The Big 12 Indoor Track & Field Championships will be held Friday and Saturday on the Harry Hoak Track at Iowa State's Lied Recreation Center in Ames, Iowa. On the men's side, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas are the favorites to claim the title that was won last season by former member school Texas A&M. Kansas leads the way for the women, coming into the championship ranked number five in the country and looking for their first league title in school history.
The Big 12 has four men's teams and five women's squads ranked in the top 25 in the nation in the latest USTFCCCA poll. Texas Tech boasts the top rated men's team heading into the meet as the Red Raiders are currently ranked fourth. Behind Tech is No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Texas and No. 21 Oklahoma. Kansas (No. 5), Iowa State (No. 12), Texas (No.13), Oklahoma State (No. 22) and Baylor (No. 25) represent the league's women squads.
Oklahoma (2010), Texas (1999, 2006, 2008-09) and former league members Nebraska (1997-98, 2000-05, '07) and Texas A&M (2011, 2012) are the only squads to win the men's indoor title, while the Longhorns (1998, '99, 2002-03, '06), Aggies (2007-10, 2012) and Huskers (1997, 2000, '01, 2004-05, '11) are the only teams to garner a women's title.
Action begins on Friday morning with the women's pentathlon at 10 a.m., while the men's heptathlon starts at 11 a.m. Beginning at 2 p.m., the prelims for the 60m hurdles will commence. On Saturday, finals will start at noon with the men's high jump. A full schedule, live results and complete coverage is available at Big12Sports.com.
Adult admission to the Big 12 Indoor Championships is $7 for one day or $10 for a two-day pass. Youth admission, high school age and younger, is available for $3 for one session or $5 for a two-day pass.
Team by team previews:
The Lady Bears are led by two-time defending 60-hurdle champion Tiffani McReynolds, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 at 8.02 seconds. McReynolds also has the second-fastest league time in the 60-meter dash (7.38) and the fifth-best 200-meter mark at 23.82. Raena Rhone has is the sixth-best quarter-miler with a time of 54.09. Freshman Olicia Williams has made an immediate impact in Baylor's middle distance crew as she has the fourth-fastest 800-meter time in the league (2:07.52). Mariah Kelly is also fourth-best (2:52.60) in the Big 12, but at the 1000-meter distance. The Lady Bears also feature a trio of top-five ranked field-event performers. School-record-setting throwers Skylar White and Erin Atkinson are ranked fourth and second in the Big 12 in the shot put and weight throw, respectively. In the triple jump, freshman Brianna Richardson owns the league's second-best triple jump at 41-1.5.
Iowa State women
The Cyclones have their sights set on a successful weekend. Iowa State is led by the Most Outstanding Performer of the 2012 Big 12 Championships, Betsy Saina. The senior, the 2012 NCAA cross country champion, won both the 3,000- and the 5,000-meter runs at last year's conference meet and could do it again. Three-time All-American Meaghan Nelson will be running with Saina in search of big points. The Okoro sisters, Ese and Eji should also be a force in the middle distance events and the Cyclone throwing corps, led by super sophomore Tina Hillman and senior Danielle Frere should make some noise.
The Jayhawks are ranked No. 5 nationally have high hopes of bringing its first Big 12 trophy back to Lawrence. The team's top performer this year has been senior horizontal jumper Andrea Geubelle, who leads the league in both the long jump and triple jump. On the track, senior Paris Daniels has 60-meter and 200-meter times that both rank among the top-10 in the NCAA. Junior pole vaulter Natalia Bartnovksaya has already moved to No. 9 on the NCAA's all-time vaulting list with her school-record mark of 4.43 meters (14-6.25 ft.). In the throws, senior Alena Krechyk is looking to improve upon her runner-up finish last year. The Jayhawks also expect a big outing from junior and Olympic Gold medalist Diamond Dixon who, after recovering from an early-season injury, is now beginning to hit her stride as she looks to defend her indoor conference title in the 400 meters.
Kansas State women
The Wildcats had two on the podium after the pentathlon last year and nearly had four. Even with the graduation of the two scorers last year, K-State could still accomplish that feat as head coach Cliff Rovelto continues to build one of the top multi programs in the nation. Many of those pentathletes could also compete in the open 60 meter hurdles and long jump. The Wildcats will also have a group of freshman expected to make an impact on the championship; K-State's recruiting class was ranked No. 6 in the nation by Track & Field News. That ranking did not include Serbian national record holder in the hammer throw Sara Savatovic who enrolled at K-State this semester.
