The Warm-Up Lap: News, Notes and Meets of the Week (May 9)
NEW ORLEANS – Conference championship season comes to a close this weekend with a bang, particularly in DI with three big-time conference meets.
The SEC Championships, Pac-12 Championships and Big Ten Championships will all have significant impact on the national rankings next week as each meet features sizeable top-25 representation.
The GNAC and NSIC Championships are the highlights of DII, with the women’s competition taking center stage at both meets.
DIII will feature defending champion Wartburg at No. 2 in the rankings for the first time since 2011 at the IIAC Championships, while the Midwest Conference could see a new champion for the first time in the last eight seasons.
But first, here are the news and notes to get you started on the collegiate track & field weekend:
Louisville Coach Ron Mann to Retire Following the Season
Ron Mann of Louisville will retire at the end of the season from his cross country/track & field head coaching position following an exceptional 33-year career with the Cardinals. Mann led the Cardinals to eight Big East team titles between cross country and track & field, in addition to guiding more than 90 individual conference champions and nearly 50 All-Americans. Full story here.
LSU Women and Arkansas Men Claim Track & Field News Dual Meet Titles
With a perfect 7-0 season in dual meets, the LSU women claimed the Track & Field News dual meet national title, while the 3-1Arkansas men took the title behind a season that saw them take down No. 2 Oregon. Women’s Rankings here, men’s rankings here.
Weekly Football Player Update
Thurgood Dennis, a sophomore defensive back from UW-Eau Claire, claimed USTFCCCA DIII National Athlete of the Week honors with WIAC titles at 100 and 200 meters. He is now the second-fastest football player at 100 meters (10.30 (+1.7m/s) and third at 200 (20.96w, +2.1m/s). He was third on the team in tackles in 2012 with 58, just five off the team lead.
Ashland wide receiver Waquiem Comar claimed a GLIAC championship in the 400 hurdles to held Ashland to a team title and the No. 1 overall ranking in DII. His time of 51.82 is the top time by a football player this season and No. 6 in DII. On the football field he made one reception in 2012.
Texas A&M Kingsville’s CJ Griggs won a Lone Star Conference title in the triple jump and finished runner-up in the long jump. His triple jump mark of 52-6w (16.00m, +3.8m/s) is the best in DII and the second-best among football players, while his long jump mark of 24-10½w (7.58m, +2.8m/s) is best among football players and No. 6 in DII. In 2012 he caught five catches for 63 yards, including a touchdown reception.
Junior linebacker Austin Gamble of Duke both went over 190 feet in the discus this past weekend to put him No. 2 on the football list. Gamble launched a 190-3 (58.00m) mark for 19th in DI. In 2012 gamble recorded 36 tackles — including 1½ for a loss — while recovering a fumble and blocking a kick.
Division I Meets of the Week
Ranked Teams (Men): No. 1 Florida, 2. Texas A&M, 5. Arkansas, 7. Georgia, 12. LSU, 16. Mississippi, 20. Alabama
Ranked Teams (Women): No. 2 Texas A&M, 3. Florida, 4. LSU, 6. Arkansas, 10. Georgia
This meet figures to be a clash of the track & field titans on nearly every account. The men’s competition features the defending outdoor NCAA champion No. 1 Florida Gators against the indoor champion and defending SEC outdoor champ No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks — who will both try to keep newcomer No. 2 Texas A&M, ranked No . 1 for much of the season, out of the top spot. Half of the women’s top ten will be gunning for the SEC crown, including three of the nation’s top four teams in No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 3 Florida and No. 4 LSU, the three-time defending SEC outdoor champs.
Individual matchups promise to be just as intriguing as the team storylines. A total of 17 individual event champions — nine men and eight women — from a year ago will be back this season to defend their crowns, but six will have to face either the event’s current collegiate leader or indoor champion — or both — to do so.
The most heavily contested events of the meet will likely be the sprints and relays. The men’s 100 features eight of the country’s top 20, including No. 1 Diondre Batson of Alabama (10.06, 1.9m/s) and No. 2 Isiah Young of Ole Miss (10.07, +2.1m/s). Add to the mix defending champion Keenan Brock of Auburn and we’re in store for a very competitive, very fast race.
