Weekend Preview: January 22-24

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

It also makes collegiate track & field athletes go bigger in early season meets after not competing for more than 10 months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This past weekend saw a slew of all-time performances added to the collegiate record book.

  • KC Lightfoot, Baylor – Lightfoot broke a less-than-year-old collegiate indoor record in the pole vault at the Texas Tech Corky Classic in Lubbock, Texas. He topped 5.94m (19-5¾) on his first attempt at the height and reduced Chris Nilsen’s former all-time best of 5.93m (19-5½) to second fiddle. Lightfoot missed three attempts at 6.00m (19-8¼), but has cleared that in practice.
  • Ruth Usoro, Texas Tech – Usoro became the second best performer in collegiate indoor history in the triple jump. She bounded 14.28m (46-10¼) on her first attempt of the season to not only break the Nigerian indoor record, but slide right behind 2018 The Bowerman winner Keturah Orji of Georgia on the all-time collegiate chart.
  • Athing Mu, Texas A&M – Mu became the fifth fastest performer in collegiate indoor history in the 800. She negative split the four-lap race on her way to a time of 2:01.07 (60.75, 60.32). That time was superior to the American U20 indoor record and just 0.04 seconds off the World U20 best set by Meskerem Legesse of Ethiopia at 2:01.03.
  • Takieddine Hedeilli, Texas Tech – Hedeilli became the 10th fastest performer in collegiate indoor history in the 800. He clocked a time of 1:45.98 at the Texas Tech Corky Classic and broke the Algerian indoor record in the process. Remarkably, that is just the fourth fastest time ever run by a collegian in January with Michael Saruni of UTEP and the Texas A&M duo of Devin Dixon and Donavan Brazier ahead of him.

That’s not even counting what happened in other divisions!

There is little reason to believe that it’s going to slow down going forward.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZone: Meets This Weekend

One of the biggest meets of the upcoming weekend is the Wooo Pig Classic, hosted by Arkansas on Friday (Notice that it’s three o’s in “Wooo,” not two). The Razorbacks welcome perennial powers Kentucky, LSU, Oklahoma State, Southern California, Texas and other select athletes to the Randal Tyson Track Center, site of the 2021 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships from March 11-13.

Competition will be fierce across the board for both the men and women.

Julien Alfred of Texas headlines the women’s field, making her 2021 debut in the 60 – her signature event. Alfred was a breakthrough star last year as she became the seventh fastest performer in collegiate history with her 7.10 at the MLK Invitational in late January. With any luck, fans should see a showdown between Alfred and Twanisha Terry of Southern California in the final, among others.

Other women’s events to keep an eye on include the 400, 3000 and pole vault. The 400 features four of the top-5 athletes from the 2019-20 Descending Order List – Bailey Lear of Southern California (No. 1), Kennedy Simon of Texas (No. 2), Kaelin Roberts of Southern California (t-No. 3) and Alexis Holmes of Kentucky (No. 5). The 3000 will have a number of athletes working together to turn in fast times, led by a contingent of Razorbacks. Lisa Gunnerson of LSU went under the radar last week, but currently leads the nation in the pole vault with her clearance of 4.52m (14-10) last week.

Pay close attention to the 400 and a few field events on the men’s side, namely the high jump, long jump and shot put. The fourth and final section of the 400 features Jonathan Jones of Texas, Dwight St. Hillaire of Kentucky and Zach Shinnick of Southern California. You’ll see 2019 NCAA Outdoor champ Ja’Mari Ward of Missouri in the long jump and Earnie Sears of Southern California and his 2.30m (7-6½) PR in the high jump. Adrian Piperi of Texas leads all competitors in the shot put and sat No. 2 on the Descending Order List at the end of the 2020 season at 20.98m (68-10).

Remember the aforementioned Lightfoot? Well, he’ll be competing at the Aggie Invitational on Saturday as Baylor is listed among the attending teams, which also includes Houston, TCU, Utah’s women and UTSA. Lightfoot owns both the facility record and the meet record at 5.80m (19-0¼) and will likely go higher than that this weekend – probably a lot higher.

You’ll also see some solid competition at the Carolina Challenge hosted by South Carolina, the Red Raider Classic hosted by Texas Tech, the Virginia Tech Invitational hosted by Virginia Tech and a meet hosted by Indiana featuring five teams from the Big Ten.