The Warm-Up Lap: Meets of the Week, News and Notes (Feb. 14)
NEW ORLEANS – The collegiate track & field schedule is at its lightest point of the season with many teams preparing for upcoming conference championship meets next weekend, but championship weekend comes early for several conferences – including the Big East – to highlight the next few days.
With most of the top 25 Division I teams resting or scattered across the country at "tune-up" meets, the Big East is set to take the division’s center stage as it hosts its conference championship at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The meet should produce elite men’s sprints and women’s distance races, including some intriguing "youth vs. experience" match-ups. Find the full details below.
A handful of DII conferences are following the Big East’s lead and hosting their championships the week prior to the main grouping, including the DII Meet of the Week Northeast-10 Conference Championships in Boston.
The Northeast will also play host to a pair of meets featuring some of the best DIII talent in not just the region, but the entire division, at the New England DIII Indoor Track & Field Championships. The men’s meet will be contested at Bates, while the women will compete at Southern Maine.
DI Meet of the Week
Big East Indoor Track & Field Championships
Saturday Feb. 16 – Sunday Feb. 17 | 11 a.m. ET/9 a.m. ET | SPIRE Institute – Geneva, Ohio | WATCH LIVE
Ranked Teams (Men): No. 21 Pittsburgh
Ranked Teams (Women): No. 21 Georgetown; 24. Connecticut
While many Division I programs around the nation are 1.) taking a week off or 2.) hosting/competing at "tune-up" meets in preparation for conference championships next weekend, teams from the Big East will jump straight into their conference championship meet this weekend at Geneva, Ohio’s SPIRE Institute. The meet should provide the most competitive all-collegiate fields this weekend in most events, highlighted by the men’s 400 and the women’s distance races. Notre Dame will look to defend its men’s title and win for the third time in seven years, Connecticut will look for its fourth in eight years, and the rest of the conference will try to wrestle conference dominance away from these two teams. Defending women’s champion Georgetown became the fourth different team to win the championship in the past four years, and will go for the first back-to-back championships since Connecticut in 2008-09.
Three of the nation’s top five sprinters at 400 meters are set to duke it out for Big East champion honors in Notre Dame’s Patrick Feeney (No. 3, 46.13) and Pitt’s Brycen Spratling (No. 4, 46.25) Carvin Nkanata (No. 5, 46.31). Spratling is the defending Big East champion at both 200 and 500 meters, earning Big East Championships Most Outstanding Track Performer, and went on to finish runner-up in the 400 at the NCAA Indoor Championships. They may face one another again in the late stages of the meet in the 4×400 relay with conference championship aspirations on the line – Pitt has recorded the 11th-fastest time in DI at 3:08.5, while Notre Dame stands 19th at 3:09.9.
Other intriguing events on the men’s side include the 60 meters with 10 sprinters within .15 of one another; and the 60 hurdles with the top three separated by just .03.
While the sprints and hurdles provide the most intrigue on the men’s side, the middle and long distance races will be at the center of the women’s championship competition. Four of the nation’s top 10 runners at 1000 – including a classic youth vs. experience showdown between senior No. 1 Rachel Schneider of Georgetown (2:43.34) and No. 2 Kelsey Margey, a freshman from Villanova (2:43.89) – could potentially compete. Add an extra 609 meters to make a mile and the field is just as impressive with five of the division’s top 25 coming from the Big East, including Big East cross country champion Emily Lipari of Villanova.
The 3000 field could feature four of the top 25 runners this season, including No. 6 freshman Katrina Coogan of Georgetown (9:04.9) and No. 8 senior Lauren Penney of Syracuse (9:06.3), while the 5000 features two runners who have dipped under 16:00 in sophomores No. 3 Emily Sisson of Providence (15:44.4) and Lindsay Crevoiserat of Connecticut (15:58.5). All of this distance prominence sets up one of the strongest DMR fields seen prior to this weekend, with No. 1 Villanova (10:56.7), No. 4 Georgetown (11:05.7) and No. 6 Connecticut (11:06.7).
Keep an Eye on DI: Atlantic 10 Conference Championships (Feb. 16-17); MEAC Championships (Feb. 14-16); MAAC Championships (Feb. 15); Patriot League Championships (Feb. 15-17); SWAC Championships (Feb. 16-17).
DI Top 10 Teams in Action
|3||Oklahoma State||at Sooner Invitational||Feb. 16|
|5||Penn State||at Millrose Games (4×800 relay)||Feb. 16|
|7||Nebraska||Nebraska Tune-Up||Feb. 15|
|1||LSU||LSU Twilight||Feb. 15|
|5||Oregon||at Millrose Games (English Gardner/Jordan Hasay)||Feb. 16|
DII Meet of the Week
Northeast-10 Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships
Saturday, Feb. 16 | Reggie Lewis Center – Boston, Mass.
