The Warm-Up Lap: Meets of the Week, News and Notes (Apr. 25)

The Warm-Up Lap: Meets of the Week, News and Notes (Apr. 25)

NEW ORLEANS – One of the biggest weekends in track & field has arrived with world-class meets in the Penn Relays, Drake Relays and Payton Jordan Invitational being held across the country.

The Penn and Drake Relays are among the most prestigious events in the track & field universe, while Payton Jordan has become a hot spot for world-class distance runners attempting to jockey themselves into position for World Championships Qualifying.

Division II will host a big relay meet of its own in the Gina Relays at Hillsdale, while conference championships take center stage in Division III, including the NESCAC Championships — this week’s DIII Meet of the Week.

Division I Meets of the Week

Penn Relays

Apr. 25-27 | Full Schedule | Philadelphia, Pa. – Franklin Field
Follow Live: Penn Relays TV ($) | NBC (Sat., 1 pm ET) | Live Results

Ranked Teams (Men): No. 2 Texas A&M; No. 4 Oregon; 5. Florida State; 8. Virginia Tech; 10. LSU; 11. Penn State; 14. Clemson; 20. Tennessee; 21. Indiana; No. 1 Saint Augustine’s (DII); 5. Findlay (DII); 14. Johnson C. Smith (DII); 23. American International (DII); No. 9 Haverford (DIII); 11. Rowan (DIII); 15. Bates (DIII); 19. Salisbury (DIII); 20. Oneonta State (DIII); 23. Rutgers-Camden (DIII)

Ranked Teams (Women): No. 1 Texas A&M; 4. LSU; 7. Oregon; 11. Clemson; 16. Florida State; 21. San Diego State; 24. Kentucky; 25. South Carolina; No. 6 Johnson C. Smith (DII); 9. Saint Augustine’s (DII); 22. UMass Lowell (DII); No. 4 Ramapo (DIII); 8. Rowan (DIII); 13. Johns Hopkins (DIII)

In the eyes of many track & field enthusiasts the Penn Relays is one of the most prestigious events on the T&F calendar, set to get its 119th iteration underway this week. Colleges and universities from across the country and athletes from around the world will gather in Philadelphia for a weekend of top-shelf competition in all of the events up and down the schedule each and every day.

Always an exciting event regardless of meet, the 4×400 relay is shaping up to be highly competitive, especially on the men’s side. Seven of the top 25 teams this outdoor season are slated to compete for bids to the final — which will be the final track event of the meet. No. 2 Texas A&M headlines the field with collegiate open 400 leader Deon Lendore (45.00), but No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Mississippi State and No. 13 Oregon are all in the hunt, as well. The women’s race is setting up to similarly strong, with No.  3 Texas A&M taking on indoor champs Oregon and No. 6 LSU in a field that includes six top-25 teams.

The 4×100 will feature a ton of collegiate star power, with three of the all-time fastest collegiate women in the field. The fifth-fastest collegian of 2013 in Ashley Collier (11.15) leads the top-ranked Texas A&M squad, reigning The Bowerman winner No. 3 Kimberlyn Duncan (11.06) anchors the No. 6 LSU foursome, and 2013 collegiate leader and defending 100 champ English Gardner (11.00) will anchor the No. 7 Oregon team. On the men’s side, top-ranked Texas A&M has two top 17 sprinters in No. 5 Ameer Webb (10.14) and No. 17 Prezel Hardy, Jr. (10.30), but Auburn features the fastest collegian of 2012 in Harry Adams (9.96, 10.17 in 2013) and indoor 60 meters runner-up Marcus Rowland.

The 4×1500 (women) and 4xMile (men) should produce some blazing performances, headlined by an Oregon women’s squad that features three of the 16 fastest 1500 runners in the country this season in No. 5 Anne Kesselring (4:15.23), No. 7 Becca Friday (4:16.07) and No. 16 Annie Leblanc (4:17.64). The men’s field features the defending NCAA 1500 champ in Indiana’s Andy Bayer, and watch out for an Oregon squad that features a rejuvenated and collegiate-leading Mac Fleet leading three runners in the top 18 and a Penn State team with two in the top 12.

Indoor high jump champion Derek Drouin of Indiana (7-7/2.31m) will try to regain the collegiate lead back from Kansas State’s Erik Kynard (7-8/2.34m) — who is not in the field — while battling a field with indoor runner-up No. 3 Marcus Jackson of Mississippi State, No. 4 Montez Blair of Cornell, No. 7 Ronnie Black of Virginia Tech and No. 10 DJ Smith of Auburn.

