Thursday, March 11, 2010
NCAA Indoor Preview - Men's 400
Another event where the NCAA meet could top the World Championships will be the men's 400 meters. The world leader along with half of the top 10 in the world will be in Fayetteville to square off.
Top entrants with their seasonal bests:
45.03 - Torrin Lawrence, Georgia
45.24 - Kirani James, Alabama
45.61 - Calvin Smith, Florida
45.81 - Tabarie Henry, Texas A&M
45.91 - Tony McQuay, Florida
This is as deep an indoor college race as I've ever seen. Lawrence moved to #6 all time with his 45.03 and is on the verge of breaking the 45 second barrier. To solidify his status as the favorite he's also run 45.10 as well as 32.32 in the 300, becoming #5 all time in that event.
Interestingly enough Kirani James ran his 45.24 in the same meet - in a separate heat of the SEC finals! And as fast as Lawrence has been running this indoor season, Kirani at only 17 years old is as seasoned as anyone in this field. The past three seasons he's finished 2nd in the World Youth Championships in '07, 2nd again in the World Junior Championships in '08, then finally won the World Youth Championships last year running for his native Grenada. Makes me wonder what may have happened had he and Lawrence been in the same heat in that final? We should get the answer to that question this weekend.
They won't be alone, however, as the two young men behind them on the clock are serious competitors in their own right. Florida's Calvin Smith was a member of the US Olympic team earning a berth on the 4x4 squad, and has an outdoor best of 44.97. Meanwhile Texas A&M's Tabarie Henry has the fastest outdoor best of the field with a PR 44.77, and finished 4th in last year's World Championships in Berlin while competing for the US Virgin Islands..
In terms of overall quality, this could end up being one of the best races this weekend - collegiate or elite! If this foursome should make the final they will push each other to something great in my opinion. Sub 45 has been run indoors on only four occasions - this weekend should see the fifth - and perhaps the sixth!
Lawrence has been fast and consistent all season. Smith and Henry are strong. And James is young and precocious and progressing rapidly like Obea Moore back in the day. Keep an eye on the first 200 to see who takes the lead at the break - and is able to control the race. With everyone knowing how fast the competition is, that first lap should be very close to 21.0 - putting them on pace for sub 45. I'm sure the smart money is on Lawrence, but my gut is saying:
G - Kirani James, Alabama
S - Torrin Lawrence, Georgia
B - Calvin Smith, Florida