NCAA DI Outdoor Championships Women’s Preview

NCAA DI Outdoor Championships Women’s Preview

NEW ORLEANS – If the competition in Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Division I outdoor team title is anything similar to what took place in Fayetteville, Ark., during the winter for the indoor title, the women’s championships could be among the most exciting in history.

And, if pre-meet rankings and formcharts are any indicator, that may very well turn out to be the case.

Accepted Entries: MEN | WOMEN
Entry Leaders: By Team | By Conf
Event-by-Event "Brackets"
Event-by-Event "Info Sheets"
USTFCCCA Stat Supplement

Start Lists: MEN | WOMEN

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National Championships Central

A number of teams are all in strong contention for the overall title, while battles just as intense will be taking place in each event throughout the four day meet between June 5 and June 8 at Historic Hayward Field.

The Team Race

Will it be Kansas taking home its first NCAA outdoor title? Could Oregon complete the triple crown by adding a 2013 outdoor title to its indoor and cross country titles? Can Texas A&M win it all in its first year in the SEC over conference rivals LSU, Florida and Arkansas, or will one of the SEC’s old guard take the title?

Each answer is an equally plausible scenario for how the next four days of competition will shake down, as each of those teams plus a handful of others are all jockeying through a crowded field for the team title. The USTFCCCA National Team Computer Rankings and the Track & Field News formchart both project Kansas as the slim favorites — over Texas A&M at No. 2 in the USTFCCCA rankings and over Oregon at No. 2 by one point in the T&F News predictions.

In terms of sheer numbers, The Texas A&M women have the most entries into NCAA Finals events with 16 — half of which are sprinters and hurdlers and a quarter of which are top-10 contenders at 100 meters, a make-or-break event for the Aggies.

Florida and Oregon will both be represented by 15 entries into the NCAA Finals. Florida has seven sprints/hurdles entries, most of whom are seeded outside of scoring position and could provide a boon for the Gators should they work their way into the top eight of their events. Indoor champion Oregon is loaded with top-flight talent on the track in the sprints, middle distances and long distances among their 15 entries who will need to perform up to or exceed their seedings to bolster the Ducks’ title aspirations.

Kansas will bring 13 entries while Arizona, LSU and Texas will have 12 apiece. Arkansas will bring 11 entries and Georgia, Penn State, USC and Stanford all qualified 10.

 As the projected top seed in the USTFCCCA computers, Kansas is the most top-heavy of the top-seeded teams with six entries seeded within the top four and six more seeded between No. 5 and No. 8 for a total of 12 seeded in scoring position. The next closest is LSU with nine seeded in the top eight — four in the top four and five between No. 5 and No. 8.

Texas A&M stands to be in perhaps the best position to add more potential scorers to its eight seeded within the top of their events, as the Aggies have four entries ranked between No. 9 and No. 12, the most of any top-10 team in contention for the title, to go along with their eight seeded in the top eight.

Oregon could also be a big beneficiary of improvement from the middle seeds into scoring position, as indoor 5000 meters runner-up Jordan Hasay is seeded No. 16 in the event entering the NCAA Finals, in addition to five others seeded between No. 9 and No. 16.

See the full breakdown of event entry rankings sorted by total entries below, with category leaders bolded and highlighted by a darker gray.

A Breakdown of the Top-10 Entries’ Seedings

Team
Total Entries
#1-4 (Seed)
#5-8 (Seed)
#9-12 (Seed)
#13-16 (Seed)
#17-20 (Seed)
#21-24 (Seed)
SCORING
(Top 8)
TOP HALF
(Top 12)
Texas A&M
16
4
4
4
2
1
1
8
12
Florida
15
5
2
3
2
2
1
7
10
Oregon
15
4
3
2
4
1
1
7
9
Kansas
13
6
6
1
0
0
0
12
13
Arizona
12
4
1
3
1
3
0
5
8
LSU
12
4
5
0
1
1
1
9
9
Arkansas
11
4
1
2
2
0
2
5
7
Georgia
10
3
3
2
1
1
0
6
8
UCF
8
6
0
1
0
1
0
6
7
Arizona State
7
4
1
2
0
0
0
5
7

