Athletes Hungry For NCAA Qualifiers At 2018 GVSU Big Meet

They call it the "Big Meet" for a reason.

Annually, dozens of teams across all three NCAA Divisions and the NAIA descend on Allendale, Michigan, to throw down on Grand Valley State's blue 300-meter track, and this year's lineup features NCAA All-Americans, Division II champions, USATF finalists, and even a 2017 World Outdoor Championships qualifier.

With stout competition, an oversized track, and perfect midseason timing, it's safe to say the table is set for PRs, NCAA-qualifying marks, and possibly a world indoor standard.

The two-day event kicks off tomorrow with the invitational section of the meet and continues through Saturday with the open section.

WATCH LIVE ON FLOTRACK | ENTRIES  

There's a lot going on at this year's Big Meet, so we broke down some of the top storylines to follow.

Women's 800m

Who: Emily Richards, Ohio Northern; Jessica Parker, Marquette

When: 5:35 PM ET

Why: Richards rose to prominence last summer after a whirlwind junior season that saw her reset the Division III 800m record, reduce her PR to 2:00.62, and qualify for the 800m final at the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships. For her DIII heroics, Richards has been compared to Williamette alumnus Nick Symmonds, and if she continues on this upward trajectory, she very well could follow in his footsteps to a professional contract. 

Rachel Weber, an Ohio State graduate and two-time second-team All-American with a 2:02.67 PR, was expected to be there to challenge her, but she recently scratched. But don't count out the No. 3 seed, Marquette's Jessica Parker; the senior knocked almost 10 seconds off of her PR last season to lower it to 2:06.97.

Watch Richards race to a new Division III 800m record:

TASTY RACE: Emily Richards Sets New DIII Record In The 800m, 2:02.34


Women's Shot Put

Who: Danielle Bunch-Hill, Nike

When: Following men's shot put at 2 PM ET

Why: Purdue product Bunch-Hill booked her ticket to London for the 2017 IAAF World Outdoor Championships last summer when she decimated her previous PR by more than a foot to finish second at USATF outdoor nationals behind Raven Saunders and ahead of Michelle Carter with a distance of 19.64m. The 26-year-old's appearance at this weekend's GVSU Big Meet will mark her second competition of the year. 

In January, she opened her season in West Lafayette, Indiana, with a 18.03-meter throw — just shy of the 18.20m standard to qualify for the 2018 World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, U.K. You can bet she'll be taking aim at — and possibly securing — the standard this Friday.

Men's 3K

Who: James Ngandu, Tiffin; Jonathan Dahlke, Mount Olive; Grand Valley; Bastian Grau, Southern Indiana

When: 7:15 PM ET

Why: Ngandu, the 2017 NCAA Division II Cross Country champion, hasn't lost an individual race since his cross country season opener, and it doesn't look like he's slowing down anytime soon. He ran his indoor 5K PR, 13:57.21, in December, and owns a 3K PR of 8:03.29. 

After Ngandu, the race gets a little tigher: Dahlke, a steeplechaser who finished sixth at the 2017 DII NCAA XC Championships, has a 8:07.14 PR, and Grau, the 2017 NCAA DII Indoor mile champion, has a 8:09.76 PR. Only 1.76 seconds separates the third through seventh seeds, which should foster a productive environment for those chasing the 8:06.36 DII automatic-qualifying mark.

Watch Grau win the 1500m at the 2017 Hillsdale College Gina Relays by running 3:46 solo:

Men's 1500m Championship, Heat 2 - NCAA champ Grau hammers 3:46 solo


Men's Mile

Who: Derrick Williams, CSU-Pueblo; Luke Julian, Colorado School of Mines; Daniel Michalski, Cedarville; Hlynur Andresson, Eastern Michigan; Zach Panning, Grand Valley State

When: 4:30 PM ET

Why: Although the top two seeds are based on altitude-converted marks, this field should still foster a quick race. Williams, the top seed, ran 4:07.83 last week at the CU Invitational in Boulder, Colorado, which converts to 4:01.79. His sea-level PR is 4:05.67, which he ran at the 2015 GVSU Big Meet. Julian, a freshman, ran 4:15.84 in Golden, Colorado, last week, which converted down to 4:04.40. 

The third-fastest seed, 2017 NCAA DII steeplechase champion Michalski, set his 4:04.66 PR last week in Akron, Ohio. Andresson, the 2017 Mid-American Conference XC champion, and Zach Panning, the 2017 NCAA DII runner-up, round out the field's top five. Only six athletes have achieved the DII automatic-qualifying mark of 4:02.59 so far this year, so many of these entries will be chasing that standard on Friday.

