USA Indoor Track and Field Championships | Athletes, Storylines to Follow (2023)

Table of Contents
Will Sam Kendricks’s Worlds streak end? – 4:25 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – subscription required) Will Tara Davis get her first national title? – 5:10 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required) Is the 3000m a battle For second behind Cole Hocker? – 6:45 p.m. ET (CNBC) Can Donald Scott make it three in a row vs. Will Claye? – 2:35 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required) Can a bigger deal be made of Vashti Cunningham’s 10th U.S. title? – 4:20 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required) Which teammate will prevail in the women’s pole vault? – 4:40 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required) How much will Ryan Crouser win by? – 5:00 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required) Can Donavan Brazier win the 400? – 5:04 p.m. ET (CNBC) Will a healthy Marquise Dendy win his first title since 2016? – 5:10 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required) Will Ajee’ Wilson pick up where she left off in 2020? – 5:22 p.m. ET (CNBC) How will Shane Streich fare against the big dogs? – 5:31 p.m. ET (CNBC) Will Alicia Monson Join Her Teammates in Belgrade? – 5:31 p.m. ET (CNBC) Can Cooper Teare deliver in a championship setting? – 6:13 p.m. ET (CNBC) Who Wins In Keni Harrison’s Absence? – 6:24 p.m. ET (CNBC) Is Grant Holloway Showing Up Bald? – 6:33 p.m. ET (CNBC) What Does Marybeth Sant Price Do On The Big Stage? – 6:42 p.m. (CNBC) What Statement Does Christian Coleman Send? – 6:51 P.M. (CNBC) HOW TO WATCH THE 2022 USATF INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS Videos

This is the CITIUS MAG Newsletter byChris Chavez. If you’ve been forwarded this email or stumbled upon a link online, you can sign up and subscribe here:

As I’m writing this, I will admit that it is kind of hard to focus on sports as violence has broken out in Ukraine stemming from a Russian invasion that could give way to wider conflict in Europe. The World Athletics Indoor Championships are set to take place in Belgrade, Serbia from March 18-20. Serbia has previously declared neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine standoff and World Athletics has just released a statement condemning Russia’s acts of aggression and expressing confidence that the championships will proceed. We’ll see over the next couple of weeks if the ongoing turmoil in the region leads to nations boycotting Worlds or pulling athletes for safety concerns.

For now, we’ve got a U.S. Indoor Championships taking place for the first time since 2020. The meet will be held at The Podium in Spokane, Washington on Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 26-27). The top two finishers in each event with the WA qualifying standards will be named to the U.S. team for World Indoors. Athletes who finish in the top two can also qualify based on their world ranking in events where the target number of entries has not been reached. Full selection criteria explanations can be found here.

You will be able to watch the races on CNBC (followed by Jay Leno’s Garage on Saturday and seven episodes of Shark Tank on Sunday). If you don’t have CNBC, you can stream the meet online on Peacock. Anything that is not in the TV window of the schedule (5 p.m. - 7 p.m ET) and field events will be on USATF.TV with a RunnerSpace +PLUS subscription.

Will Sam Kendricks’s Worlds streak end? – 4:25 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – subscription required)

It’s been a quieter season for two-time world indoor silver medalist Sam Kendricks, who has a season’s best of just 5.71m. That mark puts him outside the top 10 for the U.S. this season but he knows how to show up in a championship event but the competition is very tough for those two top spots. Kendricks has not missed making a U.S. national team for an indoor or outdoor world championship since 2014.

2021 Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen has won three meets and set an American indoor record with a 6.02m clearance at a meet in Tourcoing, France. Fellow U.S. Olympian KC Lightfoot, who was fourth in Tokyo, is No. 2 for the United States with a season’s best of 5.95m.

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We have a straight final for the women’s 1500m as U.S. Olympic Trials champion Elle Purrier St. Pierre returns to action after scratching from the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix due to illness (not COVID-related). Purrier St. Pierre cast any doubts aside about her status as No. 1 in the U.S. when she won the Millrose Games’ Wanamaker Mile in 4:19.30. Just behind her was Josette Norris in 4:20.81 and the next American woman didn’t cross the finish line for almost another four seconds behind her. These two are the favorites for the team. If the pace lags, however, look for Heather MacLean, Nikki Hiltz and Dani Jones to finish strong over the final 200m. MacLean, Hiltz, and Cory McGee have proven championship credentials, having qualified for world teams in 2019 and 2021.

