INDIANAPOLIS – The world’s #1 ranked high hurdler David Oliver,and two-time Olympic medalist and holder of numerous American records Bernard Lagat will be the featured attractions in the men’s running events at the 2011 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships presented by BMW, February 26-27 at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, N.M.
The third and final event of the USA Track & Field 2011 Indoor Visa Championship Series, the USA Indoor Championships will be televised live on Sunday, February 27, from 4:30 - 6 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN.
The Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with the New Mexico Sports Authority, the University of New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque and USATF New Mexico, are the official hosts for the championships, which were held in Albuquerque in 2010 and will return in 2012.
Oliver looks to continue momentum from last season in Nike Men’s 60m Hurdles
2008 USA Indoor champion David Oliver turned in one of the most prolific seasons ever by a high hurdler in 2010, which culminated with him becoming the #3 performer all-time in his event, ending the season ranked #1 in the world by Track & Field News and winning the Jesse Owens Award as America’s finest male athlete.
Oliver's amazing season began indoors with his runner-up finish in the 60m hurdles at the USA Indoor Championships. He went on to post his personal best time and the fourth-fastest indoor clocking by an American that season of 7.44 seconds, when he won the bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in Doha. Prior to the World Championships, Oliver won the 60m hurdles at the 2010 Five Nations match in 7.58.
Oliver became the world's best high hurdler in 2010 by winning nearly everything in sight and posting the five fastest times in the world (and 12 of the top 15 times globally) during the outdoor season, which included his pending American record 12.89 clocking from his win in Paris on July 16. Oliver's performance was the fourth-fastest time ever, and made him the third-fastest 110m hurdler of all-time trailing only world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba and former world record holder Liu Xiang of China. Oliver was unbeaten in 15 finals races during the outdoor season and won the inaugural IAAF Diamond League 110m hurdles title.
Oliver is dominating the world again in posting the three-fastest performances globally this indoor season, with his quickest time coming from his February 5 win in Stuttgart, Germany, in a personal best of 7.37 seconds.
A heavy favorite to win in Albuquerque, Oliver will face a strong challenge from 2009 World Outdoor Championships team member and 2004 World Junior champion Aries Merritt, who posted the third-fastest time in the world this season and his personal best time of 7.46 from his win in Houston on January 29.
Others to watch include Ryan Fontenot, who finished fifth as last year’s championships, Jason Richardson, who ended the 2010 season ranked #6 in the U.S. by Track & Field News and Jarret Eaton, the owner of the third-fastest qualifying time in the field of 7.56.
Relentless Lagat favored in Nike Men’s 3,000 meters
2007 World Outdoor 1,500m and 5,000m champion Bernard Lagat will look to defend his USA Indoor 3,000m title and add to his ever-expanding legacy Saturday in Albuquerque.
Lagat, who won last year’s U.S. Indoor title in 8:12.60, earlier this month secured his fifth national indoor record at the Armory New Balance Track & Field Center in New York when he won the two-mile in 8:10.07, which bettered Doug Padilia’s two-mile record 8:15.02 set in 1990. The winner of a record eight Wanamaker Mile titles at the Millrose Games in New York, Lagat also owns U.S. national indoor marks at 1,500m, one mile and 3,000m. He held the U.S. 5,000m record of 13:11.50 set last year until Galen Rupp bettered it with his 13:11.44 last Saturday in England. Lagat is the USA outdoor record-holder at 1,500m, 3,000m and 5,000m.
Lagat enters the championships with the fastest 3,000m time by an American this season of 7:39.35, from his February 12 win in New York.
Challengers to Lagat include Brent Vaughn, who on February 5 was a surprise winner in the men’s race at the 2011 USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego, Calif., after dropping out of the USA Half-Marathon Championships the week before. Others to watch include Aaron Braun, who finished fifth here last year. Locals will cheer for former University of New Mexico standouts Chris Barnicle and Jeremy Johnson, who finished 7th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 10,000m in 2007 and 2008, and was 14th in the 10,000m at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships. Johnson also finished 12th in the 5,000m at last year's USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
Rodgers should be man to beat in BMW Men’s 60 Meters
The winner of two of the last three USA Indoor 60m titles, Mike Rodgers will step into the blocks in Albuquerque as a heavy favorite to do it again this year.
