THE WARM-UP LAP: Tyson Invitational – National Meet of the Week Preview

THE WARM-UP LAP: Tyson Invitational – National Meet of the Week Preview

(UPDATE: Official heat sheets have been released, with some significant names previewed below not actually competing in the events in which they were entered. Most notable: Dezerea Bryant of Kentucky is out of open events; Kamaria Brown of Texas A&M will not contest the 400; Arman Hall of Florida will not compete in open events; men’s 60-hurdler Oladapo Akinmoladun of Nebraska will instead compete at Iowa State)

NEW ORLEANS – Remember how deep the fields were at last month’s Rod McCravy Memorial at Kentucky? How we said it might be the best meet of the year?

Well, Arkansas and its Tyson Invitational – this week’s USTFCCCA National Meet of the Week – has something to say about that.

MEET INFO: Live Results | Entries | Schedule | SEC Network+ Broadcast

Outside of the distance events – which are featured heavily at both Washington and Iowa State this weekend – this meet is absolutely stacked, perhaps even more so than usual. So much so, in fact, that we’re breaking this preview up into two parts: Friday’s action and Saturday’s action. This is the Friday preview.

Click the "Saturday Preview" button below (or at the bottom of the page) to take a look at Saturday’s action.

 

Last year, this meet accounted for 47 athletes’ best pre-NCAA Championships times/marks, among those ranked in the top 25 on the TFRRS. Lists. More than the Husky Classic (42), more than the Iowa State Classic (27), more than the Don Kirby Elite at New Mexico (28).

This year, the sprints/jumps/throws events could (based on the accepted entries) feature a combined 206(!) athletes/relay teams that are currently ranked in the top 20 on the USTFCCCA event-by-event lists. These lists are a combination of the top performers from this 2015 season, as well as the top returning performers from the 2014 season. (Those lists will revert to just 2015 times and marks after this weekend).

Oh, and the athletes competing in Fayetteville this weekend have combined for an astounding 30 individual NCAA titles during both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Not bad.

With events like the men’s 60- and women’s 200- and 400-meter races featuring as many as 15 top-20 competitors and 22 events featuring at least five, let’s get directly to the breakdown of the meet in chronological order.

If you want to skip around, here’s a list of Friday’s featured events to which you can jump:

Men: 60 | 400 | 800 | 60H | LJ
Women: 60 | 400 | 60H | LJ | WT

(Note: the following previews are based on the accepted entries lists. Though athletes may be entered into events, they may elect not to contest them.)

 

Friday’s Events

Women’s Weight Throw – 2pm ET/1pm CT

Texas A&M’s Brea Garrett is the defending national champion and one of the best collegians of all time in this event, but she has yet to hit her stride during the 2015 season. Though she’s No. 1 on the USTFCCCA lists based on her marks from last year, she’s just No. 7 on the 2015 DI list. She’ll be up against 2015’s best in Missouri’s Kearsten People’s along with the Akron duo of Alexis Cooks and Brittany Funk, as well as Kentucky’s Beckie Famurewa – all of whom are top-five performers in 2015.

Rank* Name School
1 Brea Garrett Texas A&M
2 Kearsten Peoples Missouri
6 Alexis Cooks Akron
7 Brittan Funk Akron
8 Becky Famurewa Kentucky
11 Jayla Bostic Florida
16 Lea Johnson Miami
17 Rayann Chin SMU
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Men’s Long Jump Invitational – 7pm ET/6pm CT

This could end up being the best indoor long jump competition of the season, even including the NCAA Championships. It’s defending indoor national champion Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas against 2013 indoor champion/2014 outdoor champion Marquis Dendy of Florida against 2015 collegiate leader Jarvis Gotch of Louisiana Tech.

Why could this be better than even the NCAA Championships? Louisiana Tech’s indoor track & field program is ineligible for the NCAA Championships, meaning Gotch is unable to go for an NCAA title. Though it’s not the same, wins over the past two champions could help mitigate that frustration.

That’s not even mentioning the rest of the field, which could feature as many as three more top-10 performers. Check it out below.

Rank* Name School
1 Brea Garrett Texas A&M
2 Kearsten Peoples Missouri
6 Alexis Cooks Akron
7 Brittan Funk Akron
8 Becky Famurewa Kentucky
11 Jayla Bostic Florida
16 Lea Johnson Miami
17 Rayann Chin SMU
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Women’s Long Jump Invitational – 7pm ET/6pm CT

As Gotch, Dendy and Lawson duel in the men’s long jump, the women’s long jump will simultaneously feature an even deeper competition. Combined events extraordinaire Kendell Williams of Georgia is also the collegiate leader in the long jump – a title she took from Kentucky’s Sha’Keela Saunders by one centimeter. Both women are scheduled to go head-to-head on Friday, joined by 2014 national runner-up Chanice Porter of Georgia.

Three women tied at No. 10 in Florida State’s Der-Renae Freeman, Kansas State’s Akela Jones (who’s entered in a number of events this weekend) and Florida’s Robin Reynolds headline the rest of a deep field, seen below.

