WEEKEND IN REVIEW: Big Marks Galore In Sprints, Hurdles, Jumps & Relays
EDITOR’S NOTE: This recap focuses on everything but distance events that happened this weekend. If you’re looking for distance, CLICK HERE.
The final major weekend of the collegiate indoor track & field regular season lived up to the hype – and then some.
Collegians took aim at the record books and the Descending Order Lists throughout the week as big marks were turned in across the nation from Massachusetts to Washington and everywhere in between.
Here is a look at some of the most notable performances of the weekend.
That Makes Her No. 2!
When the level of competition picks up, Olivia Gruver steps up.
The Washington senior finished third at the USATF Indoor Championships with a best clearance of 4.70m (15-5), which made her the second best performer in collegiate history. That was also the best clearance by a collegian since Demi Payne set the indoor record back in 2015.
Speaking of the collegiate record, Gruver had three attempts at it. The bar moved to 4.75m (15-7), which would have matched Payne’s best. Gruver missed on all three attempts.
Fun fact: Both Gruver and Payne hit their best indoor marks at altitude in Albuquerque.
Talk About Raising The Bar
We haven’t seen this kind of depth in the Men’s Pole Vault in quite some time.
Dating back to AT LEAST 2011, there haven’t been more than two men to clear 19 feet in the pole vault during the indoor season. That’s as far as our easily-searchable season lists go back.
After the conclusion of the pole vault competition at the 2020 USATF Indoor Championships on Friday night, there are four collegians that topped that bar this season alone: KC Lightfoot of Baylor, Chris Nilsen of South Dakota, Zach Bradford of Kansas and Brandon Ellis of Stephen F. Austin.
Lightfoot and Nilsen were already members of the 19-foot club in 2020, but Bradford and Ellis joined yesterday. Bradford did so in winning the event at the Tyson Invitational and Ellis placed runner-up at the USATF Indoor Championships with his PR clearance.
Earlier in the day, Lightfoot and Nilsen went head-to-head at the Iowa State Classic. Lightfoot not only beat Nilsen, but took over the collegiate lead in the process at 5.83m (19-1½).
Mama, There Goes Tonea Again
Tonea Marshall isn’t done yet.
The LSU standout and member of The Bowerman Watch List won the 60 Meter Hurdles at the Tyson Invitational in 7.89 and became just the third woman in collegiate history to go sub-7.90 in the event multiple times. Marshall joins record-holder Brianna Rollins (7.78, 7.79, 7.82) and Priscilla Lopes (7.87 x2) in that regard.
Next up for Marshall is the SEC Indoor Championships in two weeks.
After that, the NCAA Championships await as she’ll look to become the first Tiger since Lolo Jones in 2003 to win the national title in that event.
A Banner Day For Trey
Trey Cunningham just keeps getting faster.
The Florida State standout and member of The Bowerman Watch List improved his PR in the 60 Meter Hurdles to 7.51 and matched the seventh fastest performer in collegiate history (Aries Merritt of Tennessee). In doing so, Cunningham also remained undefeated against collegiate competition this season (He did finish runner-up in the final to 2019 The Bowerman winner Grant Holloway, who went 7.38 for the 15th best performance in world history).
Next up for Cunningham is the ACC Indoor Championships in two weeks.
After that, the NCAA Championships await as he’ll look to become just the second male Seminole to be crowned king in the event (Drew Brunson won back in 2008).
Great (Jordan) Scott!
It didn’t take long for Jordan Scott to make an impact.
The Virginia star triple jumper and defending NCAA indoor champ took over the collegiate lead in his debut last weekend and then one-upped himself at the Clemson Tiger Paw Invitational this weekend.
Scott put together quite the series as he bounded 16.83m (55-2¾) or better three times, including the winning mark of 17.02m (55-10¼) on his third attempt. That made Scott the 17th man in collegiate history to eclipse the 17.00m (55-9¼) barrier.
Next up for Scott is the ACC Indoor Championships in two weeks.
After that, the NCAA Championships await as he’ll look to become the fifth man since the turn of the millennium to defend his throne.
Throwing His Weight Around
Gleb Dudarev is in rare form.
The Kansas star thrower added two more marks to the all-time top-25 in the Men’s Weight Throw this weekend when he won the event at the Tyson Invitational. His best mark came in at 24.27m (79-7½), while his second best effort wasn’t too far behind at 24.20m (79-4¾).
If you’re counting at home, Dudarev now has three marks listed in the all-time top-25. Here’s the kicker: He’s only competed at two meets so far.
Next up for Dudarev is the Big 12 Indoor Championships in two weeks.
After that, the NCAA Championships await and he’ll look to become the first Jayhawk to win that national title since Egor Agafonov went back-to-back in 2007 and 2008.
Say, “Hi” (Jump) To The SEC
The balance of power in the high jump remains in the SEC after this weekend.
We saw three great individual efforts from SEC-based athletes – Ellen Ekholm of Kentucky and Abigail O’Donoghue of LSU, as well as Darryl Sullivan of Tennessee – not to mention a little bit of gamesmanship from the two women who competed in different meets.
Earlier in the day, Ekholm soared into the collegiate lead with a clearance of 1.90m (6-2¾) at the Clemson Tiger Paw Invitational. It was a massive PR for the senior, who topped both 1.88m (6-2) and 1.90m (6-2¾) on her third attempt at the heights.
Not too long after at the Tyson Invitational, O’Donoghue wanted the collegiate lead back. So after winning the event title, O’Donoghue asked the bar to be raised to 1.91m (6-3¼), which would have given her the nation’s top mark by one centimeter or one-half inch. O’Donoghue missed on all three attempts and settled with her winning clearance of 1.89m (6-2¼).
Then back in Clemson, South Carolina, Sullivan took a healthy crack at breaking the 31-year-old collegiate record set by Hollis Conway. Sullivan had the event title in hand and then tried his might at 2.38m (7-9¾). Sullivan missed on each attempt, but left no doubt that he’ll continue to come for the record, if able.
Other Meets Of Interest
Grand Valley State Big Meet (Friday)
The Grand Valley State Big Meet lived up to its name on Friday night.
There were 98 automatic or provisional marks hit by NCAA Division II athletes in Allendale, Michigan. When you break those down by gender, women accounted for 57 of those, while men came through with 41.
Based on the Descending Order Lists that populated early Saturday morning, athletes who turned in five of those marks sat atop the national charts: Trevor Bassitt of Ashland (Men’s 400 Meters), Nicole Sreenan of Grand Valley State (Women’s 400 Meters), Berenice Cleyet-Merle of Indianapolis (Women’s 800 Meters), Denisha Cartwright of Central State (Women’s 60 Meter Hurdles) and Bobbie Goodwin of Grand Valley State (Women’s Weight Throw).