The Weekend’s Best Track and Field Matchups

posted by The Track & Field Superblog
Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 10:08am EDT

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There’s a lot going on this weekend. For the fan, which are the most hotly contested matchups, and why? Here’s my top ten rundown.

10. Jo Pavey vs Claire Hallisey
Sunday, BUPA Great South Run, Portsmouth ENG
From the IAAF race preview:
“There promises to be an intriguing women’s head-to-head between Jo Pavey, the 2006 champion, and fellow Briton Claire Hallissey who, after a superb run in this year’s Virgin London Marathon, was picked ahead of Pavey to represent Team GB at the Olympic Games.”
Race website

9. Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma vs Texas
Saturday, Big XII men’s championship, Autin TX
Oklahoma State is ranked #1 in the country, but hasn’t yet been tested. #6 Oklahoma and #7 Texas have been. At the Big XII Championships, we’ll find out if the Cowboys really deserve that top ranking.
Meet homepage

8. Florida State vs Duke vs Virginia Tech
Saturday, ACC men’s championship, Blacksburg VA
The Seminoles are ranked #14, the Blue Devils are #18, and the Hokies are #21. While Virginia Tech is the lowest-rated team among the three, they’re likely to get some kind of advantage from running at home.
Meet webpage

7. Tariku Bekele vs Abel Kirui
Sunday, BUPA Great South Run, Portsmouth ENG
Both won medals at this summer’s Olympics, Bekele getting bronze in the 10,000 meters and Kirui getting silver in the marathon. Why isn’t this matchup rated higher? Because marathon specialists like Kirui rarely run to their potential in races like this, and Bekele nearly pulled out after straining a hamstring. Still, it has the potential to be a ding-dong race.
Race website

6. BYU vs Portland
Saturday, West Coast Conference men’s championship, Portland OR
Portland reeled off an insane 32 consecutive WCC titles from 1979 to 2010. Then BYU joined the conference and beat the Pilots last year. This year, they have revenge on their minds. Currently, BYU is ranked #5 and Portland is at #17, but it’s probably going to be closer than that indicates: earlier this year the Cougars were up at #3 and the Pilots at #5, and each dropped in the rankings after only a single subpar outing. This will be essentially a dual meet, which means just about anything could happen.
Meet webpage

5. Georgetown vs Providence
Friday, Big East women’s championship, The Bronx
How tough is women’s cross country in this conference? Georgetown was just third in this meet last year but won the NCAA Championship. Going into this year’s championship, Georgetown is ranked #9 and Providence is #10, with another three teams in the top thirty. They do battle early in the weekend on the history-laden Van Cortlandt Park course.
Meet webpage

4. Colorado vs Stanford
Saturday, Pac-12 men’s championship, Santa Clarita CA
Two weeks ago, virtually all the nation’s top teams ran at one of two meets. Colorado won the Pre-National Invitational and went to #2 in the rankings, while Stanford won the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational and went to #3. Oregon lurks at #8. This is going to be a great race—and it will be on the brand-new Pac-12 Network (albeit tape-delayed).
Meet webpage

3. Stanford vs Oregon vs Washington vs Arizona
Saturday, Pac-12 women’s championship, Santa Clarita CA
This is by far the deepest cross country race of the weekend; the above teams are ranked 3-4-5-6 in the country. There are a lot of “ifs” here; if Stanford’s top four can be joined by another runner, if Oregon’s Jordan Hasay continues to improve and approach her old form, if Washington’s Megan Goethals re-enters the lineup, and so on. And with four teams fighting it out, basic statistics tells us there are twenty-four different orders in which they could finish.
Meet webpage

2. Patrick Makau vs the clock
Sunday, Frankfurt Marathon
Makau set the marathon World Record in Berlin last year. Strangely, he was neither selected to the Kenyan team for this summer’s Olympics nor invited to this year’s Berlin Marathon. Makau knows that external factors affect record attempts just as much as his own condition, but he say’s he’s ready, and the course is fast and the forecast is good. And Makau is pissed about not going to the Olympics. The time to watch is 2:03:38.
Note: if Makau is well off the mark…well, just follow the link.
Race website

Wisconsin vs the Big Ten
Sunday, Big Ten men’s championship, East Lansing MI
Wisconsin’s men have won the Big Ten Championships thirteen times in a row and are going for a fourteenth, but there’s an unusual amount of drama surrounding this year’s race. At their own Adidas Invitational, the Badgers had one of their worst outings in decades, in part because coach Mick Byrne held out seniors Mo Ahmed and Reed Connor as he mulled a redshirt year for both. That’s no longer on the table; at a press conference last week he said he was going “all in”, and Ahmed and Connor will run at the Big Ten meet and use their final year of eligbility. Even with these two back in action, it’s no slam-dunk; Michigan is capable of winning. In a sport where everyone always dithers and waits for one meet, it’s great to see a major power like Wisconsin running as if there’s no tomorrow.
Meet website
Flotrack coverage will be available by Sunday afternoon (via yours truly)

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