The Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships start Friday in Waco, Texas, with Baylor as the host institution. The men’s and women’s competition is scheduled to end Sunday.
Texas is the defending women’s champion. Six Big 12 schools are ranked in the top 25 nationally. Kansas, which finished second behind the Longhorns last season, is ranked No. 2. Texas is No. 10, Iowa State is No. 16, Texas Tech is No. 17, Baylor is No. 21 and Oklahoma is ranked No. 23.
Kansas won the Big 12 Women’s Indoor Championship by 1.5 points over Texas. The Jayhawks will by trying to win their first outdoor title.
Texas, which finished second in the men’s Big 12 outdoor meet last season, is ranked no. 8 nationally while Texas Tech is No. 18. The Longhorns won the Big 12 Men’s Indoor Championship and they last won the Big 12 outdoor crown in 2006, which was the last year they made the indoor-outdoor sweep. They also swept in 1999.
Team by team previews:
The 18th-ranked Lady Bears enter the weekend with 11 marks in the conference's top five. BU has competed in six outdoor meets with throwers Erin Atkinson and Skylar White providing 11 event wins. Atkinson, a junior, owns the second-best hammer throw in the Big 12 at 213-2, while White, a senior, has the third-best shot put heave (55-2) and the second-best discus throw (181-0). The Lady Bear 4x400-meter relay team sits in second in the conference with a time of 3:32.12. Baylor will be without the services of injured four-time league champion hurdler Tiffani McReynolds, but reigning Big 12 Outdoor 400-meter champion Christina Holland is back.
Iowa State women
The Cyclones finished third in the Big 12 Indoor Championships are currently ranked 16thnationally according. Senior distance runner Betsy Saina is coming off a victory in the Payton Jordan Invite. She won the 10,000-meter run in 31:37.22 - the third fastest time ever run by a collegiate woman. Iowa State won the women’s 4x1600-meter relay and the women’s 400-meter hurdles last week at the Drake Relays and look to build off that at the Big 12 Championships.
The Jayhawks seek the program’s first outdoor league title. The Jayhawks accomplished the same feat at the indoor conference meet in February and want to prove that their 1.5 point victory over the Texas women was no fluke. Kansas has seven athletes leading their respective event in the conference, including reigning outdoor Big 12 champions Paris Daniels (200 meters), Francine Simpson (long jump), Andrea Geubelle (triple jump) and Alena Krechyk (hammer throw). 2013 indoor champions Diamond Dixon (400 meters) and Lindsay Vollmer (heptathlon) as well as NCAA indoor champion Natalia Bartnovskaya (pole vault) will also look to add big points to their team’s total.
Kansas State women
The Wildcats are traditionally strong in the heptathlon and have four to five student-athletes who could medal in the event. Meryl Mbeng was fifth in the heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor championship and will be a threat to win in the Big 12 Championship. Martina Tresch is ranked No. 1 in conference in steeplechase and No. 16 in the NCAA. Erika Schiller could also earn points in the event. Joslyn Barnes (heptathlon and high jump) and Richelle Farley (heptathlon, 100-meter hurdles, long jump) could earn points in multiple events.
The Sooners expect to capture most of their points in the field events. While there are some OU student-athletes ranked among the Big 12’s top eight in the running events, the vast majority show up in the field events. Led by the nation’s top-ranked shot putter, senior Tia Brooks, OU should score the majority of its points from the field. Add in top-10 ranked performers in the high jump, triple jump, pole vault, discus (fourth, eighth and ninth), hammer and heptathlon and the point potential is significant. Another field event that features top-ranked OU competitors is the javelin where Elizabeth Herrs, Avione Allgood and Ashley Kowalewski rank first, fifth and seventh respectively.
