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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.

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