For Josette Norris, making the world championship team on Saturday would come almost one year to the day that she ran 15:19.31 for the 5000m at the Texas Qualifier and secured her spot for the Olympic Trials. That was a cause for major celebration at the time, but just 12 months later, she now has personal bests of 3:59.72 for 1500m, 4:20.81 for the mile, and 14:51.32 for 5000m. She’s ready to take on the world – as she proved with a third-place Diamond League showing – in a USA kit.

Will Tara Davis get her first national title? – 5:10 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required)

USA Indoor Track and Field Championships | Athletes, Storylines to Follow (2)

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Tara Davis announced that she will not be competing at the U.S. Indoor Championships due to travel complications. On Instagram, she wrote: “I’m really not sure how to post this but I will not be attending USAs. The universe was not working with me to get to Spokane, Washington. I’m sad I won’t be competing but it’s all part of the journey.”

USA Indoor Track and Field Championships | Athletes, Storylines to Follow (3)
(Video) World Indoors, the Shifting Bowerman Team Mindset, and How To Package Track & Field

After holding his own against the sprinters with a 46.55 personal best for 400m at the Millrose Games, Donavan Brazier isn’t done with the shorter distances yet. Union Athletics Club coach Pete Julian told LetsRun.com that the goal for Brazier is to try and get him on the 4x400m relay team for the world championships. He would need to make the final and then finish within the top six for consideration. If we look at the entries, there are 23 American men men who have run faster than Brazier in the 400m this season and only Ashland University’s Trevor Bassitt (46.08 SB) has a faster season’s best than Brazier. The odds are good!

Brazier is also entered in the 800m with the first round coming 40 minutes after the 400m first round. The 400m final is Sunday at 5:04 p.m. and the 800m final is just 27 minutes later so that 800m is looking like it’s mostly an insurance policy if the 400m goes awry.

Is the 3000m a battle For second behind Cole Hocker? – 6:45 p.m. ET (CNBC)

Cole Hocker has declared for the 3000m and 15000m this weekend. The U.S. Olympic Trials 1,500m champion has the fastest personal best of the field with his 7:39.83, good for third place at this year’s Millrose Games. The only American who beat him there was training partner Cooper Teare, who is saving his legs for the 1,500m on Sunday. None of the Bowerman Track Club runners who ran in Grant Fisher’s American record-setting 5000m race in Boston have decided to compete at USAs, so based on Hocker’s 2021 credentials, his Millrose Games performance and his 3:50.25 indoor mile personal best, he’s the favorite to win and get his second career national title.

It’s a bit of a bummer because we likely won’t get Hocker vs. Fisher or Woody Kincaid until the outdoor season, if at all. The 3,000m would’ve been a fair middle ground for the 5000m and 1500m stars to meet. To date, the only Bowerman athletes that Hocker has raced within the past year are 1,500m specialists Matthew Centrowitz, Josh Thompson, and Amos Bartelsmeyer.

It’s fellow Nike pro Conner Mantz who could give Hocker a challenge. He wasn’t too far behind in New York and ran a 7:41.43 personal best. He threw himself into one of the 5000m races in Boston and came away with a 13:10.24 personal best. However, he may end up being Hocker’s ally if he pushes the pace and thins out the field enough that Hocker only has to test his trademark kick against one or two competitors in the final lap.

Emmanuel Bor (7:44.93 PR), Ben Blankenship (7:44.96 PR), Brian Barazza (7:45.11 PR) and Willy Fink (7:44.21 PR) are dark horse candidates to possibly surprise. Barazza and Fink are also coming off 5000m personal bests from Boston.

Can Donald Scott make it three in a row vs. Will Claye? – 2:35 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required)

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Will Claye has two world indoor championship gold medals in the triple jump from 2012 and 2018. Last summer, he won the U.S. Olympic Trials but then finished fourth in Tokyo. It was the first Olympics where he missed the medals, and the last time he finished off the podium in a world championship he contested was in 2015. He competed one more time last summer and took fourth at the Prefontaine Classic. That was just the second time in his career where he lost to fellow Olympian Donald Scott. At the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, Scott got him again.

Claye has the best personal best in the field, but Scott has the best season’s best. Momentum is on his side and he just celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday.

