It’s still early in the spring, but there’s some good competition this weekend, headlined by a couple of major distance events.
1. Kenya vs Ethiopia
World Cross Country Championships, Bydgoszcz POL
Sunday, 1:15pm local time (8:15am ET)
There are a lot of different matchups within the World Cross Country Championships–four races and eight gold medals up for grabs–but the biggest prizes are the team titles. No nation is going to win a team gold besides one of these two East African juggernauts. The star power is down a bit for this meet, as no 2012 Olympic medalists are entered, which means that the team competition will take on even more importance.
Previews, entries and info from the IAAF
2. Edna Kiplagat vs Shalane Flanagan
Lisbon Half Marathon
Sunday, 10:30 am local time (6:30am ET)
Kiplagat and Flanagan battled to the finish at the 2010 New York City Marathon, where Kiplagat came out the winner. Flanagan turned the tables at the 2012 Olympic marathon, where she finished tenth to Kiplagat’s twentieth. The state of international cross country running is such that these two highly accomplished cross country runners will hit the road on the same day at the World Cross Country Championships.
On the men’s side, the biggest names are probably half marathon world record holder Zersenay Tadese and his compatriate Teklemariam Medhin, who won silver three years ago at the World Cross Country Championships.
Preview | Race website
3. Arkansas vs Texas (men)
Texas State Elite Meet, San Marcos TX
Saturday, 9:00am local (10:00am ET)
Originally billed as a quad meet for men and a dual meet for women, this meet has expanded to six squads: the two above plus UCLA, Illinois, UT San Antonio, and hosts Texas State. The toughest matchup could be on the men’s side, where Arkansas is #2 in the USTFCCCA pre-season rankings and Texas is #4. The Hogs won their early January dual meet matchup, but outdoor competition helps the Longhorns as it includes two more throwing events, the area of Texas’ greatest strength. The others aren’t exactly chopped liver, as UCLA is ranked #12 and UTSA won the WAC indoor title.
On the women’s side, the matchup to watch is Texas vs. Illinois. The Longhorn women are #5 in the nation and Illinois won the Big Ten indoor championship.
Preview, schedule and live results
4. Oregon State vs. Portland
Whyte Track & Field Center, Corvallis OR
Saturday, 3:00pm local (6:00pm ET)
This matchup is interesting because it’s Oregon State’s first home meet in twenty-five years. The Beaver track teams were axed in 1988, and a limited women’s program was started up again in 2004. Fund-raising efforts over recent years led to a new track facility. When the women’s program came back it was just a distance-only squad, but it has expanded to cover enough events that they can compete in dual meets. Yes, meets–the Beavers beat Portland three weeks ago. “Phase II” of the track project is to expand the facility (which is bare-bones right now: no stands, no hurdles, no pole vault and no timing system) and bid on things like the Oregon state high school championships. “Phase III” is bringing back the men’s program, and it looks like it will eventually happen.
Meet preview, history and schedule
5. Aaron Brown vs Ameer Webb vs Prezel Hardy, Jr. (100 meters)
Trojan Invitational, Los Angeles CA
12:30pm local (3:30pm ET)
USC’s Brown and Texas A&M’s Hardy both qualified to the NCAA Championships in this event last year, but neither made it to the finals. Fellow Aggie Webb skipped the 100 at last year’s nationals in favor of the 200 and 4×100 relay, but he may have to triple this year if Texas A&M wants to make a run at the title. This race will tell us a lot about which of these three (if any) has made a step up from last year.
Meet preview and heat sheets | Meet schedule