The Weekend’s Best Matchups

The outdoor season is just getting started, and there’s plenty of action already among collegiate and professional athletes. Here are my picks for the top matchups.

1. Derek Drouin vs Erik Kynard
High jump
Texas Relays, Austin TX
Saturday, 11:00am local (noon ET)

The men’s high jump is the event of the year in college track, and this is the first regular season head-to-head matchup between these two stars since February 2011. It’s been 29 years since two Olympic medalists in the same event have both come back for another collegiate season, and it’ something special whenever these two go against each other. Bronze medalist Drouin now leads their career series at 6 to 5, and leads in the personal record department as well (2.35 meters to 2.34).

If you’re one of the lucky few whose cable provider carries the Longhorn Network, you can watch the meet live: today (Thursday) 2:30-4:30 p.m., 6-7 p.m. and 8-11 p.m. (ET); tomorrow from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m and 7:30-10:30 p.m. (ET), and Saturday from 2:30-6:30 p.m. (ET).
Texas Relays website

2. Asafa Powell vs scratch
132nd Stawell Gift, Stawell AUS
Monday, 2:45pm local time (11:45pm ET, Sunday night)

The Stawell Gift is a 120 meter handicap sprint race held in the small Australian town every year over Easter weekend. Competitors are given handicaps of various distances based on their perceived ability. Massive gambling and other types of fun ensue. The weekend includes dozens of handicap races of all distances and for all age groups, but the men’s 120 meter sprint is the headliner.

The amateur code which was enforced on track and field up until the early 80s meant that Stawell rarely drew top talent. The only two winners off “scratch” (running the full distance), Jean-Louis Ravelomanantsoa (1975) and Joshua Ross (2005), were Olympic sprinters. But no one of Powell’s status has ever run the Stawell. Michael Frater ran last year and didn’t even get to the final, so Powell better be ready to run very well if he wants to win and claim the $40,000 prize. The early betting favorite is a man named Khan Marr, who will get a 5.25 meter handicap.

Stawell Gift website | Preview from The Age

3. Oregon vs LSU
Women’s sprint medley
Texas Relays, Austin TX
Friday, 5:20pm local (6:20pm ET)

The Texas Relays meet is (naturally) all about the relays and I think this one has the greatest potential for a thrilling finish. If the initial rosters reflect who actually runs, then this one should be a barn-burner.

LSU’s initial relay roster included Bowerman Award winner Kimberlyn Duncan on one of the 200 legs, and the 400 and 800 legs handled by Natoya Goule and Charlene Lipsey, who were 1st and 3rd in the 800 at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Oregon’s roster included sprint superstar English Gardner on one of the 200 legs, All-American Phyllis Francis running the 400 leg, and the anchor run by Laura Roesler—who split Goule and Lipsey at the NCAAs.

4. All the top men’s college high hurdlers vs each other
Texas Relays, Austin TX
Saturday, 2:15pm local (3:15pm ET)

Track and Field News recently released their first 2013 NCAA Championships formchart, and seven of their top eight high hurdlers are entered at Texas: Wayne Davis II (Texas A&M), Eddie Lovett (Florida), Spencer Adams (Clemson), Johnathan Cabral (Oregon), Ray Stewart (Cal), Keiron Stewart (Texas), and Terence Somerville (Cincinnati).

5. Kara Goucher vs Shalane Flanagan
10,000 meters
Stanford Invitational, Palo Alto CA
Friday, 9:06pm local time (12:06am ET)

I’m generally not a fan of this type of race, which is more of a time trial to hit a qualifying mark than a race to see who wins. Still, this one warrants mention. Both are far better runners than any others in the race, and both are using this as both a chance to get an IAAF World Championships ‘A’ qualifier (31:45.00) and to tune up for next month’s Boston Marathon.

The meet will be streamed live by Flotrack (subscription required).
Meet homepage

6. Oregon vs Arkansas
Women’s 4×400 relay
Texas Relays, Austin TX
Saturday, 4:05pm local (2:30pm ET)

The Ducks won this event at the NCAA Indoor Championships to pull out the team title. The Hogs won this event at the SEC Championships to pull out that team title. It’s not just these two, as all of the top seven on TFN’s first 2013 NCAA formchart have entered this event at the Texas Relays: Oregon, Arkansas, Florida, Texas A&M, LSU, Texas, and Kansas.

7. Auburn vs Texas A&M vs LSU
Men’s 4x100m relay
Texas Relays, Austin TX
Saturday, 1:30pm local (2:30pm ET)

On paper, at least, Auburn looks like the best relay team in the NCAA. But the Aggies and the Tigers have virtually owned this meet in recent years.

8. Texas A&M vs LSU
Women’s 4x100m relay
Texas Relays, Austin TX
Saturday, 1:30pm local (2:30pm ET)

Like I said above, the Aggies and the Tigers have virtually owned the Texas Relays in recent years. They’ve built up a real rivalry, too. Oregon, Florida and Texas add depth to this race.

9. Florida vs Texas A&M
Men’s 4x400m relay
Texas Relays, Austin TX
Saturday, 4:05pm local (2:30pm ET)

This race, the invitational section of the college men’s 4×400 relay, is the last race of the entire meet. Florida and Texas A&M are picked #1 and #2 in this event on TFN’s first formchart, and LSU and Baylor add depth to the race.

10. Colorado State vs Colorado vs Wyoming vs Northern Colorado
Jack Christiansen Track, Fort Collins CO
Saturday, 10:00am local time (noon ET)

I figure that at least one of these should be a college meet that actually keeps score. Hosts Colorado State looks forward to meeting in-state rival Colorado and possibly beating them.
Meet homepage

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