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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.

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