T&F: Bearcats Headed to Huntington for Thundering Herd Invite
Jan. 25, 2017

Bearcats Notes (w/Top Marks, Records & Stats) - pdf

The University of Cincinnati track and field teams (#25 women, #50 men) return to the road this weekend as the Bearcats are set to compete in the Thundering Herd Invitational this Friday and Saturday inside the Cline Indoor Athletic Center on the Marshall campus in Huntington, W.Va. The meet will feature athletes from 23 different schools with a majority of events being held Saturday.

Along with a full recap of each day’s action that will be posted on GoBearcats.com, the team’s social accounts also will provide periodic updates, including Twitter (@GoBearcatsTFXC), Instagram (GoBearcatsTFXC) and Facebook (Cincinnati Track & Field/Cross Country). Live results will be available at KVTFOA.org once the meet begins.

Marshall will play host to the Thundering Herd Invitational with representatives from the following schools slated to compete: Appalachian State, Austin Peay (W), Belmont, Bowling Green (W), Charlotte, Cincinnati, Duquesne (W), Eastern Kentucky, Florida International, Georgia State (W), Lehigh, Marshall, Morehead State, Murray State, Northern Kentucky, Ohio (W), St. Louis, Toledo (W), UNC Asheville, Western Carolina, Winthrop, Wofford and Xavier.

  1 - NCAA rank for Annette Echikunwoke in the women’s weight throw (22.53m / 73-11.00)
  2 - Number of Bearcats in the NCAA Top 2 (Echikunwoke & Adrian Valles, #2 in the men’s pole vault at 5.52m)
  3 - Number of school records recorded last weekend at the Gladstein Invitational
  4 - Number of women set to compete in the pentathlon this weekend, including two freshmen
  7 - Marks held by Bearcats that currently lead the American Athletic Conference
  9 - Marks held by Bearcats that currently rank among the Top 50 in the NCAA (TFRRS.org)
14 - Number of marks that were recorded at the Gladstein Invitational that rank in the program’s all-time Top 10
22 - Echikunwoke’s rank on the World All-Time Top 50 in the weight throw
23 - Number of personal bests recorded by Bearcats at the Gladstein Invitational last weekend
25 - The women’s national rank (USTFCCCA Computer rankings) this week, the highest in school history
50 - The men’s national rank (USTFCCCA Computer rankings) this week, the highest in school history

On the strength of several strong showings at the Gladstein Invitational, the latest release of the USTFCCCA National Computer Rankings that were announced Monday revealed a bit of history for the Bearcats as the UC women moved up to #25 in the nation while the men climbed to #50, a record ranking for both teams. For the women, the ranking is their 10th week in a row as a member of the Top 50 with the #25 position bettering their previous record-high of #28, which they received in Week 1 last year. The men recorded their record-high for the second week in a row after opening the preseason at #52, which bettered the #65 ranking record from Week 5 in 2012.

Adrian Valles was on fire at the Gladstein Invitational over the weekend as the junior made short work of the field in the pole vault before setting his sights on taking down records. After easily clearing 5.10m and 5.30m on successive attempts, Valles had the bar raised to 5.52m (18-01.25), which he cleared on his third attempt. With that clearance, he moved into the top spot on the NCAA list (another athlete cleared 5.53m the next day to push Valles to #2). From there, he asked for the bar to be raised to 5.66m, which was 1cm above his lifetime best of 5.66m. Although he didn’t clear the final height, he did have several solid attempts and looks ready to go higher this season.

Not only did Annette Echikunwoke win the weight throw at the Gladstein Invitational, she did it in quite impressive fashion. Just one week from fouling all three attempts at the Kentucky Invitational, Echikunwoke wasted no time getting back into the groove as she launched the 20-pound ball out to 22.53m (73-11.00) on her first attempt to break her own school record, take over the top spot in the nation and improve her PR by 2’ 6.25”. That toss, which also improved her PR total to 13’ 10” since the start of the 2016 indoor season, also pushed her to #4 on the current world list and #22 on the all-time world Top 30.

