Preview: Pac-12 men's Track and Field Championships
The 83rd annual men’s and 27th annual women’s Pac-12 Track & Field Championships are set to take place at Cromwell Track & Field at Katherine B. Loker Stadium on the USC campus beginning May 4 and 5 with the multi events and concluding May 11 and 12. Here's a look at the men's competition by event:
100 Meters: There will be heavy competition for the 100-meter title as four of the Conference’s top-five marks of the season have been recorded in just the last couple of weeks of the regular season, including two that are the top-10 fastest in the country. 2012 Pac-12 Champion Colorado's Joe Morris ran a season-best 10.12 (converted from 10.09 because of altitude) in the final weekend of April, also one of the top-10 times in Pac-12 history. Meanwhile, USC’s Aaron Brown’s wind-aided 10.15 in early April still ranks as one of the top-seven marks in the country this season. Additionally, Arizona State's Ryan Milus seems to be warming up as well, running a top-10 time late in the season.
200 Meters: London Olympian Bryshon Nellum has made a remarkable comeback since off-the-field issues had him sidetracked with injuries that hampered a promising collegiate career after he was named a prep All-American. Battling back to reach the pinnacle of his sport and earning a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, he is one of only three collegians to run the 200 meter in under 20.50 this season, recording the fastest time in the country at 20.37. It will be another tight race, however, with Colorado's Joe Morris and USC’s Aaron Brown contending for the title after also having recorded times that rank in the top seven in the country.
400 Meters: USC’s Nellum figures to be leading the pack again, this time in the 400 meter. He brought home a silver medal from the London Olympics after running a leg on the U.S.’s 4x400-meter squad and was the Pac-12 Champion in the event last year. He currently ranks third in the country in the event and looks to be the favorite in this event as well. Looking to challenge for the top podium spot is Oregon's Mike Berry, who ran a 45.64 during the NCAA indoor track & field championships, a time that would rank as one of the top-five outdoor times in the country. Meanwhile, Arizona's Bernard Dickerson-Quinn is looking to burst on the scene at his first Pac-12 Championships, coming into the meet with the league’s third-fastest time this season.
800 Meters: Oregon's Elijah Greer is looking for a repeat win in the 800-meter after claiming the 2012 title. His 1:46.20 at the Oregon-Arkansas Dual on April 19 is the fastest time in the country, over a half second faster than the second-best time. However, he is capable of posting a sub-1:46.00 after running a 1:45.06 in 2011 for the fifth-best time in Pac-12 history. The next two fastest Pac-12 runners in the event are UO juniors Boru Guyota and Mac Fleet, who could be important point scorers for the Ducks, who are looking for a seventh-straight team title.
1,500 Meters: The 2012 Pac-12 Champion in the 1,500 meter also returns as Arizona's Lawi Lalang looks to collect more hardware. Lalang won the mile at the NCAA indoor track & field championships and also claims one of the top-10 times in the 1,500 meter in Pac-12 history. But this will be a deep field as seven of the top-20 marks in the country -- and five of the top 10 -- are by Pac-12 runners. Stanford's Michael Atchoo (3:39.57, 2nd) and Oregon's Fleet (3:40.21) ran times that rank in the top five in the country in late April.
5,000 Meters: Arizona's Lalang was the 2011 Pac-10 Champion in the 5,000, but was unable to defend his title in 2012 when Stanford's Chris Derrick outran him to claim the crown. Lalang will be looking regain top honors, but will have a strong challenger in Oregon's Parker Stinson, who goes into the weekend with the fifth-fastest time in the country. Duck teammate Jeramy Elkaim also has the ability to score points having run a time during the indoor campaign that would have ranked in the top-10 in the country among the outdoor performances this season.
10,000 Meters: Oregon's Stinson has recorded the second-fastest time in the country in the 10,000 meter, also the fastest time in the Pac-12 this year. Stanford's Erik Olson and UCLA’s Dustin Fay will also vie for podium spots, having already recorded top-three times in the Conference.
110-Meter Hurdles: Oregon's Johnathan Cabral boasts the fastest 100-meter hurdle time after having run a wind-aided 13.33 in late March, which would have been the second-best time in Pac-12 history had it been legal. Looking to knock off the returning Pac-12 Champion is USC’s Alec Harris and California's Ray Stewart, both of which have recorded some of the fastest times in the country this season.
400-Meter Hurdles: USC’s Reggie Wyatt returns this season looking to capture a Pac-12 title after coming in second place at last year’s meet. He seems primed to claim top medal honors, having registered the second-fastest time in the country this season, and is one of only three hurdlers in the nation to have broken the 50-second mark. Arizona's Clifton Leake and Washington State's Dana Wells also look to earn podium spots.
