Track Shorts: USA Indoor Championships

Photos (left to right): Christina Manning by Jeff Cohen | Rachel Schneider via @rachschneid18 on Instagram | Alex Young by Photo Run | Reid Buchanan via @JoshCox on Twitter

Awesome Indoor Season (Too bad it’s almost over)

This year is that odd one in the four-year international cycle – there’s no World Championship or Olympics. Possibly a nod to soccer fans in that the “down year” always coincides with the World Cup Finals. We still have an indoor world championship. Plus, there are two major international competitions – the third edition of the IAAF Continental Cup in September and the inaugural running of track and field’s own World Cup in July. So, it’s not like everything shuts down.

In fact, far from it. This year’s indoor season has seen a pile of outstanding performances. Too bad it’s almost over. The US championships are this weekend and the world championships are just two weeks later in Birmingham England. With the limited number of meets, handicapping these championships could be a little hazardous. Even worse, we don’t have the invaluable guidance of Track & Field News formcharts. We’ll wade in anyway.


The US Champs, Friday to Sunday (2/16-18), return to Alburquque Ablequgue Albukurke the largest city in New Mexico. For those familiar with geography, you’ll know that this means altitude, 5.312 feet of it. In theory that means better marks in sprints and jumps but not so great for distance events. This leaves sprinter Christian Coleman with the possibility of going faster than Maurice Green’s 20 year-old record at 60 meters for the second time this year but with no WR to show for it. His earlier effort likely won’t be ratified because electronic starting blocks weren’t used and should he better the time this weekend, it will have the dreaded (A) for altitude behind it. Doesn’t mean the guy is not really fast!

World Champion?

Maybe we could save some time by declaring the winner of the women’s 60 hurdles this weekend to be the world champion. Yeah, I know it doesn’t work that way but the US does have the top three performers and a host of others in the top 15. This will be a tough event in Albuquerque (got it right this time) and several who would otherwise make the final at Birmingham might not get to the podium here.

This is a deep event for AB too. Christina Manning has been competing on both sides of the Atlantic and has the world leader right now. She will be challenged by Sharika Nelvis and Kendra Harrison. ABers Jasmin Stowers and Queen Harrison have also been popping up at various places and could steal a top three finish. Perusing the entry list we find WC 400 hurdler Kori Carter qualified and declared for the event. Now that’s some range – what’s next, steeplechase?

Deep in Men’s 800

US men have three of top 10 times in the world at 800 meters. Donovan Brazier and Drew Windle have gone under 1:46 and look solid. As usual, ABer Erik Sowinski has been racing his butt off and has a slew of sub 1:47s; his indoor racing credentials are second to none so he’ll be in the mix. Watch out for Clayton Murphy too. This should be a great final.

Those Amazing AB Women Middle Distance Runners

The women’s 800/1500/mile have traditionally been among the deepest events for AB and this year is no exception. Rachel Schneider and Shannon Osika have each ascended to a new level and have the two fastest seed times while Lauren Johnson and Sara Vaughn have two of the year’s better times as well. And Katie Mackey will be doubling back from the 3000. They’ll face some tough competition from Colleen Quigley and Kate Grace. Shelby Houlihan has declared for both the 1500 and 3000; wouldn’t discount her chances even if the 3k is first.

What a crazy/exciting weekend in the running world !! So many friends doing phenomenal things all over the country ! Really grateful I got to be a part of the @jdlfasttrack #CamelCityElite meet for the third year in a row! Decided to do the 3k/Mile double (25minutes between each) and was really happy to be able to practice some strategic race execution and run away with both wins (9:02.6 and 4:31.7 -or- 8:59.0 and 4:29.0 for 200m flat track conversion). North Carolina fans are truly incredible and I’m always blown away by all the support & hospitality at this event! back home to Flag today to gear up for @usatf indoor champs in 2 weeks!! . PC & S/O to @nataliaiii / @totalsportsus for being at both events the last two weekends (& esp waiting w/ me in @usada drug testing for 2hrs last weekend until I could finally pee) . #teamUA #UArun #sunniva #poweryourpassion #comingforyouKhalees #flyingduringtheSuperBowl #LetsGoPats

