What to Watch on Saturday at the NCAA Championships
Today is Day 4 of the NCAA outdoor track and field championships and the wommen’s champions will be crowned. This is 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.
HOW TO WATCH
2:20pm EDT (11:20am PDT) at ESPN3.com — separate feeds for heptathlon and each field event
6:30pm EDT (3:30pm PDT) on ESPN2, switches to ESPN at 7:00
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.
TEAMS TO WATCH
Any of five teams is capable of winning this meet.
Georgia has four chances at first or second in the heptathon, triple jump, and 400 and 200. The downside of this is that they have little room for improvement.
Stanford is depending on the discus and distance events. Those are relatively volatile events where they could score a lot or not much at all.
Kentucky is in a solid position with heavy favorites in both hurdles and dependable relays too. The Wildcats have upside potential in a few other events as well.
As with their men’s team, USC is going to score a boatload of points in the sprints, relays, and 400 hurdles.
Oregon is the team with the most potential to outscore the projection, though they are favored to win the 800 with Sabrina Sutherland and the 4×400.
LSU already broke the 4×100 relay collegiate record earlier this year, so another record is quite possible. This first race of the day has three of the five team contenders and will be a game-changer right out of the gate.
The sprints have a pair of stars who will not meet head-to-head. LSU’s Aleia Hobbs is capable of breaking the collegiate record. Harvard’s Gabby Thomas is a long-sprint specialist, and she may have her hands full with Georgia’s Lynna Irby.
It is not hyperbole to say that Kentucky has two of the world’s best in the 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles. Both Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and Sydney McLaughlin are the current world leaders in their events and a PR by either would be a collegiate record. McLaughlin has a very real chance at a world record.
USC’s Kendall Ellis is only the second collegian to ever run under 50.00 for the 400 meters, but Georgia freshman Lynna Irby isn’t that far off either. Oregon has two finalists and needs big points.
The 1500 meters and 800 meters are unpredictable events that have major team implications for Stanford and Oregon. There probably isn’t a strong favorite in either race. The sentimental favorite in the 1500 is Toledo’s Janelle Noe, who survived life-threatening burns to make an improbable run to the final.
The long-distance races, the steeplechase and 5000 meters, could be interesting. Boise State’s Allie Ostrander has never lost a steeplechase final, which is a far more meaningful stat than her fast times. She’ll try to come back later in the day and run the 5000; she did so last year and took 1st and 4th. Many of the women who went to the wall in Thursday’s 10,000 are also in this 5k, so it’s anyone’s guess how it will turn out. Stanford and Oregon have scoring chances here.
The 4×400 is always the best race of any meet, and this could be one of the classic races of all time. The team championship will almost assuredly be in play, and two of the three fastest collegians of all time are running for USC and Kentucky. It will be a wild and wooly conclusion to the last meet ever held in the historic version of Hayward Field.