We’re just days away now from the start of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. With no World Championships or Olympics on the slate this year, this meet could be the best championship meet on the schedule this summer.
Both indoor team champions – Florida for the men and Oregon for the women – have arrived at this point in the season looking ready to produce strong efforts to add outdoor titles to their trophy cases. There have been relatively few injuries to the top athletes and squads this year, so we enter Eugene with a full complement of high caliber athletes ready to do battle – making it tough to predict exactly what’s going to happen because the competition should be fierce. None the less here is my attempt to predict how things will look by meet’s end.
Men’s Title – Florida Gators
The Oregon Ducks are strong as always in the distance events – and they have Ashton Eaton in the decathlon and long jump. The Aggies of Texas A&M are strong as always in the sprints and relays. But the Florida Gators bring the most balance – sprints, relays, and several field events including Christian Taylor in the long and triple jumps. I expect Florida to win both relays, the 100, and both horizontal jumps while garnering additional points in the sprints, the triple jump, decathlon, and shot put. They have more strong scoring opportunities than the competition, and if their athletes show up with their “A” game, they will win.
Women’s Title – Oregon Ducks
Every time I close my eyes I see a different outcome – that’s how close I think the competition between Texas A&M and Oregon will be. At the end of the day, I think the battle between the sprint oriented Aggies and the distance oriented Ducks is going to come down to a distance in the middle – the 400 meters. In this case that would be the 4x1, 400, and 4x4, as these two teams will battle it out over “400” three times – and the overall winner will take home the trophy. While the Aggies should easily take the 4x1, Oregon will score big points. On the flip side I believe the Ducks will out place the Aggies in the 4x4. Which leaves the meet in the hands of Keshia Baker (ORE) and Jessica Beard (A&M) and their head to head in the open 400. After careful consideration, I give the edge to Baker, and with it the team title.
Individuals to Watch
This meet will be full of outstanding individuals – which is why I think it will be one of the best meets of the year – and maybe one of the best NCAA championships ever. The Oregon and Florida men will be lead by supermen Ashton Eaton (ORE) and Christian Taylor (FL). Eaton will be competing in the decathlon and long jump, while Taylor will get triple jump, long jump, and possibly 4x4 duty. And while Eaton gets most of the attention at Oregon, look for a strong double effort from teammate Andrew Wheating as he attempts to win double gold in the 800 & 1500 meters. For the women, look for big doubles from Iowa State’s Lisa Koll in the 5000 & 10000 and BYU”s Blessing Okgabare in the 100 & Long jump. And for the best double head to head matchup of the meet watch Ti’erra Brown of Miami and Queen Harrison of Virginia Tech go at it in both hurdle events – 100H & 400H – as they should produce two real barn burners!
The 400 meters could end up being the real star of this meet! I’ve already stated that I think the women’s event could decide the team title, and the women’s 400H will be the second half of a great double head to head battle. But the best head to head matchup of the meet could be the men’s 400 hurdles, where Washington State’s Jeshua Anderson attempts to win his third title in a row. Standing in his way will be South Carolina’s Johnny Dutch, whose recent 48.12 makes him the #4 collegiate performer ever – and a serious threat to dethrone Anderson. Both could end up very close to the 48.00 barrier in what should be a hot final. Keeping to one lap, the deepest finish on the men’s side could end up being in the 400 where world leader Calvin Smith (Fl, 44.81) will go toe to toe with Tavaris Tate (MsSt, 44.86), Demetrius Pinder (Tx A&M, 44.93), Kirani James (Ala, 45.01), Dwight Mullings (MsSt, 45.12) and Joey Hughes (USC, 45.16) – six of the the fastest dozen quarter milers in the world so far this year! Likewise look for a deep and close finish in the 4x4, where Florida currently leads the world at 3:00.31 with Texas A&M (3:01.55), Mississippi State (3:02.10), Baylor (3:02.70) and USC (3:03.26) among the world’s top 10. On the women’s side the Texas A&M women lead the world in the 4x1 at 42.49. While the Oregon (3:30.23), LSU (3:31.01), Arkansas (3:31.03), and Penn State (3:31.35) women are in the world’s top 12 in the 4x4. There will be some serious competition over one lap in Eugene!
Finally two other individuals to keep an eye on are Florida’s Jeff Demps and Arizona State’s Ryan Whiting. Demps was the indoor champion over 60 meters and has lead the way all season in the 100 meters. He is the high school and co-world junior record holder at 10.01 and could become the first high school record holder over 100 in the auto timing era to win an NCAA title. Whiting has been huge in the shot put all season for the Sun Devils and his season best 71’ 7.5” has him in the #2 position in the world so far this year and #6 all time collegiately. He’s in reach of John Godina’s (UCLA) collegiate record of 72’ 2.25”, and given his consistency this year is a threat to get it in Eugene.
This is one NCAA meet that should provide sterling competition from day one to meet’s close. It should be one outstanding meet. My predictions.
2010 MEN’S COLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIIP PREDICTIONS
|100 Meters||Jeff Demps||Florida|
|200 Meters||Rondell Sorrillo||Kentucky|
|400 Meters||Tavaris Tate||Mississippi State|
|800 Meters||Andrew Wheating||Oregon|
|1500 Meters||Andrew Wheating||Oregon|
|3000 Steeplechase||Richard Nelson||BYU|
|5000 Meters||David McNeill||Northern Arizona|
|10000 Meters||Sam Chalenga||Liberty|
|110 Hurdles||Ronnie Ash||Oklahoma|
|400 Hurdles||Jesua Anderson||Washington State|
|4 x 100 Relay||Rankin, Hall, Wilks, Demps||Florida|
|4 x 400 Relay||Anderson McQuay, Taylor, Smith||Florida|
|High Jump||Clint Silcock||Utah State|
|Pole Vault||Jason Colwick||Rice|
|Long Jump||Christian Taylor||Florida|
|Triple Jump||Christian Taylor||Florida|
|Shot Put||Ryan Whiting||Arizona|
|Hammer||Marcel Lomnicky||Virginia Tech|
|Javelin||Sam Humphreys||Texas A&M|
2010 WOMEN’S COLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS
|100 Meters||Blessing Okagbare||BYU|
|200 Meters||Jeneba Tarmoh||Texas A&M|
|400 Meters||Keshia Baker||Oregon|
|800 Meters||Phoebe Wright||Tennessee|
|1500 Meters||Katie Follett||Washington|
|3000 Steeplechase||Mel Lawrence||Washington|
|5000 Meters||Lisa Koll||Iowa State|
|10000 Meters||Lisa Koll||Iowa State|
|100 Hurdles||Queen Harrison||Virginia Tech|
|400 Hurdles||Ti’erra Brown||Miami|
|4 x 100 Relay||Tarmoh, Lucas, Duncan, Mayo||Texas A&M|
|4 x 400 Relay||Thiessen, Purvis, Williams, Baker||Oregon|
|High Jump||Amber Kaufman||Hawaii|
|Pole Vault||Melissa Gergel||Oregon|
|Long Jump||Blessing Okagbare||UTEP|
|Triple Jump||Deanna Young||New Mexico|
|Shot Put||Mariam Kevkhishvilli||Florida|
|Discus||Simone du Toit||SMU|