A post shared by Rachel Schneider (@rachschneid18) on

At 800, declared ABers include Charlene Lipsey, Hannah Fields, Rachel Weber, and Cecila Barowski. Even if Lipsey hasn’t quite captured last season’s form, her 2:02.05 last weekend suggests she’s ready to fight for a medal. Plus, don’t forget she also ran a solid leg on the WR 4 x 800 team a few weeks ago – cool to have another WR holder on the AB roster. She’ll be up against Ajee’ Wilson and Raevyn Rogers has been putting up some good performances too.

Best Marks to Date

Like we said at the start, the short season means we should be careful how much we put on performances to date. Still, that doesn’t mean we have to ignore them, especially when they suggest some exciting possibilities for ABers. Donald Scott has the leading triple jump so far and certainly is one of the favorites going into the meet. Tori Bowie has been competitive at 60 meters and has the fastest non-altitude time; as Ato Bolden points out, Tori’s start is not bad, it’s something they are working on. In the pole vault, certainly Sandi Morris is no worse than co-favorite with Jenn Suhr as they have the top two jumps so far this season. Not to jinx anything but we like Gwen Berry’s chances for gold as she has the best weight throw mark by over two feet.

Walk Over?

Although they don’t have the top seed times, we would be astonished if Maria Michta-Coffey and Miranda Melville are not the favorites to go 1-2 in the 3000 walk. Not sure if people realize how long this has been going on. Since 2014, this duo has gone 1-2 in every outdoor and indoor national championship. In 2013, the placing in both championships was 1-3. They were 1-2 at the 2012 Olympic Trials and 1-4 at both the 2012 USATF indoor champs and the 2011 outdoor championships. You have to go back to 2009 outdoor meet to find a national championship without Maria’s name in the top 2. Even the NY Yankees of the 1950s lost a couple of World Series.

Don’t Count Us Out

Did you catch Katie Mackey’s sterling 3000 at Millrose? Lauren Paquette has been on a PR tear and is sitting in the top five in the event as well. Sure, Shelby Houlihan, Emma Coburn, and Marielle Hall will make it a tough competition, but the times suggest they’re ready to fight for a spot on the podium. Same thing in the men’s 3k. Ryan Hill has the number three time while Garrett Heath and Reid Buchanan are 5th and 7th. Reid has won a bunch of races this winter…why not a national title?!? Kyle Merber ran under 3:58 (with strep) at Millrose; that’s got to be worth at least a few 10th’s of a second so watch for him at 1500.

In the field events, Dani Hill as had a quiet season so far but does have the number two throw so she may be ready to challenge Jenna Stevens for gold. Andrea Geubelle also has the number two jump so her chances of medaling look pretty good. In the weight throw, Alex Young (your 2017 indoor champion – see his winning throw below) and Sean Donnelly are in the top five; Colin Dunbar and Conor McCullough look tough there but that does leave a bronze for the taking. No AB entrants in the pentathlon but Jeremy Taiwo will compete in the heptathlon; Devon Williams looks to be the favorite but the field looks wide open from there.

TV Coverage

On the one hand, USATF caught a break in that it’s an off weekend for the English Premier League. But, it’s also big weekend for the Winter Olympics. Still NBC found space for some live coverage. NBCSN will have live coverage from 5:30-7:00 on Saturday and 5:00 to 7:00 on Sunday. If you have the NBC Gold Track and Field pass ($75 annual subscription) you can watch from 3:00 to 7:00 on Saturday and 2:30 to 7:00 on Sunday. Tear yourself away from that Olympic coverage and check out some other top flight athletes.

Join The Conversation

You Might Also Like

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>