2013 Big 10 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

The theme throughout the entire of the Big 10 preview will be: who runs what and how fast? This is most certainly the case in the 800m because Penn State has so many good 800m runners, and Minnesota and Wisconsin need to pick their battles. Cas Loxsom of Penn State is the nation’s leader with a SB of 1:46.98 (only athlete under 1:47). Harun Abda of Minnesota is not far behind him with his #6 mark nationally and #2 in the Big 10 having run 1:48.14. Freshman Brannon Kidder of Penn State has been a revelation for the Nittany Lions this season (not to say he wasn’t good in HS, but has improved remarkably in college) and has run 1:48.17 to put him 3rd in the conference and #7 in the country. Austin Mudd of Wisconsin is a very legitimate contender for the title with his ability to run a very good mile and 800m. His SB is 1:48.24 and has PRs of 1:47.59, 3:40.87, and 3:59.33. A big question will be what Penn State does to help Ricky West solidify a top 16 spot. We could see Cas rabbit West through 600 to help him run sub 1:48 which will should put him in a comfortable position and could help Za’Von Watkins, his teammate, also run low 1:48 and get him in the NCAA meet as well. Tommy Brinn of Nebraska has been good this season (1:49.11) and Travis Burkstrand of Minnesota is a proven 800m runner (sub 1:50 12 times).

Predicted Place and Time
1.    Ricky West- Penn State- 1:47.98 (Loxsom paces)
2.    Harun Abda- Minnesota-1:48.12
3.    Austin Mudd-Wisconsin-1:48.22
4.    Za’Von Watkins- Penn State-1:48.35
5.    Travis Burkstrand-Minnesota-1:48.49

LRC Comment #1: In our SEC Preview, we talked about how impressive Arkansas is with 4 guys sub-1:50 so far this year. Well, how about Penn State? You can see why they won Penn Relays last year as they have 5 at 1:49.13 or better and the 5th-ranked one is the one who brought home the bacon at Penn Relays last year – Robby Creese.

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We want them racing Arkansas at Penn.

Penn State’s 2013 800 Times (and rank in conference)
1     Loxsom, Casimir     SR-4     Penn State     1:46.98
3     Kidder, Brannon     FR-1     Penn State     1:48.17
5     West, Ricky     SR-4     Penn State     1:48.92
6     Watkins, Za’Von     FR-1     Penn State     1:49.03
8     Creese, Robby     SO-2     Penn State     1:49.13

LRC Comment #2: Loxsom isn’t pacing a conference meet but it’s a novel idea. Mr. Wood is guy from out West – Utah – so he may not realize the Big 10 also has a 600. It’s a shame Loxsom didn’t run the 600 last week at Millrose instead of anchoring a 4 x 800 with no competition as he very well could have the American record. But then again, we wouldn’t have this picture if that had happened, would we?

Picture of Eric Sowinski

Eric Sowinski sets the American record in the 600m.
*More 2013 Millrose Photos

LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson has made himself the unofficial leader of the Loxsom bandwagon and he says Loxsom runs the 600 this week and gets the AR.

Loxsom has some unfinished business at Big 10 indoors. Outdoors, he’s been fantastic, as he’ll be going for a 4th straight Big 10 outdoor crown this May. Has that ever happened before? Email us if you know. Indoors, he’s been sixth, 2nd and sixth. What better way to break that streak of futility than with an AR?

Robby Creese of Penn State and Austin Mudd of Wisconsin are both coming off of fantastic freshman seasons and are the conference’s leading milers with SBs of 3:57.11 and 3:59.33, respectively. Chris Fallon of Ohio State has come onto the scene for the Buckeyes with a sub-4 performance at the Tyson Invite (3:59.37). Freshman phenom Brannon Kidder of Penn State has also gone sub-4 (3:59.48) and Nick Hutton of Minnesota (4th in 800 2012 Big 10 Indoors) ran very well at the Husky Classic (4:00.15). Alex Hatz of Wisconsin is another sub-4 miler who ran 4:00.65 at the Husky Classic.

