Alex Ryan, University of Cincinnati
Bearcats Split Squads, Head to Armory, Meyo Invites
Highly competitive meets away UC student-athletes at both locations
// AT THE STARTING LINE
The University of Cincinnati track and field program will divide its ranks this week as Bearcats will compete in the Armory Track Invitational or the Meyo Invitational on Friday and Saturday. The Armory event will be held at the historic Armory in New York City while the Meyo event will be hosted by Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
// FOLLOW ALONG
Both meets this weekend offer a pair of ways to stay up-to-date while the action is ongoing. The Armory Invitational can be streamed live on your computer by heading over to www.USATF.tv/ while ArmoryTrack.com will have live results as they happen. In South Bend, live results will be available on the Notre Dame website (und.com) while a video stream (through a paid subscription) can be viewed at FloTrack.org/events.
// BY THE NUMBERS
2 UC Plays of the Month (January) position for Loretta Blaut and her high jump success
3 Consecutive weeks Annette Echikunwoke has recorded a school record in the women’s weight throw
4 UC Plays of the Month (January) position for Echikunwoke and her record throws
6 Number of events Bearcats hold the top mark in the conference this week
8 Number of individual Bearcats holding a mark ranking them among the Top 200 in the world
19 Number of marks Bearcats have posted ranking among the Top 100 in the NCAA
22 Highest world ranking held by a UC athlete (Echikunwoke, weight throw)
// ANCHORS AWAY
While the current Bearcats will be competing in a pair of indoor track and field meets, one former Bearcat will run outdoors this weekend as AD2 Kevin Schwarz will represent the U.S. Navy in the Military Cross Country Championships, which will be run in conjunction with 2016 USA Cross Country Championships in Bend, Ore. Schwarz, a Petty Officer Second-Class with the Navy, will take part in the men’s open 10,000m event and will strive to finish among the Top 12 among military entries, which is the qualifying standard to represent the United States at the World Military Championships.
// BEST OF JANUARY
If you head over to GoBearcats.com and watch the Top 10 Plays of January, you will see a couple of familiar faces. At No. 4 is Annette Echikunwoke and her record-toss in the weight throw in the first meet of the year (Kentucky Invitational) while the No. 2 position is occupied Loretta Blaut and her 1.86m clearance in the high jump, tying her for the second-best clearance in school history while competing in her first collegiate indoor meet after redshirting last year.
With the indoor season having started the weekend of January 15-16, this weekend will mark the half-way point of the campaign for the Bearcats. After competing in three events in January, UC will compete in events over the next three weekends before entering the championship season as the American Athletic Conference Championships are right around the corner on February 28-29 in Birmingham, Ala.
// THE EVENTS – 2016 ARMORY INVITATIONAL
Numerous schools will have athletes entered into the elite competition and the Bearcats will have a chance to compete against some of the best nationally. While most UC entrants will compete in loaded collegiate fields, four field athletes will ply their craft in the invitational sections of the women’s high jump and the men’s pole vault. Both Loretta Blaut and Erika Hurd are two of the 17 women invited to compete while Adrian Valles and Nathan Alexander will be two of 10 invitees. Valles enters the competition holding the personal-best clearance among all entrants.
// LAST TIME: 2015 ARMORY INVITATIONAL
Last year in the Big Apple, the Bearcats combined to post 13 finishes among the Top 8 in their respective events while tallying 10 personal-bests. Among those top finishes was Macklin Tudor, who reset his own school record in the shot put with a toss of 17.62m (59-04.75). That mark also stands as the third-furthest overall in UC history. Adrian Valles finished second in the pole vault while Je’Rica Sanders clocked the second-fastest time in school history in the women’s 60m hurdles, finishing third overall in 8.36.
// LAST TIME: MEYO INVITATIONAL
This is the first the Bearcats have entries into the Meyo Invitational. UC is no stranger to the Loftus Sports Center, however, as it has participated in several ‘last-chance qualifier’ meets (no longer held) and the Alex Wilson Invitational. The last time UC participated in an event at Notre Dame was the 2013 Wilson.
