Meet Preview: Kentucky Rod McCravy Memorial
This article uses the USTFCCCA Individual By-Event Rankings to assign ranks to athletes. The rankings include top marks from returning athletes’ recent seasons and the top marks of the 2015-16 season to this point.
NEW ORLEANS – Though the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field season has been officially underway since the week after NCAA Cross Country ended in late November, the season really kicks into a higher gear this weekend.
Two meets lead the way in that surge of intensity: the Kentucky Rod McCravy Memorial and the Conference Clash Power Five Invitational.
We’ll break down the former meet in this piece, and what a meet it will be: last year, Nutter Field House was the site of nine world-leading times and 15 NCAA-leading times.
This Friday and Saturday will be no different with ten top-25 teams (six women’s and four men’s), a combined 21 NCAA event titles in the field and dozens of All-America certificates between all the competitors.
You’ll want to catch the whole meet on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN online, but we’ve picked out a few events on which you should keep an especially close eye.
FINAL: Saturday, 1:15pm ET
PRELIMS: Saturday, 12:45pm ET
Assuming all the headliners make the final, this could be the event of the weekend. One of the big themes of this collegiate track & field season (both indoors and outdoors) will be seeing who fills the short sprints void left by the professional departures of Trayvon Bromell and Andre De Grasse.
And what better way to start answering that question than with a race that could feature Bromell himself?
The reigning IAAF World Championships 100-meter co-bronze medalist could potentially square off with current collegiate leader Cameron Burrell of Houston (No. 4 USTFCCCA rankings), Clemson’s Tevin Hester (No. 5), Missouri’s Markesh Woodson (No. 8), Houston’s Leshon Collins (No. 12) and the Florida duo of Antwan Wright (No. 21) and frosh Ryan Clark (not to mention 200/400 standout Arman Hall).
Burrell has already run 6.55 this season, while Hester has gone 6.63, Collins has gone 6.64 and Woodson has run 6.66.
Bromell, who has run 6.59 this year and went 6.54 in this meet a year ago, will be joined from the professional ranks by former NCAA 60m champ D’Angelo Cherry (of Mississippi State) and Rondel Sorrillo – both of whom have run 6.57 or faster in their careers.
Women’s Pole Vault
Friday, 4:30pm ET
The “Year of the Vault” may have come and gone in 2015, but in its place is something just as intriguing in a different way: who takes over for Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin (who will be back this outdoor season) and the now-professional Sandi Morris (Arkansas)?
Two contenders for that mantle will be in action at the Nutter Field House this weekend as No. 4 Annie Rhodes of Baylor and No. 5 Alysha Newman of Miami (Fla.) clash. Both are coming off strong 2016 debuts this past weekend: Rhodes notched the second-best clearance of the collegiate season with a 4.36m (14-3½) effort at the Texas A&M Team Invite while Newman – competing indoors for the first time since 2014 – cleared 4.30m (14-1¼).
Helping to push the bar skyward will be former Illinois standout Stephanie Richartz, who was third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships a year ago behind Payne and Morris, and third indoors.
Men’s 60-Meter Hurdles
FINAL: Saturday, 1:05pm ET
PRELIMS: Satuday, 12:15pm ET
Much like the no-hurdle variation of this 60-meter distance, a void has been left by the professional departure of collegiate record-holder and two-time reigning NCAA champ Omar McLeod (Arkansas).
Among the frontrunners to fill said void is Isaac Williams of Houston (No. 3). He’ll be looking to parlay a third-place finish at NCAA Outdoors in the 110-hurdles into his first All-America honors indoors. He ran 7.72 indoors a year ago.
Conversely, when last we saw Vincent Wyatt (No. 7) was 2014 when he finished sixth in that same event. It would be his final event at Radford as the men’s track & field program fell victim to budget cuts. He redshirted 2015 and is now back with Western Kentucky. He has a career-best of 7.76 indoors.
Also in the field is Yanick Hart of Florida (No. 18), who has run 7.82.
Women’s Long, Triple and High Jumps
HIGH JUMP: Friday, 3:15pm ET
TRIPLE JUMP: Saturday, 11am ET
LONG JUMP: Friday, 3pm ET
Okay, so this is cheating the original premise a bit, but this meet could feature the eventual NCAA Indoor champions in all three pure jumps events.
The high jump features two-time reigning indoor champion Leontia Kallenou of Georgia (No. 1) as well as formidable trio of teammates in Tatiana Gusin (No. 2), two-time defending pentathlon champ Kendell Williams (No. 8) and Madeline Fagan (No. 11). Beyond the Bulldogs, Kandie Bloch-Jones of Illinois (No. 20) will provide the biggest challenge.
Reigning outdoor NCAA triple jump champ Keturah Orji (No. 1) will make her 2016 debut in her signature event this weekend. She made a splash during her frosh campaign a year ago by moving up to No. 10 on the all-time college performers list, and her quest to move even farther up the rankings will begin this weekend. She’ll face off against the Clemson trio of Iana Amsterdam (No. 10), Anasterasia Terrell (No. 15) and Mimi Land (No. 18).
Current collegiate leader Sha’Keela Saunders of Kentucky (No. 2) headlines the long jump. She finished runner-up nationally indoors and was third outdoors, but has already surpassed her indoor PR with a leap of 6.56m (21-6¼) in December. This will be her first long jump contest since the second week of December, and she’ll face off with No. 13 Darrielle McQueen of Florida.
Men’s 3000 Meters
Saturday, 3pm ET
Cross country fans will find a number of familiar names in this one. Headlining the field is XC All-American Dylan Lafond of Illinois, as well as top-60 finishers in Kentucky’s Jacob Thomson, the Virginia Duo of Chase Weaverling and Henry Wynne, and Houston’s Brian Barraza. Indiana’s Matthew Schwartzer (nearly an XC All-American two seasons ago) and Rorey Hunter will also be up front in contention.