What are the best clashes slated to happen this weekend? Let’s take a look.
1. #3 Texas at #1 Arkansas
Friday, 7pm to 10pm (ET)
This men’s-only dual meet is going to be a great matchup on its own terms, but the re-emergence of Track and Field News’ dual meet rankings puts something tangible on the line. Winning the meet won’t guarantee a #1 ranking for the indoor rankings, but the losing team is guaranteed not to be #1, either next week or for the rest of the indoor season. Among individual events, the pole vault looks the most intriguing, with Arkansas’ Andrew Irwin facing off against Texas’ Maston Wallace.
2. Galen Rupp vs Matt Centrowitz
Saturday, ±3:20pm (ET)
These two Olympic heroes will run the elite men’s mile at the UW Preview in Seattle. This is an amazingly good pro race for so early in the season. Dubbed the “Nike Oregon Project Dream Mile”, Rupp (Olympic 10k silver medalist) and Centro (Olympic 1500 4th place) will be joined by Dorian Ulrey and Donn Cabral, among others, and be paced through 800 meters at 1:55. Whether they’re ready to continue on to 3:50 or so remains to be seen, but note that only one American has ever run under that indoors (Bernard Lagat, 3:49.89). Centrowitz is far and away the best miler of the three, but it’s hard to say how things will shake out when everyone is running their first race of the season.
There will be no live webcast, but Flotrack will have race coverage, and their Seattle crew is very good at getting video uploaded shortly after races are completed. Plus, you can follow the live results, too.
LATE EDIT: It looks like Centro has opted out of the mile for the 800. So forget all about it, move along, nothing to see here…
3. Luke Puskedra vs Meb Keflezhighi
Sunday, 8am (ET)
These two are the headliners at Sunday’s Houston Half Marathon. Keflezighi, while a bit over the hill, is still among the very best in the world (as evidenced by his Olympic marathon 4th-place finish) and is targeting a win in April’s Boston Marathon–which means he will have to be in close to the best shape of his life. Puskedra, the young up-and-comer, wants to break 1:01:00, which happens to be Keflezighi’s PR.
Neither is likely to win, however, because of the next matchup…
4. Atsedu Tsegay Tesfaye vs the clock
Sunday, 8am (ET)
Tesfaye is also running the Houston Half Marathon, and he’s chasing the World Record of 58:23 and, possibly more importantly, the $50,000 bonus that goes with it. It’s a real possibility, given that his PR is 58:47, but he’s not the only one with a shot at it. Feyisa Lilesa (2:04:52 marathon PR) and Deriba Merga (2:06:38 marathon PR) should be in the mix as well.
5. Felisha Johnson vs Brittany Smith
Saturday, 12:30pm (ET)
Indiana State’s Johnson is #1 in the NCAA in the weight throw, and Illinois State’s Smith is #2. Both are head and shoulders above the rest of the nation’s collegiate throwers. Their two teams meet for the Coughlan-Malloy Cup on Saturday, and the meet kicks off with the most competitive event of the entire collegiate weekend. They’ll do battle in the shot put as well, where they are #3 and #6 respectively on the USTFCCCA pre-season formchart. Note that the best weight throw mark ever achieved in a dual meet was the 22.94m/75‐3¼ put up by Johnson against Eastern Illinois, just a month ago.
6. Shannon Rowbury vs Magdalena Lewy-Boulet
Sunday, 1pm (ET)
These two runners headline the elite fields of the women’s 6k race at the Bay Area Cross Challenge. Rowbury is a two-time Olympian at 1500 meters and Lewy-Boulet was a 2008 Olympian in the marathon, so this distance splits the difference between their strengths. Other top runners entered include Alissa McKaig and Chelsea Reilly.