2018 NJCAA Preview: 5 Can't-Miss Stars To Watch In Lubbock

By Lincoln Shryack


The 2018 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Indoor Championships stream live this Friday and Saturday, March 2-3, right here on FloTrack. The event is hosted by Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, and their brand-new Sports Performance Center promises fast times and a magnificent setting to watch up-and-coming stars of the sport compete for national titles. Division I coaches looking for talented recruits will have their eyes glued to the action this weekend in Lubbock, and you should plan on doing the same.

Below we highlight the top athletes to watch at this year’s championships.

1. Sean Bailey | Western Texas | 400m, 600m

The young Jamaican was the breakout superstar of last year’s indoor meet, as he ran 45.59 to obliterate the NJCAA indoor 400m record. Although it was run on an oversized track, Bailey’s time was the fourth-fastest in the world indoors last year. At just 20 years of age, the Western Texas sophomore will no doubt be a name to watch in the coming years as he figures to continue his career at a prominent Division I school.

null


Bailey enters Lubbock this weekend as a bit of a mystery, however, as he hasn’t quite been at the top of his quarter-mile game so far in 2018. With a season best of just 47.79, Bailey sits just seventh on the NJCAA descending order list, well behind the top time of 46.92 by Meridian’s James Burnett.

However, Bailey did run an incredibly impressive 600-yard race in 1:08.51 three weeks ago — not too far off Vincent Crisp’s collegiate record of 1:08.16 from January. Bailey’s mark was an NJCAA record. So while it’s a bit perplexing that Bailey hasn’t been close to his 400m best so far in 2018, he’s clearly still very fit. Expect him to put on a show on Texas Tech’s brand new — and very fast — track.

2. & 3. Adva Cohen (Iowa Central) vs Esther Gitahi (New Mexico JC) | Mile, 3000m

This will be the distance matchup to watch this weekend in Lubbock, as Cohen and Gitahi are by far the best female distance runners in the NJCAA. Gitahi won the mile and the 3K at last year’s indoor championships, but you’d be hard-pressed to call her the favorite this time as the freshman Cohen has shown incredible range from 800m to the 5,000m.

Cohen’s 4:42 mile and 16:16 5K scream of a future DI star, and although Gitahi has a faster converted time in the 3K, it’s safe to assume Cohen will be favored in that distance as well, since she beat her by a minute at last November’s NJCAA cross country championships.

4. Derek Holdsworth | Trinidad State | 800m, 1000m

Holdsworth is a former prep superstar who won the Brooks PR 800m back in 2014 and ran 1:48 the summer after his senior year. Back then, he had future NCAA star written all over him, but Holdsworth didn’t follow the traditional collegiate path, and at 22 years old he’s only now a freshman at Trinidad State.

But four years after starring in high school, Holdsworth is still running fast — he ran 1:47.07 outdoors last summer and his 1:48.53 this season is the only sub-1:50 time by an NJCAA runner in 2018. He also ran a lightning-quick 2:22 1K in January as well. No one will touch him this weekend, but it will be fun to see how fast he can go on Texas Tech’s ultra-fast surface.

Watch Holdsworth’s 2014 Brooks PR win over future NCAA All-Americans.

null


5. Travis Collins | Butler CC | 60m

The NJCAA shorts sprints tend to be a hotbed for future DI talent, and 2018 is no exception as 6.64 man Travis Collins will head to the University of Houston this upcoming fall. Collins has the fastest non-converted mark of the season, but he should have plenty of competition from Western Texas’ Emmanuel Yeboah and Barton County’s Terence Ware, who have qualifying times of 6.64 and 6.65, respectively.

Last year’s runner-up in the NJCAA 60m, Andre Ewers, now runs for Florida State and currently owns the fastest time in the NCAA this season of 6.52.

Did I mention that the NJCAA sprints are fantastic?

House Of Run: Sprinters Have Stolen The Show In 2019

Jason and Kevin discuss the reaction to Noah Lyles’ close victory over Christian Coleman in the 100m, the budding rivalry between the two, Kenny Bednarek’s coming out party at JUCOs, Michael Norman’s smooth 19.84, Caster Semenya’s 3000m future and Matthew Boling’s superb Twitter skills.

Kelati, Oduduru & The 10 Biggest Stars At NCAA West Prelims

null

Yesterday, Lincoln took a look at the top athletes to watch in the NCAA East Preliminary Round. Today, I’ll do the same with the West Prelim, which begins this Thursday, May 23, in Sacramento.

FloTrack's NCAA Prelim Predictions

null

FloTrack predicts the mid-distance/distance qualifiers for NCAAs.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloTrack!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Roberts, Holloway & The 10 Brightest Stars At NCAA East Prelims

null

The 2019 DI NCAA East Preliminary Round is this Thursday through Saturday, May 23-25, in Jacksonville, Florida, and it will be LIVE on FloTrack. 

Kenny Bednarek Makes History With 19.82/44.73 Double At JUCOs

null

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloTrack!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

One day after riding a blustering tailwind to the fastest wind-aided 200m in history, Indian Hills freshman Kenny Bednarek decided to give wind legal a try on the final day of the 2019 NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The result? Still damn fast.

Shanghai Diamond League: Lyles Stuns Coleman, Samba Tops Benjamin

The second leg of the 2019 Diamond League season made its stop in Shanghai, China, on Saturday, and it was jam-packed with marquee matchups and tight finishes.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloTrack!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Kenny Bednarek Runs Fastest Wind-Aided 200m In History

If you’ve ever wondered how fast a world-class sprinter could run with a comically strong tailwind, Indian Hills Community College freshman Kenny Bednarek had your answer on Friday with his 19.49 200m (+6.1 m/s) in the 2019 NJCAA Track and Field prelims.

What Did It Take To Qualify For NCAA Prelims Over The Years?

Since the NCAA moved to a two-regional system in 2010, the qualification process for the NCAA Championships has consisted of the top 48 individuals and top 24 relays in the West and East regions competing for 12 qualifying spots during the last weekend of May.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloTrack!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Samba/Benjamin Pt. I, McLaughlin Debut Headline Shanghai DL

The first six-ish weeks of the professional track season have offered one clear lesson: the late World Championships aren’t going to tamp down fast times. From Michael Norman’s 43.45 to Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s 49.05, it’s feeling like mid-August already. Perhaps the non-championship year in 2018 caused some energy and emotion to be bottled up, only being released in a year with a clear championship target. 

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloTrack!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Schneider, Praught-Leer Notch 5k Olympic Standards At Oxy

(c) 2019 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved