The Weekend’s Best Matchups

This weekend will see all the collegiate national championship meets. The USTFCCCA has everything you ever wanted to know about the NCAAs, and the CIS Championship info is here.

I plan on sitting down and watching most of the action this weekend. Here are the top ten clashes I’m expecting to see.

1. Erik Kynard (Kansas State) vs Derek Drouin (Indiana) (high jump)
Saturday at 3:30pm local (4:30pm ET)
Live results link | Webcast link
Longtime readers of this space know my various connections to Kynard, but I’d rate this as the top clash of the weekend regardless. The two jumpers won Olympic silver and bronze last year, and they have split their ten career meetings. They have combined for five of the last six NCAA high jump titles. They are tied for third on the all-time collegiate indoor list, yet both are on the verge of big height breakthroughs.

2. LSU vs Kansas vs Oregon vs Arkansas (women)
The D-I women’s team competition looks to be a very tight battle among four teams. With that many squads in the hunt, there’s hardly an event on the schedule that won’t be crucial. And, of course, all four of these contenders have qualified for the 4×400 relay, so this one could go down to the wire.

3. Arkansas vs Florida (men)
The men’s team competition appears to be a two-way affair between familiar foes Arkansas and Florida. The Hogs are rated as the favorites but that means bupkus one they’re out on the track. And, of course, they have two of the best 4×400 relays out there, and the championship could come down to that.

4. Kennedy Kithuka (Texas Tech) vs Lawi Lalang (Arizona) (3000 meters)
Saturday at 7:55pm local (8:55pm ET)
Live results link | Webcast link
Kithuka destroyed the field at last fall’s NCAA Cross Country Championships in an impressive display of running, but he’s more of a long-distance runner. 3000 meters is right in Lalang’s wheelhouse, proven by his 7:42.79 earlier this season which puts him #3 on the all-time collegiate indoor list. This should be a battle royale, made more interesting by the fact that this race will finish up a double for both. Lalang is running the mile (semis on Friday, finals on Saturday) and Kithuka is running the 5000 (Friday).

5. English Gardner (Oregon) vs Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU) (60 meters)
Saturday at 7:00pm local (8:00pm ET)
Live results link | Webcast link
Gardner upset Duncan to win the 100 meters at last year’s NCAA Championships, and this is the rematch. A subtext to this battle is the points they’ll earn in the team competition. A possible spoiler comes in the form of Central Florida’s Aurieyall Scott.

6. Betsy Saina (Iowa State) vs Abbey D’Agostino (Dartmouth) vs Jordan Hasay (Oregon) (3000 meters and 5000 meters)
5k: Friday at 7:55pm local (8:55pm ET)
3k: Saturday at 7:40pm local (8:40pm ET)

Live results link | Webcast link
These three battled it out to the finish last fall at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and it looks like they’re the three best entrants in both of these events. Hasay will be running not only for herself but for crucial team points.

7. Men’s Distance Medley Relay
Friday at 9:00pm local (10:00pm ET)
Live results link | Webcast link
I haven’t the foggiest idea which teams are the favorites, and I saw all twelve qualifiers in person last week. The DMR is just a rockin’ good time, and they put it last on the Friday schedule because no one can follow that show.

8. Andrea Guebelle (Kansas) vs Shanieka Thomas (San Diego State) (triple jump)
Saturday at 6:00pm local (7:00pm ET)
Live results link | Webcast link
The last time these two faced off was at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where Thomas was second and Guebelle was initially first but fell to third after her apparent winning jump was ruled a foul. She’s got something to prove, and her team needs her points as well. Thomas’s best jump this season is better than Guebelle’s but that should be taken with a grain of salt given that it was done at 5000′ of altitude.

9. Andrew Irwin (Arkansas) vs Jack Whitt (Oral Roberts) (pole vault)
Friday at 5:30pm local (6:30pm ET)
Live results link | Webcast link
Whitt won the NCAA outdoor title last year and Irwin won the NCAA indoor title. These are the headline names in the event, but others are contenders because a) they’re just as good as these two and b) it’s the pole vault and crazy crap happens. UCLA’s Michael Woepse and freshmen Shawn Barber (Akron) and Jake Blankenship (Tennessee) are the most likely interlopers.

10. Chris O’Hare (Tulsa) vs Lawi Lalang (Arizona) (Mile)
Saturday at 6:10pm (7:10pm ET)
Live results link | Webcast link
O’Hare is the defending champion and broke the collegiate record at the Millrose Games while beating Lalang. Lalang has a spotty competitive record in this event, but he’s still Lalang, so he’s dangerous. And this is just the classic indoor race.

Other matchups to watch…

D-II women: Grand Valley State vs Lincoln vs Academy of Art

D-II men: Adams State vs Ashland vs St. Augustine’s

D-II women’s pole vault: Katie Nageotte (Ashland) vs Kayla Caldwell (Hillsdale) vs Kristen Hixson (Grand Valley State)

D-III women: UW-Oshkosh vs Wartburg

D-III men’s shot put: David Pless (Bates) vs Nick Baatz (UW-Oshkosh)

CIS women: Toronto vs Guelph

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