Division I Indoor T&F Weekend Preview: Eight Events to Watch
NEW ORLEANS–After two weekends of relatively concentrated collegiate track weekend, this weekend is incredibly diffuse. There are at least five meets in three time zones worth following from a Division I perspective–and that’s without dipping into the incredible pro action in Boston on Saturday.
Below, we preview eight events to watch this weekend – in chronological order for your viewing convenience. Four of the eight are available to stream online; the other four will have live results.
For the full collegiate schedule this weekend, check out our Meets This Weekend page.
New Mexico Women’s Pole Vault – Demi Payne vs. Sandi Morris vs. Kaitlin Petrillose vs. the collegiate pole vault record
Saturday, 12:20pm ET/10:30am MT – Live Results (Not jump-by-jump)
After weeks of separate collegiate record chases around the country, the undisputed "match-up of the year" is finally happening this weekend. Collegiate record-holder Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin will take on former collegiate record-holders Sandi Morris of Arkansas and Kaitlin Petrillose of Texas – who will all be shooting for the magical 4.76m mark.
That’s one centimeter better than Payne’s current 4.75m record, which she achieved in this very building two weekends ago. Morris’ season-best is 4.65m from last weekend, the best non-altitude performance in collegiate history.
Payne and Morris are both in excellent form, with both having taken very good attempts at 4.76m just last weekend and both combining for the top six marks in collegiate history over the past month. Petrillose, last year’s national champion with a then-collegiate record 4.60m, will look to get back on track and clear 14 feet for the first time this season.
While both Payne and Morris have both been exceptional this year, they’ve done it against limited competition. Payne has won by a total of 1.38m over the past three weekends, while Morris’ three-week total margin of victory is .58m. The real show will be watching them trying to out-tactic one another once the rest of the field has gone out.
Here’s the scheduled height progression, beginning at 14-11½ (4.56m):
15-7¼ (4.76m) [New Collegiate Record]
USATF Cross Country Championships
Saturday, 2:15pmET/12:15pm MT – Women’s 8k
Saturday, 3:00pm ET/1pm MT – Men’s 12k
LIVE STREAM on USATF.tv
The four biggest collegiate names: Stanford’s Maksim Korolev, Boise State’s Emma Bates, Arkansas’s Stanley Kebenei, and Adams State’s Tabor “Tabor Flav” Stevens. Korolev and Kebenei were fourth and sixth at the Division I championships in November; Stevens won the Division II championship in December. How those three perform against each other will be a nice barometer (albeit a tiny sample size) for the relative quality of the two divisions. For Bates, this is an opportunity to recapture the form she showed last spring in winning the NCAA 10k and cracking the collegiate all-time top ten list.
A quick note on Kebenei: Letsrun frets that “To our knowledge, Kebenei doesn’t even have his U.S. citizenship yet;” however, it says right on the meet website that “Only citizens of the United States are eligible to compete in these championships.” And as we all know, USATF would never, ever arbitrarily make an exception to one of its own posted rules, especially at a national championship.
Notre Dame Men’s Meyo Mile
Saturday, 2:25pm ET – Live Results
Live Stream with $ FloPro subscription on Flotrack.org
Sneakily, Sam Penzenstadler and Mason Ferlic had two of the best outdoor NCAA championships of any American distance runner. Penzenstadler—from Chicago’s Loyola—beat everyone not named Mac Fleet or Lawi Lalang in the 1500, and Ferlic of Michigan was the first American finisher in the steeplechase. (As covered above, Stanley Kebenei has since become American)
Both will have to contend with a slew of quick Canadians: Ross Proudfoot of Guelph and pros Taylor Milne and Jeremy Rae have all dipped well under four minutes in the mile. If Penzenstadler can get his 3:58 PR (set at Meyo last year) in the 3:56 range, he’s on a short list of favorites for the NCAA mile title. Ferlic, with a 7:56 flat 3k already on his résumé, will look to break four for the first time.
Texas A&M Women’s 400 meters
Saturday, 3:40pm ET/2:40pm CT – Live Results
Live with $ cable subscription on SEC Network+/WatchESPN.com
Kamaria Brown of Texas A&M is the defending national champion at 200 meters outdoors and very well may have won the event indoors but for a late-season injury. Natoya Goule of Clemson did sweep the 800 meter crowns in 2013 while at LSU (she had to sit out a year after transferring to Clemson).
The two will meet in roughly the middle at 400 meters this weekend. Brown has the advantage in that she has a sub-51 performance on her career resume from last indoor season and a 52.96 season-best this year. Don’t count out Goule, though. She has a season’s best of 53.68 from mid-January and has been the anchor for the Tigers’ 4×400 relay.
