This weekend saw us "spring forward" into Daylight Savings Time, which means more hours to train as athletes transition from the indoor season to the outdoor season. For several college athletes their final competition of the winter was this weekend’s NCAA Championships which featured several outstanding athletes and performances.
Below are my highlights from the meet, but before I get to that I have to comment on the 200 meters. This race is one of my favorite events outdoors, but it loses much in the transition from outdoors to indoors – and this meet demonstrated why. For starters, on the one lap banked tracks lane draw is EVERYTHING in the indoor deuce – taking all of the competition aspect out of the race. Then to add insult to injury, the NCAA runs the semi and final nearly back to back with only a pair of 5000 finals in between!
Why are we running 200 semis and final on the same day? At this point I have to ask, why do we even continue to run the deuce indoors? A split final in a sprint race where places could come down to hundredths of a second. Four athletes on the track at a time on tracks where really the advantage goes to two individuals. And then we run the athletes in virtual back to back finals! It’s a wonder we don’t see more injuries in this event.
Of course, if I’m being honest, I’m wondering why we continue to have indoor meets at all given the lack of top level talent that participates in them at the elite level. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching Mary Cain, Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat this winter. But when I have to go back through archives to figure out who some of the athletes are, well, let’s just say you know that we’re not dealing in the top tier most of the winter. Personally, I‘d rather see some of that money funneled into the outdoor season to beef of meets that are having difficulty attracting the best athletes. I think that would be a much better use of money spent on meets like Millrose and the Armory.
The one place that it does seem to make sense to run indoors is at the college level, where the team concept gives everyone something to work towards! The result being the kind of event the NCAA Championships puts forth annually as all the best collegians toe the line to represent their schools! The one thing that we do know about this sport, is that regardless of the level of the athletes – high school, college, professional – is that when we get the best together, a great show is in the offing. And this year’s NCAA meet was right on cue with some stellar performances. Note the following:
Eddie Lovett (FLA) 7.50 – 60H
Lovett’s time was a meet record, school record, and made him the 4th fastest collegiate hurdler ever indoors. This kid had been hot all season long, and continues to look like he could become this year’s breakout hurdler outdoors. The great hurdlers develop consistency, and Lovett has been the epitome of consistency this winter.. His current outdoor PR is 13.47. I have a feeling we’ll see that improved significant this year.
Marquis Dendy (FLA) 8.28m/27′ 2" – LJ
Dendy has also showed a great deal of consistency this winter, leaping out over 27 feet in his two most recent meets. Given the current state of the long jump, if he can improve six inches outdoors he becomes a major player in the event. That would put him in line with recent Florida stars Christian Taylor and Will Claye as a major jumps star! We (USA) could use a good young long jumper. It’s been a while since Dwight Phillips had young legs and Mike Powell & Carl Lewis are distant memories. This is an event just waiting for someone to take it over!
Derek Drouin (IND) 2.35m/7′ 8.5" – HJ
Out of nowhere Drouin drops a huge win on the rest of the field and suddenly we could have one of the best high jump trios on the planet pairing him with Jessie Williams (gold/’11) and Erik Kynard (silver, ’12). Drouin’s mark is easily in medal territory in most majors – the question is whether he can repeat with any regularity . If he can, the high jump could suddenly become one of our strongest events.
Shaunae Miller (GA) 50.88 – 400
Speaking of out of nowhere, this freshman just put a big target on her back with this win! Her mark is an Area Junior record for the young Bahamian and makes her =#2 on the year. That’s big time running for the 18 year old who’s outdoor best is only 51.44. The Caribbean could be ready to boast a young female 400 star to go with Grenada’s Kirani James.
Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU) 22.58 – 200
I haven’t talked much about Duncan this winter because she’s been fairly quiet. As I said previously, this event suffers a lot indoors, but Duncan is one of the best young sprinters out there and she showed her pedigree this past weekend running a 22.59 semi & 22.58 final in that “back to back” setup. Duncan is basically a seasoned vet at this point and I think this is the year she will give serious challenge to the likes of Felix, Campbell Brown, and company.
Brianna Rollins (CLEM) 7.79 – 60 H
Rollins set the collegiate record earlier this winter at 7.78 and came just short of matching it here - she’s no fluke. She heads outdoors after leading the world indoors with the year’s two best marks. Of course as with most events many of the world’s best are still waiting to open up outdoors, so we’ll see how Rollins holds up against the events divas this spring.
Arkansas & Florida – Men’s 4×4
Arkansas and Florida showed why this event should ahead closer out any major meet. Yes, anchoring Usain Bolt in a 4×1 can bring some excitement to a meet, but with THIS event personnel doesn’t matter as much as the competitiveness that steps on the track when solid 4×4 squads square off! Florida has been right there all season against all comers with their 2-frosh/2-soph squad. This, of course was the NCAA meet and both Arkansas and Florida are always in the team title hunt. Put them together on the track (SEC rivals that they are) and expect some fireworks. This time with an indoor collegiate record for Arkansas (3:03.50) with Florida right there at 3:03;71 (#3 time ever). This event should ALWAYS close out championships.
This was a great way to end the indoor season. Now it’s time for the REAL fun to begin!