Just as I’ve been anticipating, this weekend saw track and field rise to its highest level of the season! The college ranks entered their biggest time of the year with conference meets galore add the athletes prepare for the NCAA Championships. Professional athletes laid down some marks of note, especially at the DN Galen in Sweden. Even the high schoolers got into the act with a new 300 record and some swift sprinting at the Brooks PR meet in Seattle.
If the closing weeks of the indoor season are any indication this could be one HOT outdoor season on the horizon! There were far too many great marks to try and detail them all, so what follows are my highlights of the highlights from the weekend’s action.
Let’s start with the elite athletes and work our way down. Really the hottest of the professional competitions was the DN Galen in Sweden. Take a look at some of the marks churned out at the start of the weekend:
- Mohammed Aman (ETH) 1:45.05
- Galen Rupp (US) 7:30.16,
- Abeba Aregawi (SWE) 3:58.40
- Genzebe Dibaba (ETH) 8:26.57
- Yarisley Silva (CUB) 4.78m/15′ 8.25″
Aman had twice inflicted defeats on 800 WR holder David Rudisha. His near sub 1:45 shows tremendous early season form – the kind of form need to keep pace with his highness Rudisha who typically opens his season around 1:43 low each year. Aman appears ready to seriously challenge once things head outdoors.
Ditto Galen Rupp who’s been having a stellar season indoors. His AR run over 3000 confirming the speed he showed when tuning 3:50 for the mile earlier this winter. Known in the past as a”10,000″ runner, Rupp has shown both great range and the kind of speed necessary to run with the tip Africans over the longer distances. I’m excited to see what he does in the big meets this year – especially Moscow.
For years the women’s vault was the sole domain of Yelena Isinbsyeva. Then she took a sabbatical and others began to believe they too could vault high. Newest member of the “I think I can” club is Cuban Yarisley Silva as she seems to be making her way up towards 16′. Normally I wouldn’t get overly excited about a mark by an “unknown” so early, but the one thing I’ve noticed about Cuban athletes over the years is that once they “arrive” they’re HERE – better be ready to deal with them! I’ll say now that she will be one to watch in 2013.
Speaking of vaulting, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another session leading mark by Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) who upped the men’s leader to 5.94m/19′ 5.75″. Lavillenie had reached a pint of consistency that could see him scaring that 20 ft barrier this year. Could Bubka’s reign as WR finally be threatened?
There were tons of collegiate conference meets this weekend, but when it comes to college conferences nothing matches the SEC! This conference dominates track like nothing I’ve seen since the glory days of the PAC 8 / PAC 10. Those days are a distant memory now as Arkansas, Florida, LSU, and now Texas A&M lead track and field’s super collegiate conference. If you don’t think it’s the top conference check out these highlights from the SEC Championships:
- Eddie Lovett (FL) 7.57 in his heat, then screams 7.54 to win the final.
- Marquis Dendy 8.25m/27′ 0.75″, also 8-.24m/27′ 0.50″.
- Deon Lendore (TxAM) 45.15 heat/45.25 final.
- Hugh Graham (FL) 45.85 heat also 6.64 heat to make final in both 60/400. Then 6.65/45.67 in both finals
- Regina George 51.47 heat, 51.40 final.
- Aaron Earnest 20.53, Kimberlyn Duncan 22.54.
- Texas A&M 3:04.12, Florida 3:04.31
My hurdler to watch this year is Florida’s Lovett. This kid is getting his race dialed in – and when that starts to happen with a hurdler greatness usually follows! His runs in Fayetteville were sharp, crisp, and fast. I’m not saying I expect him to beat Merritt, Richardson and company, but he could be the next in line to reach that level.
Speaking of reaching another level, that’s what Deon Lendore did with three sizzling 400s as he threw in a 45.5 relay anchor to go with his open runs. That kind of running indoors could see him residing in the 400 neighborhood outdoors currently occupied by Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt. We’ll see how this translates outdoors, but right now he’s starting to look like first in queue to upset the big boys.
Ditto Marquis Dendy. In the past few seasons Florida gave the triple jump world Christian Taylor and Will Claye. This weekend Gator long jumper Dendy broke the school indoor record in the event – better than either Taylor or Claye were able to achieve! Given the difficulty that the world’s long jumpers have had recently teething to scale 27 feet, Dendy could take over this event the way his predecessors did the triple jump. This could be a story to watch.
As could LSUs Aaron Earnest. I didn’t even know who Earnest was until last year’s outdoor SEC meet when he began to become a challenger at the conference level. Then there he was at the World Junior Championships along side more heralded juniors like Tyreek Hill and Aldrich Bailey. Now he’s leading the world’s indoors. His best event is the deuce, and that event is loaded at the elite level, but 20.5 indoors bodes well for his potential – and err could certainly use another sub 20.
High School Highlights
Speaking of hot young sprinters, a few were on display this weekend in high school action. The hottest was Michael Cherry of Virginia who broke the HS record in the 300 with his 33.05. The mark he broke had lasted since 1986 and was set by one William Reed. The name won’t mean much to today’s younger fans, but those of us involved with the sport in the 80’s remember Reed as a STUD in every sense of the word! That makes Cherry something special in my book k and width watching this year.
The other mark of note was the sizzling 6.61 60 turned in by Cameron Burrell of Texas to run the Brooks PR title. Burrell’s mark would make him a contender at the upcoming NCAA Championships if he were in college! But then that’s what I’ve would expect from the sun of former WR holder and 9.85 man Leroy Burrell!
There’s still a bit left of the indoor season with Euros and NCAA’s still to be run, but start I suspect we’ll see a few outdoor times turning up with March coming up at the end of this week!