Michael Saruni Highlights NCAA Weekend Performances

The UTEP Miners apparently shouldn't be too concerned about the loss of last year's indoor and outdoor NCAA 800m champion Emmanuel Korir to the pro ranks. 

His peer, sophomore Michael Saruni — whose bad luck at nationals last year resulted in two tumbles, a disqualification indoors, and a DFL finish outdoors — has risen to take his stead at the top of the collegiate ranks with a 1:45.92 facility record at the Vanderbilt Commodore Invitational this weekend in Nashville. 

Saruni's mark is the fastest 800m time ever recorded by a collegiate athlete on an oversized track, and the No. 5 mark all-time indoors. The previous best oversized time was 1:45.97, run by Roman Oravec of SMU in 1999. He bested the facility record of 1:46.5 set by Korir last year.

The NCAA indoor record is held by Saruni and Korir's coach, Paul Ereng, who ran 1:44.84 for the University of Virginia in 1989.

Saruni's time is the fastest in the world this year.

More world-leading action came from Texas Tech's Trey Culver, who cleared 2.33m/7-7.75 in the high jump. He ties the No. 4 all-time mark in indoor collegiate history. The collegiate record is 2.37m/7-9.25, set by Hollis Conway for Lousiana Lafayette in 1989.

Other points of interest this weekend:

Injury hampers Olympian Sydney McLaughlin in home meet debut.

The Kentucky freshman scratched from the open 400m at her home meet, citing a hip issue, but ran anchor on the Wildcats' 4x400m relay. She got the baton with an eight-meter deficit behind Ohio State's Maggie Barrie, made up the gap with 100m to go, but spun out of control as Barrie nipped her at the line, 3:34.92 to 3:35.31. 

“We’re going to work on those hip issues, and work on the things that are a little off right now, and hopefully the next time we come out, I’ll be ready,” McLaughlin said to Jared Peck for the Lexington Herarld-Leader.

McLaughlin split 51.9, more than a second faster than anyone else in the relay field.

Could the Aggie women make a run at the NCAA DMR title?

The Texas A&M women took control of the NCAA lead in the distance medley relay with a school record time of 11:12.06, thanks in large part to a 4:42 anchor leg by star freshman Sammy Watson, who, along with McLaughlin, was recently named to the watch list for the Bowerman Award. Jazmine Fray (3:27.21), Glorilisha Carter (55.03), and Brittany Parker (2:06.86) contributed the 1200m, 400m, and 800m legs.

They'll have to run faster than that to make the national meet, as 22 teams broke 11:10 last year, and they'll have to be able to take a crack at the 11-minute barrier to dream of winning, but it's fun to think about the Aggies' potential in the event. The Aggies finished 49 seconds ahead of the field, meaning each woman ran solo and clearly will have a lot of room to improve with more competition.

Both Watson, who ran 2:00 for 800m as a high schooler, and Fray, the collegiate indoor record holder for 800m, have big-time potential in the middle distances and should be able to run with anyone in the NCAA. Parker apparently has never broken 2:10 for 800m in an open race but is perhaps on the verge of a big breakthrough this season. 

The 400m leg factors the least into a DMR's ultimate placing, so whether Carter (whose PB is 54.76) continues to run the DMR or someone else from A&M's stable of sprinters gets drafted, the third leg is not going to mess anything up on this relay.


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