The Weekend’s Top Matchups

This is a week for which track is in a bit of a “holding pattern”. Next week is the big IAAF World Cross Country Championships, college track is just barely starting up and not yet at all serious, and road racing is still a few weeks out from the big spring marathons. Still, there are matchups to watch.

1. Bernard Lagat vs Dathan Ritzenhein
New York City Half Marathon
Sunday, 7:30 am (ET)

This is an intriguing matchup. Lagat is making his half marathon debut (I don’t think he’s raced further than 5k since college cross country) and using this as development work for this summer’s track season. Ritz is probably making this race a priority (as he has no spring marathon scheduled) and it’s probably his best distance. Wilson Kipsang is probably the favorite to win, given his 58:59 PR. Others could challenge for the win, Feyisa Lilesa and Deriba Merga, but these two Americans are getting all the attention.
ESPN3 webcast link

2. KrisztiƔn Pars vs Yury Shayunov vs Pavel Kryvitski
Hammer throw
European Cup Winter Throwing, Castellon ESP
Saturday

Pars was the world’s undisputed #1 hammer thrower last year, winning all but one of his competitions. Right now, though, the Belarussians are #1 and #2 on the world list and could challenge Pars. This looks to be the best competition of the weekend at the EAA’s annual winter throwing championship.
Men’s preview | Women’s preview
Meet website

3. Shelbi Vaughn vs expectations
Discus throw
Baldy Castillo Invitational, Tempe AZ
Saturday, 10:00am local time (noon ET)

Vaughn broke the national high school discus record several times last year, and backed it up with a fourth-place finish at the Olympic Trials and a World Junior Championships bronze medal. Saturday marks her collegiate debut with the disc (she also put the shot indoors) and expectations are high for her freshman year. Her best distance last year was 198′ 9″, and no collegian has gone over 200 feet since 2004.
Meet info | Schedule

4. Oregon women vs. throws
Discus, hammer, javelin
Oregon Preview, Eugene OR
Saturday, 12:30pm local (3:30pm ET)

This month’s Track and Field News features a collegiate dual meet preview written by yours truly. I put Oregon at the top of the pre-season women’s rankings, and said that if they have a weakness it’s in the field events. Here they have a chance to prove me wrong in a few throwing events.

Multi-event thrower Jillian Weir transferred to Oregon from Long Beach State in no small part to be coached by her father, Bob Weir, when he was hired by the Ducks. She decided to stay on when her father’s contract was not renewed last year. She redshirted last year, meaning this weekend’s Oregon Preview will be her Duck debut in the long throws.

More interesting yet is Liz Brenner, who will make her first appearance for Oregon track and field by throwing the javelin. This is actually her fourth sport at Oregon, having already participated in volleyball, basketball and softball. She was a pretty darned good javelin thrower in high school, so there’s a decent chance that this experiment will pay off.
Meet website | Live webcast

5. Sprinters vs 400 meters, quarter-milers vs 800 meters
A couple of early-season collegiate meets will have short-distance specialists getting in some over-distance work. The Oregon Preview will have sprinter English Gardner running the 400 meters, and quarter-milers Mike Berry and Phyllis Francis in the 800 meters. The Baldy Castillo Invitational will have Arizona State’s quarter-miler, William Henry, running the 800.

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