The NCAA track and field championships features some of the fittest and fastest athletes in the country every year, and 2019 is no exception. Here are the five female and five male athletes you won't want to miss:
Southern California earned the national title in 2018, but this year, the Trojans face stiff competition from within their own conference and beyond. Leading the way for Southern California this year is its trio of top-ranked sprinters including Twanisha Terry, Anglerne Annelus and Lanae-Tava Thomas as well as the powerful 400m duo of Kaelin Roberts and Kyra Constantine. The Trojans have enough star power in the shorter events to put them in position to defend their first-place finish, but Southern California athletes won't be the only ones to focus on in this year's event. Jessica Hull of Oregon, Allie Ostrander of Boise State and New Mexico's Weini Kelati all have titles to defend as well, and they make up part of the dominant five athletes to watch on the women's side heading into this event.
Kayla White, North Carolina A&T
Take a bow, Kayla White...You're a National Champion! pic.twitter.com/vsLac0lR3V— NCAA Track & Field (@NCAATrackField) March 10, 2019
Kayla White is making a name for herself, not just at North Carolina A&T or in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, but on the national stage, and she'll work to add to her legacy at this year's national championship. The senior Aggie brought A&T its first track and field national championship when she won the 200m Indoor NCAA title this year in 22.66 seconds. She's seeded first in the East Preliminary rankings in the 200m again at the 2019 outdoor championship, and she also holds the top seed in the women's 100m. In her last race in a North Carolina A&T uniform, White will attempt to solidify herself as the best sprinter in the country this year with two more individual titles in the shorter events. Her races won't take long, but don't miss White in her final runs as a collegiate athlete.
Yanis David, Florida
Yanis David is looking for gold, and for the senior field athlete, such a goal is within reach. After finishing third in 2017 in the triple jump and second in 2018 in the same event, David is striving to go out a champion, and her No. 1 seed in the East Preliminary ranking suggests that she's in the best position to do that. A five-time USTFCCCA Outdoor All-American, David has shown her strength with podium finishes at the outdoor national championships in the long jump and the triple jump, but this is her final chance to take home the top trophy. She finished first in both events at the SEC championship, earning USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week honors for her efforts, and she's primed to carry that momentum into Austin next month to add an exclamation mark on her career.
Jessica Hull, Oregon
Since the last #TheBowerman Watch List release (May 1), @jessicahull143 has...— Oregon Track & Field (@OregonTF) May 15, 2019
🏆 won a second-consecutive #Pac12TF title at 1,500 meters
⏱️ run an #NCAATF-best 4:12.08 at the Payton Jordan Invitational#GoDucks https://t.co/PWetql9egc
Jessica Hull is set to defend her 1500m national championship and pick up a third overall NCAA crown in Austin as the top seed in the East Preliminary list in this event. The senior three-time All-American will race just the one individual event at the national championship, but if her Pac-12 title is any indication of her dominance in the distance, she's ready to make a final mark and go out a champion again. The most dangerous element of Hull's racing style is her kick, and the other top-seeded runners in this event, notably, Alexis Fuller, Sinclaire Johnson and Sarah Feeny will need a strong start to hold off the surging senior from Oregon.
Allie Ostrander, Boise State
Allie Ostrander's track and field accolades are impressive. She has two NCAA national championship titles in the 3000m steeplechase, but what might be even more impressive is that she also has two Elite 90 Awards to claim, one from the 2019 Indoor Track and Field Championship and one from the 2017 Cross Country Championship. Now the redshirt junior will look to win her third consecutive NCAA title this spring in her signature event, but she'll have stiff competition. Ostrander enters the final meet of the season seeded just .05 seconds ahead of the second-seed in the West Preliminary, Adva Cohen of New Mexico, a sophomore distance specialist. Cohen did not race in this event last year, and Ostrander crossed the tape more than six seconds ahead of second-place Charlotte Prouse. This year could be a different story, but after defending her title at the conference level in this event, Ostrander looks just as dominant as ever.
Weini Kelati, New Mexico
New Mexico is known for its distance success, and Weini Kelati is just the latest star to emerge from this dominant program. She finished second in the 5000m at the indoor championship and third in the 3000m. Now top-seeded in the two longest events in the West Preliminary, Kelati could pick up her first and second championship trophies in the same weekend. As a sophomore, Kelati will be a force to watch this year and in the two years to come.
