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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Penn Relays Preview

Track Alerts says Saturday is almost completely sold out. Penn Relays director Dave Johnson has issued warnings to pick up tickets early.

The ultimate cheat sheet: Walt Murphy's 13-page preview of every event over all six days, with time schedule included.

Drake is a bit more about individual events, while Penn is all about the relays. On the collegiate level those are a bit harder to preview and I'll just let Jack Pfeifer do it for me. The big deal: Oregon's distance runners are coming.
College men: sprints / distance
College women: sprints / distance

And then there's the USA v. the World races, which are mostly an exhibition, but really seem to drive attendance and attention even in years when Bolt doesn't come. There will be 4x100 and 4x400 for both men & women, a men's distance medley and a women's sprint medley. Note for those playing in USATF's Pick & Win game: Bolt is supposedly going to be on the Jamaica Black team. The game has a new feature in that you can make a back-up pick in case your initial pick pulls out at the last moment or has some other catastrophe that would have given you a goose egg.

Just limiting to top-ten sprinters in my world rankings you've got Bolt, Nesta Carter, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell for Jamaica; Ivory Williams, Darvis Patton, Mike Rodgers and Shawn Crawford for the USA; and Richard Thompson for Trinidad. The men's 4x100 is going to be great fun to watch.

For the women it's not quite as deep in the 4x100, with Carmelita Jeter for the USA and Shelly-Ann Fraser and Kerron Stewart for Jamaica among the world's top ten. But the 4x400s are going to be tough, with Sanya Richard, Debbie Dunn and Allyson Felix for the USA and Shericka Williams and Novlene Williams-Mills for Jamaica.

I've always thought medleys are among the most interesting of all the relays, and the lineups here are going to give us some good races. The USA's men's distance medley will trot out some of the top stars in Nick Symmonds and Leo Manzano, but Kenya has Alfred Kirwa Yego and Asbel Kiprop and appears basically unbeatable. Morocco is a sleeper with Amine Laalou, and Australia will have a pretty good team as well with youngsters like Ryan Gregson and Jeff Risley. On the women's side the USA has both Alysia Johnson and Anna Pierce in the pool for our two entries in the sprint medley. I think Great Britain has an interesting entry, as Jemma Simpson, Christine Ohurougu and Nicola Sanders are all listed in their relay pool.

In the collegiate individual events, here are the athletes ranked in my world top twenty...
Long jump: Alain Bailey (Arkansas)

100m hurdles: Queen Harrison (Virginia Tech)
Shot put: Mariam Kevkhishvili (Florida)

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