CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY: How Does Oregon’s Five-Man 3000m Crew Stack Up Historically?
This is the first in a series of posts based on the USTFCCCA’s newly unveiled NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships History page – the most comprehensive collection of the meet’s history anywhere on the web – leading up to the 2015 edition March 13-14 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The page can be viewed in its entirety here.
The defending NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field team champion Oregon men are No. 2 in the rankings, largely behind its overwhelming corps of distance runners. They trail No. 1 Florida, which is powered primarily by its sprinters and jumpers, in the rankings.
How much are the Ducks depending upon its distance stars, including five-time NCAA champion Edward Cheserek and two-time collegiate leader Eric Jenkins?
Of the Ducks’ 13 entries – second-most in the country only to Florida’s 14 – only one comes from an event outside the distance/mid-distance events. Most significantly, Oregon will send five men to Arkansas to compete at 3000 meters.
That’s a lot of Ducks in one pond.
Even more dangerous than a lot of ducks in one pond is a lot of Gators in one pond: of those nation-best 14 entries, Florida will have four in the field at 400 meters. That includes collegiate leader Najee Glass and returning multiple-time All-Americans Arman Hall and Hugh Graham, Jr.
How do those two squads stack up historically to the biggest single-event contingents sent to NCAAs in one single year?
Thanks to the newly unveiled NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships History page, we now know that those five Oregon 3k runners are tied with the 2003 Arkansas 5000-meter runners for the biggest group of male athletes from the same school to qualify for one event in a given year.
Only the 2004 Florida women’s weight throwers have qualified more than Oregon into a single event with six.
Florida’s 400m men make the Gators the seventh team to send four in one event, plus those two more teams that sent five.
Qualifying a ton of people to NCAAs is one thing; taking advantage of those numbers getting it done on the track has turned out to be another thing entirely.
Seven men’s teams have entered past NCAA Championship meets with four or more entrants in a single event, but only one has managed to put two athletes among the top-eight finishers. In 1994, UCLA qualified four shot putters into the championships and each one of them finished top-eight, including national champion John Godina.
The other six? None put more than two in the top eight on their given years. The Ducks will be hoping for more than that, with top-ranked Jenkins, No. 2 Will Geoghegan, No. 4 Jeramy Elkaim and defending national champ Cheserek – not to mention last year’s national third-place indoor 5000-meter finisher Parker Stinson.
Notably, Oregon also has three in the mile and three at 5000 meters.
Topping the list of multiple athletes in a single event for the women is Southern California, which will throw four women – all ranked among the top 11 nationally – into the 60 meters competition, led by No. 3 frosh Ky Westbrook.
That would be the most athletes a women’s team has ever put into the same 60 meters final, and tied for the most ever for a women’s sprint race with the 2000 South Carolina women at 200 meters. The Women of Troy can only hope to replicate South Carolina’s success from that year, as Miki and Me’Lisa Barber won and took third, respectively, with two more teammates in sixth and seventh, as the Gamecocks finished runners-up in the team standings.
Ten more events – five men’s and five women’s– have three athletes from the same team entered into their fields. Most notable among them are the Texas women at 400 meters. On the national list, defending national outdoor champion/returning The Bowerman Trophy finalist Courtney Okolo is No. 2, two-time All-American/newly crowned Big 12 champion Kendall Baisden is No. 4, and two-time outdoor national champion/returning national indoor runner-up Ashley Spencer is No. 8.
The trio has a shot to become just the fifth team of either gender in NCAA indoor history to sweep the top three spots, and just the second women’s team to do so behind Nebraska’s women at 55 meters in 1984. Two teams have come close to replicating that feat: first the UCLA shot putters in 1995 with a 1-3-4 finish, and then the Oregon milers in 2011 with a 1-3-4 finish.
These Longhorn women came pretty close themselves last year, with Spencer finishing runner-up, Okolo fourth and Baisden fifth. The latter two went on to finish 1 and 3 outdoors, while Spencer went down with an injury in the prelims.