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Posted: February 6, 2007

Athletics: U.S. standouts ready to roll at Tyson Invitational

Many of America's most talented and accomplished track and field stars will compete Friday night at the 2007 Tyson Invitational at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

The third stop of the 2007 USA Track & Field Visa Championship Series, the Tyson Invitational will be televised on February 11 from 1-3 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN2.

The Tyson Invitational features a $50,000 pool to be shared by athletes who break a world record, and the women's 300 meters is a big target, led by world 200m champion Allyson Felix. Fayetteville's track is considered one of the fastest in the world and is where Kerron Clement set the existing men's 400m world record of 44.57 seconds at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships.

USA Track & Field's Visa Championship Series provides more than $1 million in prize money and athlete-support dollars and gives U.S. athletes the chance to win bonus money during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Indoors, top American athletes compete at four elite track meets during the 2007 season - the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, 100th Millrose Games, Tyson Invitational and AT&T USA Indoor Track & Field Championships - for prize money and the chance to share the indoor season jackpot.

Crawford favored in men's 60 meters

2004 Olympic Games 200m gold medalist Shawn Crawford has owned the men's short sprint thus far on the Visa Championship Series with wins already at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games (6.55 seconds) and last week at the Millrose Games in New York (6.56). Crawford will be challenged by up and comer DaBryan Blanton, who finished second to Crawford at Boston, and Mark Jelks, who finished third behind Crawford and Blanton at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games.

Merritt looks for two in a row

Following his impressive win last week at the Millrose Games in New York, Aries Merritt will attempt to capture his second consecutive Visa Championship Series hurdles win on Friday. A young talent on the rise, Merritt won the 2006 NCAA 110m hurdles title and ended the campaign ranked #6 in the world in the 110m hurdles. He'll be challenged by Joel Brown, who was fourth at the 2006 AT&T USA Indoor Championships and ended the season ranked #10 in the U.S. Also keep an eye on former Howard University star David Oliver, who ended the 2006 season ranked #7 in the world in the high hurdles.

Brilliant men's 400m field to race at Tyson

In what could be the most highly anticipated event of the evening, a quartet of supremely talented Americans will battle it out in the men's 400 meters. Headlining the field is reigning 400m hurdles world champion and 2007 Millrose Games 600 yard winner Bershawn Jackson, who ended the 2006 season ranked #2 in the world in the intermediate hurdles by Track & Field News. Other contenders include LaShawn Merritt, who first became a star at the 2005 Tyson Invitational, when as an 18-year-old he won the 400m in 44.93 seconds. The 2006 World Cup 400m champion, Merritt, who also is slated to compete in the 4x400m relay at Tyson (see below) ended the 2006 season ranked #3 in the world at 400 meters by T&FN. After breaking the 19.90-seconds barrier five times last season in the 200 meters, 2006 World Indoor Championships 4x400m relay gold medalist Wallace Spearmon, Jr., is also in the mix, along with reigning USA Indoor 400m champion Milton Campbell.

Symmonds leads wide open men's mile field

Newly anointed U.S. men's 800-meter star Nick Symmonds will lead a young and talented field in the men's mile. Symmonds, who surprised many with his runner-up 800m finish at the 2006 AT&T USA Outdoor Championships, confirmed his new-found status among the nation's best with his impressive win at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games in the fastest time by an American this indoor season of 1 minute, 48.15 seconds. Symmonds finished ahead of accomplished veterans Sam Burley and 2001 World Indoor champion David Krummenacker. Rob Meyers, who placed seventh in Boston, also is in the race, along with local favorite and Arkansas Razorback, Adam Perkins, who is a five-time All-American and 2006 NCAA Indoor distance medley relay national champion.

Webb headlines men's 3,000 meters

Originally slated to compete in the men's mile, middle distance superstar and 2004 Olympian Alan Webb has decided to run in the 3,000 meters Friday night. He'll face former Razorbacks Alistair Cragg and Josphat Boit, and top Americans Chris Lukezic and Matt Tegenkamp. Cragg was a 13-time all-American for the Razorbacks in his career and seven-time NCAA Champion, while Boit took two NCAA titles and earned eight all-America honors. Lukezic won his first USA championship last winter and was ranked #2 in the U.S. at 1,500m by T&FN at the end of last season.A specialist at 5,000 meters, Tegenkamp owns the fourth fastest time in U.S. history at that event.

Relay world record in jeopardy?

