Preview: Pac-12 women'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 women's competition by event:
100 Meters: Oregon's English Gardner is the sprinter to beat in 100-meter race. Not only is she the reigning two-time Pac-12 Champion, but she is also the 2012 NCAA champion in the event. She ran the fastest time in the world earlier this season, running an 11.00 on April 18, also the second-fastest time in Pac-12 history. She is the Pac-12 Championship meet record holder when she claimed the title in 2011 with a time of 11.03. Also looking to earn a spot on the podium in this event is Gardner’s freshman teammate Jenna Prandini and UCLA’s Kylie Price, who both have recorded the second- and third-fastest times in the Conference this season.
200 Meters: 2012 Pac-12 Champion Oregon's Phyllis Francis looks to defend her title and looks to be the one to beat again. She is the only Pac-12 athlete, and one of nine in the nation, to break the 23-second mark this season in the 200 meter. The next-closest competitors are teammate English Gardner and London Olympian Arizona's Georgeanne Moline, who have posted top-30 times.
400 Meters: The 400-meter race could come down to the final steps as Oregon's Phyllis Francis and Arizona's Moline achieved All-American status at the 2013 NCAA indoor track & field championships at the same distance. Francis edged Moline for fourth (52.01) and fifth (52.09) place, respectively, for the fastest times in the Pac-12. Those times are also faster than the current top time in the outdoor season so far. But challenging them will be UCLA’s Turquoise Thompson, whose time of 52.31 is the third-fastest in the nation, while Wildcat Shapri Romero has also recorded a top-five outdoor time in the 400 meter.
800 Meters: The competition is deep in the 800-meter race, but Oregon's Laura Roesler goes into the Pac-12 Championships as the favorite. Roesler is having another strong campaign as she looks to repeat as Pac-12 Champion. She ran a 2:01.75 earlier this season, the second-fastest time in the nation, as well as the fourth-best in Pac-12 history. But Stanford's Justine Fedronic looks to be wrapping up a strong senior season as well. Her time of 2:03.93 is the sixth-fastest time in the nation, while Arizona State's Shelby Houlihan and Oregon’s Anne Kesselring have posted top-20 times.
1,500 Meters: Among the field of competitors looking to challenge for a Pac-12 title in the 1500m are Colorado's Emma Coburn and Oregon's Jordan Hasay. Hasay has won the event at the league championships the last two years, just missing the meet record by .07. Coburn, a USA Olympian in the steeplechase, will be participating in her first Pac-12 Championships after taking last year off to prepare for the 2012 London Games. She briefly held the top time in the nation, but still ranks in the top five. Arizona State's Shelby Houlihan, Stanford's Justine Fedronic, Utah's Amanda Mergaert and Oregon's Anne Kesselring all have posted fast times as well. It could be a race that comes down to the final stretch.
5,000 Meters: Washington's Megan Goethals has been performing solidly in her junior campaign. Her time at the Mt. SAC Relays not only ranks fourth in the nation, but is also one of the top-10 times in Pac-12 history. Teammate Christine Babcock looks to garner points for the Huskies as well. Oregon's Jordan Hasay could be among the field. She is the 2011 champion in the event and will make a bid for a second title.
10,000 Meters: Oregon's Hasay appears to be peaking at the right time. In the last weekend of April, Hasay broke the all-time Pac-12 record and posted the second-best time in the country. Contenders in this event also include Washington's Megan Goethals and Arizona's Jennifer Bergman. Bergman was second in the event last year and will be looking to get over the hump to claim an individual crown.
100-Meter Hurdles: Stanford's Kori Carter won last year’s 100-meter-hurdles crown in an exciting finish, edging her teammate by .01 seconds to claim the individual title. Carter looks to be in position to defend her title, boasting one of the top-20 times in the nation this season. However, a strong challenger to take the title is UCLA’s Brea Buchanan, who is just one of six sprinters in the country this season to break 13 seconds in the event.
400-Meter Hurdles: Pac-12 athletes own the top three times in the nation in 400-meter hurdles. Returning champion Arizona's Georgeanne Moline had a career season in 2012, culminating by earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team and advancing to the finals of the London Olympics. However, Stanford's Kori Carter currently holds the top time in the Pac-12, also the top time in the nation. Both Carter and Moline are the only two collegians this season to break 55 seconds in the event. UCLA’s Turquoise Thompson will do what she can to knock off either of them as she posted the third-fastest time in the country this season.
3,000-Meter Steeplechase: The favorite in the steeplechase would have to be Colorado's Emma Coburn, who earned a spot on the U.S. team and competed at the 2012 Olympics. She recorded the fastest time in the world this season in late April, which was more than 22 seconds faster than the second-best collegiate time. Looking to pick up points for their teams are Washington's Marie Lawrence and Washington State's Caroline Austin, who both have times that rank in the top 11 in the country.
