Men's Track and Field preview: NCAA Indoor Championships
The third-ranked and Big 12 co-Champion University of Texas men's track and field team send seven strong candidates to the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Track and Field Center in Fayetteville, Ark., from Friday-Saturday, March 9-10.
Favorites (top two): Manzano; Boston University junior David Proctor (3:59.14)
Field notes: Manzano leads a group of 15 into the preliminary round of the mile run... Four NCAA qualifiers have run sub-four minute miles (Boston junior David Proctor and Stanford senior Russell Brown and junior Garrett Heath) but only Manzano has met the automatic qualifying time of 3:59... The defending national champion, Kansas State's Christian Smith, is gone but three student-athletes who earned All-American honors in 2006 have made the cut for this year (Manzano, Brown, and Colorado's Stephen Pifer)... Manzano and Pifer are the lone Big 12 representatives in the event... The top six competitors are juniors or seniors.
On Manzano: Manzano is the top miler in the nation and one of four Longhorns' qualifiers in the meet with the country's top mark (Manson - high jump, Kilmartin - heptathlon, DMR)... He is one of only two Longhorns to ever run a sub-four minute mile... Manzano won his third Big 12 Championship, and reset the UT and league mile records with his automatic qualifying time of 3:58.78 on Feb. 24... Manzano also helped the distance medley relay (DMR) defend the conference title (9:43.66) and set a UT school record (9:31.27) in winning the Alex Wilson Invitational... At the AWI, he grabbed the baton on the final exchange in eighth-place but fought back to earn the top spot at the Last Chance meet and the nation's speediest time... He provisionally qualified in his season debut in the mile (3:59.08 at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational)... He opened the season with 1:52.22 run in the 800 at the NYC Gotham Cup on Jan. 12.
EVENT: 60-meter Hurdles
Favorites (top two): Mississippi senior John Yarborough (7.69); Auburn junior Tyron Akins (7.68)
Field notes: Despite this group having one of the smallest numbers in terms of national qualifiers (34) in the selection pool, the 60-meter hurdles has the most entries (17) to the NCAA Championship... 2006 national champion Aries Merritt turned professional last year and three All-American hurdlers return for a shot at the title... The returners are Michigan senior Jeff Porter, Maryland junior Dominic Berger and Purdue senior Rickey Pinkney... Seven of the top 11 times have been run in the last 11 days... Only one freshman and one sophomore are included in the 18 entries, making this one of the most experienced and competitive events.
On Hardee: Hardee enters the meet having earned indoor All-American honors in the combined events (2005) and the long jump (2006)... He automatically qualified with a 7.76-clip in the preliminary round of the Big 12 Championships... That mark tied his career-best and third-place all-time UT mark... Hardee is in the top 10 in four indoor events (60-meter hurdles, long jump, pole vault and heptathlon)... He earned All-Big 12 honors with a fifth-place finish and finals time of 7.93... Entering the Big 12 Championships, Hardee was ranked third in the league and No. 19 in the nation... He competes in the 60-meter hurdles at nationals for the first time in his career... Hardee leads UT in the 60-meter, 60-meter hurdles and the long jump... In his third season at Texas, he has mainly competed in the combined events area... This meet is the final collegiate competition for Hardee as he has no outdoor eligibility remaining.
EVENT: Distance Medley Relay
Favorites (top two): Texas (9:31.27); Stanford (9:33.16)
Field notes: Texas leads the nation in the distance medley relay... UT ran the nation's fastest time in winning the Alex Wilson Invitational/Notre Dame Last Chance meet on Mar. 2... UT leads the field by almost two full seconds... Defending national champion Arkansas, 2006 runner-up Brigham Young, and 2006 third-place finisher Villanova are not entered in this year's competition... All ran times outside of the top 15 teams this year... Six All-American DMR's from 2006 are not in the top eight rankings and four did not make the top 11 fastest relays... Notre Dame and Washington earned AA honors in 2006 but sit at ninth and 10th, respectively, entering this year's national championship... Four teams met the automatic standard (Texas, Stanford, Tennessee, and Michigan)... Seven of the top 11 times were run at the AWI on Mar. 2... Stanford's second-place relay time was run on Jan. 26.
On the DMR: Senior Darren Brown (1,200-meter), senior Hamza Deyaf (400-meter), junior Jacob Hernandez (800-meter) and junior Leo Manzano (mile) will represent Texas at the 2006 NCAA Indoor National Championships... The Longhorns secured an automatic berth to nationals and shattered the Texas school record in winning the event at the Alex Wilson Invitational (9:31.27)... The Longhorns first provisionally qualified at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 10 and, at the time, recorded the nation's second-fastest DMR time in 2007 (9:38.86)... UT finished ahead of second-place Oklahoma by six seconds, and host-school and 2006 NCAA DMR National Champion Arkansas by nearly 11 seconds... At the time, Stanford's national lead was five-seconds.. In the following meet, the Big 12 Championships, UT successfully defended the 2006 title with a then-season-best 9:38.66 clip.