Oklahoma State women
The Cowgirls unquestioned leader is Natalja Piliusina. She has never lost in the 800 meters at the conference meet, racking up five total Big 12 titles in the event. She is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA and No. 10 in the world in the 1,500 meters, and No. 6 in the nation in the 800 meters. The Cowgirls also have two throwers ranked- Chase Ealey (No. 36) in the shot put, and Caitlin Way (No. 43) in the hammer. Kate Kujawa is sitting at No. 24 in the nation in the 3,000 meter steeplechase.
The Horned Frogs have a variety of competitors to contend. Lorraine Ugen was a first-team All-American in the indoor long jump and will continue to seek her form this week in the long jump and the 100-meter dash, an event she was the 2012 Mountain West champion in. Another strength for TCU has been the work of its throwers. Megan Smith and Kelsey Samuels have school records in the discus and hammer throw, respectively. Smith has been a pleasant surprise in shot put, throwing over four feet further than she was at this point last season. Other top competitors include Larissa Matthews in the 100-meter hurdles, Makena Schroder in the javelin and Samantha Reynolds-Collins in the triple jump.
The No. 10-ranked Longhorns have 24 marks over 13 events that rank in the top five in the Big 12 this season. Texas brings the top four 400 meter times in the conference, led by Courtney Okolo’s 52.52, the seventh-fastest nationally. Danielle Dowie returns to defend her 2012 outdoor crown in the 400-meter hurdles armed with the top time in the league of 56.58. Four-time Big 12 high jump champion Shanay Briscoe and Morgan Snow (100-meter hurdles) also lead the conference in their respective events, while UT’s 4x400 meter relay (3:27.65) and 4x100 meter relay (43.59) are tops in the Big 12 and rank No. 3 and No. 4 in the nation, respectively.
Texas Tech women
The 17th-ranked Lady Raiders enter the Big 12 Championships with four separate athletes and both its 4x400 and 4x100 relays ranked in the top 20 nationally. Texas Tech enters the postseason led by senior Katie Grimes and rising sophomore sprinter Cierra White. White recently broke the school record and jumped to No. 4 in the world, No. 1 in the Big 12, in the 100-meter dash (11.09) while she also holds the No. 2 time in the conference in the 200-meter dash (22.91). Meanwhile, Grimes enters the meet as one of the top hurdlers in the conference with a season-best 12.99 - good for No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 6 nationally.
West Virginia women
The Mountaineers are paced by three runners who rank in the top eight in the Big 12 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. School record holder Jordan Hamric leads with way at No. 3 (10:17.58), while Aubrey Moskal and Sarah Martinelli follow at No. 5 (10:30.11) and No. 7 (10:34.88), respectively. The Mountaineers have three field event performers ranked nationally and in the conference. Katlyn Shelar is No. 4 in the Big 12 in the pole vault with a school record mark of 4.10 meters. Sydney Cummings holds the highest ranking at No. 2 in the conference in the high jump with a mark of 1.78 meters, while Stormy Nesbit comes in at No. 3 in the triple jump with a mark of 12.59 meters.
The Bears’ 4x400-meter relay team has the best time of any Big 12 squad this season at 3:03.90. Baylor has won the event 13 times in the 17-year history of the championship. A member of that foursome, Blake Heriot, also has the fourth-fastest 100-meter (10.45) and 200-meter (20.86) times and then the third-best 400-meter time (46.53) in the league this year. In total, BU has 12 top-5 marks in the Big 12 heading into the event. However, sprinter Everett Walker, who owns two of those, is out with an injury. Freshman Felix Obi will look to double up after winning the Big 12 indoor triple jump earlier this year. He is currently sitting in second-place in the league with a mark of 52-9.25.
Iowa State men
The Cyclones are led by sophomore Nick Efkamp, who won the 400-meter dash title at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Senior Mohamed Hrezi has been strong in the 1,500 meters this season. He finished second in the Mt. SAC Relays. Alec Baldwin, Jacob Aune, Alex Dillenbeck and Falko Zauber are also threats to medal in the 1,500. Charlie Paul and Stephen Saylor are strong competitors in the 10,000 meters.
