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The Weekend's Best Matchups: Saturday, all over the USA

The Weekend’s Best Matchups: Saturday, all over the USA

| On 30, Apr 2016

There is no track meet atmosphere quite like the Penn Relays.

Today is the climax to an amazing weekend of track and field. You have the Penn Relays and Drake Relays, featuring the best high schoolers, collegians, and professionals. The bulk of the SEC teams are at the LSU Invitational, and the Duel in the Desert continues a 108-year-old Arizona-Arizona State rivalry. Top road racing action is in Columbus, Ohio, for the USATF Half Marathon Championships.

Below I have your fifty-five best matchups to follow, culled from competitions held across four time zones and six states, and conveniently color-coded to keep you from getting confused.

How to watch the matchups

TV: The The Penn Relays will be on NBC Sports Network from 12:30 to 3:00pm (ET). The Drake Relays will be on NBC Sports Network from 3:00pm to 5:00pm (ET).

Webcast: The USATF Half Marathon Championships are available at (free). The The Penn Relays are available at (subscription). The Drake Relays are available at (subscription).

The best matchups of the day?

#1. Women’s 100 hurdles Battle Royale

Drake Relays women’s Rio Olympic Games Preview 100m hurdles
2:37pm local time/3:37pm ET | Startlist/results
Live TV coverage on NBC Sport Network
If you’re not a pro wrestling fan (and why not?), a “battle royale” is a contest between many wrestlers, traditionally ten. There are eight hurdlers in this race, and probably six of them are Olympic medal contenders. Three of them — Brianna Rollins, Keni Williams, and Jasmin Stowers — are among the ten fastest of all time. This is probably the best race of the whole day.

#3. Sam Mattis (Penn) vs Fedrick Dacres (UWI Mona)

Penn Relays college men’s discus Championship
12:30pm | Start list/results
These are the world’s best young discus throwers – both are barely 22 years old – and two of the best U23 throwers in world history, with PRs of 67.45 and 68.02 meters respectively. Jamaica’s Dacres was World Junior champion in 2012 and Pan-American champion last year. Mattis, the defending NCAA champion, took a big step forward this spring, and of course he’s throwing on his home field. This is essentially the U23 world championship right here.

#3. USA vs baton exchanges

Penn Relays USA vs The World relays
Live TV coverage on NBC Sport Network from 12:30-3:00 ET
Nike doesn’t fund the USA vs The World events like they used to, and some of the luster has come off of that part of the Penn Relays. But even if the fields aren’t quite as deep as they used to be, they’re still good races since Jamaica is in all of them and they tend to be the USA’s kryptonite.

Actually, the USA’s relay kryptonite is itself. American national teams have a hard time getting the baton around the track. Their competitive record under the controversial Dennis Mitchell has been atrocious, yet USATF leadership decided to keep him on. Even if you ignore all the doping stuff (as the fools in USATF apparently are doing), the man should be fired for incompetence alone. I’m setting today’s over/under for relay DNFs/DQs at 2. Do you want the over or the under?

The rest of the matchups…

USATF Half Marathon Championships men’s race
8:00am | Race website | Live webcast
Aron Rono vs Shadrack Biwott vs Scott Fauble
Rono is the top returner from last year’s USATF half marathon championships, while Biwott was seventh at the marathon Olympic trials in February. Second-year pro Fauble is on a hot streak, finishing just one place back of Mo Farah at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country in January and running a big 10k PR earlier this month

USATF Half Marathon Championship’s women’s race
8:00am | Race website | Live webcast
Desi Linden vs Janet Bawcom vs Tara (Erdman) Welling
Linden has already secured her Olympic spot in the marathon, and this is her first race back after the marathon Olympic Trials in February. The same goes for Bawcom, who finished fifth at the Trials and is an accomplished half-marathoner. Their major competition is likely to come in the form of Tara Welling, who is on an upswing lately and set a 10k PR earlier this month.

Drake Relays women’s University Division sprint medley
10:00am local time/11:00am ET | Startlist/results
Baylor vs Ohio State
Baylor won last night’s 4×800 relay, and Ohio State looks to have the strongest anchor in Rachel Weber.

Drake Relays men’s University/College high jump
10:00am local time/11:00am ET | Startlist/results
Trey Culver (Texas Tech) vs Bradley Akins (Texas Tech) vs Wally Ellenson (Marquette)
Track and Field News picks these as the top three jumpers in the NCAA in their latest championship formcharts.

Drake Relays men’s University Division sprint medley
10:20am local time/11:20am ET | Startlist/results
Texas Tech vs Minnesota
The Golden Gophers have the fastest anchor (800m) leg in the race, but they’re a bit weak in the 200 and 400 legs. Texas Tech might have the most balanced team. Iowa could be a factor, and if so they’ll have the crowd behind them.

