NCAA DI Indoor Championships Preview: Women’s Jumps

NCAA DI Indoor Championships Preview: Women’s Jumps

The NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships are this weekend – March 13-14 – in Fayetteville, Arkansas, so to get you ready we’re breaking down each event at the Championships.

Here we look at the women’s jumps events, and we will take a look at those same men’s events in a separate article here.

Check back throughout the week for event group previews that include:

Be sure to tune in live on Friday and Saturday to ESPN3 (WatchESPN) to witness one of the best and most tightly contested indoor track & field meets on the planet.

For full meet details, visit the USTFCCCA National Championships Central page, and be sure to check ou thte USTFCCCA’s newly launched NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships History Record Book page.

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Women’s Pole Vault

One Arkansas athlete is facing off against a collegiate record holder in one of the track matchups of the meet; another is facing off against the CR holder in the field match-up of the meet.

This season, Arkansas’s Sandi Morris and Stephen F. Austin’s Demi Payne have cleared a ridiculous twenty-seven centimeters (about 10 inches) higher than the next best woman in the field, defending champ Kaitlin Petrillose of Texas. Morris and Payne have faced off twice this season, splitting the two matchups. Payne beat Morris 4.66-4.56 at New Mexico on February 6, and Morris beat Payne 4.59-4.49 at Arkansas on February 21.

Payne hasn’t cleared higher than 4.55 in over a month, while Morris hasn’t finished a meet with a clearance lower than 4.56 since late January. Payne owns five of the top seven marks in collegiate history, and Morris owns the hot hand. Payne’s 4.75m (at New Mexico in January) is the highest in collegiate history, and Morris’s 4.66m (at SECs two weeks ago) is the highest at sea level in collegiate history.

If you’re picking Payne, you like that Morris’s PB is nine centimeters lower. If you’re picking Morris, you like that she seems to be peaking at the right time.

A word on the latter narrative. Two of Payne’s last three meets have been USAs and her conference championships, so her weaker marks of late aren’t necessarily indicative of poor form. The objective at those two meets is to win, not to set records–though that didn’t stop Morris from clearing 4.66 at the SEC meet when 4.38 was second place.

The progression will be every ten centimeters from 4.10 to 4.30, then every five centimeters starting at 4.35.

Women’s High Jump

Leontia Kallenou of Georgia is the defending indoor and outdoor national champion and the national leader; her only loss to a collegian in the last twelve months came at the hands of her teammate Tatiana Gusin, who beat her on misses when both cleared 1.83m at McCravy in January.

Her margin on the rest of the field is very thin, though. Gusin and Kansas State’s Kimberly Williamson have both jumped 1.87m (about an inch below Kallenou’s best) and Akron’s Claudia Garcia Jou has jumped 1.88m this season.

The women’s high jump might be the most international event at the meet: Gusin is from Moldova, Kallenou is from Cyprus, Garcia Jou is from Spain, Williamson is from Jamaica, and Nebraska’s Marusa Cernjul (one of the three women next on the descending order list who has cleared 1.86) is Slovenian.

Cincinnati’s Erika Hurd and Maryland’s Amber Melville are the first two Americans on the list at 1.86 meters.

Kallenou jumped in the 2013 outdoor season, but this is only her second indoor season and she’s listed as a sophomore on TFRRS. If she wins her second straight title, she’s halfway to becoming the first woman ever to win an NCAA indoor title in the same event four years in a row. If Kallenou and Gusin go 1-2, they’ll be the first pair of teammates to do so since Georgia had Patty Sylvester and Levern Spencer claim the first two spots in 2007. And if Garcia Jou wins, she’ll be the first woman not from a power conference to do so since Southern Methodist’s Nevena Lendel won in 2003.

The progression will be 1.73, 1.78, 1.81, then every 3 cm.

Women’s Long Jump

While Kendell Williams is forgoing the individual events for the pentathlon, Akela Jones of Kansas State is doing the opposite. She’s ranked second in the multis, but is running the hurdles and doing the high jump and long jump at nationals. Jones is the No. 1 seed in a relatively wide-open long jump. The top two returners from last year’s indoor nationals are Georgia’s Chanice Porter, who finished second last year, and Mississippi State’s Erica Bougard, who was fourth.

But Bougard only has the eighth-best 2015 jump (and is also competing in the pentathlon), and Porter is even further down the descending order list at thirteenth.

I’m three grafs in without mentioning Jenna Prandini–the defending outdoor champ. She has the fourth-best mark in the NCAA this year, with Kentucky’s Sha’Keela Saunders and Kenyattia Hackworth between her and Jones.

In addition to being one of the most wide open events of the meet, it’s also going to be one of the ones with the most profound impacts on the team scoring. Porter and Keturah Orji are entered for Georgia; that pair and the two Kentucky women will have to put up major points here if those teams have any hope of upsetting Arkansas.

One wrinkle in this event: many of the stars involved will have to balance with sprint prelims at the same time. The long jump starts at 6:00 PM on Friday night. Prandini will be in the 60 at 7:25, and Jones will be in the high jump at 4:00 and the 60 hurdles at 6:30.

Women’s Triple Jump

Keturah Orji of Georgia has the collegiate leader, the SEC title, and the American indoor junior record. She’s triple jumped three times in college and hasn’t lost once. The only thing going against her: history. Going back to 1997 (the last year that the results have the athletes’ eligibility years; if you have results with class years in them from before then, please email me!), no freshman woman has won the triple jump.

There are no obvious candidates to beat the precocious Georgia Bulldog. The only women within sixty centimeters (about two feet) of her on the descending order list are Florida’s Ciarra Brewer (0-3 against Orji this winter, albeit in closely contested competitions) and Arkansas’ Tamara Myers (0-2). Orji is as heavy a favorite as there is in this meet.