Young (No. 4, 20.39 +2.0m/s) is the defending champ at 200 meters, but he’ll be up against indoor champion No. 11 Ameer Webb of Texas A&M (20.59,-3.6m/s) and No. 3 Dedric Dukes of Florida (20.38, 3.5m/s) and a field of four other top-25 sprinters.
The women’s races are equally stacked, with two of the fastest women in collegiate history squaring off in reigning The Bowerman winner Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU and Ashley Collier of Texas A&M. The pair are the meet’s top-ranked sprinters at 100 meters at No. 3 (11.06, +2.8m/s) and No. 5 (11.15, +2.8m/s), respectively.
Should the meet come down to the 4×400 relay finale, the A&M men are ranked No. 1 (3:02.52), but No. 2 Florida took down the Aggies earlier this season at the Texas Relays, edging them by .11 of a second. The top three women’s teams are also separated by less than a second in No. 2 Florida (3:27.43, No. 4 A&M (3:27.89) and No. 5 Arkansas (3:28.42).
The focus at 200 meters will be on two-time defending outdoor champ and three-time indoor champ Duncan (No. 6, 22.82 -0.4m/s) against collegiate leader and indoor 400 champ Shaunae Miller of Georgia (22.41, +3.1m/s) and No. 2 Kamaria Brown of A&M (22.47, +2.5m/s).
Miller and Texas A&M’s Deon Lendore are names to watch out for at 400 meters. Lendore is the fastest collegian of 2013 at 45.00.
Natoya Goule of LSU has been on a tear in the women’s 800, recording a collegiate-leading 2:00.62 that leads the country — and No. 2 Charlene Lipsey, the defending SEC champion — by nearly 2½ seconds.
The highlight of the distance events, on paper at least, will likely be the women’s 1500 meters, where No. 2 Cory McGee of Florida (4:10.55) will take on a field that includes five other top-25 runners, including No. 4 Agata Strausa of Florida (4:11.27), No. 6 Carly Hamilton of Georgia (4:12.15) and No. 7 Laura Roxberg of Missouri (4:13.53).
A series of battles are also brewing in the field events. In the pole vault, defending SEC champion and two-time indoor champion Andrew Irwin of Arkansas (No. 4, 18-6½/5.65m) will take on collegiate leader Sam Kendricks of Ole Miss (19-¾/5.81m) and No. 5 Jake Blankenship of Tennessee (18-4¾/5.61m).
The women’s high jump features six women who have cleared six feet this season, including three who are tied at 6-2 (1.88m) in Auburn’s Maya Pressley, Arkansas’ Makeba Alcide and South Carolina’s Jeannelle Scheper.
As was the case with the men’s 100, the men’s long jump features a defending champ in Raymond Higgs of Arkansas outside the top 25 with a loaded field ahead of him. Collegiate leader and indoor champ Marquis Dendy of Florida (26-9¾/8.17m +2.8m/s) leads a field with six top 25 jumpers.
The first two days of the meet will be a showdown between some of the best multi-event competitors in the country. Indoor heptathlon champion Kevin Lazas of Arkansas will take on second-ranked decathlete Maicel Uibo of Georgia, who will be competing in just his second collegiate decathlon after a 8,223 point debut. The women’s heptathlon will feature another installment in the Alcide- Erica Bougard (Mississippi State) rivalry. Alcide defeated Bougard at the SEC indoor pentathlon with the collegiate record, but it was Bougard who claimed the NCAA indoor title and an early-season heptathlon victory over Alcide (5,649. Alcide scored a 5,882 in early April to take the collegiate lead from Bougard. The women’s field features six of the top 20 heptathletes in the country.
Ranked Teams (Men): No. 4 Oregon, 8. USC, 15. UCLA
Ranked Teams (Women): No. 5 Arizona, 7. Oregon, 9. Arizona State, 13. UCLA, 14. Stanford ,21. USC, 24. Washington
Both the Oregon men and women have had a stranglehold on the conference as of late, with the Duck men claiming the past six outdoor titles and the women the past four. Both programs will face potent challenges to their crowns, especially on the women’s side. The indoor champion Ducks are among seven ranked teams that will be competing in Loker Stadium, but find themselves looking up to No. 5 Arizona in the rankings. Right on the Ducks’ tails are the No. 9 Arizona Sun Devils, followed by the No. 13 UCLA Bruins and 14 Stanford Cardinal. Arizona nearly took the title in 2011, losing out to the Ducks by a measly 4½ points.
The two-day meet will feature 13 collegiate leaders, eight on the women’s side. The Bowerman Watch List is well-represented in Southern California this weekend, as Watch Listers Brigetta Barret of Arizona, English Gardner of Oregon and Emma Coburn of Colorodo — along with "also mentioned" Kori Carter of Stanford and Georganne Moline of Arizona and former Watch Lister Anna Jelmini of Arizona State — represent the women. The men’s Watch List features Pac-12 standouts Lawi Lalang of Arizona, Bryshon Nellum of USC and Julian Wruck of UCLA. Mike Berry of Oregon and Jordan Clarke of Arizona State received mention on the most recent list.
The sprints will showcase the talents of Gardner at 100 meters, and Nellum and Berry at 400 meters, but the intense competition will begin in the middle and long distance races. Led by Ducks Elijah Greer (No. 1, 1:46.20) and Laura Roesler (No. 2, 2:01.75), respectively, the men’s and women’s 800 races could both feature as many as four or five of the nation’s top 25.
At 1500 meters is where a bulk of the distance action will take place, as a combined 14 top-25 athletes between both men’s and women’s could be in action. No. 2 Michael Atchoo of Stanford (3:39.57) leads a field with potentially five top-10 runners and indoor mile champion Lalang. In the women’s race Arizona State’s Shelby Houlihan (No. 8, 4:13.64) was the collegiate leader for a large portion of the season, and she will take on a field with five other top-25 runners and 2011 NCAA indoor mile champ Jordan Hasay of Oregon
The 5000 could feature Lalang on the men’s side along with No. 5 Parker Stinson (13:31.70), while the women’s race could put Hasay against No. 4 Megan Goethals of Washington (15:33.63). Lalang is also scheduled to go at 10,000 meters.
Colorado’s Coburn will likely run her second steeplechase event of the season after debuting in record fashion two weekends ago.
The throws are set up to be equally as competitive as the distance events. Four collegiate leaders will be in action this weekend in Wruck (men’s discus, 216-8/66.05m), Jelmini (women’s discus, 198-10/60.61m), Chelsea Cassulo of Arizona State (hammer, 229-0/69.80m) and Stanford’s Brianna Bain (javelin, 183-10/56.03m). Reigning NCAA men’s shot put champion Jordan Clarke of Arizona State and former NCAA women’s shot put champ Julie Labonte of Arizona are also in the field. The women’s shot, discus and hammer all could feature at least five of those events’ top-25.
Big Ten Championships
Ranked Teams (Men): No. 10 Wisconsin, 11. Penn State, 13. Nebraska, 18. Iowa, 23. Ohio State
Ranked Teams (Women): No. 20 Illinois
With four of this meet’s five ranked teams the men’s competition is shaping up to be the most significant for the national landscape, but strong match-ups abound throughout the meet. Indiana is the defending men’s champion, but Wisconsin enters as the top-ranked Big Ten team at No. 10 looking to defend its team title from a year ago. No. 11 Penn State and No. 13 Nebraska are just behind the Badgers in the USTFCCCA rankings.
The past two women’s titles have gone to host Ohio State, but Illinois is the top-ranked team in the Big Ten at No. 20.
Middle- and long-distance races will be among the highlights of the meet. The men’s 1500 could feature six of the top 25 runners of 2013, including No. 3 Alex Hatz of Wisconsin (3:39.87) and defending NCAA champion Andrew Bayer of Indiana (No. 15, 3:41.52). Bayer is also No. 8 at 5000 meters this season, potentially going up against No. 4 Maverick Darling of Wisconsin (13:30.40) and a field with as many as five top-25 runners.
