As the NCAA Indoor Championships draw nigh, we begin to roll the tapes of the Indoor season on the Collegiate turf. Ahead of the event set to hold on March 8th and 9th in Birmingham, Alabama, Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru has already made himself one to watch out for this weekend.
The 60m will have him vie with the brilliant Grant Holloway, and this will be the first time Holloway squares up with the Texas Tech Junior who in true-blue form, built up his performances to world class level by all means. Holloway sped to a 6.51s clocking – an NCAA lead, at the Arkansas Invitational, and also finished 2nd in the men’s Long Jump at the SEC Indoor Championships, 1st in the 60mH which is his specialty, and won the 60m in 6.54s.
Oduduru’s foray in the 60m this season started with a fair showing in Lubbock where he clocked 6.63s to win his heat. However he beat the gun in the final, which got him disqualified. The sort of fuel he needed must have come in the 6.56s run of his teammate, Andrew Hudson as Oduduru equalled the School Record (SR) just two weeks afterwards.
It was the same spirit that steered him to the Big 12 Championships. Even with Hudson seemingly having the upper hand, Oduduru came through in a Personal Best (PB) and School Record of 6.52s. The closeness of Oduduru’s and Holloway’s bests sets the pace for a mouth watering contest come Saturday.
In a distance as short as the 60m, there is always room for amazement. We might just need to watch out for Cravont Charleston (6.54s), Emmanuel Wells (6.55s), Kasaun James (6.56s), and the aforementioned Andrew Hudson.
The 200m may just be a clash between Oduduru and the ‘others.’ He started 2019 with a 20.51s clocking in late January but had a perfect plan to peak at the right time, which he did with his ‘heavy’ 20.08s PB at the Big 12 Championships; a time that beat his 20.13s outdoor PB. Only two men have run faster than Oduduru in the history of indoor 200m.
Prior to that, it was seen as a contest between the Nigerian and Andrew Hudson who sprang up a 20.33s PB but finished 2nd to Oduduru in their final qualifying tie in Lubbock. The 200m can be called his fortress, ‘travelling’ back in time from when he won Silver at the 2014 World Junior Championships, to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where he finished 2nd to Usain Bolt in the qualifying stages of the event. Oduduru is also the reigning NCAA Outdoor Champion, and was a 2nd place finisher at the 2018 Indoor Championships.
Another Nigerian, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Senior Abike Egbeniyi will fancy her chances against a tough 800m field. The middle distance runner has already enjoyed an impressive outing this season and will be looking forward to finishing on the podium in Birmingham.
While competing at the Vanderbilt Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee, sometime in January, she dominated the women’s 800m, taking the win with a National Indoor Record and Meet Record of 2:03.77s. Having finished 2nd at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2018, she will look forward to getting a better placement.
Fabian Edoki is also a serious contender for the men’s Long Jump title, being one of the three men in the field to have surpassed 8m this season with his indoor PB of 8.01m. Only Rayvon Grey (8.06m) and Grant Holloway (8.02m) have been better this season.