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Author: Jesse Squire

I was second in the 1980 Olympic* long jump. (*Cub Scout Olympics, Pack 99, 9-10 age group.)

June 9, 2017

Florida Gators Win NCAA Title, Coleman Completes Historic Sweep

The Florida Gators captured their second consecutive NCAA men’s team title. Christian Coleman completed his indoor & outdoor sprint title sweep.

June 9, 2017

Friday NCAA Viewer’s Guide: Men’s Championship Finals

Today is the final day of men’s competition at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Below is everything you need to know about who, what, when, why, and how to watch the meet.

Key links
Live results
ESPN3 coverage
Live twitter coverage via yours truly

The Schedule
Here is today’s meet schedule in visual form (click for larger version). The women’s heptathlon begins today and is shown in pink; all the rest of the events are men’s competition.

Video coverage is via ESPN3 from 3:30pm until 8:30pm (EDT), and the evening finals will be shown live on ESPN.

Who is going to win the team competition?
The experts at Track & Field News rate this as a toss-up between Texas A&M and Florida. The Aggies and Gators have been in this position before; the title was decided by a mere half-point at this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships and the two tied for the championship in 2013. Since the NCAA awards trophies to the top four teams, I have identified nine teams most likely to contend for those trophies (Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, BYU, Florida Georgia, LSU, Oregon, and Texas A&M) and have highlighted their entries in my individual event previews.

Below is a handy guide to tell you who has scored how many points and what events they’re in today.

Texas A&M has a lead over Florida but it will almost certainly dwindle as the evening wears on, and things will really come to a head as the field events finish up.

EVENT PREVIEWS

Women’s heptathlon
Begins at 12:30pm local time (3:30pm EDT) and runs all day
Start lists & live results
In seven previous NCAA heptathlon/pentathlon championships, Georgia’s Kendell Williams has six wins and a second. She is the strongest favorite to win in the entire women’s championship. After that it’s up in the air since just four of last year’s top twelve return: Williams, Payton Stumbaugh (Arkansas), Leigha Brown (Arkansas), and Jackie Siefring (Akron). Arkansas could have three or even four women score points; the Hogs’ Stumbaugh and Taliyah Brooks have the year’s second-and third-best marks. I think Siefring could be a surprise. I will have more detailed analysis tomorrow.

High Jump
5:00pm local time (8:00pm EDT)
Start list & live results
The vertical jumps are always unpredictable and the recent crop of collegiate high jumpers is especially so. Two-time NCAA indoor champion Trey Culver (Texas Tech) has never finished better than fifth at the outdoor championship. Kyle Landon (Southern Illinois) finished second at both this year’s NCAA indoor and last year’s Olympic Trials. Florida has a pair of qualifiers in Clayton Brown and Jhonny Victor and the Gators are equally capable of coming up with big points or nothing at all.

Discus
5:05pm local time (8:05pm EDT)
Start list & live results
Ole Miss’ Brian Williams is undefeated against collegians in 2017 and has the year’s longest throw. Defending champion Nick Percy (Nebraska) is also undefeated in the discus this year. Brothers Phil and Reggie Jagers compete for archrivals Akron and Kent State and could fight for the win as well. Oregon might be able to pick up a few more points from Ryan Hunter-Simms.

Triple Jump
5:40pm local time (8:40pm EDT)
Start list & live results
This event is going to be crucial for Florida. KeAndre Bates is favored to finish off a long jump/triple jump sweep and get ten more points for his Gators. Teammate Clayton Brown will be doing double duty in the high jump and that may affect his ability to perform in either or both events. Eric Sloan (USC), Clive Pullen (Arkansas), and Felix Obi (Baylor) are the other major contenders.

4×100 Relay

As we saw in yesterday’s women’s semifinals, this event tends towards chaos. Houston probably has the most speed but has had exchange problems all year. Unheralded North Carolina A&T could actually win this – they have possibly the best anchor in Christopher Belcher. Texas A&M is looking to score as many points as possible.

