March 9, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. — Ten athletes from the Oklahoma Track and Field program head to College Station, Texas this weekend for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The group of 10 accounts for 11 entries as eight of the 10 enter the weekend having previously earned indoor All-American honors. The two-day meet kicks off Friday morning on the campus of Texas A&M University.
Big 12 Performer of the Year and USTFCCCA Midwest Region Athlete of the Year Mookie Salaam leads the Oklahoma contingent as the Edmond, Okla., native automatically qualified in both the 60- and 200-meter dash. A 2010 indoor All-American in the 200-meter dash, Salaam won Big 12 titles in both events and is one of only five athletes to be in the field for both events.
The junior did not compete in the 60-meter dash at the event last year, but enters this weekend with the nation’s fastest time and has defeated nine of his 17 opponents in the event’s field. Salaam finished seventh in the 200 in 2010 and enters this year’s competition with the seventh-best time of the season. Having run the event just twice this year, Salaam has defeated two of 16 athletes in the field. Salaam is undefeated in both events on the year and has five individual titles on the season.
Oklahoma’s throws program will send three athletes to the meet, all three 2010 All-Americans and all having already automatically qualified. K.P. Singh competes in the men’s weight throw while Karen Shump and Tia Brooks take on the women’s shot put. Singh is the only Big 12 athlete in the field of his event while Shump and Brooks comprise the only duo from the same school in the shot put’s top 10.
Shump has won four individual titles this season having only lost twice when Brooks won titles at the Akron Classic and the Big 12 Championships. Shump and Brooks rank first and second, respectively, in the Oklahoma record books while sitting second and fifth in the national rankings. Shump finished fourth at the event in 2010 while Brooks took fifth. Shump has beaten seven of her opponents in head-to-head competition this season while Brooks has taken down six.
The seventh-place finisher in the weight throw in 2010, Singh enters the meet ranked fifth nationally and owns three season titles including the Big 12 Championship in the event. The Oklahoma record holder in the event, Singh has faced just two athletes in this weekend’s field, defeating Central Michigan’s Kevin Mays and losing to South Carolina’s Mike Zajac.
Both the 60- and 200-meter dash on the women’s side will have OU athletes in the field as the Big 12 champion in the 60-meter dash, Scottesha Miller, runs in the shortest sprint while Oklahoma record holder Candyce McGrone will compete in the 60- and 200-meter dash. A six-time All-American, Miller will look to add another this year as she enters the meet with the No. 10 ranking in the 60. Finishing in eighth in 2010, Miller has beaten six of the 16 athletes entered this year including four currently ranked higher than the senior.
In her first season at Oklahoma, McGrone will look to earn her first All-America honor at OU after earning three at Florida State. The Indianapolis native is ranked fifth nationally in the 200 and has defeated eight of the 17 opponents in the field. McGrone is also ranked No. 19 in the 60-meter dash.
The Oklahoma women’s group is rounded out by two horizontal jumpers as Ti’Anca Mock and Jasmine Simmons both qualified for the long and triple jumps, respectively. Simmons enters the meet ranked 13th nationally in the triple jump and will attempt to improve her ninth-place finish from 2010. Simmons has defeated two athletes in the field including No. 9 Jessica Ubanyionwu from Baylor. Mock will return to the NCAA Indoor Championships for the first time since 2009 and enters the weekend ranked No. 14 nationally and has defeated three opponents in this year’s field.
The men’s 5,000-meter run will have two OU athletes in the 16-man field as George Alex automatically qualified and Kevin Schwab will run as the 12th seed. The two join duos from Indiana and Wisconsin as the only two programs with two runners in the top 12 of the event. The Big 12 champion in the 5K, Schwab was joined by on the award stand by Alex, who finished fifth in the event.
The meet will be streamed live on ESPN3.com and will be aired on a tape-delay basis on ESPN2 on Wednesday, March 16, from 1:30 - 3 p.m. CST.