Big 12 Championships: Six Events To Watch
Reigning NCAA 100m Champion Trayvon Bromell will look to defend his Big 12 title
By Jacob Waddingham for FloTrack
FloTrack will be in Ames, Iowa this Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships. This is the first year Iowa State University is hosting the conference championship. The Texas Tech men and Texas Longhorn women are the defending outdoor conference champions.
6 EVENTS TO WATCH:
Men's 100m, Sunday 5:05pm CT
Baylor sophomore Trayvon Bromell continues to impress this season and comes in with the best time in the 100-meter dash (9.90) and 200-meter dash (20.19). He is currently second in the nation in the 100-meter and a favorite to win at Big 12 Championships. Bromell will be challenged by NCAA 60m Champion TCU's Ronnie Baker, currently sixth in the nation with his best time of 10.02, and John Teeters from Oklahoma State. Don't count out Texas Longhorn Senoj-Jay Givans to grab another individual title from this impressive field of sprinters. The 2014 and 2015 Big 12 60-meter champion has clocked a 10.15 this season.
Men's and Women's 400m, Sunday 4:35/4:45pm CT
If the Texas Tech men are going to make a push for the team title, they have to run well in the open 400. The Red Raiders are led by Joseph Richards III (45.61) and Steven Champlin (45.92). They will be looking to sweep the top three spots with a good race from sophomore Kyle Collins. Baylor's George Caddick (46.10) and TCU's Joshua Washington (46.28) will try to break of the Red Raider trio. A host of Longhorns will be in contention for some points with Christopher Irvin, Zack Bilderback and Carlton Anumnu seeded sixth, seventh and eighth in the event, respectively.
The Texas Longhorn women dominated the 400-meter dash during the indoor season and they will look to score big in this event again in Ames. Courtney Okolo has gone 50.99, the best time in Division I this season. Her teammate Kendall Baisden is ranked second in the nation (51.22). Longhorn senior Ashley Spencer will battle Montenae Speight of Texas Tech for the third spot. This field is likely a preview for the 2015 Division I West Preliminary Meet 400-meter final in Austin, Texas.
Women's 800m, Sunday 5:15pm CT
Several Big 12 female athletes set seasonal best times in the 800-meter run at Payton Jordan Invitational and will get to battle it out for the Big 12 title in Ames Sunday. Oklahoma State senior Natalja Piliusina has the best time (2:01.93) and is ranked fifth in the nation. Teammates Kaela Edwards and Savannah Camacho are seeded third and fourth respectively. This event is a bright spot for Oklahoma State in the team standings with six of the top nine times coming into the conference meet. Battling for the individual title will be Baylor's Olicia Williams. She is currently ranked sixth in the nation (2:02.26).
Men's 1500m, Sunday 3:50pm CT
Chad Noelle's leading time of 3:38.35 and fellow Cowboy Kirubel Erassa's 3:39.05 at Payton Jordan Invitational make them the top contenders for the Big 12 1500-meter title. Sophomore Matthew Fayers is seeded third, but will have to hold off Kansas senior Josh Munsch (3:44.01).
Women's 5000m, Sunday 6:10pm CT
Look for Iowa State's distance crew to try to take home field advantage in the women's 5,000-meter run. Senior Katy Moen is 20th in the nation (15:52.72) and seeded third behind Baylor's Maggie Montoya (15:44.52) and Texas' Sandie Raines (15:48.04). Katie Gillespie of West Virginia (16:00.27) will be in the mix for the title. Cyclone Erin Hooker threw down a 16:11.94 at the Stanford Invitational and is primed for a big finish to her freshman campaign. Rachel Johnson (16:07.85) will probably take on the 10,000-meter or the 3,000-meter steeplechase to help the Baylor Bears score more points in the team standings.
MEN'S TEAM BATTLE
This race is so close, it could come down to the 4x400 relay to decide a champion. Texas and Texas Tech have flipped back and forth in the national polls. As of May 11, the Longhorns ranked sixth (171.87) and the Red Raiders were seventh (170.22). The Red Raiders won the outdoor title for the first time since 2005 last year and should be able to repeat this year if they dominate the open 400-meter and win the 4x400 relay. Jacorian Duffield should win the men's high jump for Texas Tech. Chris Cadwell and JW Smith could also be a nice point boost if they run well in the 110-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles.
The Longhorn men do not have many of the top times coming into Big 12 Outdoor Championships, but each event has Longhorns in contention to score points. Givans taking down Bromell, Teeters and Baker in the 100-meter might be the momentum boost the Longhorns need to take down Texas Tech. With senior Craig Lutz seeded first, the 10,000-meter could be a spot the Longhorns steal some team points and possibly an individual title for Lutz. Texas won the Big 12 Indoor title in Ames, so head coach Mario Sategna knows how to jockey his team in the right races to score big points.
The Dark Horse
The smaller size of the meet favors TCU to surprise Texas Tech and Texas for the top two team spots this weekend. They will have to take down Baylor in the 4x100 and 4x400 relay events plus score have Baker be near the top in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash. Baylor is currently ranked 10th in the nation, but lacks depth in the field events.
WOMEN'S TEAM BATTLE
This meet features six of the top 25 teams in the country. The Texas Longhorns are currently fifth in the nation, the defending Big 12 Outdoor champions and the 2015 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field champions. They look set to continue their reign as the best team in the conference. In addition to a strong performance in the open 400-meter, Texas will need big races from sprinters Baisden and Morolake Akinosun. Raines will be the best chance for the Longhorns to grab some points in the distance events and Ariel Jones and Melissa Gonzalez have a good chance at going first and second in the 400-meter hurdles.
Texas Tech vaulted in the rankings from 15th to 10th May 11, but Kansas State will be the biggest challenge for the Longhorns to repeat as Big 12 champions. The Wildcats shine in the field events. Dani Winters is a favorite to win the women's shot put and Kansas State has three of the top four marks in the high jump coming into the meet.
The Dark Horse
The Red Raiders jump in the polls teams stems from their strength in the sprints and the field events. Cierra White is a contender in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash. Speight is the best chance for any team to break up the Texas sweep in the 400-meter dash. Where the team will struggle is in the distance events. If Baylor scores well, the Bears could knock Texas Tech back to fourth, showing just how deep the women's team race is in 2015.