Six must-see events at the 2014 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships
Lace up your spikes, set those blocks and get ready for the gun. The 2014 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships are ready to roll. All 12 schools from the “Conference of Champions” are in Pullman, Wash. to face off for conference bragging rights, and it wouldn’t be the Pac-12 without school records and national leading marks on the line.
May 17-18 will feature great performances in every event from the high jump to the 10,000 meters, but six events stand out from the rest. Here is a list of races that definitely shouldn’t be missed in person, or on Pac-12 Networks soon:
Men’s 1500 meters (preliminary round: Sat. 1:40 p.m. PT, finals: Sun. 1:30 p.m. PT)
The men’s 1500 looks to have the most depth of any event in the meet as reigning NCAA outdoor champ Mac Fleet, seven-time NCAA champion Lawi Lalang, Stanford All-Americans Tyler Stutzman and Michael Atchoo, Oregon All-American Trevor Dunbar, Colorado freshman phenom Ben Saarel and a long list of crazy fast kids square off for conference bragging rights. Fleet especially is out for blood as the fifth year senior looks to rewrite the Oregon record books. Keep in mind that all of these guys are on the list of the top 15 fastest times run in the NCAA this season, and that’s just the top of the list. Eleven other runners from the Pac-12 have cracked the top 65.
Men’s 110-meter hurdles (preliminary round: Sat. 2:15 p.m. PT, finals: Sun. 1:55 p.m. PT)
The men’s 110 hurdles will come down to the wire as USC’s Aleec Harris, Cal’s Milan Ristic, and Oregon’s Devon Allen face off. Harris’ wind-legal time of 13.32 stands as the second-fastest time run in the NCAA so far this season. The Trojan senior hit the mark at Mt. Sac relays April 17, where he not only beat the reigning national outdoor champion and USC assistant coach Ryan Wilson, but also ran the fastest outdoor mark in the world at the time (Wayne Davis II of Texas A&M ran 13.24 wind-aided on May 3). Ristic burst onto the scene this year as a senior transfer from UNC Asheville who clocked a personal best of 13.71 in the prelims at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, and continued into the finals with a wind-aided time of 13.59, which currently stands as the seventh fastest time run in the NCAA this season. Also watch out for the Oregon double threat that is Devon Allen. Allen’s wind-aided time of 13.73 put him on the map, and this was in between football practice for the wide receiver.
Men’s 400 meters (preliminary rounds: Sat. 2:50 p.m. PT, finals: Sun. 2:15 p.m. PT)
The men's 400 stands as a showdown between Oregon’s Mike Berry and Stanford Aussie Steven Solomon. Berry is a gold medalist on the U.S. 4x400 meter relay team that won the World Outdoor Championships in 2011. He is also the reigning Pac-12 champion, and Oregon school record holder in the 400 meters and distance medley relay. Solomon is a sophomore on the Cardinal squad that has also made a statement on the international stage. At age 19, Solomon reached the 2012 Olympic final in the 400 meters for Australia, finishing eighth with a time of 45.14. This season he has run a season’s best of 45.76 (at altitude, conversion time is 45.65).
Women’s 200 meters (preliminary rounds: Sat. 5:30 p.m. PT, finals: Sun. 3:35 p.m. PT)
The women’s 200 will be a huge highlight as USC’s Tynia Gaither and Jessica Davis will match up with the Oregon double threat of Phyllis Francis and Jenna Prandini. Gaither, a junior transfer from Georgia, ran a season’s best of 22.80 (wind-aided) which puts her in a three-way tie for third fastest time run this year. While at Georgia, she earned second team All-America honors with a 12th place finish in the 200 at the 2013 outdoor championships. Her teammate Davis has run a wind-aided time of 22.86 and is looking to make her mark in her senior season after an injury-filled career. Francis is a two-time NCAA champion and three-time Pac-12 champion. So far this season, the Duck standout has run a wind-aided time of 22.82, which puts her sixth on the 2014 Div. I outdoor list. Prandini is the reigning Pac-12 champ in the 100, holds the fastest wind-legal 100 meter time in the NCAA and second fastest time run in the world this year, and she’s just a redshirt sophomore.
Women’s 800 meters (preliminary rounds: Sat. 3:35 p.m. PT, finals: Sun. 2:45 p.m. PT)
Oregon’s Laura Roesler is on a tear as the season’s NCAA leader in the 800 with a time of 2:00.54, which is one and a half seconds faster than any other college woman has run this season. Roesler won the NCAA indoor title in March in a time of 2:03.85, ahead of Oklahoma State’s Savannah Camacho by nearly two full seconds. She will be faced with some tough competition in a stacked field as five-time Stanford All-American Amy Weissenbach, Illinois All-American who transferred to Oregon, Samantha Murphy, four-time Arizona State All-American Shelby Houlihan, and two-time Stanford All-American Claudia Saunders will all be in the hunt for a Pac-12 title. All of which are on the list of the top seven fastest times run in the NCAA this season.
Women’s 400 meters (preliminary rounds: 2:35 p.m. PT, finals: 2:05 p.m. PT)
The women’s 400 will not disappoint as Francis and Arizona’s Shapri Romero face off. Romero is coming off of an impressive performance in the in-state rival dual meet between Arizona State and Northern Arizona. After running a school record in the 4x100, Romero posted her own personal best in the 400 with a time of 51.96, the second best in school history and in the Pac-12 this year, behind Francis. To round out the record-setting day, Romero came back to win the 200 and anchor the 4x400 where the Wildcats ran a season-best time of 3:37.18. She will have her work cut out for her with Francis on the line, especially after her breakout indoor season. At the 2014 NCAA indoor championships, Francis exploded by setting an American indoor record in the 400 (50.46) and closing it out with a killer anchor leg in the 4x400 that won the meet for the Ducks and set a new collegiate record.
The Pac-12 Track and Field Championships begin Saturday May 17 at 12 p.m. PT at Mooberry Track & Field Complex. For results, videos, photos and latest news go to Pac-12.com's championship page. The Pac-12 Networks' broadcast of the meet will debut on Sudnay, May 25 at 9 a.m. PT.