New Mexico Women’s 400 meters
Saturday, 3:55pm ET/1:55pm MT – Live Results
Like the men’s 400 at Texas A&M, it’s not the depth of the field that makes this event worth watching; it’s the names that headline it. Returning Bowerman Trophy finalist and outdoor collegiate record-holder Courtney Okolo of Texas will make her season debut in her signature event, potentially squaring off with her collegiate-leading teammate Kendall Baisden.
Considering she’s run 50.03 outdoors, Okolo’s 51.56 indoor career-best seems soft and it might just fall in her first race, especially considering she’s debuting at sprinter-friendly altitude. Baisden will look to improve on her 51.81 from her 2015 quarter-mile debut at Kentucky. She has run 50.46 outdoors.
Texas A&M Men’s 400 Meters
Saturday, 3:55pm ET/2:55pm CT – Live Results
Live with $ cable subscription on SEC Network+/WatchESPN.com
The field here isn’t exactly loaded, but 2014 Bowerman winner Deon Lendore is making his open season debut. He opened a week earlier last year—also at home—with a 45.74 400m. Will he open faster this year? Lendore didn’t even have the fastest leg on his team’s near-collegiate record last week; that was Bralon Taplin.
Maybe he’ll switch to the 800 at the last minute. A blogger can dream.
New Mexico Men’s 600 Meters
Saturday, 8pm ET – Live Results
In the season’s first “meet in the middle” showdown between a mid-d runner and a sprinter—the Olivia Baker-Mary Cain–Raevyn Rogers 600m in Seattle—the sprinter Baker came out on top. We have an all-collegian men’s version of that on Friday night in ABQ.
Current NCAA #3 800 man Shaquille Walker of BYU is facing off against current NCAA #2 400 man Vernon Norwood of LSU. Both have shown their chops outside of their respective comfort zones. As a freshman in 2012 (Walker is only a sophomore in 2015; presumably he just returned from a Mormon mission), Walker competed in the 4×400 at the outdoor NCAA championships. And Norwood ran 1:08.84 for the collegiate leader in the rarely contested 600 yards at Kentucky. Dmitrijs Miļkevičs’ decade-old college record of 1:15.60 is in faint danger.
Virginia Tech Women’s 60-Meter Hurdles
Friday, 8:15pm ET – Live Results
Kendra Harrison of Kentucky is the huge favorite here. She’s the only woman in the field to have broken 8.20 seconds, and she’s run 7.94 at sea level and altitude. This is her season debut in the hurdles; Sasha Wallace and Bridgette Owens will be watching closely.
The next two best athletes in the field are Harrison’s teammate Leah Nugent and Georgia’s star pentathlete Kendell Williams. Nugent has run 8.20, and Williams 8.21; both will be looking to crack into the 8.10s.
Divisions II & III and NAIA
Best meets, heat sheets division
Hillsdale’s Wide Track Challenge features some of the best teams not in the NCAA. The performance list there is dominated by NAIA No. 1 Indiana Tech and Canadian powerhouse Windsor. One of the best athletes in all of Division II—all-college No. 4 weight thrower Justin Welch of Findlay is entered in his signature event.
There aren’t any obviously spicy matchups at UW-Stevens Point’s Pointer Invitational, but when you put two of the top four DIII men’s teams on the same track, fireworks are bound to go off. And despite its serious geographic isolation—and not to mix metaphors—the UWSP track is a gold mine for national qualifiers. In three meets there last year, 78 marks were set that ended the season in the national top 20, per TFRRS.
Best meets, non-heat sheets division
The Ramapo College Indoor Select at the Armory features six men’s and women’s teams ranked in the top 30 in Division III. The most intriguing possibility is a Amy Regan vs. the best that the Johns Hopkins women have to offer; Regan and Hopkins’s Frances Loeb ran two of the nine fastest 5000s in DIII history last weekend, with Regan running less than two seconds faster.
Seven top-30 Division III teams head to Waverly, Iowa for the Wartburg Indoor Select. They’re highlighted by men’s No. 6 Central (Iowa) and women’s No. 10Carleton
Three of the nation’s top seven men in the 60 meters and 800 are on teams entered in the Tufts Cupid Challenge, plus the MIT women, who are dominating a slew of events on the national leaderboard right now. Chinedu Chukwu and Joseph Danner-Hicks of Bridgewater State and Terrence Gibson of Worcester State all finished within one one-hundredth of a second of each other when they raced a 60 at Reggie Lewis in December. Similarly, Mitch Black and Veer Bhalla of Tufts andSamuel Parker of MIT are separated by two seconds on the national 800 list, all having achieved their mark at Terrier last week.
Chadron State’s The Birds and the Bees Invitational is one of the most uniquely situated meets in the nation, in addition to having one of the best names of any meet. (Second perhaps only to the Meet of the UnSaintly outdoors) Chadron (in Nebraska) hosts the meet, but it’s taking place three hours away in Gillette, Wyoming. Four top-25 Division II teams—the host’s men and women, plus the Colorado School of Mines and Montana-Billings men—will be there.