2013 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships: Men’s Mid-D & Distance Preview

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*LRC Additional NCAA Conference Previews Here
*MB: LetsRun.com’s 2013 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Conference Championship Previews Are Now Live – Discuss them here

by Isaac Wood for LetsRun.com
February 20, 2013

Arkansas has the top four ranked 800m runners in the conference and have all run under 1:50. Patrick Rono (#4 in NCAA and #1 in SEC 1:47.66), Anthony Lieghio of Arkansas, who is from Ireland (#12 in NCAA and #2 in SEC 1:48.56, 3rd in 800 2012), Freshman Tomas Squella of Arkansas, from Chile, (#3 in SEC 1:49.46), and Ryan Thomas of Arkansas (#4 in SEC 1:49.48) round out the top four in the SEC all from Arkansas. Keffri Neal of Kentucky breaks up Arkansas from having the top five 800m runners with a 1:49.79 SB and was 6th in the 800m at the SECs indoor in 2012. The top returner is Sean Obinwa of Florida who has the fastest overall 800m PR of the group having run 1:47.22. Look for him to win his first SEC crown.

Predicted Place and Time
1.    Sean Obinwa-Florida-1:48.98
2.    Patrick Rono-Arkansas-1:49.10
3.    Anthony Lieghio-Arkansas-1:49.32
4.    Keffri Neal- Kentucky- 1:49.81
5.    Leoman Momoh-Arkansas-1:50.00

LRC Comment: No way Obinwa wins this one in our book. He hasn’t cracked 1:50 this year. Rono won the mile as a freshman but has been doing better in the 800 this year. If he runs it, he win sit. Winning is in his genes – his father was an Olympic 1,500 champ.

The conference 800 list is a thing of beauty for Arkansas. Can someone promise us they’ll battle Penn State at Penn Relays this year?

1     Rono, Patrick     SO-2     Arkansas      1:47.66
2     Lieghio, Anthony SR-4     Arkansas     1:48.56
3     Squella, Tomas     FR-1     Arkansas     1:49.46
4     Thomas, Ryan     FR-1     Arkansas     1:49.48

Arkansas is so loaded in the mile that we might not see the returning champion Patrick Rono race to retain his title, because of his chance at the 800m. Kemoy Campbell and Stanley Kebenei of Arkansas transferred in this season from the JUCO ranks and have tremendous ability. Campbell , a Jamaican, has run 4:00.98 and was 16th at NCAA XC Nationals. Stanley Kebenei is running this indoor for the first time in an Arkansas uniform and has the no. 4 ranked time in the SEC having run 4:04.37. Henry Lelei is the current leader in the SEC with a season best of 4:00.41. Kane Grimster of Auburn is the no. 2 returner from conference in 2012, but has only run 4:08.35 this season (4:04.31 PR). His teammate Niklas Buhner has been running better and will be seen in the front pack. He has good PRs of 4:05.14 and 3:47 1500m. Matt Hillenbrand of Kentucky has the no. 3 ranked time in the conference with a 4:02.78 SB/PR.

Predicted Place and Time
1.    Henry Lelei- Texas A&M-4:09.43
2.    Kemoy Campbell- Arkansas- 4:10.02
3.    Stanley Kebenei- Arkansas-4:10.29
4.    Matt Hillenbrand- Kentucky- 4:11.38
5.    Niklas Buhner-Auburn- 4:12.67

LRC Comment: Here’s a stat for you. On a year where there are 23 collegiate milers with sub-4 times on the NCAA list, there are zero from the powerhouse SEC. Campbell is legit though so he’ll do it soon. We love the idea of there being a studly Jamaican distance runner.

David Flynn of Arkansas is the top returner in the SEC for 3000m, but currently has the 33rd best 3k time in the conference. The main core of athletes from the mile are the favorites in the 3000m as well. Campbell, and Kebenei of Arkansas have the 1st  (7:53.61) and 3rd (8:00.74) fastest times in the conference, and teammate and former Foot Locker HS champ Solomon Haile is ranked 4th in the SEC having run 8:01.17. Henry Lelei is ranked #2 and has run 7:55.80. This race could be the most competitive with Lelei and Campbell both having very good SB/PRs for 3k. Matt Cleaver of Georgia is coming off the strongest XC season of his career (5th at SEC XC and 5th in 3000m 2012 SEC Champs) and has run 8:09.01 this season. Matt Hillenbrand of Kentucky is another contender (8:10.04 SB). Kane Grimster of Auburn again deserves a mention for being the no. 2 returner for 3000m, but has yet to run the 3k in 2013. Peter Okwera of Tennessee could be a sleeper because of his outstanding strength for the distance events (30th at NCAA XC Nationals).

Predicted Place and Time
1.    Henry Lelei- Texas A&M- 8:10.01
2.    Kemoy Campbell- Arkansas- 8:08.21
3.    Stanley Kebenei- Arkansas-8:09.74
4.    Solomon Haile- Arkansas-8:10.39
5.    Matt Cleaver- Georgia-8:11.47

As per usual, Arkansas has the #1 ranked 5000m runner in the SEC going into conference. Stanley Kebenei has run 13:42.15 and is 20 seconds ahead of the #2 ranked runner Mark Parrish of Florida. Parrish has run 8:47 for 3000m steeple and 14:02 for 5000m (5th at XC South Regional). Peter Okwera of Tennessee, mentioned above, has run 14:07 and is a strong competitor in every race he runs (no worse than 7th in each race this indoor season, 6 races). Austin Whitelaw of Tennessee is ranked 4th in the SEC with a PR/SB of 14:18.11. Don’t be surprised to see Solomon Haile of Arkansas also run this race and push the pace with Kebenei for the majority of the race. Josh Izewski of Florida was 4th last year and has  PRs of 14:02.57 and 29:37.85.

Predicted Place and Time
1.    Stanley Kebenei –Arkansas- 14:05.67
2.    Solomon Haile- Arkansas- 14:08.28
3.    Peter Okwera- Tennessee- 14:08.89
4.    Mark Parrish- Florida- 14:11.54
5.    Josh Izewski-Florida- 14:15.06

Arkansas’ DMR is so unbelievably loaded that it is not even fair to the rest of the conference. Texas A&M could be good if Lelei anchors, they use one of their really good 400m runners (Bailey Jr., Lendore, Babineaux, etc.) and Hernandez runs out of his mind (1:50.54 800m PR). Arkansas has, like mentioned above, five 800m runners at 1:50 or faster, with Akheem Gauntlett or Merek Niit at the 400 and either Rono, Campbell or Kebenei at the mile, they should win this going away. Tennessee has a faster time than anyone else other than Arkansas, but Texas A&M should be able to beat them with Tennessee right behind with Florida and Georgia in the mix.

1.    Arkansas
2.    Texas A&M
3.    Tennessee
4.    Florida
5.    Georgia

More: *LRC Additional NCAA Conference Previews Here
*MB: LetsRun.com’s 2013 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Conference Championship Previews Are Now Live – Discuss them here

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