3,000-Meter Steeplechase: Cal's Colin Jarvis claimed the 2012 Pac-12 title and returns to defend his crown. He will be challenged, however, by Colorado's Aric VanHalen. VanHalen recorded the eighth-fastest time in the country and the fastest in the Pac-12 this season in late April. Also looking to vie for top honors is Washington freshman Aaron Nelson and Washington State's Andrew Gonzales. The duo also have turned in solid times that rank in the top 26 in the country and top four in the league this year.
4x100-Meter Relay: Arizona State swept the relays in 2012 and looks to contend for both titles again. Anchored by Ryan Milus, one of the top sprinters in the country, the Sun Devils recorded the fastest 4x100 meter in the Pac-12 and the seventh-fastest in the nation. UCLA looks to challenge ASU as one of only two squads to break 40 seconds in the event. The Bruins are just three years removed from winning back-to-back titles in the event in 2009 and 2010.
4x400-Meter Relay: Either Arizona State and USC have won the 4x400-meter relay every year since 1999. The Sun Devils defeated the Trojans in last year’s Conference meet, snapping USC’s string of three-straight wins. ASU looks poised to make another run at the event title having recorded the fastest time in the Pac-12. Five other teams have posted faster times than USC this season: Oregon, Arizona, Washington, Colorado and Washington State. But with London Olympian Bryshon Nellum as an option in the 4x400m, the Trojans have to be considered one of the top challengers.
High Jump: Arizona's Edgar Rivera-Morales is the front runner in the high jump. After a third-place showing at the 2012 Conference meet, he has posted strong marks this year, including a 2.28m/7-5.75 to rank third this season and tying for the seventh-best mark in Pac-12 history. Challengers could come by way of Washington's Jeremy Taiwo, Arizona State's Bryan McBride and Stanford's Jules Sharpe.
Pole Vault: The competition for the pole vault appears to be wide open. Leading the pack are UCLA’s Michael Woepse and Arizona State's Derick Hinch. Both have recorded the Conference’s top marks during the indoor campaign. Woepse comes from a long line of pole vaulters. His father was a world-class pole vaulter who placed second at the Pan Am Games, and his siblings, Greg and Elizabeth, were pole vaulters for the Bruins, with Greg claiming the 2011 league crown. But the 2012 event champion could be competing for another title this year: Washington's J.J. Juilfs has thrown for the sixth-best mark this season, but that came during the indoor season.
Long Jump: Another defending champion returning this year is Washington State's Stephan Scott-Ellis. Scott-Ellis posted the top mark in the Conference in the event during the indoor campaign. But Scott-Ellis’ challenger, Arizona State's Chris Benard, also has posted impressive marks, as has Oregon's Trevor Ferguson.
Triple Jump: The league’s previous two triple jump champions likely will be in the field this season, with 2012 champion Chris Benard of Arizona State and 2011 champion Stephan Scott-Ellis of WASHINGTON STATE looking to battle it out in each of their final collegiate campaigns. However, a strong challenger in California's Hammed Suleman looks to take their thunder after recording the second-best mark in the nation.
Shot Put: Arizona State's Jordan Clarke looks to become the first three-time champion in the shot put since 1995. He is a two-time NCAA champion in the event and has posted the best mark in the Pac-12 this season by a large margin. Though his best outdoor mark ranks 11th in the nation, his top indoor mark would have ranked No. 1 in the outdoor season. Also looking to score points in the event for the Sun Devils is freshman Joe Riccio, while UCLA’s Nicholas Scarvelis looks to collect significant points for the Bruins in the event.
Discus: UCLA’s Julian Wruck is far and away the favorite in this event. His best mark in collegiate competition is nearly nine feet better than the next mark in the NCAA this season. His mark at the Australian Athletics Championships in Sydney in mid-April broke the all-time Pac-12 mark he had set and puts him one step closer to securing a spot on the Australian Olympic team. Looking to pull off the upset is 2012 champion and teammate Matthew Kosecki.
Hammer Throw: Some of the top hammer throwers in the country will be converging at the Pac-12 Championships. Leading the deep field is defending champion UCLA’s Alec Faldermeyer, who has already posted the third-ranked mark in the country earlier this season. USC’s Remy Conaster, Arizona State's Jordan Clarke and Oregon's Greg Skipper all have posted distances that rank in the top 10 in the nation.
Javelin: 2012 champion Sam Crouser of Oregon has been dominant this season, recording the fourth-best mark in the nation. Washington duo Joe Zimmerman and James Brookman have also achieved top-20 distances and look to score significant points for the Huskies.
Decathlon: Another strong field will be competing in the first weekend of action as three of the nation’s top-10 decathletes take to the track. Defending champion Oregon's Dakotah Keys is having a strong season, recording the sixth-most points in the country. But UCLA’s Marcus Nilsson and Dominic Giovannoni also have posted point totals that appear in the top 10. Nilsson finished second to Keys last year, while Giovannoni placed fifth.