1500 meters

New Mexico’s Kerr is a strong favorite. He was NCAA indoor champion where he became one of the few collegians to ever beat Edward Cheserek, and looked very good in Wednesday’s semis. Ole Miss’ Engels is rated has having the best chance to beat him. Oregon’s Haney has proved himself as a very good racer as well.

Steeplechase

Louisville’s Kibichy is the favorite: he is the top returner from last year’s championships (third), has the year’s fastest time, and won his conference championship and his semifinal. Oklahoma’s Blankenbaker hit a barrier and fell hard in his semi and still managed to qualify; if he can stay on his feet he might be a factor.

110m Hurdles

Holloway is the favorite based on winning the NCAA indoor title in March, but this is a true toss-up race. Kendziera or Walters could win it, as could Mallet. Florida needs big points out of Holloway.

100 meters

Coleman shocked the stadium with a 9.82 run in Wednesday’s semifinals – a huge collegiate record, the world’s leading time, and good for #4 on the all-time US list. The weather may or may not permit such fireworks today. In Coleman’s wake two other ran great semis: Burrell and Belcher each won their semis in 9.93. Every finalist now has a PR of 10.00 or better.

400 meters

As with the 100, the weather may inhibit record-setting. Texas A&M’s Fred Kerley set the collegiate record with 43.70 two weeks ago and looks like he could do more. In any case, the Aggies must get ten points in this race. Chambers has a history of coming out of nowhere to score big at the NCAA final. Every qualifier has a PR of 45.02 or better.

800 meters

This race looks like Korir’s to win. He’s run tremendously fast times in both the 800 and 400. The 800 is an inherently unpredictable event, though. Both Texas A&M and Florida will score here, the question is simply how much.

400m Hurdles

This is the event that won the championship for Florida last year, when they swept the top two spots for 18 points. Defending champion Futch ran a PR in the semis but still got beaten by Mowatt, so things appear a bit more complicated this year. Texas A&M needs some good scoring from Grant. Both Kendziera and Palmer will be finishing off a rare 110H-400H double.

200 meters

Coleman is expected to finish off a tremendous sprint double, but both Richards and Belcher are plenty fast themselves and are more than capable of sub-20.00 clockings.

5000 meters

“TFN” refers to position on the Track & Field News formchart
In the absence of umpteen-time NCAA Champion Edward Cheserek, the mantle of favorite goes to Syracuse’s Justyn Knight. He’s been close to winning a national title many times and might be finally able to do it. Tulsa’s Marc Scott showed off his kicking ability in winning Wednesday’s 10k, but how much gas does he have left? Colorado has a trio of potential scorers who might decide to work together.

4×400 Relay

Texas A&M has speed to burn and has the best anchor in the history of college track, the record-holding Fred Kerley. Barring disaster they will get ten points here. Florida is capable of being second and could win the team championship by doing so, but beating Auburn and/or Alabama is not going to be easy.

June 8, 2017

Thursday NCAA Viewer’s Guide: Running Events

The NCAA Championships continue today, starting with the conclusion of the decathlon at 1:30pm Eastern time (10:30am Pacific). Women’s competition opens today with five field event finals plus running event semis. I’m splitting my preview for today into two parts; field events were published earlier today. Below is everything you need to know about today’s running event action.

Key Links:
Live results
ESPN3 coverage
Live twitter coverage via yours truly

The Schedule
To the left (or above on mobile platforms) is today’s schedule presented in visual form.

Pink and blue indicates men’s and women’s competition (all women except the decathlon). Starting times for field events are exact but how long each will take is a guess.

ESPN3 will cover the decathlon and field events up through 7:30pm (Eastern), when the television broadcast will begin on ESPNU. It will switch over to ESPN2 at 8:30pm.

