Stage Set For 2017 NCAA DI Indoor Championships

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The athletes are here.

The coaches are too.

All that’s left to do is to compete.

Through that competition, over two days inside the Gilliam Indoor Stadium, 36 champions will be crowned – 30 individuals, 4 relays and most importantly, two teams.

One man wants to do what no other person has done at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships and horde three of those individual titles. That man is none other than Oregon star Edward Cheserek, who will contest the mile, 3000 and 5000 over the course of two days (He might even throw the DMR in there for good measure).

Should Cheserek complete the triple – put aside the DMR for now – he’d shatter the all-time scoring record at a single meet (30 compared to 22½) and for a career (93 compared to 78). Cheserek would also join former Arkansas standout Erick Walder as the only two men in NCAA history to win three titles in two different events (Walder did so in the long jump and triple jump. Cheserek would do so in the 3000 and 5000).

Many will be cheering Cheserek on. Count Florida freshman standout Grant Holloway among that group.

“Honestly, thinking about Edward and all of his success – and for him to go for the triple, I want it to happen,” Holloway said. “I have been watching him for about three years now. He’s got God-given talent. You can’t really get upset with that. You can’t fault him. Everything he’s done and everything he’s training for is wonderful.”

The Women of Oregon are chasing their own history.

Right now the Ducks are projected to destroy the meet scoring record of 71 points, which was set by Texas back in 1988. Oregon, led by collegiate record holder Hannah Cunliffe, feels confident about its chances and head coach Robert Johnson mentioned there is an underlying motive for them to set an all-time mark.

“I tell our team, ‘We still got to go out there and run the race,’” Johnson said. “I also told them, ‘Often times, you guys (the media) put together these dope sheets and these spread charts and these predictions – and 90 percent of the time you’re wrong. So let’s take it upon ourselves to make them right for once, as far as their predictions.’ That’s kind of our running joke inside of our team: Let’s make these guys right at what they say they do, almost like the weathermen.”

For better or worse, those weathermen won’t be needed this weekend as the “indoor” part of NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships will be in full effect. While the elements aren’t a concern, the tight quarters going around the 200-meter banked track are – especially when it comes to the final event, the men’s 4×400 relay.

History could be made Saturday as Texas A&M already showed it can run fast on a banked track – 3:02.52. That’s a collegiate record and just 39 tenths of a second off the world record of 3:02.13, set exactly three years ago (March 9, 2014).

With Fred Kerley in the mix, who is the 4th fastest man over 400 meters in collegiate history indoors and the fastest man out of the blocks on a leadoff leg, anything is possible. Then again, the Aggies need to keep their feet – and the baton in their hands – as they navigate the event’s eight treacherous laps.

“You never know what’s going to happen indoors,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “All it takes is a bump and everything is messed up. You don’t run for time here. That isn’t what we run for. What we run for is to try to win.”

Victory means national glory and 10 points toward the team score. Records are meant to be broken and forgotten, but very little scrubs an individual accomplishment or team championship from memory.

That’s why those athletes are here, Deep in the Heart of Texas.

That’s why those coaches try to pull every last bit of effort from those athletes.

And that’s why these next two days are unmatched in college sports.