 

Event-by-Event Previews and Storylines

100 Meters
Perhaps the most stacked event in the entire championships between men and women. Three members of the final Bowerman Watch List are in the field in defending 100 meters champ English Gardner of Oregon, reigning The Bowerman winner Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU and indoor 60 meters champ Aurieyall Scott of UCF, in addition to UCF teammate Octavious Freeman who also received mention and is a past member of the list. Furthermore Duncan, Gardner, Freeman and Texas A&M’s Ashley Collier are all among the top ten fastest performers in collegiate history. Keep an eye on Texas A&M’s quartet of top-10 sprinters, led by Collier with Ashton Purvis, Jennifer Madu and Olivia Ekpone, which could have an important role in the women’s title race.

200 Meters
Many of the same sprinters are in play in this event — two-time defending champ Duncan, Scott, Freeman and Gardner — and Texas A&M again has three in this event in No. 2 Kamaria Brown, Purvis and Ekpone, all in the top 14. Nine total women have run sub-23 this season including Paris Daniels of the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks. A potential darkhorse contender could be Kai Selvon of Auburn, who finished runner-up to Duncan last season and ran the seventh-fastest NCAA Prelims time in the country.

400 Meters
Defending champion Ashley Spencer of Illinois is rounding into form after a less-than-torrid start to the outdoor season, running a collegiate-leading 50.88 at the NCAA Prelims last weekend to become the first collegian under 51 seconds this season. The road to a repeat will be anything but easy with six scorers from last season’s meet returning including Arkansas’ Regina George and Phyllis Francis of Oregon, and a pair of indoor champions in the field in Diamond Dixon and Shaunae Miller. Dixon, George and Francis all have the extra motivation — or pressure — of running for valuable points in the incredibly tight team race. Florida could also make a push in the team title race with two sprinters ranked in the bottom half of the field.

800 Meters
Natoya Goule of LSU has dominated the event all season long, leading the event practically from wire-to-wire this outdoor season after claiming the indoor title this winter. At 2:00.76 as her fastest time coming in and a handful of races faster than anyone else in the country, her closest competitor figures to be Laura Roesler of Oregon at 2:01.75, along with LSU teammate and 2012 runner-up Charlene Lipsey in 2:03.13. Apart from Goule and Roesler, most of the field of 24 is separated by just over two and a half seconds. Look for a fast pace early from Goule, who has pushed the pace in all of her races this season.

1500 Meters
Emma Coburn, the fastest runner at 1500 meters for 2013 and the indoor mile champ will be focusing on the 3000 steeplechase, leaving the field at 1500 meters wide open. Based on season’s best times, Natalja Piliusina of Oklahoma State — who finished just out of points in 2012 at 10th — is the favorite at 4:09.57 by a second over Cory McGee of Florida State (4:10.55) and Amanda Winslow of Florida State (4:10.79), who both scored at last season’s meet. This event has team implications with both Florida (McGee and No. 4 Agata Strausa) and Oregon (No. 7 Anne Kesselring and No. 11 Becca Friday) fielding a pair of runners apiece.

3000 steeplechase
Emma Coburn of Colorado is the prohibitive favorite in the event with the best time in the country this season by more than 20 seconds at 9:28.26. After a redshirt season last year when she made the Olympics final, she is back to defend her 2011 title.  Seven other women have broken 10 minutes this season, including Colleen Quigley of Florida State, who finished fifth in the event a year ago. Of the 24 in the field, 17 ran season’s bests at the NCAA Prelims.

5000 Meters
The biggest headline in this race isn’t necessarily the team race, but the race for The Bowerman positioning between top-ranked Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth (15:11.35) and No. 2 Betsy Saina of Iowa State (15:12.05) — who have both run all-time in-season top-five times in 2013. A win would give D’Agostino — who is currently in the "Also Receiving Mention" category of the Watch List — three NCAA titles this season after sweeping the indoor 3000/5000 titles, in addition to a defense of her 2012 outdoor title. Saina would have a chance to sweep the 5000 and 10,000 titles outdoors with a win to bolster her Watch List status. Right behind those two is Wichita State’s Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton in the all-time top ten, with 12 others faster than 16 minutes in 2013. Just outside the top 15 is Oregon’s Jordan Hasay, who could make a big impact on both this race and the overall team race.