Another women’s event to watch will be the 100 hurdles, where No.4 Jasmin Stowers of LSU (13.07), No. 5 Kierre Beckles of South Carolina (13.09) and No. 6 Danielle Williams of Saint Augustine’s (13.14) could all go head-to-head in the finals.

The women’s triple jump features the top two jumpers of the 2013 outdoor season thus far in San Diego State’s Shnieka Thomas (45-1½/13.75m) and Georgia Tech’s Jhanelle McLead (43-11¼/13.39m). No. 7 LaQue Moen-Davis of Texas A&M and No. 13 Thea LaFond of Maryland will also provide stiff competition for the top two.

 

Payton Jordan Invitational

Apr. 28 | Full Schedule | Palo Alto, Calif. – Cobb Track & Angell Field
Follow Live: Flotrack Pro ($) | Live Results

Ranked Teams (Men): No. 1 Florida; 3. Arkansas; 4. Oregon; 5. Florida State; 22. Oklahoma; No. 9 Chico State (DII)

Ranked Teams (Women): No. 5 Arkansas; 6. Florida; 7. Oregon; 16. Florida State; 20. Iowa State; 22. Oklahoma; 24. Kentucky; No. 15 Simon Fraser (DII); 19. Chico State (DII)

While the sprints, hurdles, relays and field events dominate the Penn and Drake Relays, distance events will be in the spotlight at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford. Some of the country’s top collegians will take on some of the world’s best professionals, setting up for exceptional times and performances.

The men’s 5000 is a who’s who in collegiate and professional distance running. The collegiate field reads like a national championships field, including such names as Paul Chelimo of UNC-Greensboro, Maverick Darling of Wisconsin, Diego Estrada of Northern Arizona, Thomas Farrell of Oklahoma State, Eric Jenkins of Northeastern and Mitch Goose of Iona, along with DII leader Kevin Batt of Adams State. They’ll be pulled along by a vast field of pros shooting for the World "A" Standard of 13:15.00. Former Bowerman winner Cam Levins, Sam Chalenga, Evan Jager, Leonard Korir, Chris Solinsky and Alan Webb, among many others, will be sure to keep the pace fast.

Oregon’s Jordan Hasay highlights the collegians in the women’s 5000 running against such pros as Kim Conley, Sara Hall and Amy Hastings, as well as defending NCAA steeplechase champ Shalaya Kipp of Colorado, running unattached. She is also listed at 10,000 meters, where she could go head-to-head with Wichita State’s Alpiphine Tuliamuk-Bolton and pros Alisha Williams, Lisa Uhl and Neely Spence.

Colorado’s Emma Coburn, coming off a redshirted Olympic season a year ago and an indoor mile title in 2013, is scheduled to compete in her first 3000 steeplechase in a Colorado uniform since claiming the 2011 NCAA title.

Both the men’s and women’s 1500 races should also be in the running for producing some collegiate-leading times. North Carolina State’s Ryan Hill will make his 2013 outdoor debut against a field including collegians Chris O’Hare of Tulsa — the all-time fastest collegiate miler is running unattached — Riley Masters of Oklahoma, Michael Atchool of Stanford, Nick Hutton of Minnesota, Austin Mudd of Wisconsin, Rich Peters of Boston and Christopher Fallon of Ohio State. Pros Chris Derrick — the reigning American cross country champion — Elliot Heath and Ben Blankenship will all push the pace toward and likely under the collegiate leading time.

Florida’s Cory McGee; Florida State’s Georgia Peel, Colleen Quigley and Amanda Winslow; and Oklahoma State’s Natalja Piliusina are the big names in the women’s 1500 field.

 

Drake Relays (Presented by Hy-Vee)

Apr. 25-28 | Full Schedule | Des Moines, Iowa – Drake Stadium
Follow Live:  WatchESPN.com (Friday 7:30 pm ET) | Live Results

Ranked Teams (Men): No. 7 Georgia; 12.  Iowa; 15. Nebraska; 16. Ole Miss; 19. Alabama; 23. Ohio State; 24. Kansas State; 25. UTEP; No. 5 Findlay (DII); 6. Lincoln (Mo.) (DII); 7. Pittsburg State (DII); 13. Minnesota State (DII); 16. Academy of Art (DII); 20. Central Missouri (DII); No. 1 UW-La Crosse (DIII); 2. UW-Oshkosh (DIII); 5. UW-Eau Claire (DIII); 6. Augustana (Ill.) (DIII); 7. North Central (Ill.) (DIII); 10. Wartburg (DIII); 12. Central (Iowa) (DIII): 16. UW-Platteville (DIII); 22. Baldwin-Wallace (DIII)

