Are We In Store For A Record-Setting Outdoor Season?

Are We In Store For A Record-Setting Outdoor Season?

NEW ORLEANS – Baton Rouge turned out to be the staging point for an all-out, concentrated assault on the collegiate outdoor record book last year.

That’s where Courtney Okolo, the future The Bowerman Award winner, broke her own 400-meter collegiate record in late April at the LSU Alumni Gold Invitational – but it wasn’t until mid-June at the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships when the reinforcements showed up.

QUICK LINK: Collegiate Outdoor All-Time Top-10

Once they stepped on the hallowed grounds of Historic Hayward Field, the men and women who competed for NCAA glory showed no mercy on the record books. Five more collegiate records met their maker, including the oldest standard in the books – Jim Ryun’s 800-meter standard that Donavan Brazier shattered on its golden anniversary (50 years).

All told, six collegiate outdoor records were set in 2016. That topped the previous high for a single year which came way back in 1989 when four current marks were established.

Changing Of The Track & Field Guard

Name Program Event Mark
Donavan Brazier Texas A&M 800 Meters 1:43.55
Courtney Frerichs New Mexico 3000 Steeple 9:24.41
Maggie Malone Texas A&M Javelin 62.19m
Courtney Okolo Texas 400 Meters 49.71
Keturah Orji Georgia Triple Jump 14.53m
Raven Saunders Ole Miss Shot Put 19.33m

If you break it down further, five of those six collegiate outdoor records were set by women in 2016. Last season’s dominance on the track and in the field increased the number of women’s collegiate outdoor records set this decade to 10, lowering the average age of a record to 12 years.

It’s a bit different in the men’s record book.

Brazier’s dazzling performance last year was only the third time a man has broken a collegiate outdoor record this decade. Brazier joined Sam Chelanga (2010, 10000) and Ngoni Makusha (2011, 100 meters) in that regard. The average age of a men’s record is 22 years.

Could we be in store for even more magic in 2017?

Arizona State’s Maggie Ewen started us off with a bang at the Baldy Castillo Invitational this past weekend. Ewen broke the American collegiate record in the hammer throw (72.71m/238-6) and put the overall collegiate record held by Jenny Dahlgren on notice (72.94m/239-3).

Oregon star Edward Cheserek ran against the clock indoors and broke the collegiate indoor record in the mile. Cheserek – and his coach Andy Powell – made overtures about aiming for outdoor records, which could be anywhere between Sydney Maree’s 35-year-old standard in the 1500 (3:35.30) or Henry Rono’s 38-year-old mark in the 5000 (13:08.4h).

Tennessee standout Christian Coleman left his mark indoors as well, tying the collegiate record in the 60 and running the 2nd fastest time over 200 meters. What’s not to say he’ll aim for Makusha’s mark in the 100 (9.89) or Walter Dix’s 10-year-old standard in the 200 (19.69)?

When talking about sprints, you can’t forget about Oregon’s Hannah Cunliffe or her talented teammates. Cunliffe broke the indoor record in the 60 and there is no telling what times she or Deajah Stevens or Ariana Washington can push each other to over 100 or 200 meters.

Texas A&M’s Fred Kerley is coming off a spectacular indoor season in which he ran the 3rd fastest 400-meter time in collegiate history. Kerley was also a member of the record-setting 4×400 relay that ran 3:02.39 on an oversized track. He and his teammates will be hungry again and taking aim at the open 400 mark of 44.00 set 25 years ago as well as the relay standard of 2:59.59 owned by SEC rival LSU.

And what about Keturah Orji and Raven Saunders, both of whom broke collegiate indoor records and are looking to improve upon their already-stellar outdoor marks as juniors?

There is no telling what awaits us in 2017, but you better believe we’ll be ready.