WEEKEND PREVIEW: Tyson Invitational & More
NEW ORLEANS — There’s a reason the Tyson Invitational is considered one of the best meets of the indoor season.
As usual, a slew of the nation’s top indoor track & field teams will converge on the Randal Tyson Track Complex at the University of Arkansas for what should be one action-packed weekend. The meet will feature nine top-25 men’s teams, as well as 13 top-25 women’s squads, while each event is chock full of individual talent.
No. 1 Florida, No. 3 LSU and No. 5 Arkansas will all compete, giving fans a preview of what is sure to come at the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships in just a few weeks. Joining the SEC trio will be No. 8 Southern California, No. 12 Texas Tech, No. 15 Texas, No. 16 Kansas, No. 17 Colorado and No. 20 Oklahoma State.
Six top-five teams on the women’s side will take to the red and gray Mondo this weekend in No. 2 Arkansas, No. 4 Southern California, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 7 LSU and No. 8 Texas. Seven others in No. 12 Baylor, No. 13 Kansas State, No 16 Purdue, No. 18 North Carolina State, No. 19 Oklahoma State, No. 24 Harvard and No. 25 Oklahoma are amongst the top-25.
Individually, many will look to punch their ticket to the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas, this weekend, as there are only just a few weekends left of qualifying.
The sprint events are absolutely loaded with talent, as at least four of the current top-10 mark holders at the Division I level will compete in each event on both the men’s and women’s side, while a handful of the throws events should see some top-level student-athletes, as well. In the jumps department, the men’s leader in all four events will be competing, while two women’s events will feature the Division I leaders.
Let’s take a look into the top events the Tyson Invitational has to offer.
Women’s 60 Meters
Finals: Friday, 7:15 p.m. ET
Fans are in for a real treat in Women’s 60 meters, as six of the NCAA Division I top-10 leaders are slated to compete, including Kentucky’s Javianne Oliver, who owns the nation’s 2nd-fastest mark in the event at 7.18.
LSU’s Mikiah Brisco, Aleia Hobbs and Kortnei Johnson sit at 3rd, 6th and tied for 8th in Division I, respectively, giving the Tigers a powerful trio of sprinters to compete amongst some of the nation’s elite.
National leader Hannah Cunliffe of Oregon is racing this event at the Don Kirby Elite in New Mexico this weekend as are her teammates Deajah Stevens and Ariana Washington.
Men’s 400 Meter Invitational
Finals: Friday, 7:35 p.m. ET
LSU’s Michael Cherry is the lone sprinter who enters the Tyson Invitational with the top mark in all of Division I in his or her respective event, owning a time of 45.91 in the 400 meters. Cherry made his mark last year as a member of the NCAA Championship 4×400 relay team during both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
This year, the senior will look to add an individual title to his repertoire. He will face a nice test on Friday against Arkansas’ Obi Igbokwe and Baylor’s George Caddick.
Women’s 200 Meters Invitational
Finals: Saturday, 3:45 p.m. ET
Southern California’s Deanna Hill leads the pack in the women’s 200 in Fayetteville this weekend. After finishing 6th at NCAAs last year, Hill will look to continue to build on an already strong junior campaign. The native of Orlando will be pitted against four others within the NCAA Division I top-10 leaders, including Harvard’s Gabrielle Thomas.
Oregon’s trio of Cunliffe, Stevens and Washington are in New Mexico this weekend.
Men’s Jump Events
Finals: Friday & Saturday
Where do we start? The Tyson Invitational offers arguably the best group of individual jumpers in the nation this weekend on the men’s side. Texas Tech’s Trey Culver hopes to defend his 2016 NCAA indoor title in the high jump, but he currently sits 2nd in the nation behind Florida’s Clayton Brown. The pair will compete against one another in Arkansas this weekend.
Arkansas’ Clive Pullen is much like Culver: He is looking to repeat as NCAA indoor champ, but faces a roadblock in Florida’s KeAndre Bates. Both are tied for the top mark in the nation in the event, with three other top-10 Division I mark holders competing in Arkansas over the weekend.
Additionally, national leaders Chris Nilsen of South Dakota’s and Grant Holloway of Florida’s will get after it in the pole vault and long jump, respectively.
Men’s 200 Meter Invitational
Finals: Saturday, 3:45 p.m. ET
Eight elite sprinters are slated for the men’s 200 meter invitational, and are led by Razorback Josh Washington, whose time of 20.71 is tied for 4th in Division I. Washington will be pitted against fellow top-10 mark holders in Andrew Hudson of Texas Tech (20.80) and Southern California’s Michael Norman, who was on The Bowerman Award Preseason Watch List.
