NCAA Indoor Championship Preview - USA Athletics Scholarships

NCAA Indoor Championship Preview

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NCAA Indoor Championship Preview

As one major indoor championship came to a close in Sopot, Poland on Sunday, another is set to begin in Albuquerque on Friday in the form of the NCAA DI Indoor Track and Field Championships. Albuquerque Convention Centre may be more famous for cameo roles in Breaking Bad, but it has hosted several USA Trials. This is the first time it hosts the NCAA Champs.

Whilst indoors does not carry quite the same prestige as outdoors, we would like to make clear that indoors is significantly tougher to qualify for. 16 spots rather than 24 in each event, adjusted performances to take into account, and no regional system; it is about as tough as it gets. The 11 British athletes have done extremely well to earn their places in Albuquerque. Below is a line or two about each qualified athlete, as well as a summary table.

Rich Peters – Mile / 3000m

Fresh off of his collegiate record breaking performance of 2.18 over 1000m, the Boston athlete is clearly in form. Combine that with the experience of finishing second in 2012 and he will no doubt be contesting for top honours. The 3000m falls just two hours after the mile so it will be very much a case of using whatever is left in the legs.

Matt Gillespie – Mile / 3000m

Gillespie will be looking to replicate fellow countryman Chris O’Hare and make it two Scottish collegiate mile champions in the last three years. Sub 4 for the last two seasons, the Iona athlete has already pulled off one impressive double this season with 4.01 / 7.52 mile /3k clockings on the same day in January.

Luke Caldwell – 5000m

Two massive factors in Luke Caldwell’s favour: He competed well in the same race last year, finishing 8th. The other huge boost is that he is competing in what will be a home meet. Comfortable with the altitude and with home fans cheering him on, we expect the New Mexico athlete to go well

Adam Bitchell – 5000m

The second New Mexico athlete in the mens 5000m will have the same advantages as Caldwell. With his breakout qualifying performance ran in December, the Welshman has remained very low key in the second part of the indoor season.

Jax Thoirs – PV

Jax Thoirs should have happy memories returning to Albuquerque as this was where he set his lifetime best earlier in the season. In one of the wide open events of the championship, Thoirs is ranked in the middle of the field so a podium finish could be a very realistic aim.

Nick Miller – WT

The Cumbrian has qualified for his third consecutive indoor championship, and so far during his time in the US has made a text book like steady improvement over the past few seasons. 4th last year, he will be no doubt looking to make the podium this year.

Eji Okoro – 800m

Dipping under 2.04 for the first time in her career and winning the Big 12 title, 2014 has been a great season so far for Eji Okoro. She is a returning All-American, and interestingly, this will be her first meet of the season away from Ames.

Kate Avery – 3000m

Controversially not selected for the Great Britain world indoors team, Avery will have a chance to shine in Albuquerque instead. As one of only two athletes entered to have ran under 9 minutes, expect her to be going head to head with Abbey D’Agostino for the win.

Elinor Kirk – 3000m / 5000m

Another athlete to have made huge improvements this season, Elinor Kirk will be competing in the long distance double. A hugely impressive mile / 3000m / 5000m treble win at the Conference-USA championships shows that she can handle multiple races in a weekend.

Hannah Walker – 5000m

Qualifying for an NCAA meet in a first season of competing is impressive, regardless of the prior credentials the athlete brings. Whilst Hannah Walker will probably be more of a threat in the outdoor 10,000m, she has been in solid form this indoor season and will expect to go well again in Albuquerque.

Lorraine Ugen – LJ

The reigning NCAA outdoor long jump champion and number one ranked qualifier, it would be difficult to say that Lorraine Ugen is not the biggest hope for a British title this weekend. Whilst she has competed more over 60m this season, she did pick up the Big 12 long jump title.

Qualifiers summary

Men
Name – School Event NCAA Indoor Championship results Seasons Best
Rich Peters – Boston Mile / 3000m 2012: Mile 2nd, 2011: Mile 5th (heat) 3:57.27 / 7:52.61
Matt Gillespie  Iona Mile / 3000m N/A 3:58.48 / 7:52.24
Luke Caldwell -New Mexico 5000m 2013: 5000m 8th 13:42.50
Adam Bitchell – New Mexcio 5000m N/A 13:44.70
Jax Thoirs – Washington PV N/A 5.50
Nick Miller – Oklahoma State WT 2012: WT 14th, 2013: WT 4th 21.99
Women
Name Event NCAA Indoor Championship results Seasons Best
Eji Okoro – Iowa State 800m 2013: 800m 7th 2:03.91
Kate Avery – Iona 3000m N/A 8:56.20
Elinor Kirk – UAB 3000m / 5000m N/A 9:10.48 /15:44.38
Hannah Walker – Florida State 5000m N/A 15:58.15
Lorraine Ugen – TCU LJ 2013: LJ 5th, 2012: LJ NM, 6.59

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