We caught up with Michalski after he won the 2017 DII steeplechase title:

Cedarville's Daniel Michalski won 2017 NCAA DII steeplechase title with seven-second PR


Myles Pringle

Events: 60m (1:30 PM ET prelim), 200m (6:30 PM ET), High Jump (after women start at noon), 4x400m Relay (7:50 PM ET)

Why: Yes — this guy is so good at so many events that he gets his own section. Pringle, the reigning DII Outdoor 400m champion, owns a 45.77 PR, but won't compete in his marquee event this weekend. Instead, he's opting for some shorter events to hone his speed heading into the championship season. You'll be seeing a lot of the Ashland junior this Friday: he's seeded ninth in the 60m (6.89), fifth in the 200m (21.28), fourth in the high jump (2.17m), and fourth in the 4x400m relay (3:12.59).

Hear from Pringle as he explains which workouts helped him crack 46 seconds in the 400m:

Myles Pringle describes the workout that helped him run sub-46 in the 400m

Coleman Wins A Nail-Biter, Miller-Uibo Prevails; Birmingham Recap

It’s been a bit of a bumpy season for Christian Coleman. World record indoors, injury trouble outdoors. Diamond League wins and late scratches. But the one constant has been his start. 

USATF & NACAC Said Winners Would Get The 'A' Standard--That's Not True

In the wake of last weekend’s North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Championships in Toronto, Canada, confusion has abounded regarding whether or not first-place athletes from the event would receive 2019 IAAF World Championships “A” standards as a result. 

Lyles vs Coleman, Asher-Smith vs Miller-Uibo; Birmingham DL Preview

What Are The Top Races At The Birmingham Diamond League?

The Diamond League picks back up in Birmingham, England, on Saturday after a three-week hiatus for the European Championships. The narrative of the season has been altered a bit by the results at those championships—standout performances elevated several runners and set the stage for an exciting last two weeks of the Diamond League season. 

House Of Run: Teenage Takeover At Euro Champs

Jason and Kevin tackle some unexpected questions after European Championships, including:

These Teens Were Stars Before Mondo Duplantis And Jakob Ingebrigtsen

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloTrack!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

2018 European Championships - Men's 1500m, Final - Jakob Ingebrigtsen FTW!

Teenage fever is currently sweeping across the world of track and field. 

Mondo Duplantis' Epic Leap Highlights Flaws In American Record Rules

Mondo Duplantis: Prodigy (Trailer)

Reverberations from 18-year-old Mondo Duplantis’ electrifying 6.05m pole vault clearance on Sunday at the 2018 European Championships are still being felt, and among them is the peculiar question of whether the mark will be ratified as an American record.

She's Back: Shalane Flanagan Going For New York City Repeat

Coach Jerry Schumacher congratulates Shalane Flanagan on her NYC Marathon victory

NYRR Press Release                            

At 34, Stephanie Bruce Is Having Her Best Year Yet

There’s a reevaluation that happens when professional runners start to creep into their 30s. Sure, a marathoner might still be in the potential prime of his or her career, but the likelihood of continuing to improve in leaps and bounds decreases significantly with age—especially when you’ve never won a big one before.

But that hasn’t been the case for Stephanie Bruce, who trains with Ben Rosario’s HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite training group in Flagstaff, Arizona. When the 34-year-old mother of two won the AJC Peachtree Road Race in July—which doubles as the USATF National 10K Championships—she captured the first national title of her career with a late-race surge over teammate Aliphine Tuliamuk, the defending Peachtree champion and a nine-time U.S. champion.

Shalane Flanagan Is Still On The Go, And So Is Her New Cookbook

The way Shalane Flanagan tells it, she and her cookbook co-author Elyse Kopecky had no intentions of producing a follow-up to their 2016 New York Times bestseller “Run Fast. Eat Slow.” 

Jordan Mann Reflects On His First Team USA Experience

Jordan Mann Is Eating Chicken Tonight

This is the third entry in a series from Jordan Mann, this year's surprise fifth-place finisher in the U.S. steeplechase and mixed zone media darling. This weekend, he chronicled his experience competing at the North American, Central American, and Caribbean Championships (NACAC) in Toronto, Canada. On Sunday, he finished third in a three-person field.