Women’s 400 Meters Invitational
Finals: Friday, 7:20 p.m. ET
This event should be one of the best on the weekend, as six of the eight entrants hold top-10 times in all of Division I. The women’s 400 meter event is up for grabs this season, as the six of the eight point scorers from a year ago during NCAAs have exhausted their eligibility. Look for Southern California’s Kendall Ellis to stay out front, with the bottom half of the Division I top-10 nipping at her heels.
Texas’ Chrisann Gordon (3rd NCAAs last year) will compete in the Olympic Development section.
Arizona’s Sage Watson, the collegiate record holder over 500 meters, is running the 400 at the Don Kirby Elite.
Women’s 60 Hurdles
Finals: Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET
It could be a photo finish on Friday in the women’s 60 meter hurdles, as Purdue’s Devynne Charlton and Kentucky’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn are separated by just one one-hundredth of a second in terms of top times on the season. The duo will be joined by Southern California’s Dior Hall and LSU’s Brisco in what is sure to be an exciting – and quick – race.
Oregon’s duo of Alaysha Johnson and Sasha Wallace will compete in this event in New Mexico.
Women’s Jump Events
Finals: Friday & Saturday
While the fields for the women’s jump events don’t feature the top Division I mark holders in each event, the fields are arguably deeper overall. Kentucky’s Sha’Keela Saunders leads the way in the long jump with the Division I top mark after placing 2nd at NCAAs a year ago.
In the pole vault, 2016 indoor national champion Lexi Weeks of Arkansas hopes to recapture the title again as a sophomore. However, her own teammate and twin sister stands in her way, as Tori Weeks owns the top mark in Division I this year. The pair headlines a field that features four other top-10 mark holders on the year.
Women’s 4 x 400 Relay Invitational
Finals: Saturday, 5:10 p.m. ET
Southern California leads Division I with a time of 3:30.66 in the women’s 4×400 relay, but is just under three seconds faster than host Arkansas, who sits in 7th nationally. With Baylor and LSU also fielding teams this weekend, the Trojans may have their toughest competition of the year to date.
Men’s 4×400 Meter Relay Invitational
Finals: Saturday, 5:20 p.m. ET
Of the eight men’s 4×400 meter relay teams competing in the invitational portion of the event on Saturday, five hold top-10 finishes on the season in Division I. Throw in Arkansas – who sits just under four tenths of a second out of 10th place, nationally – and you have a recipe for a solid race.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT
Sarah Loesch, Purdue – The native of Columbus, Indiana, should – for a lack of a better term – run away with the women’s weight throw title, as she owns the only top-15 mark in Division I amongst all competitors in Fayetteville this weekend. Loesch is one of only 18 women set to toss at the Randal Tyson Track Complex on Friday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Brandon Carnes, Northern Iowa – Carnes may not come from a program that is considered a household name in terms of college track & field, but he himself should definitely be a name to remember. On the season, Carnes ranks 2nd in all of Division I in the 60 meters with a time of 6.59. After finally getting a taste of the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships last season, the senior will look to continue his tear on his way to another appearance at the national championships. Carnes and Florida State’s Darryl Haraway already went toe-to-toe at the Larry Wieczorek Invitational in mid-January. Couple those two with North Carolina A&T’s Christopher Belcher and Houston’s Cameron Burrell (who holds one of the fastest times in NCAA history at this event) and Carnes will be face his biggest challenge of the year.
Nicolai Ceban, Kansas – As a rookie in 2015, the native of Moldova placed 10th at the Tyson Invitational in the shot put. Last year, he captured the event title. After recording the 3rd-best shot put mark in Division I this season in late January at the Jayhawk Classic with a throw of 19.85m (65-1 ½), Ceban will be looking to add to his trophy case on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.
Gleb Dudarev, Kansas – Wondering how the Jayhawks have made a significant jump in the computer rankings from the preseason? Credit Gleb Dudarev. The native of Belarus wasted no time in making his mark on track & field during his collegiate debut two weekends ago at the Jayhawk Classic. In his first competition donning the crimson and blue, the native of Belarus recorded a weight throw mark of 23.00m (75-5 ½), good for 3rd in all of Division I. Let’s see if he can keep that up when he competes at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
Christian Coleman, Tennessee – No, he’s not competing at the Tyson Invitational, as the Volunteers headed east to Clemson for the Tiger Paw Invitational. But we would be remiss if we did not mention the Division I leader and world leader in the 60 and 200. The junior will compete in only the latter this weekend.