The US city of Birmingham in Alabama hosts the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Indoor track and field Championships this weekend. Let’s have a look at the names to watch.
Trey Cunningham (60 metres hurdles):
Florida State’s Trey Cunningham broke the 7.50 barrier clocking 7.49 and 7.46 at the Texas Tech Invite in Lubbock. Cunningham improved his PB twice to 7.42 at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville on 11 February and to 7.40 in the preliminary round of the ACC Championships in Blacksburg on 26 February to clock the second fastest time in collegiate history. Only former Florida Gators Grant Holloway ran faster setting the NCAA Indoor record with 7.35. Cunningham then won the ACC Championships final in 7.42, passing Holloway for the most of better times in the 60m hurdles.
Matthew Boling (200 metres and long jump):
Georgia’s Matthew Boling leapt to 8.25m to win the long jump and completed the double by winning the 200 metres in 20.49 at the Clemson Invitational last January. Boling won the 200m in 20.27 and the long jump with 8.05m at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville.
Boling is chasing four NCAA Indoor titles and the team title for Georgia in the 60m, 200m, long jump and 4x400 relay. He enters the NCAA Indoor Championships Finals in the 200 metres and in the long jump and he was beaten only once in the indoor season in the long jump at the SEC Indoor Championships, where he finished second with 7.90m behind Corey McLeod (8.05m).
Boling will defend his 200m NCAA indoor title one year after setting his indoor PB with 20.19 in Fayetteville. Over this distance Boling will face Kentucky’s Lance Lang, who won the SEC Indoor Championships in College Station improving his PB to 20.32, and Javonte Harding, who clocked 20.33 at the Bob Pollock Invitational in Clemson in 20.33.
Boling is ranked number 9 with his PB of 6.59 in the 60 metres set at the SEC Championships in College Station.
Micah Williams (60 metres):
Oregon’s Micah Williams defends his NCAA Indoor title in the 60 metres. Williams improved his indoor PB to 6.48 in Spokane and equalled this time at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville last January. He won the Pac 12 Invite in Seattle in 6.55 on 26 February.
Williams will face Texas Tech’s Terrence Jones from the Bahamas, who equalled the fastest time in NCAA history held by Christian Coleman and Leonard Myles Mills, clocking 6.45 at the Texas Tech Corky Classic in Lubbock last January. There is a question mark on his fitness, as he has not competed since suffering an injury last month.
Tennessee’s Favour Ashe from Nigeria enters the NCAA Final with the third fastest time of 6.52 set at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville.
Randolph Ross (400 metres):
Randolph Ross finished second to Noah Williams at last year’s edition of the NCAA Division I Indoor Finals in 44.99. Ross won the NCAA outdoor Championships in Eugene last June smashing his PB to 43.85 and finished third at the US Olympic Trials in 44.74. This year Ross improved his indoor PB to 44.83 in Clemson last February. He is coached by his father Duane Ross, who won the world bronze medal in the 110m hurdles in Seville 1999.
Ross will face Champion Allison, who clocked 45.04 this year, and Tyler Johnson (45.31). Another name to watch is Jacory Patterson, who improved his indoor PB to 31.99 to clock the seventh sub-32 second performance in the indoor 300 metres in Clemson last January.
Brandon Miller (800 metres):
Texas A&M Brandon Miller came to the fore last year as a freshman when he won the SEC Indoor title but he did not run fast to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Finals. Miller finished second in 1:44.97 behind Isaiah Jewett at the NCAA Outdoor Finals in Eugene.
This year Miller won all four of his races and improved his PBs in the 600m to 1:15.94 at the Texas Tech Invite in Lubbock and in the 800 metres to 1:45.24 at the SEC Indoor Championships in College Station. The past editions of the Collegiate Championships revealed Donovan Brazier and Bryce Hoppel, who won the NCAA outdoor titles in 2016 and 2019 respectively.
Zach McWorther (pole vault):
BYU Zach McWorther cleared 5.85m at Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge in New York on his third attempt to move up to fifth in the all-time collegiate history. The 23-year-old US vaulter also finished third with 5.81m at the US Indoor Championships in Spokane.
McWorther will renew his rivalry against Norway’s Sondre Guttormsen, who finished second with 5.75m at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge. Guttormsen went on to improve his PB to 5.82m at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville.
