HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP —
Big East track & field teams are at the Spire Institute this weekend for the Big East Track & Field Championships.
This year marks the first year the championships will be held at Spire. Fourteen women’s and 13 men’s teams will make up the field, including the 2012 men’s champion Notre Dame, and Georgetown, the 2012 women’s champion. Events will begin at 11 a.m.today with the men’s and women’s multi 60m dash and 60m hurdles.
(For a complete schedule of events, visit www.bigeast.org/Sports/BIGEASTTrackcom.aspx>).
Since 2002, either Connecticut or Notre Dame has taken the men’s title, and both will make strong cases again this year. The Fighting Irish return three-time Big East champion Jeremy Rae, an individual and relay point-scorer. In 2012, Rae won the mile (4:05.48) and was a member of Notre Dame’s second-place 4x800-meter relay team. Notre Dame went on to win the distance medley relay (9:35.48) at the 2012 NCAA Track & Field Championships. The Fighting Irish also return the third-best 400m runner in the country in Patrick Feeney. The junior looks to defend his 400m Big East championships from 2011 and 2012.
Connecticut looks to use its experience and balance across track and field events. Darnell Cummings has recorded the best 60m time so far this season (6.78), and looks to improve on a fourth-place finish in 2012. Cummings also ranks second in the league in the 200m. Noel James is the only high jumper to record a mark over seven feet this season, recording a league-best 2.14m in January. Eric Massington ranks first in the shot put with a toss of 17.87m, while senior Joshua Faboyede sits at second in the weight throw. The Huskies also have the two best heptathletes in the league to date, seniors Jesse Chapman and Ben Waruch.
After placing third by 1.5 points over Villanova in 2012, Pittsburgh reloads for 2013 thanks to Brycen Spratling, the 2012 Men’s Most Outstanding Track Performer, who won the 200m (21.16) and 500m (1:00.63) last year. Spratling is nationally ranked in the 200m (14th, 21.01) and the 400m (4th, 46.25) this season. Joining Spratling in the 400m field is Carvin Nkanata, who ranks third in the Big East. Both are members of the top 4x400m team in the league for Pittsburgh (3:08.54). Their league-best time was recorded last week when the Panthers competed at the Spire Institute.
Key to the men’s title — the 400m.
Both Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are stacked in the 400m, with each team placing three in the top-six of the Big East performance list. The open 400m, 500m and 4x400m relay will likely be the deciding factors between the Fighting Irish and the Panthers. The two teams are 1-2 in the 4x400m relay standings, more than five seconds faster than the next closest team.