Rodgers, who won in 2008 in 6.54 seconds, regained the title in 2010 when he crossed the finish line in 6.52. He ended the 2010 campaign ranked #9 in the world and #2 in the U.S. in the 100m by Track & Field News. Rodgers posted the second-fastest 60m time in the world and fastest time by an American this year of 6.50 from his win in Birmingham, England on February 19.
Challengers to Rodgers include Leroy Dixon, who has finished sixth in the 100m at the last four USA Outdoor Championships, and 2009 World Outdoor Championships team member Monzavous Edwards. Other top contenders and their qualifying times include Christopher Davis (6.61), Jeremy Dodson and Michael Ray Garvin (6.64).
Tate looks to take BMW Men’s 400 Meters
Mississippi State standout Tavaris Tate looks to be a strong favorite in the BMW Men’s 400 Meters after a breakthrough 2010 campaign where he finished fourth at both the USA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. The fifth-place finisher at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Tate ended the season ranked #5 in the U.S. by Track & Field News
The 2009 USA Junior 400m champion, Tate’s qualifying mark of 46.35 seconds is considerably faster than his closest pursuers that include former University of Cincinnati standout Antoine Drakeford (46.85), 2010 NCAA Outdoor Champs 200m & 400m qualifier Darius Law of the University of Charlotte(46.88) and Michael Courtney (46.95).
Solomon looks solid in men’s 800m
2007 World Outdoor Championships team member Duane Solomon will headline the men’s 800m field that will crown a first-time USA Indoor champion.
Solomon finished as the runner-up at the 2010 USA Indoor and Outdoor Championships and figures to be a heavy favorite in Albuquerque. A semifinalist at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha, Solomon entered this season ranked #4 in the U.S. by T&FN.
Others to keep an eye on include Mark Wieczorek, who finished fifth here last year. Wieczorek, who owns the second-fastest qualifying time of 1:48.99, will join Solomon in facing the field’s third-fastest qualifier and former University of Texas standout Jacob Hernandez (1:49.53) and Shawn Lindbom, whose qualifying time of 1:49.54 is fourth-best. Former UC Santa Barbara standout Tetlo Emmen owns the fastest qualifying time of 1:47.95.
Myers looks to regain U.S. men’s mile title
2005 Team USA World Outdoor Championships team member Rob Myers will look to win the fourth USA Indoor 1,500m/mile title of his career.
In 2004 Myers crossed the finish line in 3:40.80 in winning his first USA Indoor 1,500m crown. Myers won it again in 2008 (3:40.89) and successfully defended his title a year later when he beat his fellow competitors to the finish line in 3:45.73.
Myers will face a strong challenge from former Stanford University All-American Garrett Heath, who finished fourth at last year’s USA Indoor Championships prior to placing seventh at the World Indoor Championships in Doha.
Heath posted the second-fastest indoor mile time in the world this year with his runner-up finish in 3:55.87 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston. Among others, Heath will be challenged by Russell Brown, who posted the year’s fastest time of 3:54.81 in finishing one place in front of Heath in Boston.
Also keep an eye on former University of Texas standout Kyle Miller, six-time Ohio State University All-American Jeff See, 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships runner-up A.J. Acosta and former Adams State star Aaron Braun.
Seaman searches for 13th USA Indoor 5,000m walk title
Two-time Olympian and five-time USA 20 km champion Tim Seaman will look to capture the 13th USA Indoor 5,000m race walk title of his career in Albuquerque on Saturday night.
Seaman owns 43 career national race walk titles, which is one more than the 42 crowns won by National Track & Field Hall of Famer Henry Laskau. Fellow Hall of Famer Ron Laird owns the most U.S. race walk national titles in history with 65. Seaman has won 12 of the last 13 USA Indoor men's 5,000m race walk championships.
Seaman’s stiffest challenge could come from high school phenom Tyler Sorensen, who was named USATF’s Athlete of the Week on January 12, 2011 after setting a pending high school 3,000m race walk record with his time of 12:03.2, which easily bettered the previous standard of 12:19.57 set in 1999 by Tristan Ruoss. Earlier this month Sorensen finished as the runner-up in the Susan Rudin Men’s One-Mile Race Walk at the Millrose Games in New York in 6:16.51.