Can a bigger deal be made of Vashti Cunningham’s 10th U.S. title? – 4:20 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required)

USA Indoor Track and Field Championships | Athletes, Storylines to Follow (6)

At 24 years old, Vashti Cunningham has nine U.S. titles. Last year, she was undefeated heading into the Olympics and then finished sixth in Tokyo. She has not lost a high jump competition indoors since her silver medal at the 2018 world indoor championships in Birmingham, UK. In fact, that’s the only loss of her career indoors. Vashti will very likely get her 10th U.S. title in Spokane and then shift her focus to getting her second world indoor gold medal. She is No. 2 on the world list for the high jump after opening her season with a 1.98m win at the American Track League in Louisville. Australia’s Eleanor Patterson leads the world right now with a 1.99. The next-best American on the list is Cunningham’s Nevada Gazelles teammate Jelena Rowe at No. 9 in the world with a 1.95 SB.

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Which teammate will prevail in the women’s pole vault? – 4:40 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required)

USA Indoor Track and Field Championships | Athletes, Storylines to Follow (7)

In this week’s edition of The Lap Count, Kyle Merber caught up with 2016 Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris, who is undefeated in three meets this season. She didn’t make it out of the qualifying round of the Olympics due to an injury and has since made the decision to move to Georgia and join The Vault Crew to train alongside 2021 Olympic champion Katie Nageotte.

Kyle asked what it’s like training alongside her biggest competition and she said:

“It’s definitely fun and interesting to be training with your main competitor. I think it’s going to help us both as we are going to push each other to higher heights and bigger bars. Brad (Walker) intentionally does two jump sessions — so we vault twice a week with three in each group and he puts us at different times for pole vault practices, apart. It can creep into your mind a bit and you don’t want your attention on your competitors — that’s not a formula for success. I think it’s good to have technical days separate and then conditioning side-by-side when we can push each other running sprint workouts on the track.”

If I’m looking at their record correctly, this will be their 50th head-to-head matchup. The all-time record goes to Sandi Morris by a 38–11 score. Before Morris beat Nagoette at the Millrose Games, Nageotte won their last four meetings. If we make the sample size smaller, since the start of 2019, they are now 8–8. The U.S. championship could very easily go one way and then when they face off at Worlds, it goes the other way. We’re here for this fierce competition while they help each other out in training. No better time to become invested in the women’s pole vault than now.

How much will Ryan Crouser win by? – 5:00 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required)

USA Indoor Track and Field Championships | Athletes, Storylines to Follow (8)

Two-time Olympic champion and world record holder Ryan Crouser isn’t losing this. To find who was the last person to beat Crouser in the shot put indoors, you have to go back to 2015 when he was a junior at the University of Texas. The last man to do it was Stipe Žunić, who was a senior at Florida and went on to win bronze at the 2017 world championships. His biggest rival in recent years, Joe Kovacs, isn’t competing.

Crouser doesn’t have a season’s best mark on his record because of a malfunction with the laser system that measured the shotput at the Millrose Games. The mistake led to people thinking that he threw 23.38 – one centimeter more than his outdoor world record. He’s still probably capable of bettering his 22.82m indoor record. The only question is by how much.

Can Donavan Brazier win the 400? – 5:04 p.m. ET (CNBC)

If he makes it through to the final, which I suspect he will, the question becomes whether he pulls off an upset stepping down into sprinter territory. At Millrose, Brazier looked a bit out of his element tactically, as he tried to make a big passing move with 100m to go but couldn’t get around the bodies in front of him on the final turn. Let’s see if he’s learned his lesson.

Will a healthy Marquise Dendy win his first title since 2016? – 5:10 p.m. ET (USATF.TV – Subscription required)

Marquise Dendy is the top seed in the men’s long jump field with a season’s best of 8.10m. He is one of just the three American men entered who have jumped farther than 8.00m this season. The best mark of the indoor season thus far is from Georgia’s Matthew Boling, who went 8.25m on Jan. 14 but he’s still in the middle of a college season, so the big battle with Dendy will have to wait.

Dendy has had his injury battles over the years but last year flashed some signs of that 2015-2016 form by taking second at the Olympic Trials and fourth at the Monaco Diamond League. He did not advance past the qualifying round at the Tokyo Olympics and then shut his season down. He’s one-for-one in competition in 2022, admittedly a small sample size. JuVaughn Harrison has the farthest personal best of the field with his 8.45m from last year but has only jumped 7.98m this season.

