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A Fan's Guide To The 2009 Tyson Invitational
By LetsRun.com

*Meet Website Here
Feb 12, 2009 - In 2009, we're trying to create a fan's guide to most of the top meets in the US as in our minds information creates drama, which creates entertainment. This is our preview for the 2009 Tyson Invitational at the University of Arkansas' Randal Tyson Center on Friday.

Below you will find our in-depth breakdowns of the men's and women's distance events. But we wanted to talk briefly about the other events.

The meet also has some great sprint action, particular in the men's 60m which has Michael Rodgers, Terrence Trammell, Travis Padgett and Shawn Crawford among others. That race is largely a rematch of last week's Boston race which Rodgers won with Trammell thrown in the mix where Rodgers got the win. Rodgers beat Trammell at Millrose so expect him to get the win. In the men's 400, there is a great showdown between 2006 world youth champ Rennie Quow and arguably the most talented man in track and field (except for Usain Bolt), Xavier Carter, who will be making his 2009 debut. Is the Xman back after a terrible 2008? We'll see.

In the women's sprints, Bianca Knight has made it her goal to get the American record at 200 at this meet. The record is 22.18 by Michelle Collins. Last year, Knight set a world junior record on the same track to capture the NCAA meet in 22.40.

There also is a good women's 60, a good men's shot put featuring Adam Nelson and Reese Hoffa, and another Dragila-Stuczynski mismatch in the pole vault. Full entry lists can be found here: To read the IAAF preview of the meet preview, click here.

Men's Mile: How Will Ulrey Stack Up Against The Big Boys? Can Ulrey Get Collegiate Record? Will Webb Look Better In His 2nd Race?

Nick Willis (Reebok) 
Alan Webb(Nike)
Andy McClary(Arkansas)
Chris Lukezic(Reebok)
Dorian Ulrey(Arkansas)
Rob Myers(Reebok)
Christian Smith(OTC)
Adam Perkins(USA)
Max Smith(Puma)
John Richardson

This is a race that should have track and field fans in America pumped. You get a rematch of Alan Webb and Nick Willis - plus we get to see how the college phenom Dorian Ulrey stacks up against the big boys. Throw in a resurgent Chris Lukezic and a rare step up to the mile for 800 Olympian (and former NCAA indoor mile champ) Christian Smith, and you've got quite a compelling race.

Any time Nick Willis and Alan Webb are in the same race, it gets fans a little extra excited given their common past at Michigan. Last week, the two raced and it was no contest. The Olympic bronze medallist Willis ended up crushing the early leader Webb and got the win 3:53.54 to 3:57.64.

There are two ways to view Webb's race. It's certainly easy for one to think, "3:57 for a 3:46 miler, that's not very good." But a true aficionado of the sport might think, "3:57 in your first real race? That's pretty good."

The more positive outlook on the race was the one that both Willis and Webb had of Webb's race. Willis himself noted that he went from 3:59 at Millrose (admittedly on a very tight track) to 3:53 in the next race. Is it possible Webb could make such a jump?

Alan Webb certainly thought so as after the race he was very upbeat. He said, "Going into the 1,000,  I was like, 'Oh man it feels surprisingly decent.' But it caught up to me, I haven't done much at that pace. I was just not quite ready for that pace yet. It was one step in the right direction."

We'll find out on Friday night if Webb's optimism is warranted or not.

In addition to see how Webb runs, we're very eager to see how Ulrey looks against the big boys. Track and field is a weird sport as it's a sport built around potential. On a given weekend, a pro might run a 3:51 mile and blow away the field as Bernard Lagat did, and a high schooler might run 2:22 for the 1k, an inferior mark on an absolute scale for sure, and the message board chatter will focus on the high schooler.

Ulrey is the real deal. The NCAA runner-up at 1,500 as a true sophomore last year, he got the track world abuzz by pushing German Fernandez and running 3:57.60 a few weeks ago in Arkansas. While a lot of buzz was created by that run, we'll point out that Webb ran 3:57.64 last weekend and that run probably created more negative comments than positive.

Running against the big boys, Ulrey has some very easy goals to go after. The Arkansas school record is 3:55.40 by Niall O'Shaugnessy from way back in 1977. The collegiate record is Tony Waldrop's 3:55.0 from even farther back (1974), although in our minds Nate Brannen's 3:55.11 FAT should be the collegiate record, as Waldrop's equates to 3:55.24 with the standard hand-to-FAT conversion. Those are both very realistic goals in our mind. We're certain that Ulrey will be stoked as Arkansas' greatest mile hope since Seneca Lassiter will have the hometown support behind him.

Maybe we shouldn't have called Ulrey the best American mile hope since Lassiter, as the race also features fellow Arkansas Razorback Andy McClary, who ran 3:36.91 last year. McClary has a tendency to be inconsistent and it will be interesting to see how he performs. A 3:36.91 is equal to about a 3:54.3 mile - yet McClary somehow didn't make the NCAA meet last year.

The other guys in the field - Max Smith, John Richardson and Rob Myers - all failed to break 4:00 last weekend, so they'll need to improve a lot to contend.

Editor's Note: We realize we forgot to do two things when we initially put this up. One