The young but talented Jayhawks turned some heads with their sixth-place finish at the Big 12 Indoor meet. Kansas will look to build on that success this weekend. The Jayhawks are led by 2012 Big 12 Freshman of the Year Michael Stigler, who has already blazed to the fastest 400-meter hurdle time in the nation this year at 49.42. Stigler was a surprise winner of the event last year but a Big 12 title this season should come as no surprise. Senior Kyle Clemons enters his final Big 12 Championships with the conference’s fastest 400-meter time and will also look to lead the 4x400-meter relay team, the second-fastest in the league this year, to another high finish.
Kansas State men
High jumper Erik Kynard is ranked No. 1 in the world after winning Mt. SAC Relays at 2.34 meters (7-08.00). He and teammate Zack Riley made history by finishing one-two in the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Four Wildcats have the potential to score points in the long jump - Jharyl Bowry, Ifeanyi Otuonye, Tyris Jefferson and Devin Field. Bowry and Otuonye finished one-two at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Sprinter Carlos Rodriguez ranks first in the 200 meters and second in the 100 meters heading into the weekend.
The focus will be on the Sooners’ middle distance/distance races and some of the field events. OU currently has the nationally top-ranked 1,500-meter runner in Riley Masters and the nationally third-ranked runner in the 1,500 in Patrick Casey, who was the top point producer for the 2013 Big 12 Indoor. Casey won the 1,000 and mile and ran a leg on the winning distance medley relay. Oklahoma has the Big 12’s top-seven ranked runners in the 1,500- and 5,000-meter run (fourth, sixth and seventh). The Sooners also have top-10 rankings in the 200-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, high jump, triple jump, shot put and hammer. Freshman Tyler Renton is the Big 12’s top javelin thrower.
Oklahoma State men
A quartet of athletes ranked in the top 75 in the world lead the way for the Cowboys. Reigning Big 12 Athlete of the Week Girma Mecheso is No. 13 in the world and tops in the NCAA in the 10,000 meters. Tom Farrell (No. 48) and Kirubel Erassa (No. 75) are ranked in the 1,500 meters, and defending Big 12 Champion and All-American Nick Miller is ranked No. 58 in the world and No. 2 in the NCAA in the hammer.
The Horned Frogs come into the Big 12 Outdoor Championships with the top athletes in four events. Six-time All-American and Big 12 Indoor 60-meter dash champ Charles Silmon is the Big 12 leader in the 100-meter dash at 10.23 seconds, and ran a wind-aided 9.94 seconds earlier this season. Silmon is part of the men's 4x100-meter relay squad that leads the league at 39.42 with teammates Ramone Bailey, Ronnie Baker and Raymond Bozmans. Bailey is the conference leader in the men's long jump at 25-0 3/4. Cameron Parker is the conference leader in the triple jump at 52-10.
The eighth-ranked Longhorns are looking to sweep the Big 12 indoor and outdoor titles. Texas captured the indoor crown in February after leading from start to finish. UT last won the outdoor title in 2006. Texas has the Big 12’s best mark in seven events, more than any other school. Kyle Thompson in the 800 meters; Ryan Dohner in the 5,000 meters, Keiron Stewart in the 110-meter hurdles, Austin Bussing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Ryan Crouser in the shot put and discus and Isaac Murphy in the decathlon.
Texas Tech men
The 18th-ranked Red Raiders enter the Big 12 Championship with five athletes and the 4x400 relay ranked in the national top-20. The squad is led by senior Bryce Lamb and sophomore Kole Weldon – both are in the national top-25 in two events. Lamb enters the 2013 postseason fresh off an indoor national championship in the triple jump, while Weldon is No. 2 nationally in the shot put and No. 17 in the discus. Texas Tech will also look towards its traditionally deep hurdle crew. The Red Raider hurdlers enter the Big 12 meet with three athletes in top eight in the conference including newcomer Tramaine Maloney who is No. 3 in the 110mH and No. 7 in the 400-meter hurdles.