The Sooners look to improve on last year's eighth-place finish at the Big 12 Championships. Oklahoma's women are led by defending shot put champion Tia Brooks, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the country as the only woman to surpass the 60-foot barrier on the year. Fellow veteran, Claire McConnell is in contention to place in the indoor pentathlon, as she enters the conference meet with the third-best performance on the year by Big 12 competitors. Throughout her final indoor season she has set new career-bests in the shot put, high jump, long jump and set a new Oklahoma program record in the pentathlon.
Oklahoma State women
The Cowgirls are ranked No. 22 in this week's national rankings. Natalja Piliusina leads the way for Oklahoma State. She has the nation's No. 4 time in the mile, and the No. 5 time in the 800 meters. Piliusina has the school record in not only both of those events, but also the 1,000 meters. Monika Juodeskaite ran the second-fastest 3,000 meters in OSU history at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash. Her mark is the No. 15 time in the nation and No. 2 in the Big 12. Chase Ealey has the No. 38 shot put in the country, and No. 8 in the Big 12.
The Horned Frogs' Lorraine Ugen is one of the top women's long jumpers in the country, but has been out of competition for over a month due to injury. Her one mark of the season of 20-4 1/4 still ranks tied for 15th nationally. After a slow start to the season Chaniqua Corinealdi found her form two weeks ago with a 60-meter dash of 7.45 seconds. She will be looking to make another jump into Big 12 title contention. In her most recent competition, Agnes Kemboi won the 3,000-meter run at the Texas A&M Invitational. Tricia Terry in the mile and Kelsey Samuels in the shot put also picked up victories at the A&M meet.
The Longhorns are led by a strong quarter-mile group, who have combined to post the top and third-best times in the nation (3:30.95, 3:31.69) in the 4x400-meter relay this season. Three members of the top-ranking relay team in junior Danielle Dowie, freshman Courtney Okolo and junior Briana Nelson are ranked 1-2-3 in the Big 12 in the 400-meter run. Also ranking No. 1 in the conference is junior Shanay Briscoe in high jump (6-2/1.88m). In the 200-meters, junior Christy Udoh and Dowie rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. A quintet of Longhorns come in at No. 3 in their respective events in seniors Kendra Chambers (800-meters,2:07.32) and Mia Behm (5,000-meters, 16:11.96), junior A'Lexus Brannon (long jump, 20-5.25/6.23m) and sophomores Morgan Snow (60-meter hurdles, 8.26) and Kaitlin Petrillose (pole vault, 13-9.25/4.20m).
Texas Tech women
The Lady Raiders are led by returning All-American hurdler Katie Grimes. She earned All-America honors in the hurdles during both the 2012 indoor and outdoor seasons, enters the Big 12 Indoor Championships with the No. 3 time nationally in the women's 60-meter hurdles. Grimes has broken her own school record in both the 55-meter hurdles and 60-meter hurdles this season. The 4x400 relay squad recorded a season-best time of 3:35.44 at the Tyson Invitational and enters the week ranked No. 8 in the country. The distance medley relay team finished second in its most recent competition. Sophomore Cierra White recently recorded her best time (23:78) in the 200-meter dash.
West Virginia women
The Mountaineers are led by the second-ranked distance medley relay team and Kelly Williams, who owns a pair of top times with a No. 2 ranking in the Big 12 in the mile at 4:38.47 and No. 6 in the 800 meters at 2:11.88. All-American Sarah-Anne Brault returns to the track for only the second time this season and ranks No. 8 in the Big 12 with a 3,000-meter time of 9:34.62. Sydney Cummings and Heather Adams are top field event performers for the Mountaineers as both have broken the school record in their respective events. Cummings ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 in the high jump at 1.78 meters, while Adams is ranked No. 8 with a weight throw of 18.18 meters.
The Bears are led by senior sprinter Everett Walker, who is currently second in the league at the 60-meter distance in a career-best 6.69 and first in the 200-meters event at 20.81, also a career best. The Bears also have a quartet of 400-meter runners in the Big 12's top-12: Blake Heriot (47.25, 5th), Richard Gary (47.45, 6th), Isaiah Duke (47.77, 12th ) and Drew Seale (47.77, 12th). BU has the fastest 4x400-meter relay team in the league at 3:09.89. Baylor also has a strong presence in the field with triple jumper Felix Obi, whose school-record jump of 52-5.5, is currently second in the conference.
Iowa State men
Two individuals stand tall for the Cyclones. All-American Edward Kemboi was run 1:47.43 for the 800 meters, the fastest time in the Big 12 by more than two seconds. Ryan Sander has run 7.90 in the 60-meter hurdles and should figure prominently in the hurdle final. Freshman Jan Jeuschede has thrown the shot 59-2.75 and multi-eventers Ethan Wilkins, Taylor Sanderson, Troy Walls and Matt Harmeyer need to pick up team points with their individual points.
