Jon Davis, Isaiah Harris, Danae Rivers & More: Big 10 Champs Preview

© Brett Carlsen-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 10 Championships take place Friday and Saturday in Geneva, Ohio, and the action is live on FloTrack. It’s a conference championships, so the meet has an added edge as teams vie for places and points. 

Last year, Indiana took home the men’s title and Penn State earned a narrow victory over Purdue in the women’s competition. This weekend is also the last chance to earn qualifying marks and the Big 10 has no shortage of athletes who are on the bubble of the top 16.  

Here are some of the events we have our eyes on.

Men’s Mile: Trials, Friday 1 PM ET, Finals Saturday 1:30 PM ET

Jonathan Davis of Illinois and Kyle Mau of Indiana are two of the NCAA’s bright young stars. Davis has the second-best mark of the year —  a converted 3:55.46 on his home track. That time puts Davis comfortably into the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships, but Mau sits 24th on the yearly list with a 3:59.15. 

Entering the weekend, the bubble time is 3:57.90, so Mau will need chip away at his season best if he wants to race at nationals. Colin Abert of Penn State and Joseph Murphy of Indiana have the next two fastest times. Justine Kiprotich was second in the NCAA 1500m outdoors, but has mostly run the 800m this season. He currently sits 223 on the yearly list, but he’s capable of turning in a big time that will vault him into the top 16.  

Men’s 3000m: Friday 6:10 PM ET

Like the mile, Davis of Illinois and Mau of Indiana top the Big 10 yearly list. Davis sits sixth in the nation with a 7:49.92 and Mau is in eighth with a 7:50.82. The two put up their times in the same race two weeks ago at the Iowa State Classic. Something dramatic would have to happen throughout the country for them to fall out of qualification position. 

Behind them, Oliver Hoare of Wisconsin has a 7:51.69 to his name, good enough for 11th on the year and his fellow Badger, Joe Hardy, is 28th with a 7:57.11. Depending on who decides to race on Friday night this event could go in several directions. The men’s 3000m is right before the distance medley relay so there will be athletes who need to choose between the two events and teams scramble for qualifying positions. 

Women’s 400m: Trials, Friday 1:20 PM ET, Finals, Saturday, 1:40 PM ET

The women’s 400m is one of the conference’s deepest events this year. The Big 10 has three of the top 10 NCAA marks of the year, six in the top 30, and 15 in the top 75. At the front are Chloe Abbott and Brionna Thomas, both from Purdue. Abbott has run 52.49 and Thomas has a best of 52.56. The times put them fifth and seventh in the NCAA this year. 

Just behind the two Boilermakers is Briana Guillory. She’s run 52.57 and will be looking to hold her spot for nationals. On the outside looking in are Karrington Winters of Ohio State and Kierra Griggs of Nebraska. The two are in 18th and 21st positions entering conference championships and will need to knock off some time to work their way into the top 16. 

Women’s Mile: Friday, 12:40 PM ET, Saturday, 1:20 PM ET

Danae Rivers has a spot in the NCAA meet in the 800m by virtue of her 2:03:13 performance in January. That mark has held as the second best in the nation. Things are a bit more uncertain in the mile. Her 4:37.71 from the Husky Classic two weeks ago has her 18th on the NCAA list. 

If she wants to move into qualifying position she will have the field this weekend to help her do it. Haley Meier of Michigan ran 4:35.69 in that same Husky Classic — the 10th-best performance of the year. Also in that meet, Claire Borchers ran 4:39.94, good enough for 30th in the country heading into this meet. All total there are 11 women in the Big 10 who have run under 4:45 this year. One of them, Erin Finn, is injured and won’t race the rest of the indoor season. But that still leaves plenty of women who are capable of making this race fast. 

Women’s 3000m and 5000m: 3000m, Friday 5:50 PM ET, 5000m, Saturday 3:40 PM ET

Like the men’s race, the proximity of the 3000m to the distance medley relay adds an extra wrinkle to the race. Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota all sit inside the top 16 in the DMR with Indiana in the strongest position. Just how that impacts who races what distance will be interesting to sort out. As for the 3000m, Gina Sereno of Michigan is the top seed by virtue of her 9:01.62. Katherine Receveur has the second best mark in the Big 10, but right now it’s only good enough for 26th. The junior from Indiana will be looking to improve her position in the 3000m and 5000m, or possibly both.

In the 5000m, Receveur’s 15:48.10 puts her 19th in the nation and behind two runners from Wisconsin. Amy Davis and Alicia Monson are 12th and 17th in the nation, respectively. Also in that bubble range is Indiana’s Margaret Allen who is in 20th position with a 15:50.12. The women’s 5000m comes at the end of a very long two days of competition where the desire for team points leads to athletes running multiple races. Who will have something left when Saturday afternoon rolls around?

Men’s 800m: Trials, Friday, 3:10 ET, Finals, Saturday, 2:30 PM ET

If they both race, it will be a great head-to-head matchup between Isiah Harris and Daniel Kuhn. Both have run fast enough this year that they won’t need to worrying about qualifying and can just focus on winning the race. The two raced each in the Iowa State Classic with Harris running 1:47.38 and Kuhn putting up a 1:47.89. Both men could be called in for relay duty as well. Indiana’s DMR team is ranked fifth, tops in the conference and poised for nationals, and Penn State’s is 24th. 

Back to the men’s 800, after Kuhn and Harris there is a big gap back to the third best performer in the conference. Alexander Lomong of Ohio State has run a converted 1:49.46, good enough for 30th on the year. He and the rest of the field will have to shave some serious time in order to earn a berth to nationals. 

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