Five athletes from BYU are slated to compete at this weekend’s NCAA Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships and several have shots at All-American status. Here’s who to watch from BYU and how.
What: The NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships
Who: Division I athletes and relay teams from across the country (click for qualifiers)
When: Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 (click for a full schedule)
Where: The Randal Tyson Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas
How to watch
Live coverage will be available at ESPN3 on 4:25 PM on Friday, March 8, and 4:50 PM on Saturday, March 9. Tape-delayed coverage will be on ESPNU on March 17. All times listed here are Mountain Time.
Here are the BYU qualifiers in order of when they first compete.
Kelsey Brown, Junior – Women’s 800 Meter Run
Semifinal – 6:15 PM, Friday
Final – 6:20 PM, Satuday
This event has been dominated by BYU in recent years, with BYU runners winning three out of the last four years (with a second place finish the other year). With last year’s winner, Nachelle Mackie, expecting a child, it is up to Kelsey Brown to take up the 800 meter banner for BYU. A state record holder in high school from Mountain View in Orem, and a transfer student from Oklahoma this season, Brown has immediately emerged as the next great female middle distance runner at BYU. She enters the meet tied for the sixth fastest time this season, but she was not pushed in that race and has only run one other race the entire season. If she is healthy and ready to roll, she is a tenacious racer and can challenge any girl up front.
The favorites for the race are Natalja Piliusina of Oklahama State and Charlene Lipsey of LSU. Piliusina placed second in this race last year, while Lipsey placed second in the outdoor championship last year. While Brown should be able to advance out of the semifinals without much difficulty, weird things do happen in the 800 meters.
Ryan Waite, Senior – Men’s 800 Meter Run
Semifinal – 6:25 PM, Friday
Final – 6:30 PM, Saturday
Ryan Waite, a high school state meet record holder from Oregon, has one of the fastest personal records of all the runners in this race and has the luxury of not running in the relays this year, giving him a potential advantage over some of the other runners. He is reportedly looking fit and could be a factor. However, his best time this season is only the 13th fastest of the group, so it may be a challenge to make it past the semifinal.
This race should be one of the most exciting races of the championships as there are a number of runners who could win. Cas Loxsom from Penn State may be the favorite as he set an American Record in the 600 meters earlier this winter and has won a medal at the world junior championships. Despite his past accomplishments, however, he has done very poorly at NCAA Championships in the past and it would be good to see him succeed here. Elijah Greer of Oregon has the fastest personal record and made it to the finals of the Olympic Trials last year. Brandon McBride of Mississippi State is more of a 400 meter sprinter than a distance runner, yet he comes in with one of the fastest times. Sean Obinwa of Florida, the SEC Champion, could also contend.
Jared Ward, Junior – Men’s 5000 Meter Run
Tylor Thatcher, Junior – Men’s 5000 Meter Run
Final – 7:15 PM, Friday
Jared Ward is from Davis High school and has run a mile in 4:03. He enters this race with the 11th best time of the season in the 5000 meters. With his 5th place finish last year in the 10,000 meters in the outdoor championship, Ward has proven his ability to run well in big situations. Tylor Thatcher from Spokane, Washington, enters the race with the 15th best time of the season.
The strong favorite in this race is Kennedy Kithka from Texas Tech. He dominated the 2012 Cross Country Championship and has the fastest time of the season. Diego Estrada from Northern Arizona ran for Mexico in the 2012 Olympics and has the best chance of anyone to upset Kithka.
Victor Weirich, Senior – Men’s Pole Vault
Final – 4:30 PM, Friday
Victor Weirich, a high school record holder from Texas, enters the meet with the 6th highest jump of the year at 18 feet, two inches. Last year, the winner of this meet jumped 18 feet, two-and-a-half inches, so with a few breaks, Weirich could be in contention. Last year he took 10th at this meet. The favorites include Jack Whitt from Oral Roberts, who is the defending NCAA outdoor champion, and Andrew Irwin from Arkansas, who is the defending NCAA indoor champion.
A quick primer on pole vault rules: athletes may pass at any height, and they are out after three consecutive misses (not always at the same height due to passes). In the results, an "o" means a make and "x" means a miss. The tiebreaker is the athlete with the fewest misses at the final height cleared, and it’s often crucial. The best way to follow the pole vault is to keep a browser window open with the live results page. The timing company hired for this meet, Flash Results, is the best in the world at what they do and they have made it easy to follow the changing fortunes of each field event.