Division I Indoor Championships Preview – Women

By Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA

March 13, 2014   

NEW ORLEANS – Now that the final USTFCCCA National Team Computer Rankings are out ahead of the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., from March 14-15, the attention can shift to some of the individual storylines.

And what individual storylines we have this year. A budding rivalry between a pair of elite SEC sprinters in Texas A&M’s Kamaria Brown and Kentucky’s Dezerea Bryant. Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth attempting to defend her duo of distance crowns. A slew of historic pole vaulters duking it out for the national title.

EVENT-BY-EVENT DETAILS

That’s just scratching the surface. Keep reading below for a preview of the women’s individual competition broken down by event discipline to cover a few of the biggest plot points this coming weekend.

Also, be sure to check out the USTFCCCA National Championships Central page for all the details on the meet, including the info on how to watch the meet live.

Quick Links: Sprints & Hurdles | Distance | Jumps | Throws | Combined

Sprints & Hurdles

As with the men, clashes between members of The Bowerman Watch List headline the women’s sprinting and hurdling events this weekend, with at least two current or former Watch Listers in each of the three sprints events.

The showdown between Texas A&M’s Kamaria Brown and Kentucky’s Dezerea Bryant at 200 meters is one of the biggest of the weekend. Both have held the top qualifying spot in the nation at one point or another this year, with Brown most recently taking the SEC crown over Bryant in a world-leading 22.50.

While Brown is entered only at 200 meters and in the 4×400 relay, Bryant also is the top seed at 60 meters and will also contest the 4×400.

She will face two more Watch List members at 60 meters in No. 2 Jasmine Todd, a frosh from Oregon, and teammate Kendra Harrison. At 7.16 with six of 2014′s eight fastest collegiate times, Bryant is just .01 outside the all-time top-10 collegiate performers list.

Teammate Harrison No. 10 on the all-time top 10 performers list in the 60-meter hurdles at 7.94, tied with, among others, 2010 The Bowerman winner Queen Harrison. However, she lost at the Tyson Invitational to LSU’s Jasmin Stowers, though she would ultimately end up paying her back with a title at the SEC Championships.  Among the others in the field is last year’s national runner-up, Tiffani McReynolds of Baylor.

Ashley Spencer of Texas is the two-time defending outdoor 400 meters champion, but she has yet to win the event indoors. She is the top seed this year after a Big 12 title, and will face a field that doesn’t feature collegiate leader Brown of Texas A&M but will include former Watch List member Phyllis Francis of Oregon, who spent much of the season as the collegiate leader. Also in the field is 2012 champ Diamond Dixon of Kansas.

Last year’s team title came down to the 4×400 relay with Oregon claiming the event from the first heat to win its fourth consecutive team title. With top-ranked Florida, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Texas A&M all having 4×400 teams ranked among the top four seeds, this always-crucial event may well be the deciding factor once again.

Distance

Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth will look to keep her unbeaten streak since the 2012 outdoor season in national track finals going as she is set to defend her 2013 crowns at both 3000 and 5000 meters.

She is the collegiate leader at both 3000 and 5000 meters, the latter in which she is going for her fourth consecutive indoor or outdoor Division I title since 2012.

Kate Avery of Iona at 8:56.20, who finished well behind D’Agostino at 3000 meters at the Millrose Games, and Laura Nagel of Providence at 9:01.35 are the only two competitors seeded within 10 seconds of D’Agostino’s 8:51.91, which came in a record-chasing attempt behind teen phenom Mary Cain.

The seeds are much closer at 5000 meters, with Emily Sisson of Providence within .07 of her 15:40.55 entry time – both of which were ran in December. Six other women are seeded within 10 seconds.

Despite also owning the collegiate lead in the mile, D’Agostino will not compete in that event, ceding the top seed to Colleen Quigley of Florida State. Nearly three quarters of the field is within four seconds of Quigley’s 4:32.11 entry time, including 2013 IAAF World Championships qualifier Cory McGee of in-state rival Florida, a former The Bowerman Watch List member.

At 800 meters, Watch List member Laura Roesler is the favorite to win her first national individual title, seeded nearly two seconds faster than anyone else in the field at 2:01.32 – the second-fastest all-conditions time indoors in collegiate history.

The distance medley relay will feature three programs that entered into the all-time top-10 programs list in collegiate history in No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Georgetown and No. 9 Arkansas, as well as Oregon and Villanova teams that both went sub-11:00 but didn’t set school records. Further deepening the field are Florida and Michigan teams that just missed going sub-11:00 by less than a quarter of a second.

Jumps

Of the top 13 women in collegiate pole vault history, five of them will be in action this weekend. Top seed Emily Grove of South Dakota is equal to No. 3 on the performer list, Morgan Leleux of Georgia is  equal to No. 5 and defending indoor champion Natalia Bartnovskaya of Kansas, Texas’ Kaitlin Petrillose and Virginia Tech’s Martina Schultze are all equal to No. 9. Also in the mix is defending outdoor champion Beth Firsick of South Dakota.

With a new high jump champion for the first time since 2010 guaranteed with the graduation of Arizona’s Brigetta Barrett, the top two contenders are a seasoned veteran senior in Jeannelle Scheper of South Carolina and frosh Leonita Kallenou of Georgia tied atop the descending order list. Scheper has achieved her DI-leading clearance of 6-2¾ (1.90m) three times, while Kallenou has reached it just once.

Defending outdoor long jump champion senior Lorraine Ugen of TCU will look to add a matching indoor title to her collection, up against younger competitors in Oregon frosh Todd, Georgia sophomore Chanice Porter and junior Kylie Price of UCLA.

If Todd were to win both the long jump and 60 meters events as the second seeds in both, she would be the fourth to accomplish the feat, and the first from a school outside of Texas. Carlette Guidry of Texas in 1998 (55-meters), Marshevet Hooker of Texas in 2006 and Blessing Okagbare of UTEP in 2010 were the others who did it before.

Like Ugen, San Diego State’s Shanieka Thomas is the defending outdoor champ in her signature event – the triple jump – and is the favorite the claim the indoor title. She’s the only jumper over 45 feet this year, with only three others within a foot. Both Florida’s No. 2 Ciarra Brewer and No. 3 Tori Franklin of Michigan State are both coming off conference titles.

Throws

Three women in the weight throw are seeded within 30 centimeters of one another, headed by Texas A&M’s Brea Garrett and followed by LSU’s Denise Hinton and Purdue’s Dani Bunch. Garrett may be the collegiate leader in the event at 74-4¼ (22.66m), but she was topped by Hinton at the SEC Championships.

Up until the regular season entered its final weekend, Christina Hillman of Iowa State had been the collegiate shot put leader since early December. At the end of that weekend, Missouri’s Kearsten Peoples claimed that distinction by just shy of one foot at 58-5¼ (17.81m). Only Big 12 Champion Hillman is within one foot of Peoples.

Pentathlon

Though top-ranked collegian Sami Spenner of Omaha is ineligible for the championships because of her school’s transitional Division I status, the competition will still feature more than its fair share of exceptional performers.

With her 4458 at the SEC Championships, defending NCAA Champion Erica Bougard of Mississippi State is the fifth-best collegiate performer all-time. She had to overcome collegiate record holder Makeba Alcide of Arkansas last year to claim her title, but she enters this year as the top seed.

Among those looking to upset Bougard are American Junior record holder Kendell Williams of Georgia as the No. 2 qualifier at 4302, and Thea LaFond of Maryland and Georgia’s Lucie Ondraschkova, both of whom are less than 100 points back, in terms of seed.