Who is going to win the team championship?
Today is the first day of the women’s competition. Oregon is figured as a lock to win, despite losing sprinter Hannah Cunliffe to injury and their 4×100 relay suffering the dreaded out-of-zone disqualification two weeks ago. The Ducks are so loaded and across so many events that it appears more or less a foregone conclusion. If somehow they were to suffer a Golden-State-Warriors-2016-NBA-finals level of implosion, then there are a handful of team that could win it: USC, Arkansas, Georgia, or LSU.

All of the top four teams in the final standings walk away with trophies. I have identified eight teams I think are fighting for those four trophies (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Oregon, Texas A&M, and USC) and have highlighted them in each event preview.

Tonight’s only running event final is the…

10,000 meters
Begins at 7:08pm local time (10:08pm EDT)
Start list and live results
Note: “TFN” refers to the Track & Field News formcharts

The conventional wisdom has this as a battle between Wright (New Mexico) and Rohrer (Notre Dame), but there are no strong favorites here. It could be a fascinating race since any of a number of runners could take the bull by the horns and try to pull off an upset. One accomplished runner who seems to be getting ignored is Tennessee’s Chelsea Blaase, who has run only three races this year. Another who could surprise is Eastern Michigan’s Jordan McDermitt.

Semifinal previews…

4×100 Relay semis
4:32pm local time (7:32pm EDT)
Format: top two in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

As no doubt you will hear all afternoon, Oregon’s record-setting relay did not qualify due to passing out of the zone at the regionals two weeks ago. That’s how things often go in this event, where the margin for error is small. LSU tied the record that Oregon set and is a heavy favorite. The likely qualifiers are all SEC plus San Diego State and maybe one or two ACC teams.

1500 meter semis
4:46pm local time (7:46pm EDT)
Format: top five in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

Four different women in these semis have won NCAA championships at one time or another, although it’s been a while since Price (Mississippi State) has performed at that level. Sisters Danielle and Christina Aragon are in the same semifinal heat and both are capable of getting to the final.

Steeplechase semis
5:02pm local time (8:02pm EDT)
Format: top five in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

Very few of these women have NCAA Championships experience in the steeplechase, and the most interesting of them all has very little experience in the steeplechase at all. That’s Boise State’s Allie Ostrander, the 2015 NCAA cross country runner-up. Today will be just the third time she’s ever run the event. It looks like it may take 10:00 to get to the final, and another newcomer who might upset the apple cart is Colorado freshman Madison Boreman.

100m Hurdles semis
5:32pm local time (8:32pm EDT)
Format: top two in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

Oregon has yet more firepower in this event with two women expected to qualify to the final. USC is in the same situation except their pair is a bit more tenuous. Of all the top hurdlers, I think Devynn Charlton (Purdue) is the one getting the least respect and I think she’ll prove how good she is right here.

100 meter semis
5:46pm local time (8:46pm EDT)
Format: top two in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

Stevens and Washington are two of the engines that drive Oregon’s train. It’s unlikely that Hobbs could put on the kind of record-breaking show that Christian Coleman did yesterday, but she might be capable of it. These semis will go a long way in determining whether anyone can challenge Oregon for the team championship, and if so which team it will be.

400 meter semis
6:00pm local time (9:00pm EDT)
Format: top two in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

Oregon is likely to rack up even more qualifiers here, and USC and/or LSU could do the same. Despite Wimbley winning the NCAA indoor title in March, Ellis is the favorite to win on Saturday.

800 meter semis
6:14pm local time (9:14pm EDT)
Format: top two in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

Oregon will more than likely get yet another final qualifier here and maybe two. I think the second and third heats are going to be the most interesting. Villanova’s Cleirigh Buttner hasn’t run overly fast times but proved herself to be a great racer at the Penn Relays, and she’s up against Oregon’s Rogers, the collegiate record holder and four-time NCAA champion. Heat 3 features a very fast freshman, Texas A&M’s Fray, and some experienced competitors in the form of Green and Collinsworth.

