The Big 12 is one of the most well-rounded conferences in the NCAA, with solid sprint matchups, distance races, and even a potential high jump collegiate record battle set to go down in Ames, Iowa, this weekend at Iowa State's 300-meter track. Read on for a rundown of the top events to watch.
Men's High Jump
Who: Trey Culver (Texas Tech), Vernon Turner (Oklahoma)
When: Saturday, 3:00 PM CT
Why: Only three athletes in collegiate history have jumped higher than 2.33m — and two men from the Big 12 may join that esteemed list on Saturday.
Senior Trey Culver from Texas Tech, a two-time NCAA indoor champion, may have met his match in Oklahoma's precocious freshman Vernon Turner, as both athletes have successfully jumped 2.33m/7-7.75 this season. The mark ties for the fourth-best in NCAA indoor history.
The duo has actually already met once this season, at the Texas Tech Classic. Culver used his home field advantage to eke out the win over Turner, though both posted a day's best mark of 2.30m/7-6.5.
A truly standout day might see them attempt the NCAA record of 2.37m/7-9.25, set by Hollis Conway of Louisiana Lafayette in 1989.
Who: Divine Oduduru (Texas Tech), Andrew Hudson (Texas Tech)
When: Prelims @ 7:30 PM CT, Friday; Final @ 4:10 PM CT, Saturday
Why: Texas Tech's star freshman Divine Oduduru, a multiple-time African junior champion for his native Nigeria, is the early favorite to fill the void left by NCAA record holder Christian Coleman. He and his teammate Andrew Hudson rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation this year in the 200m with season-best marks of 20.18 and 20.42.
Other Big 12 athletes who look poised to qualify for nationals and could make an impact here include Texas freshman Micaiah Harris (No. 11) and Kansas State senior Terrell Smith (No. 15). Steven Champlin of TCU and Darrion Flowers of TCU are right outside of qualifying for NCAAs and will hope to be pushed to quick times by the stellar field assembled in Iowa.
Defending Big 12 champion Maxwell Willis will also be in the field, though the sophomore has not broken 21 seconds yet this season and ranks just No. 35 in the NCAA.
Who: Divine Oduduru (Texas Tech), Emeilo Ferguson (TCU), Jalen Miller (TCU), Andrew Hudson (Texas Tech)
When: Semis @ Friday, 4:20 PM CT; Final @ Saturday, 2:00 PM CT
Why: As in the 200m, Texas Tech's Divine Oduduru is ranked very highly in the season's NCAA descending order list for the 60m — the freshman is currently for No. 3 in the standings with Houston's Elijah Hall at 6.58.
But one poor move can mess you up in the shortest sprint on the track, which lends some extra room for TCU duo Emeilo Ferguson and Jalen Miller (both of whom rank No. 7 this season at 6.60) or Oduduru's teammate Andrew Hudson (No. 13, 6.61) to pull off an upset here.
Who: Sharon Lokedi (Kansas)
When: 5K @ 7:50 PM CT, Friday; 3K @ 4:20 PM CT, Saturday
Why: Kansas All-American Sharon Lokedi is head and shoulders above the rest of the field in the women's distance events. The senior currently ranks No. 5 in the 5K (15:39.05) and No. 9 in the 3K (8:59.69). For comparison's sake, the No. 2-rated Big 12 athlete in the 3K is Iowa State's Anne Frisbie, who has a season best of 15:53.41, and the No. Big 12 woman in the 3K is Baylor's Anna West, who has run 9:16.67 this year.
That's not to say an upset is out of the question. With Lokedi's spot at nationals all but locked up, it's unclear whether she'll try to push the pace from the gun or go for a sit-and-kick, the latter of which would be better for her competitors to try and sneak by for a title.
Watch Sharon Lokedi win the 3K at the Iowa State Classic in 8:59.69:
Who: Jasmine Staebler (Iowa State), Kaylee Dodd (Oklahoma State), Aaliyah Miller (Baylor)
When: Prelims @ 6:30 PM CT, Friday; Final @ 3:40 PM CT, Saturday
Why: The women's 800m should be one of the most exciting races of the weekend, with two women in Jasmine Staebler of Iowa State and Kaylee Dodd of Oklahoma State ranked in the NCAA's top 10 this season. Staebler leads the Big 12 with her 2:03.59 season best, making her one of only four collegiate women this winter to break 2:04 in the event. She was runner-up to Kaela Edwards at Big 12s last year and sixth at NCAAs; she's ready for a breakout year.
Baylor's Aaliyah Miller, who ran 2:02 as a freshman and placed fourth in the 1K at last year's Big 12 Indoor Championship before getting injured, ranks No. 14 in the NCAA at 2:05.16 this season. She's certainly a wildcard to watch.