Fans are encouraged to attend what is quite possibly the best indoor track and field meet in the country this weekend as Texas A&M hosts the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Gilliam Indoor Track facility.
The championships are slated for this week, Thursday through Saturday, at the Gilliam Indoor Track and Field Stadium adjacent to Kyle Field.
For those unable to attend the entire event, here are a few recommended highlights:
Men’s long jump/2:30 pm
- Florida’s Marquis Dendy broke the SEC meet record a year ago with a 27-0 ¾ leap to capture his second SEC Indoor championship. Challengers include Arkansas’ Raymond Higgs, a bronze medalist last season, who is the current collegiate leader at 26-2 ¾. Dendy has a best of 25-10 this indoor season.
Women’s weight throw/1 pm
- Collegiate leader Brea Garrett of Texas A&M, No. 10 all-time collegiate with a school record of 74-4 ¼, defeated defending SEC champion Denise Hinton of LSU at a home meet earlier this season. Garrett was the silver medalist a year ago while bronze medalist Kearsten Peoples of Missouri also returns.
Men’s pole vault/1 pm
- Three medalists return, but the current collegiate leader is Sam Kendricks of Ole Miss, who placed seventh in the conference indoor meet a year ago. Kendricks has a best of 18-8 ¼ this indoor season. Last year he cleared 19-0 ¾ to win the Texas Relays and went on to win the 2013 NCAA Outdoor title.
- Two-time defending SEC Indoor champion Andrew Irwin of Arkansas has cleared 18-4 ½ this season while 2013 silver medalist Jake Blankenship of Tennessee has topped 18-1 ¼. The 20-year-old meet record of 18-8 ¼ is in jeopardy.
60m Hurdles/1 pm
- Men’s hurdles: Florida's Eddie Lovett will seek a fourth consecutive SEC Indoor title with 2013 silver medalist and Aggie Wayne Davis II returning. Outdoors, Davis won the SEC and NCAA titles over 110 hurdles while Lovett was runner-up in both races. Lovett has run 7.69 this season while Davis has a best of 7.70.
- Women’s hurdles: LSU’s Jasmin Stowers seeks a fourth consecutive SEC Indoor title, but will face a stern test from collegiate leader Kendra Harrison of Kentucky, who transferred from Clemson. Harrison has run 7.96 this season with Stowers sporting a best of 7.99.
Men’s 400 meters/2 pm
- Deon Lendore of Texas A&M will seek to claim his fifth consecutive conference title in the 400 meters after winning a set of Big 12 indoor and outdoor titles in 2012 and a set of SEC indoor and outdoor titles in 2013. Florida returns silver medalist Hugh Graham, Jr. Another Gator challenger is Arman Hall, who finished second to Lendore earlier this season by 0.16 of a second at Arkansas.
Women’s 200 meters/3:20 pm
- Texas A&M’s Kamaria Brown is the world leader at 22.80 seconds with Kentucky’s Dezerea Bryant second best in the world at 22.82. Brown finished third in the 200 a year ago and second in the 400. Bryant, who leads the collegiate 60 at 7.16, is a transfer from Clemson. Also returning is A&M’s Ashton Purvis, who set the Aggie record at 22.70 as the silver medalist in 2013.
The SEC boasts a nation-leading seven ranked men’s teams, including each of the top-three teams nationally. Arkansas is the nation’s No. 1 team, followed by No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Texas A&M. Alabama is ranked No. 12 and LSU is No. 15. Ole Miss (No. 20) and Georgia (No. 24) also are ranked. Mississippi State is ranked No. 11, but is a Division I independent in the sport of men’s indoor track and field.
A nation-leading eight SEC women’s teams are ranked, including five teams in the top-seven. Florida is the SEC’s top-rated team at No. 2, while Texas A&M is No. 3 and Arkansas is No. 4. Kentucky (No. 6) and Georgia (No. 7) round out the top-10. LSU checks in at No. 14, while Mississippi State is No. 23 and Missouri is No. 25.
The Arkansas men have won a league-leading 19 SEC Indoor Championships, including each of the last two and 19 of the last 22. Last year, the Razorbacks won the SEC title with 152.5 points on its home track.
The LSU women have won a league-leading 12 SEC Indoor Championships, while Florida is second all-time with seven. Arkansas won its first SEC Indoor Championship since 2003 last season with 114.5 total points on its home track.