400m Hurdle semis
6:30pm local time (9:30pm EDT)
Format: top two in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

If it is possible for USC to challenge Oregon for the championship, they’ll have to max out on points in this event and get two qualifier. The same likely goes for LSU. Watson, a 2016 Olympic semifinalist for Canada, is the favorite.

200 meter semis
6:44pm local time (9:44pm EDT)
Format: top two in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

Another event, more likely Oregon finalists.

4×400 Relay semis
7:48pm local time (10:48pm EDT)
Format: top two in each heat plus the next two fastest qualify to Saturday’s final

Start lists and live results

Qualifying is a mere formality for the very best 4×400 relays, which Oregon and USC undoubtedly are. Texas A&M and Miami probably fit that description as well. It’s the teams on the edge that have to really run, ones like Florida, Purdue, and Ohio State.

June 8, 2017

Thursday NCAA Viewer’s Guide: Decathlon and Field Events

The NCAA Championships continue today, starting with the conclusion of the decathlon at 1:30pm Eastern time (10:30am Pacific). Women’s competition opens today with five field event finals plus running event semis. I’m splitting my preview for today into two parts; track events will be published later today. Below is everything you need to know about today’s decathlon and field event action.

Key Links:
Live results
ESPN3 coverage
Live twitter coverage via yours truly

The Schedule
To the left (or above on mobile platforms) is today’s schedule presented in visual form.

Pink and blue indicates men’s and women’s competition (all women except the decathlon). Starting times for field events are exact but how long each will take is a guess.

ESPN3 will cover the decathlon and field events up through 7:30pm (Eastern), when the television broadcast will begin on ESPNU. It will switch over to ESPN2 at 8:30pm.

Who is going to win the team championship?
Today is the first day of the women’s competition. Oregon is figured as a lock to win, despite losing sprinter Hannah Cunliffe to injury and their 4×100 relay suffering the dreaded out-of-zone disqualification two weeks ago. The Ducks are so loaded and across so many events that it appears more or less a foregone conclusion. If somehow they were to suffer a Golden-State-Warriors-2016-NBA-finals level of implosion, then there are a handful of team that could win it: USC, Arkansas, Georgia, or LSU.

All of the top four teams in the final standings walk away with trophies. I have identified eight teams I think are fighting for those four trophies (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Oregon, Texas A&M, and USC) and have highlighted them in each event preview.

Decathlon
Begins at 10:30am local time (1:30pm EDT), runs all day
Live results
Texas A&M’s Lindon Victor twice set the collegiate record this year. That mean’s he’s going to win it easy today, right? Not so fast, my friend.

Georgia’s Devon Williams is making a run at him and just might be able to pull off the upset. Williams won the heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships, where Victor’s strengths in the discus and javelin were not part of the competition. Take a look at the table below. I’ve taken each competitor’s first-day score and added the points equivalents of their PRs in the second-day events. It shows just six points separating Williams and Victor.

All events matter here but a few matter more than others. First off, Williams’ hurdle PR is not a typo – he really has run 13.37. He won the SEC Championships with that (and beat Grant Holloway, the favorite to win Friday’s NCAA final). If he can reproduce that today it would be a world record for the decathlon. In any case, he can and must make a huge point differential with Victor. Second is the pole vault. It’s difficult to win a decathlon in the vault but an early exit can lose it, so either man could torpedo his chances if he’s not careful.

Besides those two, Williams must manage his losses in the discus and javelin. Victor will beat him in those two events and by a lot. But if he keeps it close, then we’ll get one of the best things you can hope for: a decathlon that comes down to the 1500.