Ranked Teams (Women): No. 9 Georgia; 17. Illinois; 20. Iowa State; No. 1 Lincoln (Mo.) (DII); 3. Academy of Art (DII); 10. Wayne State (Neb.) (DII); 14. Central Missouri (DII); 21. Pittsburg State (DII); No. 1 Wartburg (DIII); 3. Illinois College (DIII); 9. UW-Oshkosh (DIII); 12. Nebraska Wesleyan (DIII); 14. UW-La Crosse (DIII); 15. Monmouth (Ill.) (DIII); 18. St. Thomas (Minn.) (DIII); 25. Concordia Moorhead (DIII)

If many consider the Penn Relays the most prestigious of track & field meets — outside of the Olympics and World Championships — certainly many others consider its Midwestern counterpart the Drake Relays in the same category. In its 104th edition, the Drake Relays has stepped up and become even more of a destination for elite professional and collegiate athletes.

A total of 1,053 collegiate men and 966 women are scheduled to compete through the weekend. A new addition for the collegiate competition is the Hy-Vee Cup, which will award the university/college team who performs the best in the five relays events —  4×100, 4×400, 4×800, sprint medley and distance medley — using a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system.

The men’s 4×100 will feature No. 3 Alabama (39.17) and top-ranked Diondre Batson (10.06), who will likely face off against No. 3 Isiah Young (10.09) of 16th-ranked Mississippi (39.90) on the anchor leg. The women’s contest will be a tight one between No. 10 Georgia (44.25), No. 12 Illinois (44.58), No. 14 SMU (44.76) and No. 19. UTEP (44.81).

No. 5 Illinois (3:31.63) will enter the women’s 4×400 as the favorite with defending outdoor NCAA 400 champ Ashley Spencer likely running the anchor the Illini — who will also enter the men’s race as the favorite, also at No. 5 (3:04.58).

Defending women’s 4×800 champ Notre Dame is back in the field to reclaim its title this season, as is defending men’s champ Minnesota. The men’s race could be very tight, especially if it is close at the end for No. 2 Declan Murray of Loyola (Ill.) (1:46.77) and No. 6 Charles Grethen of Georgia (1:47.56).

More DI Meets to Watch: USC-UCLA Dual (Apr. 27); Arizona-Arizona State-Northern Arizona Double Dual (Apr. 27); Arkansas Spring Invitational (Apr. 27)

Top 10 in Action

Men

Rank School Event Date
1 Florida Arkansas Spring Invitational/Payton Jordan invitational Apr. 27/28
2 Texas A&M Penn Relays Apr. 25-27
3 Arkansas Arkansas Spring Invitational/Payton Jordan invitational Apr. 27/28
4 Oregon Penn Relays/Oregon St High Performance Meet/Payton Jordan Apr. 25-28
5 Florida State Penn Relays/Payton Jordan Invitational Apr. 25-27/28
6 Texas Off
7 Georgia Drake Relays Apr. 25-28
8 Virginia Tech Penn Relays/Highlander Invitational Apr. 25-27
9 Southern California USC-UCLA Dual (at USC) Apr. 27
10 LSU Penn Relays Apr. 25-27

 

Women

Rank School Event Date
1 Texas A&M Penn Relays Apr. 25-27
2 Kansas Wildcat Relays Apr. 27
3 Arizona Arizona-Arizona State-Northern Arizona Double Dual Apr. 27
4 LSU Penn Relays Apr. 25-27
5 Arkansas Arkansas Spring Invitational/Payton Jordan invitational Apr. 27/28
6 Florida Arkansas Spring Invitational/Payton Jordan invitational Apr. 27/28
7 Oregon Penn Relays/Oregon St High Performance Meet/Payton Jordan Apr. 25-28
8 Arizona State Arizona-Arizona State-Northern Arizona Double Dual Apr. 27
9 Georgia Drake Relays Apr. 25-28
10 Texas Off

 

Division II Meet of the Week

Hillsdale Gina Relays

Apr. 25-27 | Full Schedule | Hillsdale, Mich. – Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium

Ranked Teams (Men): No. 8 Grand Valley State; No. 1 UW-La Crosse (DIII); 2. UW-Oshkosh (DIII); 5. UW-Eau Claire (DIII); 16. UW-Platteville; 21. UW-Stout