4x100-Meter Relay: Relay squads from Oregon and USC have broken the 44-second mark, the only teams in the Pac-12 to do so. The Ducks boast some of the season’s top 100- and 200-meter sprinters, including English Gardner, who has recorded the fastest 100-meter time in the world this season. The Trojan relay squad also ranks in the top 10 in the nation.
4x400-Meter Relay: Last year’s national champion 4x400-meter relay team from Oregon that set a NCAA meet record returns intact and will be competing for the league title. The Ducks have gone on to post the fastest time in the nation this year. Arizona is the defending Pac-12 Champion and also brings with it a talented group, including Shapri Romero and Georgeanne Moline, that has recorded one of the top times in the nation this season.
High Jump: The hands-down favorite in the high jump is Arizona's Brigetta Barrett. She owns the collegiate record in the event, which she set when she won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics. A two-time NCAA champion in the high jump, she will attempt to become the first three-time league champion in the event since 2003. Looking to score points is Oregon State's Sara Almen, who has posted the second-highest mark in the Pac-12.
Pole Vault: UCLA’s Allison Koressel is closing out a senior campaign looking for her first Pac-12 title. She has recorded a jump that is over a foot higher than the next-closest distance by a league athlete, and is ranked eighth in the nation. Arizona State's Shaylah Simpson also has posted a solid indoor mark that would rank in the top 15 among outdoor marks in the country. Bruins teammate Natasha Kolbo also will look to score points for her squad, as will Washington's Logan Miller, who placed second at last year’s championships.
Long Jump: With three of the top five marks in the country owned by Pac-12 athletes, the long jump competition at the league meet looks to be one of the best in the country. Heading the field is Arizona State's Christabel Nettey, who has posted the top mark in the nation. UCLA’s Kylie Price and California's Malaina Payton have also posted top-five marks, and all three marks have come in the last few weeks of the regular season. Also in the mix is ASU’s Constance Ezugha, who is the defending champion in the event.
Triple Jump: USC has a strong core in this event, with three of the Conference’s top-five marks this season coming from Trojans. Alitta Boyd has posted the eighth-best mark in the country and placed fourth at last year’s championships. Teammate Melia Cox was 10th at the league meet as a freshman and this year has a mark that is ranked 10th, nationally. California's Amanda Hunter and Stanford's Jordan Merback also figure to be in the mix at the Pac-12 Championships as well.
Shot Put: Arizona's Julie Labonte returns to compete this season after participating at the 2012 Olympic Games as a member of Team Canada. Labonte won back-to-back Pac-12 titles in the shot put in 2010 and 2011, and is looking for a third to cap her final campaign. She is the favorite entering the competition, posting the third-best mark in the country. Teammate Alyssa Hasslen placed second last year and could score big points for the Wildcats again. Her season-high mark this year is in the top eight in the country. Not to be overshadowed is Arizona State's Anna Jelmini. Jelmini is the defending champion in the event and also has one of the top-15 marks in the country this season.
Discus: Arizona State's Jelmini is back to defend her discus title, as well. In what could be considered her best event, she has recorded the top throw in the nation, which also ranks in the top five all-time best performances in Pac-12 history. Jelmini has more than five feet on the second-best mark in the country and nearly 13 feet on the second-best in the Pac-12. It appears that, again, this is her event to lose. Arizona has posted four of the top seven marks in the league. Those points could prove crucial in the team title hunt.
Hammer Throw: Another nationally competitive event will be featured in the hammer competition. Arizona State's Chelsea Cassulo boasts the top mark in the nation, but two more throwers who rank in the top six in the country will make the competition one to watch. USC’s Jenny Ozorai was the runner-up in the event last year and appears to be a strong contender again this year. Meanwhile, UCLA’s Ida Storm was third in last year’s competition. Both are ranked in the top six, with Storm ranking third and Ozorai ranking sixth.
Javelin: Stanford's Brianna Bain looks to be on pace to repeat in the javelin. Last year, she threw one of the top marks in Pac-12 history to claim the title. This season, she already has thrown for the top distance in the nation. She is the only javelin thrower in the league to surpass the 170-foot mark, with her best showing landing well over 180 feet. Washington State's Anna Adamko and Oregon's Liz Brenner, a three-sport athlete, including an All-American volleyball player, look to figure in the team scoring in the event.
Heptathlon: Arizona State's Keia Pinnick is vying for the Pac-12 crown in the heptathlon. Last year, she finished second behind a record-breaking performance from Oregon’s Brianne Theisen, who went on to represent Canada at the London Olympics. This year, however, Pinnick comes into the league competition with the top score in the Conference, which also ranks third in the nation. Challenging her will be UCLA’s Tatum Souza and Colorado's Brianne Beemer during the first weekend of competition.