Hammer Throw
2:00pm local time (5:00pm EDT)
Format: two flights (top 12 seeds in second flight) then finals

Start lists & live results

“TFN” indicates position on the Track & Field News formchart.
Ratcliffe has won NCAA hardware in the past including the 2014 championship, but Ewen has made huge improvements in the last year and is the clear favorite. After those two, hardly anyone has NCAA Championships experience. Given that the forecast calls for rain, this is an event where an advantage could go to athletes accustomed to competing in bad weather (such as those from the Northeast, upper Midwest, and Pacific Northwest). Very few of the top teams have qualifiers in the hammer, let alone much of a chance at scoring.

Pole Vault
Begins at 5:00pm local time (8:00pm EDT)
Start lists and live results

Two-time NCAA Champion Lexi Weeks is the favorite, but chaos happens in the pole vault. One need look no further than the indoor championships back in March, where Alabama’s Lakan Taylor took a surprise win. Add in some rain and things could get extra chaotic. If experience in bad weather helps (maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t) then the advantage likely goes to Grove (South Dakota) and Clute (Indiana). Arkansas picked up huge points in this event on their way to the team championship last year, and would need to be close to maxing out to have a chance at it again.

Javelin Throw
Begins at 5:45pm local time (8:45pm EDT)
Format: two flights (top 12 seeds in second flight) then finals

Start lists and live results

I’d rate this as a toss-up between Wales (LSU) and Sediva (Virginia Tech), with Vucenovic (Florida) and Malone (Texas A&M) as both having realistic chances as well. This is the rare women’s throwing event that will play a large role in which teams win the trophies up for grabs. Haley Crouser (Texas) will have big crowd support since she’s an Oregon native and part of the Crouser throwing clan.

Long Jump
Begins at 6:00pm local time (9:00pm EDT)
Format: two concurrent flights in adjacent pits, then finals

Start lists and live results

As you can see above, Burks (Alabama) and Saunders (Kentucky) have three national championships and nine top-three finishes between them. The expectation is another battle. Oregon’s Foster is not expected to score, but has been on a sharp upward curve and could surprise.

Shot Put
6:40pm local time (9:40pm EDT)
Format: two concurrent flights in adjacent circles, then finals


Quick: which athlete in the NCAA has had the most dominant collegiate career? Everyone knows about Cheserek, but there others who are every bit as good or better but fly under the radar because they compete in women’s field events. One of them is Ole Miss junior Raven Saunders. Save an inexplicable 12th-place bomb at the 2016 NCAA indoor championships, she has never lost a shot put competition to a fellow collegian. She holds the collegiate record, the top three throws in collegiate history, and seven of the top ten. She finished fifth in the Olympics last summer, and a twenty-year-old doing that in a throwing event is comparable to a sixteen-year-old doing it in any other event.

But something weird happened this spring. She competed in an outdoor meet in late March and then not again until the NCAA regionals two weeks ago. I tried to find out what happened – was she injured? All I could discover is that she had a long suspension due to an unspecified violation of team rules.

She’s here, but short on competition and not totally sharpened up. Even so, I see only one woman who could take advantage and pull off the upset. That’s Kent State’s Dani Thomas, the NCAA indoor runner-up whose PR (18.49) is just outside the all-time collegiate top ten.

June 8, 2017

Coleman Destroys Record, Scott Wins 10k at NCAAs

Your full recap from the first day of action at the 2017 NCAA Championships. We saw a collegiate record in the 100 meters by Christian Coleman.

June 6, 2017

Wednesday NCAA Viewer’s Guide: Running Events

The NCAA Championships get underway today, and the running events begin at 4:30pm in Eugene (7:30pm EST). The now-wide-open men’s 10,000 meters is the…

June 6, 2017

Wednesday NCAA Viewer’s Guide: Decathlon and Field Events

Everything you need to know about the NCAA Outdoor Championships decathlon and field event action beginning at 12:30 PST.

May 26, 2017

What2Watch: Prefontaine Classic Day 1

The Nike Prefontaine Classic just might be the best invitational on the planet and it gets started tonight.