Ranked Teams (Women): No. 4 Grand Valley State; No. 10 UW-Oshkosh (DIII); 14. UW-La Crosse (DIII); 16. Buffalo State (DIII)

Another long-standing relay tradition will be taking place in Hillsdale, Mich., with the 47th running of the Gina Relays — renamed from the "Hillsdale Relays" in 1997 in honor of former Hillsdale national champion cross country runner Gina Van Laar Lanser, who tragically died in an automobile accident in 1996. Teams from all divisions from around the region will compete in the relays, including Notre Dame, Michigan State and a host of Mid-American Conference schools in Division I and a slew of Wisconsin schools and Buffalo State from DIII.

The best DII-exclusive match-up of the weekend will come from the women’s pole vault — any time Grand Valley State and Hillsdale get together, the women’s pole vault becomes a marquee event with No. 1 Kayla Caldwell of Hillsdale (14-2/4.32m) and No. 3 Kristen Hixson of Grand Valley State (13-9¾/4.21m) renewing their high-flying rivalry.

Fresh off a weekend in California last weekend, Grand Valley State is again slated to run a number of its top distance runners against fields with Division I talent. Ranked No. 5 at 1500 meters, Larry Julson will step up to 5000 meters, while No. 9 Madie Rodts and No. 10 Hannah Osborn — also No. 5 in the steeplechase — will do the same on the women’s side.

More DII Meets to Watch: Ashland Alumni Open (Apr. 26-27); PacWest Outdoor Championships (Apr. 26-27)

DII Top 10 in Action

Men

Rank School Event Date
1 Saint Augustine’s Penn Relays Apr. 25-27
2 Adams State Colorado St. Jack Christiansen Invitational Apr. 26-27
3 Grand Canyon PacWest Outdoor Championships Apr. 26-27
4 Ashland Ashland Alumni Open Apr. 26-27
5 Findlay Drake Relays/Penn Relays/Ashland Alumni Open Apr. 25-28
6 Lincoln (Mo.) Drake Relays Apr. 25-28
7 Pittsburg State Drake Relays Apr. 25-28
8 Grand Valley State Hillsdale Gina Relays Apr. 25-27
9 Chico State Payton Jordan Invitational Apr. 28
10 Western State Off

 

Women

Rank School Event Date
1 Lincoln (Mo.) Drake Relays Apr. 25-28
2 Grand Canyon PacWest Outdoor Championships Apr. 26-27
3 Academy of Art Drake Relays/PacWest Outdoor Championships Apr. 25-28
4 Grand Valley State Hillsdale Gina Relays Apr. 25-27
5 Adams State Colorado St. Jack Christiansen Invitational Apr. 26-27
6 Johnson C. Smith Penn Relays Apr. 25-27
7 Angelo State Off
8 Alaska Anchorage GNAC Multis Apr. 29-30
9 Saint Augustine’s Penn Relays Apr. 25-27
10 Wayne State (Neb.) Drake Relays/NSIC Multi Apr. 25-27/28-29

 

Division III Meet of the Week

NESCAC Outdoor Championships

Apr. 27 | Full Schedule | Medford, Mass. – Ellis Oval

Ranked Teams (Men): No. 15 Bates; 24. Middlebury

Ranked Teams (Women): No. 11 Tufts; 19. Williams; 22. Amherst

Distance events and throws will be the primary battlegrounds of the NESCAC outdoor championships this weekend with multiple top-25 student-athletes in nearly all of the events from 800 meters through 10,000 meters. Bates is the defending men’s champ and the top-ranked team in the conference at No. 15 entering the meet, while defending women’s champ No. 19 Williams finds itself looking up to No. 11 Tufts in the rankings.

The men’s steeplechase has the largest concentration of top-25 talent, as reigning National Athlete of the Week Jack Davies of Middlebury and his division-leading 8:52.12 takes on a field that could feature as many as five other top-20 ranked runners.

The biggest group of top-25 talent in the women’s distance events comes at 5000 meters, where No. 4 Keri Lambert of Amherst (17:01.99) could be up against four other top-25 runners.

Competition will be tight for the women’s hammer title, as No. 4 Amina Avril of Williams (176-5/53.78m) and No. 5 Sabienne Brutus of Tufts (176-4/53.75m) are separated by just one inch, followed closely by No. 6 Kelly Allen of Tufts at 173-9 (52.97m).

