Meet Preview: Razorback Invitational
NEW ORLEANS — Every year, right before the calendar flips from January to February, hordes of elite athletes in NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field converge on the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas for the Razorback Invitational.
This year is no different.
Starting tomorrow, athletes representing 12 programs — as well as several from the professional ranks — will try their hand on what is billed as “The Home of the Fastest Indoor Track in the World.” Don’t forget about those athletes in the field events, either.
The Razorback Invitational will be aired live on the SEC Network on Saturday starting at 12:30 p.m. CT. If you miss that, ESPN2 will show it on a tape delay on Sunday from 8-10 p.m. CT.
Six of those programs competing in the meet have ranked men’s and women’s teams in the latest USTFCCCA National Team Computer Rankings — Arkansas (No. 11 men’s and No. 1 women’s), Florida (No. 1/No. 6), Texas A&M (No. 3/No. 20), Oregon (No. 5/No. 5), LSU (No. 6/No. 18) and Georgia (No. 7/No. 2).
Oklahoma State, home of the 16th-ranked men’s team, will be in attendance, as will Florida State, Iowa, Iowa State, Oklahoma and UCLA.
While each event is loaded with talent, here are a few to keep an eye on when competition gets underway.
Note: USTFCCCA Individual Rankings are used in this article. Those rankings are preseason marks of returning athletes as well as marks from the current year.
FINAL: Friday, 11 a.m. CT
Kansas State’s Akela Jones made a well-documented attempt at breaking the collegiate record in the pentathlon last weekend. Jones, a Bowerman Watch List member, fell 35 points shy of the mark established by Georgia’s Kendell Williams last year at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships and settled for second place all-time.
Williams’ record of 4678 points might not stand for much longer, however, as she returns to the site of her crowning achievement.
The pentathlon field is stacked and Williams will be pushed by teammate Xenia Rahn (third on the USTFCCCA Individual Rankings) and a trio of Arkansas standouts (Alex Gochenour, Taliyah Brooks and Leigha Brown).
Williams has yet to compete in a pentathlon this season, but tallied 4609 points last year one weekend earlier.
FINAL: Saturday, 4 p.m. CT
Do we need to say anything more?
The two-time Bowerman Award finalist and the 2015 NCAA champ in the event should make his debut this weekend.
Cheserek, a junior from Oregon and the top athlete in the USTFCCCA Individual Rankings, headlines a field that also includes Oklahoma State’s Vegard Oelstad (No. 12).
We have yet to see a miler crack the four-minute barrier this season. Will Cheserek be the first?
Or will Cheserek settle in and just try to qualify for NCAAs, coming up in less than seven weeks.
FINAL: Saturday, 3:35 p.m. CT
Just a few weeks ago, Oregon teammates Brooke Feldmeier and Raevyn Rogers coordinated an attack on the collegiate record in the 600. They were successful as Rogers — a Bowerman Watch List member — clocked a 1:26.34 and shattered the 35-year-old record set by Tennesse’s Delisa Floyd in 1981.
What do they have in store for the 800 this weekend? We’re about to find out.
The current collegiate record of 2:00.75 was established in 2005 by Tennesse’s Nicole Cook. At the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Rogers won in 1:59.71 — so the speed is there, but that was also in June and at the end of a training cycle.
If Rogers goes sub-2:02.00, she’ll find herself in elite company. She would be the eighth woman in collegiate history to run that fast in the 800.
Joining Rogers and Feldmeier at the start line will be Oklahoma State’s Savannah Camacho (No. 14) and Florida State’s Chelsea Jarvis (No. 18).
FINAL: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. CT
If you want a preview of the 400 at NCAAs, turn your attention to Fayetteville this weekend.
Florida’s Arman Hall, the top-ranked 400 runner in the USTFCCCA Individual Rankings, will face teammate and Bowerman Watch List member Najee Glass (No. 2) and conference rival Lamar Burton of LSU (No. 3).
All three of those men have raced a 400 this year, but not in the individual arena. Glass and Hall both were part of the Gators’ 4×400 team that topped the National Descending Order List in NCAA Division I last weekend in Lexington, Kentucky. Burton, who also ran last weekend, helped the Tigers to the second fastest time in the nation this season.
Whether or not we’ll see a collegiate record is up the air, but chances are high that there will be three new names atop the NDOL as of Sunday.
PRELIMS: Saturday, 1:10 p.m. CT
FINAL: Saturday, 2:53 p.m. CT
It’s been a while since Oregon’s Devon Allen competed on a track — 18 months, to be exact.
Well, Allen is about to shake off the rust this weekend.
Allen, a Bowerman Watch List member and a two-time, 110-hurdles champion in 2014 (NCAA, USATF) is scheduled to toe the line Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville. He will compete in the 60 hurdles along with LSU’s Jordan Moore, who is currently No. 2 on the USTFCCCA Individual Rankings.
This is Allen’s first indoor meet since the 2014 MPSF Championships, where he finished third in the 60 hurdles. Allen, who also plays football for the Ducks, was forced to redshirt the entire 2015 track cycle after injuring his knee in the Rose Bowl.
Women’s Long Jump
FINAL: Friday, 7 p.m. CT
Fans of the long jump will get a preview of what might happen in March as Georgia’s Kenturah Orji and Oregon’s Jasmine Todd go head to head this weekend.
Orji, the top-ranked triple jumper and fifth-ranked long jumper according to the USTFCCCA Individual Rankings, will only compete in the long jump during this meet. The Bowerman Watch List member already posted a leap of 6.31m (20-8.5) this season.
Todd, on the other hand is a standout in the 60 and is looking to improve her marks. The seventh-ranked Duck has yet to compete in the long jump this season but has a career best of 6.50m (21-4), set at the 2014 Don Kirby Elite Meet in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The furthest Todd has soared this early in the season was 6.40m (21-0), also back in 2014.
In addition to Orji and Todd, LSU’s Nataliyah Friar, Florida State’s Der’Renae Freeman, Georgia’s Chanice Porter, Florida’s Darrielle McQueen and UCLA’s Jessie Maduka will also compete.
Other Events To Watch
Women’s 200 (Friday, 6:40 p.m.) — 2015 NCAA champ and Bowerman Watch List member Kyra Jefferson of Florida (No. 1 USTFCCCA Individual Rankings) will face Oregon’s Ariana Washington (No. 5) and Arkansas’ Taylor Ellis-Watson (No. 6), among others. Jefferson is the specialist in this event, while Ellis-Watson is dropping down from the 400 to test her might.
Women’s 60 (Saturday, 2:56 p.m.) — The aforementioned Todd (No. 1 USTFCCCA Individual Rankings) faces Florida’s Shayla Sanders (No. 3) and her own teammate Hannah Cunliffe (No. 8).
Men’s Long Jump (Friday, 7 p.m.) — Bowerman Watch List member Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas takes on Florida’s KeAndre Bates and Florida State’s Keniel Grant. That’s No. 1 in the USTFCCCA Individual Rankings versus No. 4 and No. 10. Lawson will also compete in the 60 the following afternoon.
Men’s Heptathlon (Friday, 11:15 a.m.) — We should see some fireworks from these athletes just as we will in the women’s pentathlon that same day. Bowerman Watch List member Maicel Uibo of Georgia faces his teammates Garrett Scantling (No. 2 USTFCCCA Individual Rankings) and Devon Williams (No. 6).