10,000 Meters
Saina is again the headliner in this race, with both her (31:37.22) and Tuliamuk-Bolton (32:07.20) in the all-time in-season top ten list. Washington’s Megan Goethals — who will also be a factor in the 5000 meters — is the third-ranked runner at 32:52.78 and heads a pack of 19 runners within a minute of one another.

100 Hurdles
Among the biggest upsets of the NCAA Finals would be a loss in the 100 hurdles by Brianna Rollins (12.54w, +2.1m/s), who has been performing at an all-world level from the very first race of the indoor season. She will be chasing a higher spot in the all-time collegiate rankings, perhaps even the collegiate record of 12.48 set by Ginnie Powell of USC in 2006. Only a couple of hurdlers have been within even a quarter of a second of Rollins this season, including No. 2 Kori Carter of Stanford. Carter (12.76, +0.1m/s) knows a thing or two about taking down a big-name hurdler after twice defeating 400 hurdler Georganne Moline of Arizona — who finished fifth in the Olympics a year ago. UCLA’s Turquoise Thompson is right there as well, just a hundredth of a second back at 12.77 (+0.1m/s).

400 Hurdles
This race could very well boil down to a repeat of the Pac-12 Championships from about a month ago. In addition to Carter vs. Moline IV, the pair will have to deal with Thompson of UCLA, who finished runner-up in the event a year ago and is the No. 3 seed this year. Carter has had Moline’s number this season, defeating the Olympian in each of their three meetings during this outdoor campaign. Arkansas’ Sparkle McKnight and Clemson’s Kendra Harrison have also dipped under 56 seconds this year, providing the top non-Pac-12 competition in the field, and only four others have been under 57.

4×100 Relay
Only one team enters within a second of the top-seeded Texas A&M squad at 42.56, which gives the Aggies a big boost in the team race. Other team-title hopefuls with top-10 seeds in the race include UCF at No. 2 (43.32), Kansas at No. 3 (43.56), LSU at No. 6 (43.70) and Oregon at No. 7 (43.81).

4×400 Relay
The event that gave the Oregon Ducks the team title indoors could be their advantage in a tight outdoor team race, too, as they are ranked No. 1 in this NCAA Finals finale event at 3:26.73. Five other team title contenders are seeded within the top 10: Florida at No. 2 (3:27.43), Texas A&M at No. 4 (3:27.89), Arkansas at No. 5 (3:28.42), Kansas at No. 6 (3:30.73) and LSU at No. 8 (3:31.94).

High Jump
Along with Rollins losing in the 100 hurdles, two-time defending champ Brigetta Barrett losing in the high jump would be the biggest upset of the weekend. The collegiate record-holder is seeded well clear of the field with her record clearance of 6-6¼ (1.99m), but the battle for spots two through eight and their accompanying points are anything but clear. Not including Barrett, 13 jumpers have successfully cleared heights between 6-2 (1.88m) and 6-0 (1.83m), including 2012 runner-up Shanay Briscoe of Texas, fourth-place finisher Krystle Schade of Alabama and sixth-placer Saniel Atkinson Grier of Georgia.

Pole Vault
Three women have cleared heights higher than 14-7 this season, the most recent of whom was indoor champion Natalia Bartnovskaya of Kansas, who made 14-7¼ (4.45m) at the final meet before NCAA Prelims, while you have to go back to March for when Bethany Buell of South Dakota made 14-7½ (4.46m) and Alexis Paine of Alabama cleared 14-7¼ (4.45m). Buell is among three of the top four who will be returning from last year; Georgia’s Morgann Leleux finished runner-up, Buell was third and Washington’s Logan Miller was fourth. Also returning as point scorers from a year ago are seventh-placer Emily Grove of South Dakota and eighth-place finisher Paine.

