By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – I have to admit, this is probably one of the most fun weeks of the regular season in collegiate track and field, and this is coming from someone who loves every week that a track meet is taking place.
Sure, you’ll see some of the most impressive times and marks at the Southeastern Conference Championship and the NCAA Championship meets, but there’s hardly a better environment than this week’s Penn Relays and Drake Relays, where the majority of the league teams will be competing this week.
This year will mark the 117th year of the Penn Relays Carnival at historic Franklin Field in an event that features colleges and universities from across the nation, more than 1,000 different high schools and athletes from a wide variety of countries, especially those in the Caribbean. And if you’re at the Penn Relays, you’re sure to run into Bill Cosby checking out the action from his seat in the infield.
If you get a chance to go to Penn Relays, you need to go. I have been three times myself and while it’s always hectic and there are tons of athletes and spectators all over the place, it’s an environment that is so much fun and so unlike any other.
Meanwhile in Des Moines, Iowa, site of the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the Drake Relays are in their 103rd year at Drake Stadium. The event features more than 7,000 athletes from the ranks of high school, college and professional.
Should be a lot of fun!
If you’re at all familiar with the sport of college track and field, you need no introduction to Kimberlyn Duncan. LSU’s star sprinter is on the watch list for The Bowerman, track and field’s highest honor, and continues to shine each week of the season.
Somehow, she found a way to outdo herself again.
Earlier this week, Duncan was named the SEC Women’s Runner of the Week for the fifth time this season after a torching the track at the LSU Alumni Gold Meet in Baton Rouge last weekend.
Duncan swept event titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100-meter relay and set a world-leading time in the 100-meter dash. She shattered her previous personal-best in the event with a 2012 world leader of 11.05, which also broke the 18-year-old facility record at Bernie Moore Stadium.
And that’s not all.
Duncan won the 200-meter title by more than half-a-second against Louisiana Tech’s Chelsea Hayes (23.10) with a season-opening wind-aided time of 22.55 (+4.9). That ran her streak to 15 consecutive wins in 200-meter collegiate finals against collegiate competition both indoors and outdoors, dating back to Feb. 12, 2011.
That’s not all either.
Duncan also anchored the Lady Tigers to a win in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 43.35, which goes down as the No. 3 ranked time run by a collegiate team this spring. They are already the NCAA leader with a seasonal-best time of 42.99 in winning that event at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
As I mentioned last week, a shift in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Computer Rankings was expected. For the previous weeks of the outdoor season, the computers had taken into account data from both this outdoor season and the best marks of returners from a year ago. These latest rankings included only marks and times from the current 2012 outdoor campaign.
Still, 12 SEC teams were ranked this week, including a nation-leading seven on the men’s side. Three-time defending NCAA Indoor Champion Florida dropped from No. 1 to No. 2, but the SEC still had four teams in the top-11 with No. 4 LSU, No. 8 Mississippi State and No. 11 Ole Miss.
Five SEC women’s teams are ranked including No. 2 LSU, No. 4 Florida and No. 9 Arkansas.
As I alluded to last week, any changes you see in the rankings should not be alarming to you. SEC teams are always known for peaking at the right time. That right time is likely May 10-13 at the SEC Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge.
There’s a pretty cool story on Florida triple jumper Omar Craddock on our site today written by Mark Maloney … Craddock, the 2012 SEC and NCAA Indoor Men’s Triple Jump Champion, had been on a loaded roster behind current world champions Will Claye (indoors) and Christian Taylor (outdoors), but has now stepped to the forefront, on his own team and nationally …
Here’s a link to that story: http://www.secdigitalnetwork.com/NEWS/tabid/473/Article/234215/ufs-craddock-shining-in-spotlight.aspx
... Track and Field News has released its latest formcharts for the men’s and women’s NCAA Outdoor Championships … According to the men’s formchart, released on April 23, Track and Field News has Florida still winning pretty handedly with 58 total points, while it has Florida State second at 47 and Texas third at 37 … Fellow SEC teams LSU (5th – 34) and Auburn (T8th – 28) also are listed as finishing among the top-10 … The women’s formchart has LSU winning the women’s title with 58 points by a single point over Oregon (57) … Fellow SEC women’s team Arkansas (7th – 27) also is projected to finish among the top-10.