With the NCAA Championships behind them the collegiate stars are at one of the toughest parts of the season - trying to be even better in an attempt to make the World Championships team. After weeks of conference, regional and of course the NCAA Championships, they must try to hit yet another peak against the best the US has to offer.
Depending on your event that task could be nearly impossible with some events in the US being as deep as at Worlds. Even so, I did come up with ten collegiate athletes that I feel have a pretty solid shot at earning air fair to Russia. Especially on the women’s side where several young ladies have reached an outstanding level of performance this year. So in no particular order here are 10 collegians that I think will be boarding the flight to Moscow in August.
1. Bryshon Nellum – 400
Nellum earned a surprise berth to London last year with a strong stretch run. This year he’s gotten his speed back with a PR 20.23 in the deuce – 19.99w. Only LaShawn Merritt has that kind of speed! I expect another strong run to the tape from Nellum but making the team won’t be a surprise. This is a deep event but Nellum is right there and his past adversity may have made him the toughest of the lot.
2. Erik Kynard - High Jump
Kynard won silver in London and is even better this year. He’s upped his PR to 7’9" and seems to have overtaken Jesse Williams as America’s premier high jumper. He’s become very consistent around 7’6" and above and if battle tested now in big meets. He should be leading the charge to Moscow.
This is one of our deeper events internationally yet this year Rollins has run herself to the front of the class! Her 12.47/12.39 series at the NCAA championships was as good as any series ever – and she made it look easy. My question is can she duplicate this in traffic, because no one was near her in Eugene – or any other collegiate competition this year. I think she can because she starts extremely well and puts pressure on everyone else.
4. Kori Carter – 400 Hurdles
Carter has done nothing but improve this year. She entered the season with a PR of 57.10, and now it out of the water in her first meet running 54.71. She’s run 54s like clockwork; defeated Olympian Georgianne Moline three times; and set a stunning collegiate record of 53.21. And she’s made it all look easy. I will be stunned if she isn’t in the top three in Des Moines.
5. Georgianne Moline – 400 Hurdles
Two collegians making the team in the same event? Yes. Moline is better than she was last year when she made the Olympic team. She’s just been competing regularly against the most improved athlete in the event in Carter. Personally I think they’ve made each other better, and they’ll be the sharpest pair of hurdlers on the track in Iowa. Book two to Moscow.
6. Omar Craddock – Triple Jump
When it comes to honing one’s skills through competition, Craddock may have had the best "crucible"of learning as he trained for two seasons with Christian Taylor & Will Claye at the University of Florida. They’ve gone pro and he’s now collegiate champion with a new PR. Heading to Nationals only two Americans have better jumps – Taylor & Claye. The trio could be reunited in Moscow.
7. Ashley Spencer – 400
Heading to Des Moines four women have marks between 50.02 & 50.28 – Spencer if one of them. Allyson Felix is also one but will most likely opt to run the short sprint. American record holder Sanya Richards Ross is not one of then and has struggled returning from injury. This event is wide open and Spencer looked in prime form last week. Is she runs like that she goes to Moscow. I think she will.
8. Brigetta Barrett – High Jump
Just like male counterpart Kynard, Barrett has performed well on the biggest stage taking silver in London. She’s coming off an easy win at the NCAA championships; is number two in the world; and America’s other international jumper, Chaunte Lowe, has a bye. Making Barrett the one "lock"on this list.
Duncan finished in the dreaded fourth place at last year’s Trials – just off the team. I expect this to change as she running better than ever, and better than the women that finished ahead of her last year – including Allyson Felix. Felix will be ready, she always is when a title is on the line. The others however will have to be in PR shape to keep Duncan of the team. Not going to happen this time around.
10. Marquis Dendy – Long Jump
I’ve been trying to find another male that can make the team and Dendy became my final choice. On the one hand he should be an easy choice as he’s become a solid jumper around 27 feet – and unless a lot of guys suddenly find that form, 27 feet will make the team. I hesitate however because he got a little injury at the Regional meet that kept him out of this event at the NCAA meet. He did triple jump and went over 50 feet so seems healthy enough for his specialty. Time is on his side and with our group of long jumpers just not where most should be his chances are pretty solid.