Long Jump
Coincidentally, the returning four scorers from last season’s competition are seeded inversely from their finishes a year ago. Christabel Nettey of Arizona State finished eighth last season, but enters as the top-seed at 22-1¾ (6.75m) — the only collegiate woman farther than 22 feet in the championships — while Kyle Price finished seventh in 2012 and is ranked No. 2 in 2013 at 21-6w (6.55m, +2.9m/s). Indoor champion Andrea Geubelle of Kansas is ranked third at 21-5¼ (6.53m) after finishing sixth a season ago, and Karynn Dunn of Stanford finished fifth last season, but is seeded tied for 13th now.

Triple Jump
Three of the top four finishers from 2012 are again at the top entering the 2013 championships, all ranked in the top three. Runner-up Shanieka Thomas of San Diego State is the top seed by a foot at 46-5¼ (14.15m), well ahead of indoor champ and near-2012 champ Geubelle of Kansas and Florida’s Ciarra Brewer at 45-5¼ (13.85m). Geubelle will look to claim the title after her apparent winning jump last season was disqualified, and she went on to take third, while Brewer took fourth. Geubelle, Brewer and Texas A&M’s LaQue Moen-Davis — ranked No. 4 at 44-9½ (13.65m) — will also be battling for valuable team points.

Shot Put
Another prohibitive favorite has dominated this event all season in Oklahoma’s Tia Brooks, the defending champion in the event who has yet to lose this season and threw the all-time collegiate record indoors. Outdoors she is powering toward the outdoor collegiate record, having missed the 30-year-old record by just over an inch at the West Prelims with a huge 62-2½ (18.96m) mark and another just a quarter inch shorter. The field she’s up against is strong, with three other returning scorers from a year ago, including the No. 2 seed Felisha Johnson of Indiana State just shy of 60 feet and 2011 NCAA champ Julie Labonte of Arizona. Brittany Smith of Illinois, the runner-up from 2012, is seeded seventh.

Discus Throw
Anna Jelmini of Arizona State finished runner-up a year ago, but she enters this year as the top-ranked thrower by more than 11½ feet with a mark of 198-10 (60.61m). With Texas A&M’s Shelbi Vaughan not making the NCAA Finals, the top challengers to Jelmini are a quartet of throwers who have surpassed 186 feet, including 2012 fourth-place finisher Beth Rohl of Michigan State at No. 2 with a mark of 187-4 (57.10m).

Hammer Throw
Another Sun Devil of Arizona State is the favorite in this event, this time Chelsea Cassulo with a mark of 229-10 (70.07m). Four scorers from a year ago return, including two of the five who have surpassed 220 feet this season in sixth-place finisher Alena Krechyk of Kansas at 223-7 (68.15m) and fifth-place finisher Ida Storm of UCLA at 223-3 (68.05m). Smith of Illinois State also finished runner-up in this event a year ago and is seeded sixth this season.

Javelin
Brianna Bain of Stanford is the top seed in the event this season at 183-10 (56.03m) after finishing runner-up as a freshman a  year ago, but she must contend with a group of underclassmen who are all gunning for the title. Freshman Marija Vucenovic of Florida — one of 11 freshmen in the field — is the No. 2 seed at 181-10 (55.43m) and will try to do what Bain couldn’t accomplish last year and win the title in her first year. Sophomores No. 3 Lauren Kenney of Penn State and No. 5 Fawn Miller of Florida, along with freshman Freya Jones of Georgia, are all seeded within 12 feet of Bain.

Heptathlon
Arkansas’ Makeba Alcide is the top seed in the heptathlon entering the NCAA Finals after her 5968-point performance at the SEC Championships, more than 150 points up on No. 2 seed Vanessa Jules of Marshall (5807). She was in a similar position during the indoor season after setting the collegiate record in the indoor heptathlon and then failing to claim the NCAA crown, which instead went to SEC rival Erica Bougard of Mississippi State. Alcide will have to be on top of her game to avoid a similar fate during the outdoor championships with the top ten all seeded within about 350 points of Alcide, including Bougard, 2012 fifth-place finisher Keia Pinnick and 2012 sixth-placer Allison Reaser of San Diego State.