The first full weekend of January competition is tough to highlight, let alone prognosticate. There will be plenty of track action but it will be scattered. College coaches typically aren’t looking for serious matchups, but rather testing to see what sort of fitness their charges have. And who knows where the pros will show up—in effect, this is the classic all-comers weekend.
We have a few inklings of what to watch for, starting with a big off-the-track overseas clash:
1. Great Stirling XC
On Sunday is the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry (formerly known as Great Edinburgh when it was held about an hour up the road), where a U.S. national team will be taking on some top Europeans. The U.S. headliner is Leonard Korir, who has won the race twice before. Korir is also the defending U.S. cross champ, and is gearing up for the next edition of that race, February 2 in Tallahassee.
Joining Korir are Ben Blankenship, Hillary Bor, Garrett Heath (a 3-time winner of the race himself), Ryan Mahalsky and David Elliott. The U.S. women will include Anne-Marie Blaney, Grace Barnett, Ayla Granados, Marisa Howard, Rachel Johnson and Olivia Pratt. There will also be senior and junior co-ed relay squads.
Team USA will be facing off with a united Team Europe that includes 4 of the top 8 finishers from December’s European Championships, including 2 of the medallists, Isaac Kimeli of Belgium and Turkey’s Aras Kaya. The top runner on the Euro women’s squad is Euro U23 champion Anna Emilie Moller of Denmark.
The action will be shown live on usatf.tv starting at 08:15 EST.
2. Arkansas Invitational
Oklahoma State will be there, and Cowboy throws coach Josh Langley sums up the nature of the early-season meet: “Our athletes got back in town on Monday, so this is the first time we’ve been with them since final exams. As a coach, you can write workouts and ask for updates as they are away, but it’s on them.”
3. Orange & Purple Elite
Friday is looking like the big day at Clemson. Among the top 20 teams in attendance: Florida State (3 M; 2 W), Georgia (5 M; 8 W), NC State (20 W) and South Carolina (14 W). Florida’s multi-talented Grant Holloway is expected to compete. Georgia Tech’s Nahom Solomon, who ran 13:41.48 in Boston in December, could highlight the distances.
4. UAB Blazer Invitational
Held on the Birmingham, Alabama, track that will host this winter’s NCAA Indoor, the meet will bring together the defending women’s indoor team from Georgia (5 M; 8 W), along with Alabama (7 M, 13 W), Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee (17 W), Miami and others. Note that Georgia’s Lynna Irby will be running the 300.
5. UW Preview
Stanford (13 M, 16 W), Oregon (12 M, 5W), and of course host Washington (11 W) will be among the Pac-12 powerhouses in attendance on the Huskies’ big 304m oval. Katie Nageotte will be facing off against defending NCAA champ Olivia Gruver in the vault. The mile will feature pro Katie Mackey and Washington’s Lilli Burdon and Katie Rainsberger. Some of the other Brooks Beasts will also compete: Josh Kerr (800), Drew Windle (mile), and in the 3000, Allie Buchalski, Dillon Maggard, Izaic Yorks and Henry Wynne.
6. Jim Green Invitational
Lexington’s meet—newly named after Kentucky’s pioneering sprinter—will bring together Ohio State (19 W) and Indiana (11 M) among others, but it may be most interesting to get a fix on what host Kentucky (10 W) will look like now that former Purdue head Lonnie Greene has taken over. Among the Wildcat competitors is hurdle headliner Daniel Roberts (13.27 last year) and in the 400 is junior transfer Chloe Abbott, a 51.57 performer who brought down the house with her National Anthem at a UK basketball game this week.
We’ve had our share of @KentuckyTrack stars, but NEVER one who could sing like this.
— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) January 9, 2019