Rank* Name School
1 Kendell Williams Georgia
2 Sha’Keela Saunders Kentucky
4 Chanice Porter Georgia
10 Der’Renae Freeman Florida State
10 Akela Jones Kansas State
10 Robin Reynolds Florida
15 Shanice Stewart Texas Tech
15 Nataliyah Friar LSU
17 Tamara Myers Arkansas
17 Sidney Conley Kansas
19 Quanesha Burks Alabama
19 LaQue Moen-Davis Texas A&M
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Men’s 800 (Sections 1, 2) – 7:15pm ET/6:15pm CT

Of the distance events at Arkansas this weekend, this is likely the highest-profile. No. 2 Alex Amankwah of Alabama will square off with a pair of top-10 talents in Patrick Rono of Arkansas and Alvaro Chavez of Connecticut. Amankwah is the collegiate leader in 2015.

Rank* Name School
2 Alex Amankwah Alabama
9 Patrick Rono Arkansas
9 Alvaro Chavez Connecticut
16 Jacopo Lahbi Alabama
18 Clayton Murphy Akron
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Women’s 400 (Sections 1-4) – 8:15pm ET/7:15pm CT

This is shaping up to be the best women’s event of Friday evening. Outdoor collegiate record-holder and national champion Courtney Okolo of Texas headlines the field, but she doesn’t have the fastest indoor PR of the group. That belongs to Kamaria Brown of Texas A&M, who’s ranked No. 1 on the USTFCCCA list by virtue of last season. Okolo has raced this distance once this season, and put up a collegiate-leader.

This race is much more than just those two. Two-time outdoor NCAA champion Ashley Spencer of Texas is in the field, as is this year’s No. 2 collegian in Kendall Baisden of Texas. Based on the USTFCCCA lists, No. 6 Shakima Wimbley of Miami (Fla.), No. 7 Shamier Little of Texas A&M (the outdoor 400-meter hurdles champion) and Arkansas’s No. 9 Taylor Ellis-Watson will challenge for the win among a field featuring 12 of the top 20 women on the USTFCCCA list and a pair of wild cards in 2013 800 meter champ Natoya Goule of Clemson and Erica Rucker of South Carolina.

Rank* Name School
1 Kamaria Brown Texas A&M
2 Courtney Okolo Texas
3 Ashley Spencer Texas
5 Kendall Baisden Texas
6 Shakima Wimbley Miami
7 Shamier Little Texas A&M
9 Taylor Ellis-Watson Arkansas
12 Kiah Seymour Penn State
14 Felicia Majors Tennessee
15 Sparkle McKnight Arkansas
17 Chrishuna Williams Arkansas
19 Precious Holmes South Carolina
Natoya Goule Clemson
Erica Rucker South Carolina
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Men’s 400 (Sections 1-4) – 8:30pm ET/7:30pm CT

But wait, there’s more outstanding quarter-mile action directly after that women’s race as the men take to the track. Among the 13 men ranked in the top 20 of the USTFCCCA lists who are scheduled to race is reigning Bowerman Trophy winner Deon Lendore of Texas A&M. The defending indoor/outdoor national champ ran 45.68 in his debut last week… with the flu.

Lendore may be feeling better this weekend, but his competition will be sick. Rival Arman Hall of Florida is No. 2 in the USTFCCCA lists based on last year, teammate Bralon Taplin has run sub-45 in the 4×400 relay, and Zach Bilderback of Texas and Quincy Downing of LSU are both top-10 talents.

Here’s the breakdown of the top contenders.

Rank* Name School
1 Deon Lendore Texas A&M
2 Arman Hall Florida
6 Bralon Taplin Texas A&M
8 Zach Bilderback Texas
9 Quincy Downing LSU
12 Darrell Bush LSU
13 Cody Rush Nebraska
15 George Caddick Baylor
16 Eric Janise Arkansas
16 Michael Cherry Florida State
18 Joseph Richards III Texas Tech
Nick Uruburu Florida
Marqueze Washington Arkansas
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Women’s 60-Meter Hurdles Final – 8:45pm ET/7:45pm CT

(Prelims 3:50pm ET/2:50pm CT | Semis 7:45pm ET/6:45pm CT)

She has yet to compete in her signature event in 2015, but Kentucky’s Kendra Harrison is No. 1 in the USTFCCCA lists and one of only two active collegiate women who have run faster than 8.0 in the 60H. She did that in a narrow fourth-place finish at NCAAs last year.

The other? That’d be No. 4 Bridgette Owens of Florida, who accomplished the feat two years ago while both her and Harrison were teammates at Clemson. Just ahead of Owens on the USTFCCCA list is Texas Tech’s No. 3 Le’Tristan Pledger, who is also in the field. No. 8 Morgan Snow of Texas and No. 9 Akela Jones of Kansas State are also top-10 talents in the field.

Also looking to make strides on the national scene is Georgia’s No. 14 Kendell Williams, who is already the top-ranked pentathlete and long jumper this year.