Georgia won the 2018 NCAA outdoor track and field title behind top finishes from Denzel Comenentia in the men's shot put and hammer and Karl Saluri in the men's decathlon. Saluri has since graduated, but Comenentia will arrive in Austin looking to defend not only his two individual titles but the team trophy as well. He's one of many talented athletes to take the field and track next month. Here are the five individuals who are poised for extraordinary performances:
Denzel Comenentia, Georgia: As previously mentioned, the two-time NCAA individual champion will aim to finish out his Bulldog career as a champion once again. Comenentia has already picked up an SEC title in his main event, the hammer throw, and holds the top seed for both hammer and shot put for the East Preliminary seeding. Florida's Hilmar Orn Jonsson and Oghenakpobo Efekoro of Virginia claim the second-seeded spots in the hammer and shot put, respectively, while Jalil Brewer of Purdue and Kennesaw State's Daniel Haugh round out the top three. Any of those four athletes could take down Comenentia, but if he continues to perform like he has, the senior thrower will be tough to beat.
Gilbert Kigen, Alabama: Another SEC star will make his final lap at the 2019 NCAA track and field championships as Kigen looks to take home gold in both the 5000m and 10000m events, races where he's earned the top seed in the East Preliminary seeding list. The senior runner picked up a conference title in the 10,000m and finished second in the 5,000m, but he'll look for his first individual national title next month. Kigen is nearly five seconds ahead of his closest competitor in the 5000m in the East and over five seconds ahead of the second-seeded Iliass Aouani of Syracuse in the longer distance. He'll be a force around the track in Texas and someone worth watching before he ends his collegiate career.
Divine Oduduru, Texas Tech
Divine Oduduru breaks 10s again!— Making of Champions (@MakingOfChamps) May 12, 2019
At the Big-12 Championships, he powered off to a dominant win in the men's 100m, flashing past the line in 9.99s (+0.3) well ahead of Joseph Sheffield who finished 2nd in 10.29s and Micaiah Harris in 10.34s. pic.twitter.com/5hC5jafXFR
Divine Oduduru's resume speaks for itself. The Red Raider junior won the 200m Outdoor NCAA title and has picked up five total All-American honors during his three years in the Red and White. Oh, and he's also the fastest 200m sprinter in the world this year. Oduduru broke 10 seconds again at the 2019 Big 12 Championships to claim another conference title, and he'll race the same event next month in Austin. At the NCAA championship, he will be running with a target on his back, but if he can push the pace as fast as he did last weekend, he'll not only bring home another title but a new record as well. The top-seeded sprinter holds the No. 1 spot in both the 100m and the 200m in the West Preliminary, and he'll undoubtedly be one of the most interesting runners to watch at the championship.
Rodney Rowe, North Carolina A&T
Yesterday at the Aggie Invitational Rodney Rowe of NCAT won the men’s 100m with a blazing time of 10.10 which put him at NCAA #4 , Joseph Amoah of Coppin State finished in second with 10.23 NCAA #15 pic.twitter.com/Z3nV5PTY7T— HBCULegacy (@HBCULEGACY1837) April 13, 2019
Like his senior Aggie teammate Kayla White, Rodney Rowe is also looking to solidify himself as one of the nation's top sprinters at the 2019 national championship in Austin. Rowe sits first in the men's 100m in the East Preliminary seeds and fifth in the men's 200m preliminary with the 200m being historically his stronger event. He won his second consecutive 200m conference title over the weekend and also added gold in the 100m, and he'll now race the 100m for the first time in an outdoor championship with the possibility of winning the race outright in his first national attempt. Rowe is a budding sprinter whose already earned All-American honors and could pick up his first individual crown this weekend alongside his female teammate.
Grant Holloway, Florida
😲— USTFCCCA (@USTFCCCA) May 10, 2019
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥@GatorsTF’s Grant Holloway just blew the @SEC Championships record out of the water, took the 🌎 lead & improved his No. 2 all-time standing in collegiate history in the 110H!
That was just the prelims, too 🤭 pic.twitter.com/m7E8OT0QOF
Grant Holloway has been an athlete to watch for the last three years, and this season, in his third NCAA Outdoor championship performance, he's looking to become even more successful. The Gator junior enters the meet as the top seed in the East Preliminary men's 100m hurdles and the fifth seed in the men's long jump, a great position. A versatile athlete, Holloway is a four-time NCAA champion and four-time SEC champion, as well as the No. 2 110m hurdler in NCAA history. Holloway will attempt to cement his name into NCAA track and field history with a fifth and perhaps sixth individual title.