EVENT: High Jump
Favorites (top two): Manson; Auburn senior Donald Thomas (2.30m/7-6.5)
Field notes: The high jump event had the least amount of NCAA qualifiers with 17 (15 accepted entries)... Manson has led the field since he opened his season with a 2.30-meter jump on Feb. 2... Auburn senior Donald Thomas has the second highest height (2.30m) with a mark set over a month ago (Jan. 27)...Three of the top four jumpers are from the Big 12... Fellow league high jumpers Kansas State's Scott Sellers and Nebraska's Dusty Jonas are third (2.28m) and fourth (2.24m), respectively... Five of the top eight jumpers entered are from Texas (Manson, Sellers and Jonas) or represent Lone Star State programs (Manson, Texas-Pan American's Will Littleton, UTEP's Mickael Hanany) with Manson falling into both categories... The 2006 national champion USC's Jesse Williams and runner-up Kansas State's Kyle Lancaster have graduated.
On Manson: Manson has led the nation since he debuted at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational... He is one of four Longhorns' qualifiers in the meet with the country's top mark (Manzano - mile, Kilmartin - heptathlon, DMR)... Manson won his fourth consecutive Big 12 Conference Indoor Track and Field High Jump Championship and set the league record in his final season on the Forty Acres... The two-time national champion became the first high jumper to win four consecutive New Balance event titles... He earned Big 12 Athlete of the Week honors for his performance... He set or tied meet and facility records at every meet this season (New Balance Collegiate Invitational and New Balance Track and Field Center, Randal Tyson Track and Field Center, Big Indoor Track and Field Championships and Iowa State's Lied Recreation Center)... Manson finished first in every meet this season.
EVENT: Long jump
Favorites (top two): Louisville sophomore Tone Belt (7.95m/26-1); Ohio senior Scott Mayle (7.95m/26-1)
Field notes: Ohio senior Scott Mayle and Louisville sophomore Tone Belt are tied for the national lead... The 17 competitors entered is the second largest group of entries behind the 60-meter hurdles (Note: Hardee is also entered in the short hurdles)... Two of the top five jumps were registered in January including one mark in the first week of 2007... Nine of the top 10 jumpers are juniors or seniors but only four were in the competition last year (and only three earned All-American honors)... The Big 12 has two representatives -- Hardee and Oklahoma senior Frankie Wright... In 2006, four All-Americans represented the league including the national champion, Nebraska's Arturs Abolins, and runner-up Texas A&M's Fabrice Lapierre. Hardee was seventh and teammate Ron Hill was eighth.
On Hardee: Hardee has the fourth longest jump in the country, entering the NCAA Indoor National Championship meet... He is entered in two events this year (60-meter hurdles, long jump)... He is one of three returning All-American long jumpers from 2006... Hardee equaled the automatic qualifying mark in the long jump, landing in the pit at 25-9.25 (7.85m).. He is one of four to meet the automatic standard in the event... Hardee is two centimeters out of the third-place spot, currently held by Washington's Norris Frederick (7.87m)... Hardee's mark is the third-farthest ever by a Longhorn jumper and the best distance in the last 10 years... He sits behind Eric Metcalf's school record of 26-0 (7.92m) set in 1986, and Richard Duncan's 25-9.5 (7.86m) achieved in 1996.... Hardee owns the indoor school record in the heptathlon, and is in the top ten in two other indoor events -- the 60-meter hurdles and the pole vault.
Favorites (top two): Kilmartin; Northern Iowa junior Raven Cepeda (5,695 pts)
Field notes: Kilmartin has a 175 point lead over the field of 15 with the top five competitors are separated by less than 300 points... This year marks one of the highest point totals for entry with the last qualifier -- Olympian and fellow Big 12 competitor (Missouri's) Hans Uldal earning the final spot with 5,478 points... Nine of the 15 entries are seniors... Half of the 16 competitors from the 2006 field return for this year's championship... It took 6,048 points to win the NCAA event last season... Five of the top eight competitors won their league championship.
On Kilmartin: Kilmartin is the defending champion in the highly-competitive and experienced group... He enters the meet ranked No. 1 in the nation and 18th in the world... Kilmartin is one of four Longhorns' qualifiers in the meet with the nation's top mark (Manzano - mile, Manson - high jump, DMR)... He earned the chance to defend his national title after scoring 5,700 points in winning the Roger Cox Multi's Meet in Albuquerque, N.M. on Jan. 27... For his performance, he earned Big 12 Athlete of the Year honors... Kilmartin distanced himself from the group with a nation-leading 5,870 points in taking his third Big 12 heptathlon title... In the event, he just missed breaking his own league record by seven points... As if leading one area is not enough, Kilmartin also provisionally qualified in the pole vault... He cleared 5.20-meters in the pole vault in taking ninth at the Tyson Invitational...Kilmartin scored an all-time best 6,136 points in winning the 2004 NCAA Championship as a freshman.