Arkansas' Wayne Pinnock Soars In Season Debut, Plus Much More From The NCAA

Arkansas' Wayne Pinnock Soars In Season Debut, Plus Much More From The NCAA

Seven NCAA No. 1s were posted over the weekend, including Wayne Pinnock's world-leading 8.34m long jump

Feb 8, 2024 by Lincoln Shryack
Arkansas' Wayne Pinnock Soars In Season Debut, Plus Much More From The NCAA

Even in a relatively quiet track and field weekend on the NCAA front, seven collegiate stars managed to produce NCAA-leading marks to put them each in the mix for national titles next month.

FloTrack's 2024 NCAA Rankings - Week 4

Wayne Pinnock of Arkansas made his much-anticipated season debut in New Mexico and the 2023 World Championships silver medalist did not disappoint. Pinnock flew through the thin Albuquerque air and landed at 8.34 meters, which was a new world lead and an indoor best for the 2023 outdoor NCAA runner-up; 8.34m is currently the top NCAA jump in 2024 by nearly a foot.

North Carolina junior Parker Wolfe put himself squarely in the 3,000m title hunt with his 7:37.41 in Boston on Saturday, too, recording the third-fastest time in NCAA history and the top time in 2024. Wolfe is a star on the rise and his run lowered his 3K PB by over 10 seconds. 

He’s been understandably overshadowed this season by the tremendous season of Nico Young (12:57 5,000m NCAA record, 3:48 converted mile), but Wolfe’s time is faster than what Young ran on the exact same track two months ago.

Notre Dame senior Olivia Markezich now owns the nation’s top times in the 3,000m and mile after her 4:27.76 performance at the Meyo Invite on Friday. Perhaps most impressive about the run, however, was that Markezich, who was third at NCAA XC last November, won by nearly 11 seconds. 

Her mile PB isn’t likely to affect that distance at NCAAs, as Markezich has focused on the 3,000m/DMR in past indoor championships, but that speed gives her two great opportunities to win in Boston this March.

Just like the men's long jump, the women's NCAA lead was also set in Albuquerque by Texas’ Ackelia Smith. Smith, the reigning NCAA outdoor champion, popped a 6.85m jump that was just shy of her 6.88m indoor best from 2023. The Texas junior has yet to post a triple jump mark this season, but she’s likely to be favored in both events as the top returner in each discipline from 2023.

Another Texas Longhorn with an NCAA-leading performance in Albuquerque was multi-star Leo Neugebauer. The reigning decathlon national champion posted a heptathlon best in New Mexico with his impressive 6,219 performance. That total bettered the senior’s school record by five points and is currently 122 points clear of the second-best mark in the NCAA for 2024.

Texas Tech senior Ruta Lasmane has her work cut out for her in the triple jump to beat Ackelia Smith (14.29m PB), but Lasmane took a big step in that direction on Thursday with a 13.97m mark that currently leads the nation. Lasmane was third at NCAA outdoors last spring, a spot behind Texas’ Smith.

Finally, a race that figures to be wide open come March got even more interesting as Alabama’s Khaleb McRae posted an NCAA No. 1 time of 45.13 seconds in the 400m on Friday in Albuquerque. The senior’s 45.02 world-leading time was converted up due to the helping altitude, but it was nonetheless a breakthrough weekend for McRae as he set a personal best in the 200m (20.76) as well on Friday.

With William Jones (USC), Justin Robinson (Arizona State) and Emmanuel Bynum (Tennessee) all directly behind McRae on the NCAA descending order list— each of whom has run 44.6 or faster outdoors— the men’s 400m should be a great show in Boston.