The end of the 2019 NCAA Track and Field season draws nigh and the NCAA Preliminaries holding from May 23 to 25, will usher the next phase towards what should be an amazing NCAA Championships as events are set to unravel with so much depth in fixtures across virtually all disciplines in Track and Field.
The NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will be the 78th edition for the men and 38th for the women, will however witness a change in venue from the Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, that has hosted majority of the past editions of the annual Championships, precisely six consecutive times (2013 – 2018).
The Hayward Field, which is a century old and has been the home to university Track and Field, is undergoing renovation, which will require the demolition of all grandstands in order to establish a new stadium for major events. The Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas, will host the NCAA Championships from June 5 to 8.
Before the main championships, the NCAA Preliminaries will simultaneously hold across the East and West regions respectively, starting Thursday, May 23. Athletes whose schools fall under the East region will fight for berths at the East Preliminaries holding at Hodge Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, while the teams under the West region will be at the Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California.
The NCAA recently released a list of athletes that have qualified for the NCAA Preliminaries usually called the ‘Declared Athletes’, 48 in each discipline at each region, chosen in order of top performances through series of competitions held beforehand. These athletes get whittled down to 12 from each region to tally 24 going for top honours at the NCAA Championships.
At the East Region, Raymond Ekevwo, who has put the NCAA on note with his brilliant Personal Best (PB) of 10.02s in the 100m, enters as the second fastest man in the region and will lay serious stakes on taking that title for Florida with his teammate, Hakim Sani Brown who is faster by a few hundredths. Ekevwo would also try out the 200m where he has run a wind-aided 20.79s.
Cincinnati Senior, Haisha Bisiolu has run 23.70s and 53.75s in the 200m and 400m respectively, while Abike Egbeniyi of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) will again try to make her mark, being the 6th fastest woman amongst the 800m entrants with a Season’s Best (SB) of 2:04.04.
Madeleine Akobundu who ran a wind-aided 12.89s in the heats of the women’s 100m Hurdles at the MEAC Championships and then raised eyebrows with her brilliant 12.81s Personal Best (PB) to win the final, is the fourth fastest woman in a field that has Cortney Jones who has done PBs of 12.72s twice in 2019.
Meanwhile, Fabian Edoki (MTSU) will be in action in the men’s Long Jump where he is seeded equal 5th with 8.00m, a mark he jumped early this outdoor season. Grant Holloway is another man that has registered that exact mark this collegiate season.
Mercy Abire (LSU) will try to finish amongst the Top 12 in order to be in Austin as she has registered 6.37m (12th) in the women’s Long Jump and has also done a 12.81m leap in the women’s Triple Jump where she is 23rd.
In the throws, Ogheneakpobo Efekoro goes in as the second best in the field, having thrown 20.37m this season, second to Denzel Commenentia’s 20.78m.
Isaac Odugbesan of MTSU also nailed qualification with his Season’s Best (SB)) of 18.37m with which he won the C-USA Championships and is 21st on the entry list.
Efekoro who is a Shot Put specialist, is entered in the men’s Discus throw where he has an SB of 52.14m (44th) as well as the Hammer throw where he has thrown 60.88m and is the 31st in the field of entrants, going by their SBs.
Nigerian Record Holder in the women’s Javelin throw, Kelechi Nwanaga, a Sophomore at UMBC, will also be in action as she recently landed an SB of 53.39m that puts her in 7th on the toplist.
At the West Prelims, the men’s 100m receives much more depth as three athletes have broken 10s, led by NCAA Leader, Divine Oduduru in 9.94s, with Mario Burke also past the barrier with a wind-aided 9.95s. Cravon Gillespie is the third man with a legal 9.97s, while the 200m should play out as a game for Oduduru whose sublime 19.76s is the fastest in the world this year.
Bashiru Abdullahi who has set PBs all season may have to go better in the men’s 110m Hurdles as he comes in with 13.80s, seeded 13th.
Knowledge Omovoh of Grand Canyon will also compete in the women’s 400m with a PB of 53.83s this season.
Temilola Ogunrinde who broke her own National Record (NR) in the women’s Hammer throw with 67.42m to win the Big-10 Championships will also compete in her event as the fourth best entrant in a field led by Beatrice Llano who has thrown past 70m this season.