Ranked Teams (Men): No. 19 Southern Connecticut; 24. Stonehill; 25. American International
Ranked Teams (Women): 20. UMass Lowell; 25. New Haven
Winter Storm Nemo has come and gone in the past week, and now it is conference championship track & field’s turn to descend upon New England with the Northeast-10 Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships. With five teams ranked in the top 25 between both women and men, it is the largest gathering of DII ranked teams at a conference championship this weekend. The Southern Connecticut men have won the past three team championships and are poised to do so again as the top ranked team entering this weekend at No. 19, but No. 24 Stonehill, No. 25 American International and recently ranked UMass Lowell will all put up a fight for the top spot. On the women’s side No. 20 UMass Lowell will seek to defend their conference championship, Southern Connecticut will try to claim back the title they won in 2011, and No. 25 New Haven will try to break the two schools’ dominance at the conference championship level.
With runaway conference leaders in each of the field events on the men’s side, the most competitive action appears set to take place on the track, particularly in the distance events. Both the 3000 and 5000 fields feature five DII top-25 runners, though four of the five appear in both events so it remains to be seen what the final field will look like. American International’s Glarius Rop ranks in the top 10 in both the 3000 (No. 9, 8:14.52 – tops in the conference) and the 5000 (No. 6, 14:10.88 – 3rd in the conference). As with most championship distance races, positioning for team points usually prevails as the dominant strategy, so expect close races to the end. There’s no question the men’s 400 will be closely contested, as American International’s Dennis Stephenson (48.42) leads a field with seven sprinters who have run sub-:50 this season.
The day’s top action on the women’s side looks to be in the sprints and hurdles. Ada Udaya of New Haven could boost her team’s championship chances with victories in both the 60 and 200, events in which she is the top-ranked NE-10 runner and in the top 10 in DII. The 400 appears to be anyone’s race, with eight runners who have achieved DII Provisional Qualifying Marks and 10 who have run faster than :58. Field events also set up very competitively, particularly the long jump with five jumpers whose best marks this season are within a foot of one another between 18-4½ (5.60m) and 17-4¾ (5.30m).
Keep an Eye on DII: Academy of Art’s Vashti Thomas at the Millrose Games; GNAC Indoor Championships (Feb. 15-16)
DII Top 10 In Action
|1||Saint Augustine’s||VT Challenge||Feb. 15-16|
|2||Ashland||at Kent State Tune-Up||Feb. 15-16|
|3||Adams State||at Joe Davies Open||Feb. 15-16|
|4||Grand Canyon||at NAU Tune-Up||Feb. 16|
|5||Grand Valley State||GVSU Tune-Up||Feb. 15|
|6||Western State||at Joe Davies Open||Feb. 16|
|7||Minnesota State||at Snowshoe Open||Feb. 16|
|8||Johnson C. Smith||at Fast Track Championship Tune-Up||Feb. 16|
|9||Shippensburg||at Susquehanna Open/at Princeton Invitational||Feb. 15/Feb. 16|
|10||Academy of Art||at Nebraska Tune-Up||Feb. 15|
|1||Grand Valley State||GVSU Tune-Up||Feb. 15|
|3||Academy of Art||at Nebraska Tune-Up/at Millrose Games (Vashti Thomas)||Feb. 15|
|4||Grand Canyon||at NAU Tune-Up||Feb. 16|
|5||Ashland||at Kent State Tune-Up||Feb. 15-16|
|6||Adams State||at Joe Davies Open||Feb. 15-16|
|8||Simon Fraser||at GNAC Indoor Championships||Feb. 15-16|
|9||Johnson C. Smith||at Fast Track Championship Tune-Up||Feb. 16|
|10||Central Missouri||UCM Classic||Feb. 15|
DIII Meet of the Week
New England DIII Indoor Track & Field Championships
Men: Feb. 15-16 | Lewiston, ME (Hosted by Bates)
Women: Feb. 15-16 | Gorham, ME (Hosted by Southern Maine)
Ranked Teams (Men): No. 8 Bates; 21. Tufts
Ranked Teams (Women): No. 10 Williams; 16. Tufts; 22. Middlebury
While the New England DIII Indoor Track & Field Championship is not technically a conference championship meet, one look at the performance list of the teams slated to compete makes it feel like one. A number of the top teams in the New England region will me up at two separate schools in Maine – Bates for the men and Southern Maine for the women – with regional bragging rights on the line.
