA)

2021 Outdoor AOY: Hobbs Kessler, Ann Arbor Skyline (MI)

2021 Indoor AOY: Jaylen Slade, IMG Academy (FL)

2020 XC AOY: Parker Wolfe, Cherry Creek (CO)

2020 Outdoor AOY: No award (Covid year)

2020 Indoor AOY: Cameron Rose, Hickory Ridge (SC)

2019 XC AOY: Nico Young, Nebwury Park (CA)

2019 Outdoor AOY: Matthew Boling, Houston Strake Jesuit (TX)

2019 Indoor AOY: Mario Heslop, Franklin Township (NJ)

2018 XC AOY: Liam Anderson, Redwood (CA)

2018 Outdoor AOY: Mondo Duplantis, Lafayette (LA)

2018 Indoor AOY: Brian Herron, Atlanta Lakeside (GA) l Rankings