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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sports

Cougars will face formidable track opponents at NCAA Championship


Jaylen Bacon from Arkansas State took bronze in the men’s 60m at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships. Now he’s back again with another top 10 time with several media outlets predicting him to win it this year. | Courtesy of Sun Belt Conference

All year long, The Cougar has been keeping track of where athletes from the track & field team stand in the NCAA Top 16 rankings.

Now that the NCAA Indoor qualifying list has been revealed, here is a look at some of the athletes the Cougars will be facing.

Jaylen Bacon

The main threat to senior sprinter Elijah Hall in the men’s 60m final is Jaylen Bacon, a senior out of Arkansas state. Currently seeded ninth in the men’s 60m with a time of 6.60s. His time is in a five-way tie for the fifth-fastest in the country.

Bacon took bronze in the final of last year’s indoor 60m final, running 6.56s in the process. That experience has some media outlets predicting Bacon will perform at his best come the championships. Plus, Bacon earned a silver medal at the IAAF World Championships over the summer representing Team USA in the men’s 4x100m relay.

Kenzo Cotton

Senior from the Arkansas Razorbacks Kenzo Cotton only finished seventh in last year’s 60m final, running 6.70s. But in his senior year, he has shown great improvement.

Cotton comes into the national championship as the SEC Champion in the men’s 60m and runner up in the men’s 200m. He owns the No. 5 60m time at 6.59s and No. 10 200m time at 20.61s. He ran both times at the SEC Championships.

Cotton notably ran against Hall earlier this year at the Tyson Invitational, taking second in the men’s 60m with a time of 6.59s. Hall edged out Cotton by .01 seconds to take gold. The two will likely face each other once again in the 60m prelims.

Divine Oduduru

One of the driving forces behind the Texas Tech Red Raiders’ push for the NCAA title, freshman Divine Oduduru of Delta State, Nigeria comes into the championships with the top time in the men’s 200m (20.25s).

Oduduru arrived at Texas Tech having already represented Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 200m, reaching the semifinals. His time has only shown his ability to successfully transition to the collegiate ranks.

Mustaqeem Williams

When Christian Coleman broke four NCAA records last season, his Tennessee teammate Mustaqeem Williams was left in the shadows. Now in his junior year, Williams has been running strong in his own right in the men’s 200m.

After not qualifying in the 200m last year, Williams has won the SEC title and booked his ticket with the No. 7 time in the country (20.55s). If he wins the title, it will be the third time in a row a Tennessee Volunteer wins the men’s 200m title. Oduduru and Williams are both sprinters Hall could end up facing in the men’s 200m.

Mylik Kerley

It was senior Mylik Kerley who carried the baton across the finish line of the men’s 4x400m relay as the hosting Texas A&M Aggies outran the Florida Gators to take the team title. But he also lived in the shadow of a teammate, his brother Fred Kerley, a finalist for the Bowerman Award.

Now that Fred has gone into international competition, Mylik Kerley has been the Aggies’ main presence in the men’s 400m. After taking bronze a year ago, Mylik comes into the championships with the No. 10 400m time (45.88s). If junior sprinter Kahmari Montgomery wants to take gold in the men’s 400m, he’ll have to get past Kerley to do it.

Wil London

Junior Wil London of Baylor missed out on the NCAA Indoor Championships last year. But over the summer he represented Team USA at the IAAF World Championships. Now London has another chance to show off world class talent as he owns the No. 11 time (45.95s) in the country.

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