WEEKEND PREVIEW (ITF): All Eyes On Tyson Invitational, Texas Tech Shootout

It’s Valentine’s Day Weekend.

That means love is in the air.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZone: Meets & Results | Records & Lists

It also indicates that collegiate indoor track & field athletes are about to kick it into high gear in order to post qualifying marks for their respective national championship meets. We’re officially less than three weeks away from the start of both the NAIA and NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, which means NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II aren’t too far behind (NCAA Division III canceled its meet due to low participating numbers among members).

Here are a few of the meets that promise big results!

Tyson Invitational (Arkansas)

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Our eyes are focused once again on the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Arkansas hosts eight other powerhouse programs at the Tyson Invitational. The meet, which will air on SEC Network+, begins Friday and runs through Saturday afternoon.

If you’re bringing together the likes of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Texas and Texas A&M, you’re going to see some fireworks in the sprints and jumps. That’s going to be the case this weekend as numerous prospective top-10 matchups dot the start lists (NOTE: We say prospective, because given the current climate, anything can change at the drop of a hat).

Three events that add up to 160 meters of sprinting will shine on the men’s side: 60 meters, 60 meter hurdles and the long jump. You probably knew that the long jump runway was at least 40 meters, huh? Well, if not, you learn something new every day. We’re always here to educate!

You’ll potentially see three of the top-5 fastest men in the 60, four of the top-6 fastest men in the 60H and six of the top-10 men in the long jump, including each of the top-3: Micah Williams of Oregon (No. 1, 6.56), Kasaun James of Florida State (No. 2, 6.57) and Don’Drea Swint of Florida State (No. 4, 6.63) in the former; Trey Cunningham of Florida State (No. 1, 7.64), Damion Thomas of LSU (No. 3, 7.71), Eric Edwards Jr. of LSU (No. 5, 7.78) and Philip Lemonious of Arkansas (No. 6, 7.79) in the middle event; Isaac Grimes of Florida State (No. 1, 8.18m/26-10), Jeremiah Davis of Florida State (No. 2, 7.99m/26-2¾) and JuVaughn Harrison of LSU (No. 3, 7.98m/26-2¼) in the latter, among others.

Don’t discount the potential in the 800 and mile, either, as the Ducks flock to those mid-distance events with the likes of Reed Brown, Cole Hocker and Charlie Hunter. It was just a few weeks ago when Hunter ran a strong 800-meter leg of Oregon’s DMR squad that set an all-time world best and then doubled back with a 3:54.54 mile to become the fourth fastest man in collegiate indoor history. Brandon Miller of Texas A&M, ranked sixth nationally, is also entered in the 800.

While those aforementioned events will also stand out on the women’s side, there is exceptional potential in the 200 and high jump as well. Seven of the top-10 fastest collegiate women over 200 meters will compete in that event – Tamara Clark of Alabama (No. 2, 22.90), Kynnedy Flannel of Texas (No. 4, 23.09), Talitha Diggs of Florida (No. 5, 23.14), Kevona Davis of Texas (No. 6, 23.26), Tiana Wilson of Arkansas (No. 8, 23.29), Rosey Effiong of Arkansas (No. 9, 23.30) and Jayla Hollis of Arkansas (t-No. 10, 23.31) – while the high jump features an exceptional No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle between Tyra Gittens of Texas A&M (1.91m/6-3¼) and Abigail O’Donoghue of LSU (1.89m/6-2¼).

Other Meets of Interest

Texas Tech Shootout (Texas Tech)

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It’s going to be electric in Lubbock, Texas, this weekend.

Six collegiate leaders – and one collegiate record holder – will compete in their signature events at the Texas Tech Sports Performance Center: Courtney Lindsey of Texas Tech in the 200, KC Lightfoot of Baylor in the pole vault, Chengetayi Mapaya of TCU in the triple jump, Twanisha Terry of Southern California in the 60, Monae’ Nichols of Texas Tech in the long jump and Ruth Usoro of Texas Tech in the triple jump.

On top of that, three of the top-4 collegians in the men’s high jump will square off: Earnie Sears of Southern California (No. 2, 2.26m/7-5) faces Tejaswin Shankar of Kansas State (No. 3, 2.25m/7-4½) and Vernon Turner of Oklahoma (No. 4, 2.24m/7-4¼).

If you like throwing events, four of the top-10 men and three of the top-10 women this season contest the shot put: Turner Washington of Arizona State (No. 2, 20.94m/68-8½), McKay Johnson of Southern California (No. 6, 20.02m/65-8¼), Jordan Geist of Arizona (No. 7, 19.97m/65-6¼) and Cooper Campbell (No. 9, 19.37m/63-6¾) for the men; Samantha Noennig of Arizona (No. 2, 17.75m/58-3), Jordine Van Klinken of Arizona State (No. 5, 17.02m/55-10¼) and Kayli Johnson of Texas Tech (No. 8, 16.84m/55-3) for the women.

Tiger Paw Invitational (Clemson)

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They’ll be hitting top speed at the Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex.

Multiple top-10 athletes are entered in the sprint events, namely the 200 and 400 for each gender.

On the men’s side, you’ll have the North Carolina A&T duo of Randolph Ross (No. 5, 20.64) and Javonte Harding (No. 6, 20.69) ready to go in the 200, with Ross (No. 6, 45.79), teammate Trevor Stewart (No. 8, 46.00) and Jacory Patterson of Virginia Tech (No. 7, 45.83) in the 400.

Then, on the women’s side, Abby Steiner is the headliner. Steiner is the collegiate leader in the 200 with her 22.69 from this past weekend. She is also entered in the 60 — an event in which she sits fifth nationally at 7.22 — alongside Alfreda Steele of Miami (Fla.), who is ranked eighth at 7.26. Cambrea Sturgis of North Carolina A&T should not be forgotten about, either.

You never know what could happen in the 4×400 relays, either. Back in 2019, Houston and Texas A&M turned in what are now the fourth and fifth-fastest marks in collegiate indoor history at this meet.

NCAA Division II & NCAA Division III Action

Look for a number of big performances to come out of the Grand Valley State Big Meet at the NCAA Division II level and dual meets between WIAC teams to headline the weekend in NCAA Division III. After the first weekend of action in the WIAC, four men’s teams vaulted into the top-10 of the National Coaches’ Poll, as did two women’s programs.

NAIA & NJCAA Action

Teams hoping to make a late push at hitting big marks in advance of the NAIA and NJCAA Indoor Championships will converge on either the Aquinas Invitational hosted by Aquinas College, the Triton Kansas Challenge hosted by Iowa Central CC in Pittsburg, Kansas, or the Ichabod Invitational hosted by Washburn University at their brand-new facility. Indiana Tech, which has both of the top-ranked teams in the NAIA, is also hosting the Indiana Tech Classic.