Following their impressive performances, the American Athletic Conference honored Adrian Valles and Annette Echikunwoke as this week’s men’s and women’s field athletes of the week, respectively. The weekly award for Valles is his second of the season and second in a row after earning the honor last week while Echikunwoke also grabbed her second accolade of the year after being tabbed the field athlete of the week on December 13 following a strong season-opening showing at the Hoosier Open (Dec. 9).

According to the world lists on Tilastopaja.org, Annette Echikunwoke is highly ranked in the weight throw following her huge PR of 22.53m at the Gladstein Invitational last weekend. With that toss and the other marks recorded around the world, the Cincinnati junior moved up to #4 on the season list and into the #22 position on the world all-time Top 30 list. She is currently one of just eight women this season to throw 22 meters or better and one of only two collegiate competitors to do so.

At the Gladstein Invitational, Echikunwoke broke the school record in the weight throw for the 10th time since the start of the 2016 indoor season and third time this season with her toss of 22.53m. With her three breaks this season, she improved her PR and school record by a total of 3’ 1.75”, going from 21.57m (70-09.25) in 2016 to 22.53m last week, almost a one-meter improvement.

The women’s weight throw at the Thundering Herd Invitational looks to be quite the marquee event Friday night as four women currently ranked in the Top 12 on the NCAA’s descending order list are scheduled to compete. That list includes Annette Echikunwoke and Georgia State’s LaPorscha Wells, both of whom threw 22.53m (73-11.00) last weekend in their respective competitions to tie for the national lead. Also slated for the throw down are Victoria Merriweather of Charlotte and Marthaline Cooper of Wintrop, who rank ninth (20.73m) and tied for 12th (20.22m), respectively. Of those four women, Echikunwoke is the only non-senior (this is her junior season).

Sergio Acera had a strong showing at the Gladstein Invitational as the junior swept the horizontal jumps with victories in the triple jump and the long jump in Indiana. On Friday night, Acera captured the triple jump with a best of 14.62m (47-11.75), which not only is a PR, but also stands as the sixth-best bounce in program history. The next day, he returned to the runway and won the long jump with a best of 7.24m (23-09.00). Although it was under his season and career-bests, he did enough to win the event.

Kellsa Mbah competed in a pair of events on the weekend and turned in all-time Top 10 marks in both for the Bearcats. First, she took to the track in the 60m dash, running 7.59 in both the preliminary and final rounds to finish third overall and record the fourth-best (tie) time in program history. Then, one day later, she won the long jump with a leap of 6.00m (19-08.25) to take the lead in the conference and move up to #3 on UC’s all-time list. The outdoor school record holder, Mbah is now just the third UC woman to post a jump in the 6 meter distance in program history.

Jimmy Brooks is quietly rounding into one of the top sprinters in the conference. Last week in Indiana, Brooks raced in the 60m dash and 600m run. In the short sprint, Brooks placed fourth in the preliminary round, running 6.93 in the first competitive 60m race of his running career, a time that ranked #10 in program history. He came back one hour later and finished second in the final with a time of 6.86, a time that tied him for fourth on the UC all-time Top 10. Then, on Saturday, Brooks ran the 600m event for just the second time in his career, this time winning the invitational section in 1:19.07 to take down a 25-year old school record in the process.

Following his solid performances at the Gladstein Invitational in the 60m dash, Brooks added his name to the conference list in the short sprint, coming in at #5 on the American Athletic chart for the 2017 season. As solid as that is, it is just the beginning as the senior is the only man in the conference that ranks in the Top 20 in the three short sprints as he is #5 in the 60m (6.86), tied for #7 in the 200m (21.77) and leads the league in the 400m (47.96).

Along with the marks recorded by Acera (TJ), Brooks (60m, 600m), Echikunwoke (WT), Mbah (60m, LJ) and Valles (PV), five other Bearcats turned in marks that also ranked among the program’s all-time Top 10. For the women, Bryana Robinson and Haisha Bisiolu moved up in the 200m dash as they ran the third (24.24) and sixth-fastest (24.47) times, respectively, while junior transfer Ashley Williams added her name to the shot put list at #7 with a toss of 14.70m (48-02.75) and rookie Irati Mitxelena added her name to the triple jump list at #3 with a bounce of 11.98m (39-03.75). On the men’s side, Macklin Tudor improved his #4 all-time mark in the weight throw with his toss of 17.98m (59-00.00).