Will Ajee’ Wilson pick up where she left off in 2020? – 5:22 p.m. ET (CNBC)

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(Video) Sincere Rhea Clocked 2020 U.S. No. 2 At NJSIAA

When this meet was last held in 2020, Ajee’ Wilson won in 2:01.98 over Kaela Edwards. She has not lost an 800m race indoors since taking silver behind Francine Niyonsaba at the 2018 world indoor championships in Birmingham. As I did with Ryan Crouser, I like sprinkling in some fun facts to underscore an athlete’s dominance within an event. To find out who was the last American woman to beat Wilson in an indoor 800m, I had to go all the way back to the 2012 Millrose Games when she was in high school and finished fourth behind Morgan Uceny, Ethiopia’s Fantu Magiso and Phoebe Wright. Those three haven’t raced since 2017.

It would be great to see Wilson defend the title against Olympic champion Athing Mu and Olympic bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers, but neither has opted not to race at U.S. Indoors. She will be challenged by Atlanta Track Club Elite’s Olivia Baker, who has clocked a personal best of 2:00.33 this season for the No. 2 U.S. time on the year. Adidas’s Brooke Feldmeier has also had a breakout year, running a personal best of 2:00.92, which is also faster than Wilson’s 2:01.38 season’s best from the Millrose Games.

A cool subplot within this race could come if Moses Brown High School junior Sophia Gorriaran advances to the final and gets the chance to improve upon her personal best of 2:00.58. She’s currently sitting at No. 2 on the all-time U.S. high school girls list behind Stevens Point Area Senior High School senior Roisin Willis (2:00.06), who isn’t competing. A pro field around her could help push her to the record before the two meet again at New Balance Indoor Nationals. Heck, don’t count her out for the win as crazy as it sounds!

How will Shane Streich fare against the big dogs? – 5:31 p.m. ET (CNBC)

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Donavan Brazier doesn’t run the 800, but he wasn’t the only American record holder in the field. Atlanta Track Club Elite’s Shane Streich ran the indoor 1000m record of 2:16.16 at the American Track League earlier this month, continuing a breakout season that has him setting indoor personal bests in the 800m, the 1000m and the mile.

As silly as it may sound, however, the national record holder may not even end up on the podium. He faces a veteran field that includes Olympian Bryce Hoppel, 2019 indoor mile champion Craig Engels and a pair of world indoor medalists in Drew Windle and Erik Sowinski. Streich does have the second-fastest season’s best in the field, a few hundredths of a second behind Hoppel, but Hoppel hasn’t lost an indoor 800m to an American since 2020 – when it took Brazier’s American record to beat him. It will be interesting to see which pair ends up with plane tickets to Belgrade and whether Streich will be among them.

If you’re reading this on Friday afternoon, we should have a podcast episode with Shane out by now so check out The CITIUS MAG Podcast.

Will Alicia Monson Join Her Teammates in Belgrade? – 5:31 p.m. ET (CNBC)

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On Athletic Club will be sending at least two racers to Worlds as Australian Olli Hoare and Kiwi Geordie Beamish have all but guaranteed their spots. The big question remaining for the Boulder-based group are whether they’ll be getting some American company when Alicia Monson tests her fitness against a stacked field.

Even with the women of Bowerman Track Club absent, the presence of Weini Kelati, Elle Purrier St. Pierre and Josette Norris will make it tough. The latter duo will be doubling back from the 1500m, so they may be racing on tired legs but I wouldn’t count out Purrier in particular. At Millrose, Monson got the best of Kelati with an impressive front-running performance and that may be her best bet in this race as well: Get in front, squeeze the pace down, and make sure everyone behind you is too burnt out to pass.

Can Cooper Teare deliver in a championship setting? – 6:13 p.m. ET (CNBC)

Cooper Teare has proven he can win a fast mile, running 3:50 in both 2021 and 2022 to give the American record a scare, beating his training partner, 1500m outdoor national champion Cole Hocker in the process each time. But things are less certain in a kicker’s race. It wasn’t until the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships that Teare secured his first collegiate title in the 5000m.

If Hocker wins the 3,000m and secures his spot on the Worlds team, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see him take the 1,500m out hot to thin out the competition for both himself and Teare. The fastest mile personal best in the field belongs to Johnny Gregorek and the fastest indoor 1500m PR belongs to Josh Thompson. However, both men are better known for their closing speed in slow races. Tactical 1500s tend to be anyone’s race and that’s where upsets can happen.