No. 11 Penn State will make a big push in the middle distance events with a corps that features standouts Casimir Loxsom (No. 2 at 800, 1:46.77), Brandon Kidder (No. 4 800, 1:47.23; No. 21 1500, 3:42.07) and Robby Creese (No. 12 1500, 3:41.12).
High jumper Derek Drouin of Indiana, the indoor champion and No. 2 outdoors (7-7¾/2.33m) will highlight the field events. Other top-ranked field event student-athletes include defending NCAA discus champion Chad Wright of Nebraska (No. 2, 207-11/63.37m) and No. 2 long jumper Mike Hartfield of Ohio State (26-9/8.15m).
On the women’s side, defending NCAA outdoor 400 champ Ashley Spencer of Illinois is ranked nationally at 400 meters, but not how you might expect. She is currently No. 4 in the country in the 400 hurdles at 56.32, in addition to No. 12 at 200 meters (23.04).
In the women’s field event, watch for the triple jump, shot put and the discus. No. 3 Mara Griva of Nebraska (44-3½/13.50m) and No. 6 Tori Franklin of Michigan State (44-0/13.41m) will reprise their close Drake Relays triple jump battle from a few weeks ago. A similar top-ten matchup will take place in the shot put, where No. 5 Taylor Smith of Wisconsin (56-11½/17.36m) will take on No. 7 Kyla Buckley of Indiana (56-8½/17.28m), and also in the discus with MSU’s No. 3 Beth Rohl (187-4/57.10m) against No. 7 Majesty Tuston of Iowa (181-1/55.19m).
More DI Meets to Watch: Conference USA Championships (May 9-12); Missouri Valley Conference Championships (May 10-12)
DI Top 10 In Action
|1||Florida||SEC Championships (@ Missouri)||May 9-12|
|2||Texas A&M||SEC Championships (@ Missouri)||May 9-12|
|3||Florida State||Georgia Tech Invitational/Virginia Challenge||May 10-11|
|4||Oregon||Pac-12 Championships (@USC)||May 11-12|
|5||Arkansas||SEC Championships (@ Missouri)||May 9-12|
|7||Georgia||SEC Championships (@ Missouri)||May 9-12|
|8||Southern California||Pac-12 Championships (@USC)||May 11-12|
|9||Virginia Tech||Roanoke/Virginia Tech Qualifier||May 9|
|10||Wisconsin||Big Ten Championships (@ Ohio State)||May 10-12|
|1||Kansas||Georgia Tech Invitational||May 10-11|
|2||Texas A&M||SEC Championships (@ Missouri)||May 9-12|
|3||Florida||SEC Championships (@ Missouri)||May 9-12|
|4||LSU||SEC Championships (@ Missouri)||May 9-12|
|5||Arizona||Pac-12 Championships (@USC)||May 11-12|
|6||Arkansas||SEC Championships (@ Missouri)||May 9-12|
|7||Oregon||Pac-12 Championships (@USC)||May 11-12|
|9||Arizona State||Pac-12 Championships (@USC)||May 11-12|
|10||Georgia||SEC Championships (@ Missouri)||May 9-12|
Division II Meets of the Week
Ranked Teams (Men): No. 8 Minnesota State
Ranked Teams (Women): No. 12 Wayne State (Neb.), 20. U-Mary, 21. Sioux Falls, 25. Winona State
Four of this meet’s five ranked teams are on the women’s side, giving it the most ranked teams of any DII conference championships meet this weekend. The U-Mary women have captured two of the past three NSIC titles, but at No. 20 in the USTFCCCA rankings they are looking up at No. 12 Wayne State (Neb.), which is going for its first outdoor NSIC title. The Minnesota State men have claimed three of the past four, and look to be the favorite again as the only nationally ranked team in the conference.