LSU Invitational women’s shuttle hurdle relay
11:30am local time/12:30pm ET | Start list/results
LSU vs Arkansas
It’s highly unusual for an invitational to have a shuttle hurdle relay, but this one does. If going by season’s best times, these are the two best relay teams in the NCAA.

Penn Relays college men’s discus Championship
12:30pm | Start list/results
Sam Mattis (Penn) vs Fedrick Dacres (UWI Mona)
See the header.

TV Alert! Penn Relays coverage begins on NBC Sports Network at 12:30pm ET!

Penn Relays USA vs The World women’s 4×100
12:38pm | Start list/results
USA vs Jamaica
That’s pretty much how it breaks down in sprint relays, right?

Penn Relays USA vs The World men’s 4×100
12:50pm | Start list/results
USA vs Jamaica

LSU Invitational women’s 4×100
12:05pm local time/1:05pm ET | Start list/results
Florida vs Kentucky vs LSU
These are the strongest teams in the SEC, which means they’re some of the strongest in the NCAA.

LSU Invitational men’s 4×100
12:10pm local time/1:10pm ET | Start list/results
LSU vs Texas A&M
The Bayou Bengals and Aggies currently have the two fastest 4×100 teams in the NCAA. Arkansas is also highly rated and a couple of relays for the Canadian national team add even more depth to the race.

Penn Relays college men’s 4xMile Championship of America
1:15pm | Start list/results
Penn State vs Georgetown vs Villanova
The Nittany Lions and Hoyas finished 1-2 in the distance medley yesterday, while Villanova was a well-beaten fifth–but never, ever underestimate the Wildcats at the Penn Relays. The home team, the Penn Quakers, could be a factor too.

Drake Relays men’s University/College shuttle hurdle relay
12:25pm local time/1:25pm ET | Startlist/results
Nebraska vs Indiana State
The USTFCCCA’s “squad rankings”, which average top four athletes’ marks for each team, rate Nebraska and Indiana State as #5 and #6 in the nation.

Drake Relays men’s University Division distance medley
12:30pm local time/1:30pm ET | Startlist/results
Wisconsin vs Eastern Michigan
The 4×1600 came down two these two teams on Thursday night and the Badgers’ Austin Mudd outkicked the Eagles’ Willy Fink for the win.

LSU Invitational women’s long jump
12:30pm local time/1:30pm ET | Start list/results
Quanesha Burks (Alabama) vs Shakeela Saunders (Kentucky)
This is a rematch of the top two at the NCAA indoor championships.

Penn Relays college men’s 4×100 Championship of America
1:40pm | Start list/results
Houston vs UTech
The Houston Cougars are the top qualifiers and looking to knock off Jamaica’s University of Technology, the three-time defending champions.

LSU Invitational men’s 110m hurdles
12:45pm local time/1:45pm ET | Start list/results
Jordan Moore (LSU) vs Nick Anderson (Kentucky)
These SEC rivals are picked for 4th and 7th at the NCAAs by Track and Field News.

Penn Relays USA vs The World women’s 4×200
2:00pm | Start list/results
USA vs Jamaica

LSU Invitational men’s long jump
1:00pm local time/2:00pm ET | Start list/results
Ke’Andre Bates (Florida) vs Wil Williams (Texas A&M)
This is a battle of All-Americans who were 4th and 7th at the NCAA indoor championships.

Penn Relays college men’s pole vault Championship
2:00pm | Start list/results
Jake Blankenship (Tennessee) vs Adrian Valles (Cincinnati) vs Adam Bragg (Princeton)
Blankenship was injured during the SEC and NCAA indoor championships and competed poorly, but when healthy he’s the best of the college ranks. Values is a two-time All-American and Bragg has come on strong in the early outdoor season after redshirting indoors.

Drake Relays women’s University Division distance medley
1:00pm local time/2:00pm ET | Startlist/results
Minnesota vs Baylor
The Golden Gophers won the 4×1600 on Thursday and Baylor won last night’s 4×800.

Penn Relays USA vs The World men’s 4×200
2:10pm | Start list/results
USA vs Jamaica

Penn Relays college women’s 4×200 Championship of America
2:25pm | Start list/results
Tennessee vs UTech
UTech won this race for the first time last year, while Tennessee is the top qualifier.

LSU Invitational women’s pole vault
1:30pm local time/2:30pm ET | Start list/results
Weeks twins (Arkansas) vs Alysha Newman (Miami)
Lexi and Tori Weeks are a potent 1-2 for the Razorbacks (they were 1st and 6th at the NCAA indoor championships) while Newman was 4th at the NCAA indoor.

