WEEKEND PREVIEW: Tiger Paw Invitational, Tyson Invitational Set To Shine
EDITOR’S NOTE: This preview is centered on everything but distance events. If you want to read more about this weekend’s distance happenings, CLICK HERE.
Welcome to the last major weekend of the regular season in collegiate indoor track & field!
After today, collegians will turn their attention to the postseason as conference bragging rights will be on the line less than two weeks from now.
Chances of seeing some big marks this weekend is pretty high, so let us take a look at some of the biggest meets.
Clemson Tiger Paw Invitational
You should expect fireworks at the Clemson Tiger Paw Invitational this weekend as 16 teams that were ranked among the top-25 of the most recent NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field National Rating Index will converge on the Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex.
Not only that, but it’s an even split down the middle as eight of those are men’s teams and eight of them are women’s teams. The men’s contingent include four of the top-5 programs – No. 1 Florida State, No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Southern California and No. 5 Texas A&M – while the women’s side includes three of the top-5 – No. 1 Southern California, No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 5 Texas – among others.
Those teams wouldn’t be ranked as high as they are without elite athletes turning in fantastic performances and that’s what we can look for this weekend.
The first section of the Women’s 400 Meters is going to be a barnburner. The top-3 women at the collegiate level are set to square off as top-ranked Kennedy Simon of Texas faces second-ranked Alexis Holmes of Kentucky and third-ranked Taylor Manson of Florida.
Look out for the first section of the Men’s 400 Meters as well. The top-5 duo of Bryce Deadmon (No. 2) and Jamal Walton (No. 5) from Texas A&M takes on fifth-ranked Jonathan Jones of Texas and The Bowerman Watch List member Quincy Hall of South Carolina, who is making his open debut at this meet.
If these two sections of the 400 aren’t enough to whet your appetite, then we don’t know what will. Plus, that just means the meet-closing 4×400 relays are going to be epic – just as they have been at the Tiger Paw Invitational over the past few years. In fact, four of the top-7 all-time marks in the Men’s 4×400 Relay have occurred at this meet. Chances are we could see another with Texas A&M already clocking a 3:02.77 for the No. 11 performance earlier this season.
We’ll see a national leader and top-10 match-ups in the 200 Meters, too.
The first section of the Men’s 200 Meters pits top-ranked Micaiah Harris of Texas against sixth-ranked Marcus Parker of Clemson and ninth-ranked Joseph Fahnbulleh of Florida. Harris has bettered his NCAA-leading mark each time he has stepped on the track.
Then the first section of the Women’s 200 Meters features three women ranked in the top-6: Second-ranked Anavia Battle of Ohio State, fourth-ranked Abby Steiner of Kentucky and sixth-ranked Julien Alfred of Texas. Alfred, also a member of The Bowerman Watch List, will also contest the Women’s 60 Meters where she is the seventh fastest collegian ever and could be tested in the final against fellow Watch List members Chanel Brissett and Twanisha Terry from Southern California.
Don’t forget about the Men’s 800 Meters, either. That because Devin Dixon of Texas A&M will race in his signature event for the first time this season. Dixon, who is a member of The Bowerman Watch List, battles two of the top-3 men on the Descending Order List – National leader Isaiah Jewett of Southern California and his own teammate Carlton Orange.
We’ll shift our focus to the field, where top-5 match-ups are all the rage.
Starting with the Men’s High Jump, top-ranked Darryl Sullivan of Tennessee and second-ranked Earnie Sears of Southern California duke it out with fourth-ranked Clayton Brown of Florida not too far behind. Sullivan is a recent addition to The Bowerman Watch List after matching the fourth-best performer in collegiate indoor history at 2.33m (7-7¾).
The Men’s Triple Jump pits the current national leader against the former national leader with three other men ranked in the top-6 in action. Jordan Scott of Virginia bounded past Brown for the collegiate lead this past weekend and will look to continue his stellar start to the season as he faces Brown, third-ranked O’Brien Wasome of Texas, fourth-ranked Clarence Foote-Talley of Ohio State and sixth-ranked Jonathan Miller of Florida.
The Women’s High Jump has three women who cleared six feet this season: Second-ranked Ellen Ekholm of Kentucky, third-ranked Tyra Gittens of Texas A&M and fifth-ranked Alexa Parks of Penn State. Gittens is also highly-ranked in the pentathlon as well.
Then in the Women’s Triple Jump, Deborah Acquah of Texas A&M leads a quartet of top-10 athletes. Acquah, who is also the national leader in the long jump, is joined by Ciynamon Stevenson of Texas A&M, Alonie Sutton of Tennessee and Kala Penn of Florida.
Here is a tweet that Arkansas put out yesterday morning.
One of the 𝗕𝗘𝗦𝗧 regular season indoor track meets in the country featuring some of the sport’s 𝗕𝗘𝗦𝗧.
The Tyson Invitational is about to be 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Pmp3g2Iz3q
— Arkansas Track & Field (@RazorbackTF) February 13, 2020
If you’re wondering where standout individuals at the NCAA Division I level are competing this weekend, then you’d be hard-pressed not to find them at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Let us indulge you.
For starters, there will be six collegiate leaders in action in their respective events, including two of the best to ever do it at the collegiate level.
- Gleb Dudarev, Kansas (Men’s Weight Throw): He is the fifth best performer in collegiate history with his heave of 24.38m (80-0) back in late January
- Rayvon Grey, LSU (Men’s Long Jump): He is 3½ inches better than every other collegian this season and undefeated against them, to boot
- Tonea Marshall, LSU (Women’s 60 Hurdles): She is the third best performer in collegiate history with the fifth best performance after clocking a 7.86 in mid-January
- Jasmine Moore, Georgia (Women’s Triple Jump): She is dangerously close to the all-time top-10 and is well within reach of breaking Keturah Orji’s all-time freshman best
- Abigail O’Donoghue, LSU (Women’s High Jump): She has cleared 1.84m (6-0½) or better four times this season
- Randolph Ross, North Carolina A&T (Men’s 400 Meters): He is undefeated in his signature event this season and has improved his PR significantly each time out
You can’t forget about JuVaughn Harrison of LSU, either. Harrison, who is a member of The Bowerman Watch List alongside Dudarev and Marshall, is competing in both the Men’s High Jump and the Men’s Long Jump. You might remember that Harrison became the only man in NCAA DI history to win NCAA titles in both events last June.
It’s safe to say there is A LOT of star power at the Tyson Invitational.
Other Meets Of Interest
Grand Valley State Big Meet (Friday)
While the Tiger Paw Invitational and the Tyson Invitational are two of the biggest team-centric meets at the NCAA Division I level, the Grand Valley State Big Meet is perhaps the strongest one of the weekend at the NCAA Division II level. More than 3000 athletes are expected to compete this weekend at the Kelly Family Sports Center over two days, but the best action happens on Friday night. You’ll see a number of athletes from the NCAA Division II level, as well as from the NAIA level trying to notch automatic standards for the upcoming championships. Just last year alone, there were 27 marks that ended up on the top-10 of the NCAA Division II Descending Order List from this meet.
All-Ohio D-III Indoor Championships
Regional competition is fierce between NCAA Division III teams. State bragging rights take it to another level. We’ll see a number of programs get after it this weekend at the All-Ohio D-III Indoor Championships hosted by Otterbein. Just last year alone, there were seven marks that ended up on the top-20 of the NCAA Division III Descending Order List from this meet, including three top-10 efforts in the throws.