U-Mary will rely on its strength on the track to buoy its conference title aspirations, led by Melissa Agnew, the division leader at 1500 meters in 4:22.59. Twin sister Jennifer is No. 5 in the steeplechase (10:35.21), while sprinter Kathryn Stewart is No. 7 at 200 meters (23.69, +1.1m/s) and 14 at 400 (55.12).
The main battleground for the conference championships could very well be the field events — particularly the pole vault and throws, which all feature numerous top-25 student-athletes.
Wayne State’s position in the rankings is built largely on the success of its throwers, with Carly Fehringer and Sara Wells atop the conference in the hammer and shot put, respectively. Fehringer is No. 2 nationally (206-11/63.07m) to lead six throwers in the top 25 — three of whom are her teammates — while Wells is No. 5 (49-7/15.11m) ahead of four other top-25 throwers.
No. 25 Winona State has been the class of the conference in the discus, with three throwers in the top 25 including No. 4 Shanai Guider (163-2/49.74m) and No. 6 Alissa Rausch (160-2/48.82m). With at least one additional top-25 thrower in both the shot and hammer, Winona State could both simultaneously climb the standings and pull top-ranked Wayne State down to tighten up the conference race.
Meanwhile, the pole vault will feature five top-15 performers, with a trio of top-10 Sioux Falls student-athletes led by No. 4 Brigette Gross (13-5¾/4.11m).
Ranked Teams (Men): No. 22 Alaska Anchorage
Ranked Teams (Women): No. 9 Alaska Anchorage, 10. Simon Fraser, 16. Seattle Pacific
Like the NSIC Championships, the bulk of the national action will take place on the women’s side with three of the USTFCCCA rankings’ top 16 teams in action, including No. 9 Alaska Anchorage and No. 10 Simon Fraser — both of which are looking for their first GNAC conference title. Also in contention is No. 16 Seattle Pacific, looking to win a fourth-straight crown. Meanwhile, the No. 22 Alaska Anchorage men are the conference’s only ranked men’s team and are looking for their first GNAC title.
The most intense action with national ramifications will be contested in the middle and long distance races, with division leaders and hordes of top-25 student-athletes potentially lining up in many of the events. The women’s 800 could feature division leader Helen Crofts of Simon Fraser (2:04.53) atop a field with as many as eight top-25 runners. Simon Fraser could have as many as four of them, while Alaska Anchorage and Seattle Pacific could each have two.
The two top-10 squads could each pit a pair of top-25 runners against each other at 1500 meters, with Alaska Anchorage’s No. 6 Ivy O’Quinn (4:26.64) against No. 8 Crofts (4:28.37). Alaska Anchorage boasts a pair of division leaders at 5000 and 10,000 in Ruth Keino (16:20.87) and Susan Tanui (34:19.08), respectively. Tanui is also No. 2 in the 3000 steeplechase.
The javelin on both the men’s and women’s sides have the potential to be very exciting. The men’s competition could feature three of the top four throwers in the division in Alaska Anchorage’s No. 1 Cody Parker (234-4/71.43m) and No. 2 Franz Burghagen (230-7/70.29m), and No. 4 Braden Keller of Central Washington (222-5/67.79m).
No. 2 Bethany Drake of Western Washington (157-4/47.96m), and Western Oregon’s No. 3 Amanda Schumaker (154-9/47.16m) and No. 6 Seabre Church (151-5/46.15m) headline the women’s javelin.
