All eyes will be on the Nigerian quartet of reigning African Games 100m champion, Raymond Ekevwo, Nigeria women’s triple jump record holder Ruth Usoro, African 200m indoor record holder Favour Ofili and Shot Putter Isaac Odugbesan when the 2021 National Collegiate of Athletics Association (NCAA) Division Indoor Championship begins Thursday inside the Randal Tyson Track Centre in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The quartet were among the athletes listed by the NCAA for the championships which will run till Sunday.
Ekevwo will be competing in the 60m event for Florida State University and the Nigerian is ranked third on the list of qualifiers with the 6.57 seconds he ran last month on the same Tyson Randal track centre in Fayetteville.
Micah Williams of University of Oregon tops the list with his 6.53 seconds pre-championship best.
In the men’s Shot Put, Odugbesan of Alabama State University is ranked seventh with his pre-championship 20.50m personal best he threw late last month in Fayetteville.
Washington state university’s Turner Washington is the pre-championship leader with his massive 21.85m he threw last month at Lubbock, Texas.
Erhire Omamuyomi will be competing in the High Jump following the 2.18m personal best he also set late last month. The Nigerian will however need to clear well beyond 2.20m as he has five athletes led by JuVaugh Harrison of Louisiana State University (2.28m) who have cleared 2.20m and above.
In the women’s events,rave of the moment in the NCAA,Ruth Usoro is clearly the girl to beat.
The Texas Tech University student tops the list of qualified athletes for the long and triple jumps.
Usoro’s 6.82m leap late last month makes her the huge favourite for the event. The Nigerian is the only athlete on the list of jumpers for the championship who has hit the 6.80m mark and above with her school mate,Monae’ Nichols who is ranked second with her 6.75m performance.
If Usoro wins,she will become the first Nigerian in 10 years to win the long jump title after Blessing Okagbare jumped 6.87m to win at the same arena in 2010.
Usoro will however make a stand alone history if she wins the triple jump title where she is undoubtedly the favourite.
Her 14.36m effort late last month in Lubbock,Texas is the pre-championship best and indeed the only 14m mark so far achieved this indoor season in the collegiate circuit.
Sprinter Ofili will also be in action in the 200m. Semi-finalist in the full lap race at the World Athletics Championship in Doha,Qatar in 2019,Ofili made history last month in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she ran 22.75 seconds in the half lap event to become the first Nigerian to run inside 23 seconds indoors and the fastest African ever over the distance.
Ofili is however not the fastest in the collegiate circuit so far this season. In fact the Nigerian is number four on the list of qualifiers led by Abby Steiner of University of Kentucky who ran 22.41 in one of the conference heats in Fayetteville,the same day Ofili ran 22.75 seconds.