Following last weekend’s action, the Bearcats hold seven marks that continue to lead the way in the American, including five from the women and two from the men. Of note, Annette Echikunwoke leads the way in the shot put and the weight throw for the women while Jimmy Brooks (M) and Bryana Robinson (W) lead a sweep of the 400m dash.

To date, 21 marks turned in by Bearcats currently rank in the Top 100 of the NCAA with the women holding six marks ranking in the Top 50 and the men holding three. The Bearcats have three marks that are ranked in the Top 12 right now, including Echikunwoke with the top mark in the women’s weight throw, Adrian Valles is ranked second in the men’s pole vault and Bryana Robinson sits 12th in the women’s 400m dash.

Several rookies have made immediate impacts on the program with their performances so far this year with two women earning spots in the school’s all-time Top 10 already. Irati Mitxelena has competed in the long jump three times this season and posted two marks (5.83m and 5.88m) which ranked her seventh all-time and now fifth, respectively. She recently added her name to the triple jump list as well, bouncing to 11.98m, which ranks third all-time. Staying in the field, Lily Bunse burst onto the scene in the pole vault in her debut at the Hoosier Open as she cleared 3.90m, the seventh-best mark in school history. Both women currently highly in the American Athletic Conference with Bunse sitting third and Mitxelena holding the fourth position in the long jump and fifth in the triple jump.

On January 9, Student-Athlete Support Services (S.A.S.S.) released numbers on the academic successes of the UC Athletics Department with the track & field/cross country program well represented. As a team, the men’s side combined to post a cumulative GPA of 3.604, the highest of any men’s team on campus. Sixty Bearcats (28 men, 32 women) achieved Bearcats Honor Roll status by recording a 3.0 or better GPA. Of that group, 38 (16M/22W) were selected for the Dean’s List by posting a 3.4 or better GPA while eight Bearcats (4M/4W) were recognized as TopCats, a distinction given to those that carry a 4.0 GPA in the semester. The eight TopCats include: Sergio Acera, James Toner, Adrian Valles and Ben Wollenslegel for the men and the group of Nicole Breeden, Juliana Madzia, Grace O’Donnell and Tessa Ward for the women.

The American Athletic Conference announced its weekly award winners on December 13 with Annette Echikunwoke being tabbed as the Female Field Athlete of the Week following an impressive season-opening performance at Indiana’s Hoosier Open on December 9. In that meet, Echikunwoke broke her own school record twice as she won the weight throw with a toss of 21.76m (71-04.75) and took second in the shot put with a career-best 15.63m (51-03.50) toss. The junior’s mark in the weight throw is currently ranked first in the NCAA and places her third on the world list... For their efforts, both Robinson and Valles earned weekly honors from the American Athletic Conference as they were named the women’s track and men’s field athletes of the week, respectively (Jan. 17). It is the first honors for each individual this season and brings UC’s season total to three awards after Annette Echikunwoke earned the women’s field honor in mid-December following the Hoosier Open.

At the end of the 2016 indoor season, four Bearcats claimed All-America honors with three of those individual set to return in 2017. The USTFCCCA All-America First Team honorees for the Bearcats last season were Adrian Valles in the men’s pole vault and women’s competitors Annette Echikunwoke (weight throw) and Erika Hurd (high jump). Loretta Blaut also garnered USTFCCCA All-America Second Team honors in the high jump as well. Of those four Bearcats, only Hurd will not return this year as she graduated from UC following the Spring 2016 semester.

A big meet awaits the Bearcats next weekend as the team will venture to College Station, Texas, and the site of the upcoming 2017 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, to compete in the Charlie Thomas Invitational that will be held Friday and Saturday, February 3-4, inside the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium at the McFerrin Athletic Center on the Texas A&M campus. The scored meet will featured competitors from Texas A&M, Baylor, Cincinnati, Clemson, Houston, Rice, South Plains, TCU and UCLA. According to this week’s national rankings, six squads entered are currently in the national Top 30, including women’s teams #9 Baylor, #25 UC and #26 Clemson, and men’s teams #14 Texas A&M, #23 Houston and #30 Baylor.