Penn Relays USA vs The World men’s 4×400
2:35pm | Start list/results
USA vs Jamaica
Usually the USA’s 4×400 is head and shoulders above any other national team. The talent available to the US relay team this weekend is decidedly second-tier, so this race might actually be close.

Penn Relays college men’s 4×200 Championship of America
2:45pm | Start list/results
USA vs Jamaica
U Tech is the two-time defending champions, and the American teams that could stop their streak are South Carolina and Auburn.

Penn Relays USA vs The World women’s 4×400
2:52pm | Start list/results
USA vs Jamaica
This is the last race in the NBCSN broadcast and I think the idea was to finish off with Allyson Felix. The best laid plans of mice and men

LSU Invitational women’s 400m hurdles
1:55pm local time/2:55pm ET | Start list/results
Shamier Little (Texas A&M) vs Kiah Seymour (Kentucky)
Little is one of the best in the world in this event, and Seymour is figured as a potential All-American.

TV Alert! NBC Sports Network coverage switches to Drake Relays at 3:00pm ET!

Drake Relays women’s Rio Olympic Games Preview high jump
2:00pm local time/3:00pm ET | Startlist/results
Vashti Cunningham (USA) vs Chaunte Lowe (USA)
High schooler Cunningham proved that she’s a real threat for Olympic gold by winning the World indoor title. Lowe is the veteran shooting for her fourth straight Olympic team.

Drake Relays women’s Rio Olympic Games Preview pole vault
2:00pm local time/3:00pm ET | Startlist/results
Sandi Morris (USA) vs Katarina Stefanidi (Greece)
This is a reprise of Wednesday’s pole vault in a downtown atrium, and the featured competitors won silver and bronze at the World indoor championships.

Penn Relays Olympic Development women’s mile
3:00pm | Start list/results
Chanelle Price vs milers
Most of the “Olympic Development” races at Penn are club events featuring athletes who struggle to qualify to the Trials and have no chance at all at the Olympics. This is a pretty good field, though, and offers an intriguing battle between two different kinds of runners. There are the traditional milers, Kerri Gallagher and Stephanie Charnigo, who are likely Olympic trials finalists and who have an outside shot at making the Olympic team. They are being challenged by Chanelle Price, an 800 meter specialist who won the 2014 World indoor championships gold medal.

Drake Relays men’s elite invitational 800 meters
2:02pm local time/3:02pm ET | Startlist/results
Clayton Murphy (Akron) vs the pros
Murphy, the reigning NCAA indoor champion, hasn’t run tremendously fast times in his career but somehow always manages to be in the right place at the right time. He finished fourth at the USA championships last June, and then got a spot on the US team for the World championships due to l’affair de Nick Symmonds, and then managed to be the USA’s top finisher by dint of making it to the semifinals. His main competition is World indoor champion Boris Berian, and Erik Sowinski is every bit of Murphy’s equal too.

LSU Invitational men’s 400m hurdles
2:05pm local time/3:05pm ET | Start list/results
Robert Grant (Texas A&M) vs T.J. Holmes (Florida)
Coming into the weekend, these two were 3rd and 7th on the NCAA list.

Drake Relays women’s Rio Olympic Games Preview 400m hurdles
2:12pm local time/3:12pm ET | Startlist/results
Cassandra Tate (USA) vs Kaliese Spencer (Jamaica)
Tate took bronze at last year’s World Championships, while Spencer finished a disappointing eighth after a strong start to her season which included three straight Diamond League wins.

LSU Invitational women’s 200 meters
2:15pm local time/3:15pm ET | Start list/results
Kyra Jefferson (Florida) vs Shakima Wimbley (Miami)
This is a cross-event matchup of two top long sprinters. Jefferson is the favorite to win the NCAA 200 meter title, while Wimbley is among the top collegiate 400 meter runners.

Penn Relays college men’s 110m hurdles Championship
3:20pm | Start list/results
Isaac Williams (Houston) vs Dondre Echols (South Carolina)
Williams is #2 in the NCAA right now, but Echols was an indoor All-American and is the top qualifier from yesterday’s heats.

LSU Invitational men’s triple jump
2:30pm local time/3:30pm ET | Start list/results
Clive Pullen (Arkansas) vs Latario Collie (Texas A&M)
Pullen was NCAA indoor champion for the Hogs, while Collie was third.

Drake Relays women’s Rio Olympic Games Preview 100m hurdles
2:37pm local time/3:37pm ET | Startlist/results
Battle Royale
See the header.

