SEC Championships Preview
Remember, all references to team rankings, either national or regional, are my own rankings and not those of the USTFCCCA.
The meet will be on Friday through Sunday at Kentucky's Nutter Field House
Live webcast links: Friday (UKAthletics.com), Saturday (ESPN3.com), Sunday (ESPN3.com)
Nationally-ranked teams: #1 Arkansas, #2 Florida, #5 LSU, #15 Georgia
Regionally-ranked teams: #1 (South Central) Arkansas, #1 Florida, #3 (South Central) LSU, #3 Georgia, #5 Auburn, #6 Ole Miss, #11 Tennessee, #15 South Carolina, #16 Kentucky, #22 Alabama
(Note: Mississippi State does not compete in the SEC during the indoor season)
Analysis: This is the biggest matchup of the weekend. By any metric, Arkansas and Florida are the nation's top two teams. The Hogs and Gators waged fierce battles at last year's SEC Championships, with Florida prevailing indoors and Arkansas prevailing outdoors. Expect more of the same. I rate Arkansas as the favorite due to superior depth, but the SEC is such a tough conference that depth is less important in this meet than any other.
Events to watch
Heptathlon (Friday and Saturday). This is the first stage of Arkansas vs. Florida. The Hogs bring Gunnar Nixon and Kevin Lazas, the Gators bring Gray Horn. Add in Georgia's Cory Holman and you've got four of the top five in the NCAA.
Long jump (4:45 PM Saturday). LSU's Damar Forbes leads the NCAA, but the competition is tough. The SEC has six 25-foot jumpers this year.
Triple jump (2:30 PM Sunday). Florida's Omar Craddock is currently second on the NCAA list. LSU's Kyron Blaise and Damar Forbes and Mississippi's Ricky Robertson are also serious contenders.
60 meters (1:55 PM Sunday). Florida's Jeff Demps is the two-time defending NCAA champion in this event. Every likely finalist is in the NCAA's top 20, but Demps is head and shoulders above the rest.
400 meters (2:35 PM Sunday). This is one of the keys to the team title. Arkansas has three of the top four in the NCAA in Akheem Gauntlett, Neil Braddy and Marek Niit. They need to pile on the points in this event.
800 meters (3:20 PM Sunday). This is another key event. Florida needs Sean Obinwa to win here, but with competition like Georgia's Aaron Evans and Arkansas' Anthony Lieghio, it won't be easy.
200 meters (3:40 PM). This event is the other key for Arkansas. Can their 400 runners double back on short rest to get the points they need?
Nationally-ranked teams: #3 LSU, #4 Arkansas, #7 Florida
Regionally-ranked teams: #1 (South Central) LSU, #2 (Southc Central) Arkansas, #2 Florida, #6 Tennessee, #8 Auburn, #9 Kentucky, #10 South Carolina, #12 Georgia, #14 Mississippi, #15 Mississippi St., #16 Alabama
Analysis: LSU is a serious contender for the NCAA title, which makes them the odds-on favorite to win. Should they stumble, Arkansas has very good depth and would be in the best position to challenge.
Events to watch
Pole vault (Noon Saturday). Arkansas' Tina Sutej holds about every collegiate record you can think of, but did not win the NCAA Championships last spring. Georgia freshman Morgann Leleux is second in the NCAA behind Sutej.
Triple jump (11 AM Sunday). South Carolina's Radiance Basden and LSU's Lynnika Pitts are both in the NCAA's top ten.
60m Hurdles (1:30 PM Sunday). This should be a great race between South Carolina's Kierre Beckles and LSU's Jasmin Stowers.
400 meters (2:25 PM Sunday). This could have major implications for the team championship, as the top four runners are from LSU (Rebecca Alexander and Cassandra Tate) and Arkansas (Regina George and Whitney Jones).
200 meters (3:30 PM Sunday). LSU's Kimberlyn Duncan was runner-up in the voting for last year's Bowerman Award, and the 200 is her specialty.