// BROKEN RECORD
In what seems to be a sentence typed here each week: Annette Echikunwoke broke the school record in the women’s weight throw last weekend. For the third-consecutive meet, Echikunwoke did indeed reset the school record, this time pushing her top mark to 20.46m (67-01.50), bettering the record reset one week prior at 20.31m. She will have at least four more meets this indoor season in which she can reset the mark… again.
// CLOSING IN
The weight throw mark is not the only record Echikunwoke has her sights set on as she has climbed closer to the top of the shot put charts, too. After entering the season ranked sixth all-time in UC history with a best of 14.39m (47-02.50), Echikunwoke has climbed higher on the lists each week this year, now standing second overall at 15.58m (51-01.50), nearly a four-foot improvement over her best from last year. Only the second UC woman to surpass 50-feet in competition, Echikunwoke is 1’ 4.50” off the record of 16.00m (52-06.00) set last year by Frida Akerstrom.
// TOP 10
Last weekend not only saw Echikunwoke’s marks move up the all-time lists at UC, but also three other Bearcats followed suit. In the field, Monica Phillips finished the women’s weight throw competition with a toss of 18.39m (60-04.00) to move into the No. 3 slot on the program lists and making her only the third UC woman to surpass 60-feet in the event. On the track, a pair of marks came in 60m events, including Mykel Chambers running 6.92 in the men’s 60m dash preliminary round to equal his own No. 9 standing while Aliya Barnes clocked in at 8.81 in the women’s 60m hurdles to post the 10th-best time in UC history.
// BEST IN SHOW
According to the latest update of the descending order lists, six marks held by Bearcats rank as the best in the American Athletic Conference. The men hold a pair of top billings as Alex Bloom and Adrian Valles are the leaders in the heptathlon and pole vault, respectively. On the women’s side, Annette Echikunwoke is the leader in the shot put and weight throw while Rebecka Abrahamsson (triple jump) and Loretta Blaut (high jump) lead their respective events.
// GETTING TO THE POINT(S)
In championship meets, the Top 8 finishers in each event score points toward a team’s total. As of Tuesday (Feb. 2), both the men and women each hold 17 marks that rank among the Top 8 in the American. Three weeks of competition remains for the Bearcats to improve upon those marks before heading to the conference meet.
// WELCOME BACK: ALL-AMERICAN EDITION
Four Bearcats garnered USTFCCCA All-America honors based on their performances at the 2015 NCAA championship events, including Adrian Valles, would earned first-team honors in the indoor and outdoor pole vault competitions. On the women’s side, Erika Hurd was named to the second-team indoors and first team outdoors for her efforts in the high jump, Rebecka Abrahamsson earned second-team honors in the outdoor triple jump and Kenya Woodall earned honorable mention for the outdoor 400m dash.
// CROSSING BORDERS
While both rosters carry an abundant number of products from the state of Ohio with 26 (of 43) men and 31 (of 48) women hailing from the Buckeye State, the Bearcats also boast a roster of eight international student-athletes set to compete in 2016. Both rosters house four internationals, including a pair of returning All-Americans in Rebecka Abrahamsson (Sweden) in the triple jump and Adrian Valles (Spain) in the pole vault. Joining Abrahamsson on the women’s roster are a pair of Canadians in Alanna Hendricks and Juliana Puopolo while Naomi Urbano (multi-events) hails from Mexico. Valles and fellow compatriot Sergio Acera (jumps) join distance runner Toby Loveridge (England) and sprinter Tevin-Lloyd Thompson (Jamaica) on the men’s roster.
// UP NEXT
The Bearcats will divide their ranks next week as competitors will compete in either the Armory Invitational in New York or the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame. Following those meets, only three weeks will remain before championship season begins with the conference meet taking place at the end of February.