What to Watch: Thursday at the NCAAs
Today is Day 2 of the NCAA outdoor track and field championships, the last meet ever held in the historic version of Hayward Field. On Wednesday, I helped Chris Chavez preview the meet on the CITIUS podcast, and below is everything you need to know about today’s action.
Thursday is (almost) all women’s. Today’s finals are the 10,000 meters plus five field events and the conclusion of the men’s decathlon.
HOW TO WATCH
12:50pm EDT (9:50am PDT) at ESPN3.com — separate feeds for decathlon and each field event
7:00pm EDT (4:00pm PDT) on ESPN2
You’ll also want to follow the live results and use our handy visual schedule:
The USTFCCCA’s National Championships Central is a treasure trove of information.
Here is a fun and useful team scoring tracker with several different ways to project team scores–you can even customize it. It will be updated after each semifinal and final.
WHO ARE THE FAVORITES?
It depends on who you ask. Georgia is a strong favorite according to Dyestat, a co-favorite according to FloTrack, and one of many favorites according to Track and Field News. Chaos is the rule at the NCAA Championships, so I’m calling this a five-way tossup between Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, Stanford, and USC.
Georgia nearly won last year without scoring a single point in track events. That will change this year with super-frosh Lynna Irby in the 200 and 400. Besides getting her to the finals, today’s other major task for the Bulldogs is to score big in the long jump, somewhere between 16 and 20 points. They also have a potential 10k scorer in Samantha Drop.
Kentucky has two of the best hurdlers in the world with Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (100H) and Sydney McLaughlin (400H). They’re also looking for a finalist in the 100 and both relays today, plus big points in the pole vault from Olivia Gruver, the defending outdoor champion.
Oregon was the mirror opposite of Georgia at last year’s championship, scoring all of their points on the track. Look for more of the same this year; they have thirteen entries in today’s semifinals and need at least eight to get through to Saturday’s finals. The Ducks also have outside shots at scoring in today’s 10k, javelin, and long jump.
Stanford can score in all three of today’s throwing events and Mackenzie Little should be in the hunt to win the javelin. The Cardinal has scoring chances in the pole vault as well, and should get three finalist in the 800 and 1500.
USC is even more running-heavy than Oregon. The Trojans have just three field/multi qualifiers and none are expected to score. They have sixteen entries in today’s semis, all running 400 meters or less, and the target is ten finalists. If they get more than ten I’d say they’re in the driver’s seat for the team championship on Saturday.
All indications are that Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer will win the 10,000 meters despite the fact that it’s only the third time she’s ever run this distance on the track. What happens behind her is the big question, and much of that will depend on her approach to the race. Both Oregon and Georgia have chances to score here.
The hammer throw is as much defined by who isn’t throwing as by who is. Arizona State all-around star Maggie Ewen set the collegiate record earlier this year but fouled out of the regional meet and did not qualify. With her out of the picture, I’d say you can bet the mortgage on Northern Arizona’s Brooke Andersen. Stanford is the only team contender with a qualifier.
Georgia’s Keturah Orji is the favorite in the long jump, and if she doesn’t win, her teammate Kate Hall probably will. The Bulldogs’ Tara Davis could score too. The main threats to Georgia in this event come from Florida, Yanis David and Darielle McQueen. Oregon and USC have qualifiers but neither are figured for more than a point or two, if that.
The pole vault is probably the least predictable event in track and field and that is especially true here. Kentucky’s Olivia Gruver is the defending NCAA outdoor champion but only finished fourth at the SEC championships last month. Arkansas’ Alexis Jacobus is riding a hot streak and won the NCAA indoor in March, so we’ll call her the favorite. Stanford has a pair of qualifiers but they are long shots for scoring.
Stanford does have two strong scoring opportunities in the javelin with Mackenzie Little and Jenna Gray. Little has the best PR and has won four of her six meets this year. North Dakota State’s Alyssa Olin has thrown nearly as far and her only loss this year was to Little.
Maggie Ewen’s best mark in the shot put is sixteen inches further than anyone else has thrown and, barring disaster, she’ll win. Jessica Woodard (Oklahoma), Lena Giger (Stanford), and Janeah Stewart (Ole Miss) are likely to battle it out for second.