Drake Relays men’s University/College 110m hurdles
2:44pm local time/3:44pm ET | Startlist/results
Aaron Mallett (Iowa) vs Adarius Washington (Indiana State) vs William Barnes (Kent State)
All three are figured as likely finalists at the NCAA Championships.

Drake Relays men’s Rio Olympic Games Preview triple jump
2:45pm local time/3:45pm ET | Startlist/results
Will Claye vs Marquis Dendy
Claye is the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in this event, although he’s been in a bit of a slump for the last year. Dendy is the young hotshot of the long and triple jumps, just a year out of college and the World indoor long jump champion last month.

Drake Relays men’s Rio Olympic Games Preview 110m hurdles
2:51pm local time/3:51pm ET | Startlist/results
David Oliver vs Aries Merritt
Oliver’s peak year was 2013, when he won gold at the World Championships and was the Diamond League champion. Merritt was at his best in 2012, when he won Olympic gold and broke the world record. Both are contenders for Olympic gold, and that’s a remarkable accomplishment for Merritt because he had a kidney transplant last fall. The field is deep, and Jamaicans Omar McLeod and Hansle Parchment could easily come up for the win.

Penn Relays master’s mixed 80 and over
3:45pm | Start list/results
99-year-old vs 100-year-old
I am not making this up.

Penn Relays college women’s 4×800 Championship of America
4:10pm | Start list/results
Oregon vs Georgetown vs Oklahoma State
Oregon is the best on paper, but Georgetown has been beating expectations all weekend.

Drake Relays women’s University Division 4×100
3:14pm local time/4:14pm ET | Startlist/results
Texas vs Purdue
Purdue took third at the Texas Relays and the Longhorns were last due to a bungled exchange.

Drake Relays men’s University Division 4×100
3:20pm local time/4:20pm ET | Startlist/results
TCU vs Texas
The Longhorns are out for revenge after the Horned Frogs beat them at their own Texas Relays.

LSU Invitational women’s 4×400 relay
3:35pm local time/4:35pm ET | Start list/results
Florida vs Kentucky
The Gators and Wildcats are two of the top five squads in the NCAA. Arkansas does not have their best foursome on the start list.

Penn Relays college men’s 4×800 Championship of America
4:40pm | Start list/results
Penn State vs the field
If running their “A” team fresh, Penn State would win this easily. But they are also running the 4xMile earlier in the afternoon, so some of their stars may double and some may run only one of the two relays. That opens the door for teams like Georgetown, BYU, Indiana, and Villanova.

Drake Relays women’s University Division 4×400
3:45pm local time/4:45pm ET | Startlist/results
Texas vs Purdue
If the Longhorns run their best team then they will win with ease, but if not then the Boilermakers will give them a push.

LSU Invitational men’s 4×400 relay
3:45pm local time/4:45pm ET | Start list/results
LSU vs Texas A&M
LSU is the current favorites to repeat their NCAA indoor championships win at the outdoor nationals, and the Aggies were within range of the Tigers at the Texas Relays.

Drake Relays men’s University Division 4×400
3:52pm local time/4:52pm ET | Startlist/results
Baylor vs Texas
The days of Baylor being known as “Quartermiler U.” might be gone, but they were the top qualifiers.

Penn Relays high school boys’ 4×400 Championship of America
5:30pm | Start list/results
USA vs Jamaica
There will be close to 50,000 fans in Franklin Field and this will be the most noise they make all day. Nine of the last ten champions have been from Jamaica.

Oregon State High Performance Meet men’s 100 meters
2:45pm local time/5:45pm ET | Meet information
Ryan Bailey vs Joe Morris
Morris is a second-tier US sprinter who has seen duty on national relay teams and could sneak into the finals of the Olympic Trials if he has a great meet. Bailey, on the other hand, is a 2012 Olympian with a 9.88 PR who has battled a lot of injuries over the last few years. The two represent some of the very few top sprint talent who live and train in the Pacific Northwest, and they’ll come back and run again in the 200 later in the day.

Penn Relays college women’s 4×400 Championship of America
5:50pm | Start list/results
Oregon vs South Carolina
The Ducks qualified with a fast time but this will come at the end of a long weekend for Oregon’s stars.

Penn Relays college men’s 4×400 Championship of America
6:00pm | Start list/results
Florida vs Tennessee
The Gators look unbeatable in this race, but you never know. Tennessee was the #2 qualifier.

Arizona State vs Arizona
5:00pm local time/8:00pm ET | Meet info and start lists
Detailed records are hard to come by, but it appears that this rivalry meet has been held every year since 1908. The Sun Devils have a nine-year win streak in the men’s competition, but I think the Wildcats have a real chance at ending it. Washington-based track blogger Paul Merca has been brought in as the announcer.

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