However, Andy Bayer of Indiana (2012 champ) is the overwhelming favorite despite all of the incredibly talented athletes listed above. He is the returning NCAA champ for 1500m outdoors and finished fourth at the Olympic Trials (3:37.24). He might have some of the best range in the entire NCAA (1:49.17, 3:57.75, 7:48.35, 13:33.25). He had a slow start to the season (4:05 on January 25th) but has run 4:00.20 and 7:51 since then.

Predicted Place and Time
1. Andy Bayer-Indiana-4:03.24
2. Robby Creese- Penn State-4:03.68
3. Austin Mudd-Wisconsin- 4:04.56
4. Alex Hatz- Wisconsin-4:04.99
5. Nick Hutton-Minnesota-4:5.32

LRC Comment: Bayer deserves to be listed #1 based on his past accomplishments but Creese might just get the job done here. He’s got talent – 3:57 – but more importantly cojones as he was able to anchor the PSU 4 x 800 at Penn as a frosh last year.

Andy Bayer won both the mile and 3000m at last season’s Big 10 Indoor Championships and is the likely favorite to win the 3000m again this year. If you want to see his PRs look above. Reed Connor of Wisconsin is the next returner (4th in 2012), but has not run anything of note this season for 3k. Zach Mayhew actually has the #1 time in the conference headed into conference weekend when he outkicked (hard to do) Andy Bayer, at the Hoosier Hills meet running 7:51.61. Sam Masters of Penn State is ranked #3 with a 7:54.52 SB. John Simons of Minnesota has improved quite a bit this indoor season and has run 7:58.54 (Husky Classic). Dan Lowry of Michigan (Brown transfer) is a very good distance runner and will be in the mix along with Rob Finnerty of Wisconsin.

Predicted Place and Time
1. Andy Bayer- Indiana- 8:00.12
2. Zach Mayhew- Indiana- 8:00.43
3. Reed Connor- Wisconsin- 8:01.09
4. Dan Lowry- Michigan-8:01.72
5. John Simons- Minnesota-8:02.44

LRC Comment: 4 sub-8 guys already this year for the Big 10. Sam Masters is a grad student who ran 3:46 and 8:06 for Tulsa but has run 7:54 this year. A 7:54 has to be top 5 right?

The 5000m in the Big 10 is very good with six runners under 14:00 this indoor season alone. Shockingly enough (sarcasm), Andy Bayer is the top returner for 5000m (tripled in 2012 was 3rd), but I would be surprised if he does the same this year. Coming off of an injury from XC, you would hope his coaches would keep him fresh and ready to roll for nationals and keep him away from any stress type injuries that can come from doing too much too soon. The Wisconsin boys of Maverick Darling, Mo Ahmed, and Elliot Krause have all run sub 14, with SB’s of 13:38.71, 13:40.43, and 13:53.60, respectively. Michigan teammates Dan Lowry and Bobby Aprill had amazing races at the Husky Classic a few weeks ago (who didn’t?) and ran 13:42.48 and 13:44.34, respectively. Add in Zach Mayhew of Indiana and his teammate Bayer and you have one incredible 5000m.

Predicted Place and Time
1.    Maverick Darling- Wisconsin- 13:50.23
2.    Zach Mayhew- Indiana-13:51.87
3.    Mo Ahmed- Wisconsin- 13:51.98
4.    Dan Lowry- Michigan- 13:52.33
5.    Elliot Krause- Wisconsin- 13:53.48

Penn State should have an unreal DMR with the amount of outstanding mid-distance runners they have. I’m not going to go into detail, but just to throw some names out there: Cas Loxsom, Ricky West, Brannon Kidder, Robby Creese, Za’Von Watkins, Sam Masters, and a slew of 47-48 second 400m runners. As of right now Indiana is the only team with a legitimate DMR time that perhaps will get them into Nationals (9:33.42). As long as Andy Bayer is the anchor leg of that DMR they will always have a chance (2011 ran a 3:56 split to bring them from way back to second place). Wisconsin may also have a good DMR if Mudd and Hatz run and Garret Payne can provide them a solid :47.   Minnesota will be good with Abda, Burkstrand, Hutton and Simons.

1.    Penn State
2.    Indiana
3.    Wisconsin
4.    Minnesota
5.    Michigan

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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