See the top contenders below, featuring half of the top 20 on the USTFCCCA list.

Rank* Name School
1 Kendra Harrison Kentucky
3 Le’Tristan Pledger Texas Tech
4 Bridgette Owens Florida
8 Morgan Snow Texas
9 Akela Jones Kansas State
12 Leah Nugent Kentucky
14 Samantha Scarlett Auburn
14 Kendell Williams Georgia
17 Ebony Morrison Auburn
19 Erica Twiss Kansas State
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Men’s 60-Meter Hurdles Final – 8:50pm ET/7:50pm CT

(Prelims 4:20pm ET/3:20pm CT | Semis 7:55pm ET/6:55pm CT)

Defending national champion Omar McLeod, competing on his home track, headlines a men’s field that includes five top-10 hurdlers on the USTFCCCA list. Arkansas is also the site of the NCAA Championships in March, and he’ll get an up-close look at one of the challengers to his throne in No. 2 Oladapo Akinmoladun of Nebraska. The Husker has yet to recapture the form that he displayed at the end of last indoor season (currently ranked No. 34 in 2015), but this weekend’s competition may bring out the best in him.

That competition will feature the debut of LSU’s No. 5 Jordan Moore and the two men tied for the current collegiate lead at 7.72 in Houston’s Isaac Williams and South Carolina’s Dondre Echols, both of whom are tied at No. 7 on the USTFCCCA list. Here’s the rest of the deep field.

Rank* Name School
1 Omar McLeod Arkansas
2 Oladapo Akinmoladun Nebraska
5 Jordan Moore LSU
7 Isaac Williams Houston
7 Dondre Echols South Carolina
17 Chris Caldwell Texas Tech
17 Jermaine Collier South Carolina
20 Justin Johnson Clemson
20 Isaiah Moore South Carolina
20 Robert Semien Mississippi
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Women’s 60 Finals – 8:55pm ET/7:55pm CT

(Prelims 5:25pm ET/4:25pm CT | Semis 8pm ET/7pm CT)

The evening wouldn’t be complete without another showdown of reigning national champions, plus a rematch of one of the best NCAA Championships 60-meter finals in history. Remona Burchell of Alabama jumped onto the national radar last season with the narrowest of wins over Kentucky’s Dezerea Bryant as the duo raced to No. 3 and No. 4 on the all-time collegiate performers list. Bryant would go on to win the NCAA indoor 200 meters title, while Burchell completed the indoor 60/outdoor 100 sweep.

Also back from that final in this race are No. 5 Shayla Sanders of Florida, No. 6 Morolake Akinosun of Texas, and No. 9 Jennifer Madu of Texas A&M.

Joining them is No. 7 Cierra White of Texas Tech and five more top-20 sprinters. See the full list below.

Rank* Name School
1 Remona Burchell Alabama
2 Dezerea Bryant Kentucky
5 Shayla Sanders Florida
6 Morolake Akinosun Texas
7 Cierra White Texas Tech
9 Jennifer Madu Texas A&M
13 Stephanie Kalu SMU
13 Myasia Jacobs Clemson
15 Aleia Hobbs LSU
16 Aaliyah Brown Texas A&M
16 Mikiah Brisco LSU
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Men’s 60 Finals – 9pm ET/8pm CT

(Prelims 5:55pm ET/4:55pm CT | Semis 8:05pm ET/7:05pm CT)

Saving the best for last? It’s hard to disagree with that considering the Friday finale 60-meters features a potential showdown between the two men tied for the collegiate lead and nine of the top ten sprinters on the USTFCCCA list. This could very well be how the NCAA Championships final looks, with a few different faces.

Defending outdoor 100 meters champ Trayvon Bromell of Baylor and Oklahoma State’s John Teeters have both run 6.54 this season, and both figure to make it to the final to attempt to break their tie. Looking to usurp them will be returning All-Americans No. 4 Cameron Burrell of Houston, No. 7 Tevin Hester of Clemson, and No. 13 Antwan Wright of Florida.

Newcomers who will be challenging those two include two men tied at No. 5 in Tennesse’s Christian Coleman and TCU’s Ronnie Baker, and three more men tied with Hester at No. 7 in Missouri’s Markesh Woodson, Trentavis Friday of Florida State and Leshon Collins of Houston.

The list of more top contenders can be found below.

Rank* Name School
1 Trayvon Bromell Baylor
1 John Teeters Oklahoma State
4 Cameron Burrell Houston
5 Christian Coleman Tennessee
5 Ronnie Baker TCU
7 Markesh Woodson Missouri
7 LeShon Collins Houston
7 Trentavis Friday Florida State
7 Tevin Hester Clemson
12 Devin Jenkins Texas A&M
13 Raymond Bozmans TCU
13 Hugh Graham Jr Florida
13 Antwan Wright Florida
17 Cameron Hudson Alabama
20 Bryce Robinson Tulsa
*USTFCCCA Lists

 

Can you believe this is only one day of the meet? Click here for a breakdown of the field-event-heavy Saturday schedule.