Bates’ David Pless is the class of the men’s throws field, ranked No. 1 in the shot put (60-2/18.34) — an event in which he won the indoor NCAA title — No. 5 in the hammer (193-10/59.08m) and No. 10 in the discus (167-7/51.08m). He’ll have a fight on his hands in the discus, as teammate Sean Enos is No. 19 at 160-6 (48.93m).

More DIII Meets to Watch: SCIAC Championships (Apr. 26-27); HCAC Championships (Apr. 26-27); OAC Championships (Apr. 26-27); NWC Championships (Apr. 26-27); NEWMAC Championships (Apr. 27); UAA Championships (Apr. 27-28)

DIII Top 10 in Action

Men

Rank School Event Date
1 UW-La Crosse Drake Relays/Gina Relays/St. Mary’s Invitational Apr. 25-28
2 UW-Oshkosh Drake Relays/Gina Relays/Drake Alternative Meet (UWW) Apr. 25-28
3 Whitworth NWC Championships Apr. 26-27
4 UW-Whitewater Drake Alternative Meet (UWW) Apr. 27
5 UW-Eau Claire Drake Relays/Gina Relays/St. Mary’s Invitational Apr. 25-28
6 Augustana (Ill.) Drake Relays/Western Illinois Open Apr. 25-27
7 North Central (Ill.) Drake Relays/Benedictine Invitational Apr. 25-27
8 Whittier SCIAC Championships Apr. 26-27
9 Haverford Penn Relays Apr. 25-27
10 Wartburg Drake Relays/Simpson College/Grand View College Apr. 25-27

 

Women

Rank School Event Date
1 Wartburg Drake Relays/Simpson College/Grand View College Apr. 25-27
2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps SCIAC Championships Apr. 26-27
3 Illinois College Drake Relays/Illinois College True Blue Open Apr. 25-27
4 Ramapo Penn Relays Apr. 25-27
5 George Fox NWC Championships Apr. 26-27
6 Emory UAA Championships Apr. 27-28
7 Wheaton (Mass.) NEWMAC Championships Apr. 27
8 Rowan Penn Relays/Lions’ Invitational Apr. 25-27
9 UW-Oshkosh Drake Relays/Gina Relays/Jeff Miller Meet (UWW) Apr. 25-28
10 Mount Union OAC Championships Apr. 26-27

 

News and Notes

Eight Teams Complete 2013 Conference Triple Crowns

Four men’s teams — Liberty (Big South), Saint Augustine’s (CIAA), Ithaca (Empire 8) and Lynchburg (ODAC) — have now won 2012-13 conference championships in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field to earn a "triple crown". Four women’s teams have also accomplished the feat this season: Alabama State (SWAC), King’s College (Conference Carolinas), Ithaca (Empire 8) and St, Lawrence (Liberty League). With many conference championships still remaining this outdoor season, 17 more men’s teams and 14 women’s teams have an opportunity to accomplish the feat.

Penn Relays Security Update

After initially being banned from the Penn Relays, backpacks for "athletes, coaches and trainers with proper credentials will be allowed to take their backpacks in the stadium but should be prepared to deal with lines as security guards carefully inspect the bags," according to a post on the Relays’ Facebook page.

Dual Meets Gaining In Popularity

Following a weekend that featured a tight Oregon-Arkansas men’s dual and the 119th Cal vs. Stanford "Big Meet", dual meets appear to be gaining in popularity, particularly out west. Big dual meets this weekend include a USC-UCLA tilt and a double dual with Arizona, Arizona State and Northern Arizona — both Saturday.

Conference Realignment Update

Loyola Chicago will join the Missouri Valley Conference beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. Full story.

NFHS Approves Potential national High School Sports Channel

PlayOn! Sports could soon offer an online streaming and cable TV network that would be dedicated to the coverage of high school athletics. The National Federation of State High School Associations has given its permission for a contract between the association and the network. Full story.

New Hampshire Thrower to End Season Early to Donate Bone Marrow

Cameron Lyle has decided to end his New Hampshire track & field career early to donate bone marrow to a patient suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was told that there was a one in 5 million chance for being a donor match for a non-family member, but it turns out he could be the one to save this anonymous patient’s life. Full story.

Watts Steps Down at Edinboro

USTFCCCA Hall of Fame inductee Doug Watts of Edinboro has decided to step down from his coaching position at Edinboro University. Watts’ career at Edinboro has spanned 44 years and included six team national championships and nine individual national champions. Full story.