Friday’s coverage will begin at 11:00pm EDT. US fans can watch via NBC Sports Network or online via NBC Sports Gold (subscription required). Canadian fans with a RunnerSpace Plus subscription can watch at AthleticsCanada.tv.

Friday night is dedicated to Joan Benoit Samuelson, arguably the greatest American long-distance runner of all time, who just turned 60 years old. The evening’s action will be all women’s competition.

Below I have an event-by event preview, along with a start list. I have developed my own “power rankings” for each event and those are included, along with each athlete’s best marks in 2017.

Women’s Javelin
7:34 local time (10:34 ET)
This is the first major competition of the year so it’s hard to tell much yet. Liu has the best marks but could have jet-lag issues. Khaladovich has had a solid start to her season too. Kolak was the surprise winner at last summer’s Olympics and is still just 21 years old in an event where athletes typically peak around age 30, so she just might be the next javelin star.

Women’s Long Jump
7:37 local time (10:37 ET)
All the top jumpers save Ivana Spanovic (CRO) are in the competition (and she had been announced as part of the field but has since scratched). Reese and Bartoletta have combined to win every World or Olympic gold medal since 2009, and have staged some tremendous head-to-head battles over the last few years. Ugen beat Reese at the Drake Relays in truly horrible weather. Klishina was the lone Russian allowed to compete at last summer’s Olympics.

Womens’ 800 meters (National heat)
8:06pm local time (11:06pm ET)
This is the B-heat of the women’s 800 and is comprised of the best Americans not good enough to get into tomorrow’s A-heat. For this reason the “power rankings” in the far-left column reflect how these athletess ran in North American (USA and Canada). Martinez is just coming off a meet record at the USATF Middle Distance Classic. Lipsey ran faster than that meet record during the indoor season, and Roesler is rounding into form after a difficult 2016 season. High schooler Watson is running her first major 800 of the outdoor season, and the number to watch is 1:59.51 – that’s the national high school record, set by Mary Cain four years ago at the Pre Classic.

Women’s 1500 meters (National heat)
8:14pm local time (11:14pm ET)
This is nominally the “National” race but includes a significant number of foreign athletes, and so I’ve reverted back to worldwide “power rankings” in the far left column. Reid is finally over some injuries that slowed her for years. She won last week’s USATF Middle Distance Classic and beat Shannon Rowbury, who will be in tomorrow’s A-heat. Also in that race was Gollish, Pen Freitas, Schneider, Sutherland, and Efraimson. Grunewald is bravely racing while battling cancer for the fourth time in eight years.

Women’s Steeplechase
8:25pm local time (11:25pm ET)
This is not an official Diamond League race and will not count in the season-long points race. Despite that fact, it’s still a great field featuring ten of the world’s top 13 (according to my power rankings). Three of them have run 9:05 or faster this year (Jebet, Chepkoech, and Chespol) while Coburn is the best of the rest at 9:14, suggesting that this will essentially break into two races.

Women’s 5000 meters
8:41pm local time (11:41pm ET)
Dibaba is supposedly chasing the world record (14:11.15) but that may be more of a stretch than we realize. Her only PRs set in 2016 or ’17 are at distances she rarely runs (mile and 2000 meters). In the event that this becomes a bona fide race to the finish, look for Kipkemboi, Hassan or possibly even Huddle to be factors.

May 24, 2017

A Falcon and a Duck Made the Pre Classic Fly

How a clash between Dave Wottle and Steve Prefontaine may have laid the groundwork for the Prefontaine Classic that everyone knows now.

May 12, 2017

What2Watch: Shanghai Diamond League

Get us nice and early for the 2017 Shanghai Diamond League meet on Saturday morning. Tracksuperfan Jesse Squire is here to breakdown the action.

May 4, 2017

What2Watch: Doha Diamond League

In his debut for Citius Mag, Jesse Squire tells us what to watch for as the Diamond League season begins. Justin Gatlin faces Andre De Grasse in the 100.

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