The Warm-Up Lap: What You Need to Know for Indoor Track & Field 2014

The Warm-Up Lap: What You Need to Know for Indoor Track & Field 2014

NEW ORLEANS – Indoor collegiate track & field meets have been contested intermittently around the country since the early weeks of December — interrupted by holiday breaks — but this weekend marks the beginning of the build-up to the main portion of the collegiate season.

This weekend will see approximately 45 competitions around the nation across all three NCAA divisions and NAIA. The full schedule of meets can be found at the USTFCCCA Infozone This Week In Athletics page.

Each of these meets is a potential opportunity to gain all-important positioning in the race to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships in a couple months time. In the meantime, you can familiarize yourself with what it takes to make it to NCAA nationals.

This weekend’s meets — as well as all those that occurred earlier this year and at the end of 2013 — will be included on the first run of USTFCCCA Preseason National Team Computer Rankings that will be announced next week.

Additionally, this weekend marks the beginning of the USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week program for the 2014 season. This weekly award will be given to a male and a female in each of the NCAA’s three divisions each Monday afternoon, and nominations are open to the public here.

It was after this weekend a year ago that Clemson hurdler Brianna Rollins earned National Athlete of the Week honors following a collegiate record in the 60 meter hurdles — marking the first step on a journey that ultimately concluded with her winning the 2013 edition of collegiate track & field’s highest individual honor: The Bowerman Trophy. Find out which members of the Preseason The Bowerman Watch Lists for 2014 will be in action here.

Defending Champions Competing This Weekend

Reigning Division I outdoor women’s champion Kansas will compete for the first time in 2014 at its home Bill Easton Challenge today, while defending DI indoor men’s champion Arkansas will host its own Arkansas Invitational (watch live via Arkansas Athletics) later today.

After having its streak of three consecutive DI indoor championships snapped by Arkansas last year, Florida — the DI outdoor co-champions with Texas A&M in 2013 — begins its quest to reclaim the title at the UAB Blazer Invitational today and into Saturday.

DI indoor women’s champion Oregon and DI outdoor men’s co-champion Texas A&M open up their 2014 campaigns next weekend.

Also competing for the first time in 2014 at UAB will be the 2013 Division II indoor and outdoor women’s champion Academy of Art. The Urban Lions claimed their national indoor title at the site of the Blazer Invite, the Birmingham CrossPlex.

Like Academy of Art’s women, the men of Saint Augustine’s swept both the indoor and outdoor national titles in Division II, and will take to the track for the first time in 2014 on Saturday at the Wake Forest Invitational.

Division III outdoor women’s champion Wartburg begins its 2014 campaign at home with its Wartburg Relays later today, while Division III indoor women’s champ UW -Oshkosh will host an intrasquad/alumni meet this weekend.

Men’s indoor and outdoor DIII champion UW-La Crosse competes for the first time next weekend.

Oklahoma Baptist, which swept the women’s and men’s indoor NAIA  titles in 2013, and Indiana Tech, which did the same for the outdoor season, both open up next weekend.

Preseason Indoor Rankings

The USTFCCCA will announce its preseason computer rankings for all three NCAA divisions next week, beginning Monday with Division I and continuing on Tuesday with Division II and Wednesday with Division III.

Regular season rankings will be released for the first time for Divisions I and II on Tuesday, Jan. 28; and Division III and — for the first time ever — NAIA on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

The national team rankings will be complied by mathematical formulae based on national descending order lists and data taken from previous seasons. For the preseason ranking and early-season rankings, data will be taken from previous seasons as well as the current season. The purpose and methodology of the rankings is to create an index that showcases the teams that have the best potential of achieving the top spots in the national team race.

The rankings should not be confused as a “form chart” or a hard-line predictor of NCAA Championship team finishes, but as indicator of those who have the best chances and deepest rosters to compete as the nation’s best.

Individuals and relay teams aren’t “ranked” by the USTFCCCA, but they hold spots on the national descending order list. When preseason data is used, a person’s rank on the national-descending order list may differ from their scored position within the national team rankings as a best mark
could come from either the current or previous season. When preseason data is NOT used, then a person’s spot on the national-descending order list will match their scored position within the team rankings.

In addition, the USTFCCCA National Team Rankings should not be referred to as a “poll” as no voting occurs during the process.

NCAA Indoor Championships Qualification

The NCAA Indoor Championships may be a long ways off, but for those curious, here’s a snapshot as to how student-athletes can qualify for the championships in the various NCAA divisions.

General NCAA Championships Qualifying Info

Division I (Technical manual)

Division II (Pre-Championships manual)

Division III (Pre-Championships manual)

The Bowerman Watch List In Action

Fresh off the announcement of the Preseason Watch Lists for the 2014 The Bowerman Trophy, three members of the Men’s Watch List will be in action this weekend along with two from the Women’s Watch List. Additionally, three different student-athletes who received votes but didn’t make the top 10 will get their first shot at making their case for inclusion on the next edition.

The UAB Blazer Invitational will host four Watch-Listers today, including three from the men’s list: Florida’s Marquis Dendy and Arman Hall, and Mississippi’s Sam Kendricks. Florida’s Cory McGee of the women’s list will also take to the track in Birmingham.

Horizontal jumper Dendy, the indoor NCAA Champion in the long jump, will compete at 60 meters, while quarter-mile specialist Hall will step down to 200 meters. Kendricks, the defending outdoor pole vault national champ, will make his 2014 debut in his signature event.

McGee, whose forte is the mile/1500 meters, will compete at 800 meters.

Kendricks won’t be the only elite pole vaulter in action this weekend: two-time defending indoor pole vault national champ Andrew Irwin of Arkansas will begin his quest for a three-peat at his home Arkansas Invitational later today. Irwin received votes on the Men’s Watch List, but did not crack the top 10.

The other epicenter of The Bowerman Watch List action is Kansas, where the Jayhawks will trot out women’s Watch-List combined-events athlete Lindsay Vollmer and vote-getters in pole vaulter Natalia Bartnovskaya and hurdler Michael Stigler for today’s Bill Easton Classic.

Vollmer will compete in both the 60 hurdles and high jump, but it is Stigler who will get the most action: his name listed with the 60 hurdles, 400 meters and 4×400 relay.

Bartnovskaya will continue the defense of her 2013 indoor national championship in the pole vault.