The Jayhawks will see a young but talented men's squad make the trip to Ames. Senior sprinter Kyle Clemons currently boasts the league's top 600-yard time and the Big 12's second-fastest time in the 400 meters. KU will rely on Clemons as well as the 4x400-meter and distance medley relay to be big scorers if they are to have a successful meet. In the field the Jayhawks feature a strong contingent of pole vaulters. Junior Alex Bishop has notched the third-highest clearance in the Big 12 this year (17-5 ft.) and will look to become KU's fifth indoor pole vault champion in the last seven years.
Kansas State men
The Wildcats' top performer is high jumper Erik Kynard who won an Olympic silver medal. Junior college transfer and champion Zack Riley gives the Wildcats the No. 1 and No. 2 jumpers in the Big 12. The tandem of jumpers are only two of K-State's many weapons. Carlos Rodriguez ranks near the top of the conference in both the 60 meters and 200 meters, and junior pole vaulter Kyle Wait won the Big 12 outdoor championship last season. The Wildcats also have four long jumpers capable of scoring at the championship meet. Jharyl Bowry won the national JUCO championship last year. Freshmen Ifeanyi Otuonye, Devin Field and Tyris Jefferson all have impressive resumes and talent. The Wildcats boast the top two ranked heptathletes in Devin Dick and Tomas Kirielius.
The Sooners, ranked 21st nationally, will have a strong presence in the distance events. Four Sooners are ranked in six different events in the latest national rankings. Within conference competition, senior Patrick Casey, the OU program leader in both events, leads all Big 12 competitors in the mile and recorded the fourth-best output in the 3,000-meter run on the year. Nationally and within the league, Kevin Williams owns the third-lowest time in the 5,000-meter run (13:38.57). Additionally, Frezer Legesse is in contention to place in both the 800-meter run (1:50.01) and 1,000-meter run (2:22.76) with the second-best times in the league in both events.
Oklahoma State men
The Cowboys are ranked sixth nationally and boast some of the nation's top milers. Oklahoma State has five runners who have all recorded sub-four minute miles this season. Raul Botezan (No. 7), Tom Farrell (No. 10), Kirubel Erassa (No. 11), Fabian Clarkson (No. 17) and Shane Moskowitz (No. 18) have five of the 18 best mile times in the NCAA this season. Farrell, Erassa and Clarkson also have three of the nation's top 15 3,000 meters times. In the 5,000 meters, Shadrack Kipchirchir broke the school record at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash., with a time of 13:38.57, good enough for No. 3 in the nation. Nick Miller currently has the No. 9 weight throw in the NCAA and No. 1 in the Big 12, with a distance of 20.97m/68-9.75.
The Horned Frogs should make a major impact in the sprint races. Senior Charles Silmon, a five-time All-American, is the Big 12 leader in the 60-meter dash at 6.68 seconds and will be in the discussion in the 200-meter dash, too. The Frogs have five freshmen in their sprint ranks who will all contribute to the TCU effort. One of them, Ronnie Baker, will be a contender in the 400-meter dash, posting a 46.95 seconds time two weeks ago. Sophomore Joshua Washington will be close to Baker, running a 47.13 in the 400-meters two weeks ago.
The Longhorns are ninth in this week's USTFCCCA rankings. Senior Keiron Stewart, a five-time All-American, matched his school record (7.66) in the 60-meter hurdles at last weekend's Tyson Invitational and ranks No. 4 nationally in that event. A six-time All-American, senior Hayden Bayden ranks fifth nationally in the shot put with a mark of 63-7 3/4 (19.40m). The Longhorns have the top distance medley relay time in the nation. Patrick McGregor, Zack Bilderback, Kyle Thompson and Joe Stilin clocked a time of 9:31.82 at last month's Razorback Invitational. Stilin, also has broken the school's mile and 3,000-meter records. Texas finished second last year in the Big 12 indoor meet.
Texas Tech men
The Red Raiders are led by 2012 NCAA Cross Country Champion Kennedy Kithuka. A junior who has yet to lose a collegiate race, Kithuka enters the 2012 Big 12 Indoor Championships with the top time nationally in the 5,000-meter run while also ranked No. 3 nationally in the 3,000-meter run. The two-time Big 12 Athlete of the Week has broken school records in both events while also twice anchoring the men's distance medley relay team to a school record times. Bryce Lamb, a three-time All-American, enters the Big 12 Indoor Championships leading the Big 12 in the triple jump with a mark of 16.26-meters (53'-4.25") - the mark ranks No. 3 nationally. In the pole vault, returning All-American Kyal Meyers also leads the conference with a clearance of 5.41-meters (17'-9.00").