More DII Meets to Watch: Missouri Southern Last Chance (May 10); GVSU Last Chance (May 10-11); Incarnate Word Last Chance (May 12)
DII Top 10 In Action
|2||Saint Augustine’s||Virginia Challenge||May 11-12|
|4||Grand Canyon||Azusa Pacific Last Chance||May 11|
|5||Findlay||Hillsdale Classic/Georgia Tech Invite/UL Cardinal Twilight||May 8-11|
|7||Grand Valley State||GVSU Last Chance||May 10-11|
|8||Minnesota State||NSIC Championships (@ Sioux Falls)||May 10-11|
|9||Texas A&M-Kingsville||Incarnate Word Last Chance||May 12|
|10||Chico State||West Coast invitational/Stanislaus Twilight||May 10|
|2||Grand Canyon||Azusa Pacific Last Chance||May 11|
|3||Academy of Art||Cal State Stanislaus Twilight Qualifier||May 10|
|4||Grand Valley State||GVSU Last Chance||May 10-11|
|7||Johnson C. Smith||Georgia Tech Invitational||May 10-11|
|8||Angelo State||Abilene Christian Oliver Jackson Twilight||May 8|
|9||Alaska Anchorage||GNAC Championships (@ Western Oregon)||May 10-11|
|10||Simon Fraser||GNAC Championships (@ Western Oregon)||May 10-11|
Division III Meets of the Week
Iowa Conference Championships
Ranked Teams (Men): No. 14 Central (Iowa), 21. Wartburg
Ranked Teams (Women): No. 2 Wartburg
This meet will be the first for the defending DIII outdoor champion Wartburg women without the top DIII ranking since week five of the 2011 season after the UW-La Crosse Eagles stormed to the top of the rankings last week. Less than 10 points behind the Eagles in the rankings, a reclamation of the top spot by the Knights is well within the realm of possibility should they capture their 14th IIAC title in a row.
On the men’s side, No. 14 Central (Iowa) is working on a streak of their own, looking to win a fifth straight conference crown. Having finished runner-up three seasons in a row and having had their own-three-year winning streak snapped by Central in 2008, the No. 21 Wartburg men are the top challenger for the Dutch of Central.
Midwest Conference Championships
Ranked Teams (Women): No. 3 Illinois College, 25. Monmouth (Ill.)
Monmouth (Ill.) has had a stranglehold on the conference for the better part of the last decade, having swept both the men’s and women’s titles in each of the past eight seasons and 11 of the past 12.
The most serious threat to the Fighting Scots’ reign over the conference comes on the women’s side in No. 3 Illinois College. It is important to remember, however, that the USTFCCCA rankings do not necessarily predict success at a meet like a conference championship with relatively deep scoring fields and a limited small number of teams. Illinois College has significant firepower with USTFCCCA Indoor Field Athlete of the Year Melissa Norville, but No. 25 Monmouth features a larger number of nationally-ranked student athletes in more events, particularly in the throws.
More DIII To Watch: MIAC Championship (May 10-11); North Central (Ill.) Dr. Keeler Invitational (May 9-10); Open New Englands (May 10-11); Allegheny Gator Invitational (May 10)
DIII Top 10 In Action
|1||UW-Oshkosh||Dr. Keeler Invitational||May 9-10|
|2||UW-La Crosse||UW-La Crosse Eagle Open||May 10|
|3||UW-Eau Claire||Dr. Keeler Invitational||May 9-10|
|4||Whitworth||Sasquatch Thrower/Distance Carnival/WAC (Distance Only)||May 8/11|
|5||UW-Whitewater||Dr. Keeler Invitational||May 9-10|
|6||Whittier||Cal State LA Last Chance||May 11|
|7||North Central (Ill.)||Dr. Keeler Invitational||May 9-10|
|8||Bates||Open New Englands||May 10-11|
|9||Augustana (Ill.)||Dr. Keeler Invitational||May 9-10|
|10||Salisbury||Swarthmore Last Chance Meet||May 13|
|1||UW-La Crosse||UW-La Crosse Eagle Open||May 10|
|2||Wartburg||Iowa Conference Championships (@ Loras)||May 9-11|
|3||Illinois College||Midwest Conference Championships (@Beloit)||May 10-11|
|4||Ramapo||Swarthmore Last Chance Meet||May 13|
|5||UW-Oshkosh||Dr. Keeler Invitational||May 9-10|
|6||Wheaton (Mass.)||All New England Championship/Georgia Tech Invite||May 11|
|7||Rowan||Swarthmore Last Chance Meet||May 13|
|8||Buffalo State||Allegheny Gator Invitational||May 10|
|9||Mount Union||Allegheny Gator Invitational/Ohio Wesleyan Ron Althoff Invite||May 10/13-14|
|10||George Fox||Clackamas CC Open||May 9|