Another runner who may make a hard move early is Colby Alexander, who’s built a reputation for chasing fast times this season, running 3:52 at Millrose and 3:53 at the NB Indoor Grand Prix. It would be great to see Colby pick up a national title before a shoe sponsor – if only to show the big brands exactly what they’re missing.

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Who Wins In Keni Harrison’s Absence? – 6:24 p.m. ET (CNBC)

Keni Harrison has opted not to race at USAs and some of the best times of the season have come out of the NCAA, so we’ll have a possible marquee duel between Alaysha Johnson (7.90 SB, No. 5 in the U.S.) and Gabbi Cunningham (7.92 SB, No. 6 in the U.S.). Cunningham is coming off a year in which she made her first U.S. Olympic team and then finished seventh at the Tokyo Games. Sharika Nelvis has the fastest personal best of the field and finished fourth at the 2018 world indoor championships- don’t discount her or veteran Christina Clemons.

Is Grant Holloway Showing Up Bald? – 6:33 p.m. ET (CNBC)

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On Jan. 28, Grant Holloway tweeted: “I will be uplifting the bald head community again..” For those who may not remember, he shaved his head during the 2021 indoor season and then went on to break the world record in 7.29 seconds. As of his last race in Birmingham, he still has hair and he’s still undefeated in the 60m hurdles in his career.

Holloway is far and away the best in the world right now. He has his spot for Belgrade locked up because of his win in the 2022 World Indoor Tour. Who gets the second spot behind him is up for grabs between 2021 Olympians Devon Allen and Daniel Roberts.

Trey Cunningham has the second-fastest American time of the year with a 7.42, but the FSU star will be competing at the ACC Championships.

What Does Marybeth Sant Price Do On The Big Stage? – 6:42 p.m. (CNBC)

Marybeth Sant Price has run a personal best in the 60m seven times this season. She came into the season with a personal best of 7.18 that was run at altitude in Boulder, Colorado in 2019. 2022 has been a major breakout year for her so far. Last year, she didn’t make it out of the first round of the U.S. Olympic Trials 100m and now she’s sitting at No. 3 in the world for the event behind Poland’s Ewa Swoboda and double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, who just ran 7.00 and 7.04 to go 1-2 at the Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland.

Sant Price’s first championship test against top American talent since this resurgence comes this weekend. However, she’s already proven to many that some of these fast times aren’t a fluke. She ran 7.04 in a race where she beat 100m Olympic bronze medalist Shericka Jackson. In a Jan. 21 meet, Sant Price beat Tamara Clark, who finished in fourth in the 200m at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Mikiah Brisco, who has run the U.S. No. 2 time with a 7.07 to win the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, and Kiara Parker, who clocked a 7.10 personal best to win the American Track League Louisville meet, look to end Sant Price’s undefeated season.

What Statement Does Christian Coleman Send? – 6:51 P.M. (CNBC)

The only person to run faster than Christian Coleman this season is Oregon’s Micah Williams, who ran 6.48 on this track on Jan. 15. He’s not competing this weekend but maybe showed this track can be quick for sprinters. So how fast will 60m world record holder Christian Coleman go? His seasons best is 6.49 from his Millrose Games win. The next-fastest guy is Trayvon Bromell but he’s not running. Cravont Charleston, who finished second to 100m Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs in Lievin, has the next fastest personal best with his 6.52 performance in France.

Coleman is the heavy favorite for this considering he hasn’t lost in the event going back to 2016. Whatever time he runs is just further fodder for us pundits to soon debate whether we see Coleman or Jacobs with gold around their neck in Belgrade.

HOW TO WATCH THE 2022 USATF INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

Date: Feb. 26-27, 2022

Time: A full schedule of events and entries can be found here.

TV: CNBC (5 p.m. ET to 7 p.m. ET)

Livestream: You can stream the meet on Peacock. Field events and anything that takes place outside of the TV window will be on USATV.TV with a RunnerSpace Plus+ subscription.

(Video) Kick of The Week: Group Championships Upset

🙏 That’s it from me today. As always, thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this, learned something new, or have any questions or commentary on anything featured in this issue, feel free to hit my inbox by replying or writing to chris@citiusmag.com

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Chris Chavez |Twitter |Instagram |Strava

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