Goule, McLeod chase NCAA titles
Natoya Goule and Omar McLeod will be in pursuit of gold at this week's National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, which begins today.
The former Manchester High School teammates are the fastest qualifiers in their respective events, the men's 110-metre hurdles and the women's 800 metres. In addition, both are undefeated outdoors and took the corresponding indoor titles in March.
Goule is going for her fourth NCAA title, having won indoors and outdoors during her time at Louisiana State University. She missed a year of competition and moved to Clemson University, for whom she won the NCAA title earlier this year.
However, even though she is the fastest entrant and the fastest Jamaican in 2015 at two minutes 01.32 seconds, she has to be careful. The field has eight other girls with times under 2.02 this season.
Another outdoor win for the pencil-slim Goule would match the double success by Inez Turner for South West Texas State in 1995 and 1996
McLeod, who attends the University of Arkansas, stands head and shoulders above his NCAA rivals. Indoors, he broke Maurice Wignall's national 60-metre hurdles record with a sparkling run of 7.45 seconds. Outdoors, the hurdler who set a still-standing Boys' Championships 110m hurdles record for Kingston College in 2013, has raced to times of 13.28 and 13.21 seconds. The latter performance is McLeod's personal best and is the fastest time by a Jamaican this year.
The second fastest NCAA entrant is 0.25 seconds slower.
The last Jamaican to win this event was Andrew Riley in 2012 for the University of Illinois.
Former Bellefield High distance king Kemoy Campbell is the fastest entrant in the men's 5000 metres, but placed second indoors. Still, the Arkansas senior has set a national record of 13 minutes 20.39 seconds. His indoor conqueror, Eric Jenkins, and last year's runner-up Edward Cheserek, both of the host school Oregon, will be in Eugene, too.
Sadly, defending women's 100m champion, Remona Burchell of the University of Alabama, has been carrying an injury for several weeks. Before the injury, the former Herbert Morrison High School sprinter had won the indoor 60-metre title and when outdoor racing began, she clocked 11.04 for the 100 metres.
n Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.