Turner Washington and Adrian Piperi (shot put):
Turner Washington improved indoor PB of 21.85m in Lubbock last year and set a seasonal best of 21.33m in Flagstaff. His father Anthony Washington won the world title in the discus throw in Seville 1999.
Washington will face Adrian Piperi, who won the world under 18 title in Cali 2015 and two world under 20 medals (bronze in Bydgoszcz 2016 and silver in Tampere 2018). Piperi holds a PB of 21.74m and a seasonal best of 21.45m. The other name to watch is Daniel McArthur, who improved his PB to 21.51m in Blacksburg this year.
Emmanuel Ihemeje (triple jump):
Italy’s Emmanuel Ihemeje of Oregon won the NCAA Indoor title with 17.26m last year in Fayetteville setting the fourth best Italian indoor performance and completed the double winning the NCAA outdoor Championships Finals in Eugene with 17.14m. He finished 11th in the Olympic final in Tokyo after jumping 16.88m in the qualifying round.
Ihemeje will face Chengetay Mapaya from Zimbabwe, who holds a PB of 17.13m and finished second indoors and third outdoors at last year’s NCAA Championships.
Abby Steiner (200 metres):
Kentucky’s Abby Steiner set two collegiate indoor records clocking 22.37 at the Tiger Paw Invitational in Clemson and 22.09 to win the SEC Indoor title in College Station. Steiner broke Gwen Torrence’s previous US indoor record of 22.33 set in 1996. Only Merlene Ottey ran faster in the indoor 200m history with her world record of 21.87 set in Liévin in 1993.
Steiner also clocked 35.80 in the 300 metres at the Cardinal Classic in Louisville last December breaking a long standing NCAA indoor record held by Merlene Ottey since 1981.
At the NCAA Indoor Championships Division I Finals Steiner will take on Anavia Battle, who clocked 22.49 this winter and finished third at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene in 2021, and Nigeria’s 19-year-old Favour Ofili, who set the African indoor record with 22.46 this winter. Ofili won three medals at last year’s World Under 20 Championships in Nairobi: gold in the 4x400 relay and bronze in the 4x100 relay and in the 200m.
Steiner is also entered with the third fastest time in the 60 metres with 7.12.
Alia Armstrong (60m hurdles and 60 metres):
LSU’s Alia Armstrong set the second fastest time in collegiate history clocking 7.81 in the women’s 60 metres hurdles at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville last February. Armstrong also holds the fourth fastest time in NCAA history with 7.86. The other sub-7.90 hurdlers in the line-up are Paula Salmon (7.83) and Grace Stark (7.86).
Armstrong also leads the entry list in the women’s 60 metres with 7.11. The other contenders for the 60 metres title are Grace Stark (7.12) and Julien Alfred (7.16), Favour Ofili (7.19) and Kemba Nelson (7.19).
Jasmine Moore (long and triple jump):
Florida’s Jasmine Moore set a collegiate record in the women’s triple jump leaping to 14.55m at the Bob Pollock Invitational in Clemson last January and leapt to 6.75m in the long jump at the SEC Indoor Championships in College Station.
Adelaide Aquilla (shot put):
Adelaide Aquilla won the NCAA Indoor and outdoor titles in the shot put in 2021 and qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Ohio State shot putter set a new indoor PB of 19.09m at the Carolina Challenge this year setting the fifth best indoor performance in collegiate history. Aquilla will take on last year’s European Under 23 discus throw gold medal Jorinde Van Klinken from the Netherlands, who set her indoor PB with 18.88m in Albuquerque and threw the discus to an impressive PB of 70.22m last year.
Anna Hall (pentathlon):
Anna Hall set the second best performance in the world this year in the women’s pentathlon with her PB of 4618 points set in College Station last February.
Shey Taiwo (Weight throw):
Shey Taiwo of Ole Miss set the best throw by a collegiate athlete since 2008 in the weight throw with a toss of 25.02m at the Indiana Relays last January. Only four women in world history have reached this distance in the weight throw. The others are Gwen Berry, Brittany Riley and Janeah Stewart. Taiwo improved her PB to 25.19m at the Music City Challenge setting the a world-leading mark in 2022 and the third best performance in NCAA history.
Rachel Baxter (pole vault):
Virginia Tech’s Rachel Baxter became the first collegiate pole vaulter to clear 15 feet since 2020 jumping 4.61m at the ACC Championships and is ranked fifth on the all-time NCAA list.