A talented quartet of U.S. men's quarter milers will attempt to break the existing world record in the indoor 4x400m relay on Friday night. Team members include superstar in the making Xavier Carter, who won four NCAA Outdoor titles in 2006, and later posted the second fastest 200-meter time in the history of the event last spring in Lausanne, Switzerland, with his shocking time of 19.63 seconds. Other members of the Team USA relay squad expected to participate include 2004 Olympic 4x400m gold medalist and 2005 World Outdoor 400m silver medalist Andrew Rock, Fayetteville native and 2005 World Outdoor 200m silver medalist Wallace Spearmon, Jr., and 2005 World Outdoor 4x400m gold medalist LaShawn Merritt. The current world indoor 4x400m record was set by the Team USA quartet of Andre Morris, Dameon Johnson, Deon Minor and Milton Campbell on March 7, 1999 at the World Indoor Championships in Maebashi, Japan.

Anybody's race in women's 60 meters

Coming off impressive performances at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games where they finished in the top two positions, Marshevet Hooker and Miki Barber are the favorites in the women's 60 meters. Hooker won in Boston in the second fastest time by an American this season of 7.24 seconds, with Barber, who was fourth at last year's AT&T USA Indoor Championships, the runner-up in 7.28. Also keep an eye on reigning U.S. 200m outdoor champion and World Outdoor silver medalist Rachelle Smith.

Hayes, Felicien to battle it out in women's hurdles

2004 Olympic 100m hurdles gold medalist Joanna Hayes will take on 2004 World Indoor champion Perdita Felicien of Canada in what should be a competitive women's 60m hurdles race. Hayes looked impressive in her runner-up finish last week at the Millrose Games, finishing ahead of Felicien, who placed fourth. Felicien hopes for a similar result to what happened at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games on January 27 when she won in 7.97 seconds. Also watch out for Jenny Adams, who ended the 2006 season ranked #9 in the world in the 100m hurdles by T&FN.

Felix, Danner, Trotter to chase women's 300m world record

World outdoor 200-meter champion Allyson Felix will headline a star-studded field that will attempt to break the 14 year-old women's world 300m indoor record of 35.45 seconds set by Russia's Irina Privalova. Felix, who enters the 2007 season ranked #1 in the world at 200 meters, enters Friday's race with career bests of 22.11 in the 200 and 51.12 for 400 meters. She'll be joined in the world record chase by 2007 Millrose Games 400m winner and 2006 AT&T USA Indoor Championships runner-up Mary Danner and 2006 USA Outdoor 400m runner-up Dee Dee Trotter, who ended last season ranked #6 in the world.

Gallo, Wurth-Thomas, Deatherage favored in women's mile

Three of America's finest middle distance runners will do battle in the women's mile in what should be an exciting race. Lindsey Gallo enjoyed a strong season in 2006, finishing as the 1,500m runner-up at the AT&T USA Outdoor Championships and ending the season ranked #2 nationally by T&FN. Also keep an eye on Arkansas grad Christin Wurth-Thomas, who finished third in this event last month at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games and won the 800 at Millrose, and Jennelle Deatherage, who was eighth in Boston and finished last year ranked #10 in the U.S. Longtime U.S. middle distance stalwart at Sarah Schwald, who won an NCAA indoor 3,000m title while at the University of Arkansas, will be in the mix, along with University of Arkansas junior Dacia Barr.

Stuczynski favored in women's pole vault

The only field event of the evening features America's best women's pole vaulter Jenn Stuczynski, who will be challenged by a talented group of veteran performers. Stuczynski ended the 2006 season ranked #1 in the U.S. by T&FN, and posted the third best performance in the world this year with her personal best clearance of 4.70 meters/15 feet 5 inches in winning the USATF Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada. Stuczynski, who won in Boston (4.63m/15-2.25) and was the runner-up at Millrose (4.53m/14-10.25) will be challenged by the third U.S. woman ever to break the 15-foot barrier, Mary Sauer, who was the runner-up at Boston. Other challengers include two-time NCAA Outdoor champion Tracy O'Hara and reigning NCAA Indoor champion Chelsea Johnson, who ended the season ranked #3 in the U.S. by T&FN. Also in the field is local product April Steiner, who cleared 4.60m/15-1 to finish second to Stuczynski at the Pole Vault Summit.

For more information on the Tyson Invitational and the Visa Championship Series, please visit www.usatf.org.


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