Nelson won the indoor 60 metres in a stunner, timed in 7.05 seconds and dipped under 11 seconds for 100 metres with a personal best of 10.98 seconds last week at the NCAA West Regional Preliminary meet. Also qualified are hurdlers Damion Thomas, a senior at Louisiana State University, and Ackera Nugent, who is in her first year at Baylor University. Like Nelson, Thomas and Nugent also won NCAA Indoor titles earlier this year.
Thomas, the 2018 World Under 20 Champion, has run 13.22 seconds in the 110 metre hurdles, while Nugent has qualified in both the flat 100 and the 100 metres hurdles with times of 11.09 and 12.76 seconds respectively.
Nelson, Thomas and Nugent will have to be at their best to win. American Twanisha Terry, runner-up to Jamaica’s Briana Williams in the 100 at the 2018 World Under 20 Championships, zipped 10.89 seconds in another race at the NCAA West Regional Preliminary meet and defeated Nelson earlier in May at the PAC-12 Conference meet. Similarly, Thomas lost to Robert Dunning of the USA at the South Eastern Conference Championships, with Dunning reaching a lifetime high of 13.24 seconds.
Nugent’s task is formidable too. American Tonea Marshall has excelled over the 100 metre hurdles with a top time of 12.44 seconds, a mark good enough for a medal at the 2019 World Championships. Even so, Nugent heads a promising contingent of Jamaican sprint hurdlers to Oregon, with NCAA Indoor runner-up Daszay Freeman, Trishauna Hemmings and Rosalee Cooper all under 13 seconds this year.
The top Jamaican hope in the throws is probably Shanice Love of Florida State. Love is ranked at number 3 in the discus and threw a season’s best of 61.22 metres last week.
400 metre hurdlers Andrenette Knight and Leonardo Ledgister, horizontal jumpers Jordan Scott and Carey McLeod and 400 metres runner Stacy-Ann Williams are also among the NCAA favourites. Now at the University of Virginia, Knight has lowered her personal best to 55.75 seconds. 2018 World Under 20 finalist Ledgister will represent Texas A&M Corpus Christi after a recent best of 48.79 seconds. Scott moved from Virginia to the University of Southern California and has carried the form that made him the 2019 NCAA Indoor triple jump champion with him. 2021 NCAA Indoor bronze medallist McLeod goes in both the long jump, where he is number 3 and the top man from the University of Tennessee in the triple jump. Williams, also a 2018 World Under 20 finalist, is number 2 in the 400 metres after her improvement to 50.34 seconds at the NCAA West Regionals for the University of Texas.