2014 NCAA Preview - USA Athletics Scholarships

2014 NCAA Preview

freya jones

*Picture credits Image of Sport

IT’S TIME!

11th-14th JUNE

It’s time to get on your dancing shoes and head to Eugene, Oregon and the iconic Hayward Field for the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships. This year we have 23 British & Irish athletes representing 17 schools, and 2 returning champions in Lorraine Ugen, above, (LJ, TCU) and Freya Jones (Georgia, Javelin).

The meet site is here along with the timetable and live results which will be released later in the week.

The team title is also up for grabs with the Oregon men and women are looking to replicate their double indoor success, this on home turf. Kansas women defend their outdoor title while Texas A&M defend the men’s.

On a personal note, it is personally pleasing to see an athlete we have successfully placed on scholarship perform so well to make the finals. If this is something that may interest you, please get in touch.

Please read below our full preview, athlete by athlete. As usual, we will have full results and full coverage of the event on our Twitter feed.

 

MEN

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (200m)

The reigning European Junior 200m Champion was only 8th in the SEC Championships this year but produced a season’s best at regionals to qualify for Eugene. Making his second NCAA appearance and can draw upon valuable experience from the same meet last year.

Henry Tufnell (800m)

Before May 17th Henry Tufnell had never broken 1.50 for 800m. Three races and two weeks later he is now a 1:47.99 athlete heading to the NCAA Championships for the first time. These are the sort of scenarios athletes dream about and the wave that the Brown athlete will no doubt be riding can hopefully carry him all the way to the final.

Richard Peters (1500m)

A perennial qualifier in the 1500m and mile over the past few years, Rich Peters now has a wealth of NCAA experience. Only one time trial attempt so far this season (3.38) would suggest that Peters is really concentrating his efforts on getting it right at the championships rather than to continually churn out fast times.

Matt Gillespie (5000m)

A fairly quiet outdoor season until now for the Scottish athlete, and whilst he hasn’t chased the fast times he did impress by winning his 5000m heat at the East regional qualifier. 29.08 10000m endurance and 3.58 mile speed this year, Gillespie should be able to cope with whatever type of race unfolds.

Luke Caldwell (5000m & 10000m)

28.59 at Stanford, not quite the competitive 10000m debut that the New Mexico athlete would have hoped for but the returning All-American heads to Eugene with a solid championship record. Four top 10 NCAA results across the three sports, will this finally be time when Caldwell cracks the top 3? He will be competing in the long distance double so has two chances.

Adam Bitchell (10000m)

The James Thie coached athlete has made huge improvements this season. 28.50 on his debut 10000m was very impressive and previous years spent running 1500m should serve Bitchell well if the race comes down to a fast finish. He should also have Commonwealth Games options later in the summer.

Jax Thoirs (Pole Vault)

Fresh off of his 5.60 recent lifetime best, Thoirs makes the short trip from Seattle to Eugene ranked 5th in the NCAA. He recently won the Pac 12 Championship and will have strong hopes of improving from an 8th place NCAA indoor finish.

Nick Miller

The NCAA leader, the UK number one, Nick Miller heads to Eugene as a serious contender. Other than a no throw at the Florida Relays, the Oklahoma State Cumbrian has not lost to a collegiate athlete this season. He was 9th and 14th in 2013 and 2012 respectively and will be looking for major improvements on that this year.

Jonathan Ilori (Triple Jump)

A jumper who successfully combines both the long and triple jump during the regular season, though it is the latter he has concentrated on in recent weeks. A lifetime best of 15.89 to qualify, he is ranked in the middle of a very tightly bunched field in his event.

 

WOMEN

Ejiro Okoro (800m)

Unlike her twin sister who has NCAA outdoor experience, this will be Ejiro’s debut at the event. The Big 12 champion indoors and outdoors, also set a PB of 2.04 at Stanford in May. One thing that stands out with Ejiro is her consistency of performances around the 2.05 area.

Charlotte Arter (1500m)

Although no PBs yet this season for Charlotte Arter, she does head to Eugene with the experience of having competed in the same event at the same venue last year. A fairly low key season until now, Arter will most likely need to produce a season’s best or equivalent performance to advance to the final.

Suzi Boast (1500m)

We are always full of admiration for anyone who qualifies for an NCAA event in their first year competing collegiately, and that is exactly what Suzi Boast has done. She beat her five year old 1500m to qualify for Eugene and if this upwards improvement curve continues, making the final is a very realistic prospect.

Kirsty Legg (1500m)

The Butler senior returns to the NCAA Championships for the first time since her freshman year of 2011. Another who PB’d to qualify, Legg will be looking to end her collegiate track career in style with a top 8 podium finish

Kate Avery (5000m)

Personal bests over 5000m and 10000m this season, Kate Avery only competes in the former in Eugene. Third last year at the NCAA XC and also the bronze medallist at the European U23 5000m, the Iona athlete certainly has pedigree. One of three very good Brit / Irish athletes to have qualified in the 5000m.

Sarah Collins (5000m)

The only Irish qualifier for this year’s championship, Sarah Collins ran her PB of 15.31 earlier this season at Stanford. She prepared for nationals with a win in the Big East 10,000m and a third place finish in the Penn Relays 3000m.

Elinor Kirk (5000m & 10000m)

A classic case of a British athlete really thriving in the collegiate system. Kirk has continued to build on the huge improvements she showed last year and recently completed a 1500m & 5000m Conference-USA championship winning double. 3rd at NCAA indoors over 3000m, the UAB athlete tends to perform at her best when competing multiple times over a weekend. She currently heads the NCAA rankings in the 10000m.

Hannah Walker (10000m)

Ever since she signed for FSU, we always said that the outdoor 10000m would be Hannah Walker’s chance to shine. She PB’d earlier in the season at Stanford and qualified through regionals with minimal fuss. A top 8 finish is certainly achievable if she runs to form.

Ese Okoro (400m h)

2014 marks Ese Okoro’s third consecutive qualification for the NCAA Championships in the 400m hurdles. Although she has failed to advance beyond the heats in her two previous attempts, she heads to Eugene in fine form having set a lifetime best of 56.78 as well as a runner up finish in the Big 12 Conference Championships.

Pippa Woolven (3000m SC)

Another to have qualified for the NCAA Championships in her first year, Pippa Woolven is also one who appears to be peaking at just the right time. Under 10 minutes for the first time in her career at regionals, the Florida State athlete clearly has the credentials and form to be a finalist in Eugene.

Lorraine Ugen (Long Jump)

The defending champion and also reigning NCAA indoor champion, there is no doubt that Lorraine Ugen knows how to win. However, she did only finish fourth at the Big 12 Championships and her seasons best of 6.35 ranks her 13th on the descending order list. We expect that she is saving her best form for this point onwards in what will potentially be a very long season for the TCU athlete.

Kemi Olonade (Triple Jump)

Another NCAA debutant, Kemi Olonade qualified in style with a win and PB of 12.72 at West Region qualifier. Olonade elected to only compete in long jump at the Pac 12 Championships and has competed fairly sparingly so far this year.

Freya Jones (Javelin)

Along with Lorraine Ugen, the only other Brit to be defending a title in Eugene is Freya Jones. The Georgia athlete has set a marginal PB this year and qualified fairly comfortably from the East regional meet. She is ranked 8th but in such a tight event she certainly has every chance of matching last year’s performance.

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