The women’s field could potentially be loaded from top-to-bottom with top-25 DIII talent across nearly every event, pending final event assignments. The women’s 800 is particularly notable, with eight of the top 25 runners in DIII by qualifying time potentially competing highlighted by Middlebury’s Juliet Ryan-Davis (No. 8, 2:15.86 qualifying time). All eight of these runners are seeded with qualifying times within two seconds of one another, setting the stage for a very tight event. The weight throw also shows promise as a particularly exciting event, with five top-25 throwers potentially in the field including No. 7 Sabienne Brutus of Tufts (57-0/17.37m), No. 8 Amina Avril of Williams (56-0/17.07m) and No. 9 Kelly Allen of Tufts (55-1½/16.80m). The 60, 400, 60 hurdles, and high jump fields each also feature five of DIII’s 25 best in each event.
As with the women’s weight throw, the men’s sets up equally – if not more – competitively with five throwers in the top 20 of DIII, including No. 4 David Pless of Bates (63-6¼/19.36m), who is also ranked No. 2 in the shot put (61-0¼/18.60m). The distance events could be the highlight of the meet, as the mile features three top-10 runners and the 5000 features four of the top 15 – depending upon which runners are placed in which events.
Keep an Eye on DIII: Capital Athletic Conference Indoor Championships (Feb. 17); Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Championships (Feb. 16); UW-Stevens Point Eastbay Open (Feb. 16); Greater Cleveland Championships (Feb. 15-16)
DIII Top 10 In Action
|1||UW-La Crosse||at Red & White Open/at UW-Stevens Point Eastbay Open||Feb. 15/Feb. 16|
|2||UW-Oshkosh||at UW-Stevens Point Eastbay Open||Feb. 16|
|3||UW-Whitewater||at Cardinal Classic||Feb. 16|
|4||North Central (Ill.)||Cardinal Classic||Feb. 16|
|5||Haverford||Keogh Invitational||Feb. 15|
|6||Mount Union||at Kent State Tune-Up||Feb. 15-16|
|7||UW-Eau Claire||at UW-Stevens Point Eastbay Open||Feb. 16|
|8||Bates||at New England DIII Championships||Feb. 15-16|
|9||Baldwin-Wallace||Greater Cleveland Championships/at Kent State Tune-Up||Feb. 15-16|
|10||UW-Platteville||at Cardinal Classic||Feb. 16|
|1||UW-Oshkosh||at UW-Stevens Point Eastbay Open||Feb. 16|
|2||Wartburg||Wartburg Indoor Invitational||Feb. 16|
|4||UW-La Crosse||at Red & White Open/at UW-Stevens Point Eastbay Open||Feb. 15/Feb. 16|
|5||Washington (Mo.)||at Illinois College Alumni Classic||Feb. 15|
|6||SUNY Cortland||at NYU Fastrack Team Challenge/at Marc Denault Invitational||Feb. 15/Feb. 16|
|7||Monmouth (Ill.)||at Wartburg Indoor Invitational||Feb. 16|
|8||Johns Hopkins||at Keogh Invitational||Feb. 15|
|9||Emory||at Sewanee Invitational/at DePauw Classic||Feb. 16|
|10||Williams||at New England DIII Championships||Feb. 15-16|
Weekend News and Notes
Alford-Sullivan, Holloway Named Head Coaches for World Outdoor Championships
Penn State Director and Head Coach of Track & Field and Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan will serve as head coach of the women’s 2013 U.S. World Outdoor Championships team and Florida Head Coach Mike Holloway was named the head coach of the men’s team, the USATF announced Thursday. Joining Alford-Sullivan’s staff will be Latanya Sheffield (Long Beach St.); Delethea Quarles (South Carolina); Lance Deal (Oregon); Juli Benson (Air Force); and Francesca Green (Arizona). Hollaway will be assisted by Curtis Frye (South Carolina); Stephen Cooksey (Navy); Brian Blutreich (Oklahoma); Troy Engle (Army); and Jack Warner (formerly of Purdue). Read the full release here: http://bit.ly/Z0sMPe
UMass Lowell to Move to DI
UMass Lowell formally announced its plans to move from Division II to Division I in all sports as a member of the America East Conference beginning during the 2013-14 academic year. Full story via LowellSun.com here: http://bit.ly/11IZSbY
Tickets for NCAA Outdoor Championships on Sale Friday
Oregon will begin ticket sales for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field at 9 a.m. Friday. Tickets can be purchased online (goducks.com/tracktickets) or by phone (1-800-WEBFOOT). The four-day, all-session ticket prices are $90 for reserved seating, $70 for adult general admission and $40 for youth, student and senior general admission. Additional fees may apply. Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/VUlyiJ