Men’s Team Battle: Oregon Moves Up, Florida Stays Strong
EUGENE, Oregon – Day One of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships – the first men’s semifinals-only day in modern meet history (it used to be a men’s-only meet, overall) – is in the books.
Who set themselves up for big days on the first-ever men’s finals-only session – live on ESPN at 7:30pm ET – on Friday?
We’ve kept tabs on the team scoring throughout the day, and we’ve got a rundown of the top six team contenders for the men who will be challenging for the podium on Friday.
Teams are listed in order of their projected team scores after day one (with their rank in the USTFCCCA National Team Computer Rankings in parentheses).
1st – OREGON (#2)
Projected now: 71 points, 1st place
Pre-meet projected: 69 points, T1st place
Remaining entries: 12
Johnathan Cabral, made 110 hurdles final
Greg Skipper, 3rd place in hammer
Daniel Winn, Johnny Gregorek, and Blake Haney, made 1500 final
Edward Cheserek, won 10k
Eric Jenkins, 2nd 10k
Sam Crouser, won javelin
Dakotah Keys, decathlon (still competing)
Marcus Chambers, made 400 final
Tanguy Pepiot, missed steeple final
Friday Outlook: Oregon was the only team that had the wiggle room to move up, and they did it. Every other team gunning for trophies was banking on highly seeded athletes to match their performances; the Ducks have those, but they also had athletes seeded outside of the top eight who could help them out. They had four such athletes do so on Wednesday night. Johnathan Cabral was seeded sixth in his heat in the 110 hurdles, and made it through to the final. And the 1500 couldn’t have gone better—Daniel Winn, Johnny Gregorek, and Blake Haney all made it safely through to the final. Gregorek and Winn were fourth and sixth in the indoor mile, so that wasn’t particularly surprising, but Haney making it out of the Heat of Death was impressive.
They now have twelve entries remaining in the meet. Decathletes Dakotah Keys and Mitch Modin are sitting pretty with several serious contenders—including No. 2 seed Garrett Scantling of Georgia and indoor heptathlon champ Luca Wieland of Minnesota—already out of the competition. Chambers and Cabral are guaranteed at least a point each. And the meet could be clinched in the 5000 by the duo of Edward Cheserek and Eric Jenkins, who treated us to some mild intrigue when Jenkins shook his head and stalked off the track after the 5000. (This is the definition of making a mountain out of a molehill, but we have to find something less than perfect for Oregon.) Ches and Jenkins are joined by Will Geoghegan and Jake Leingang in the 5000.
2nd – FLORIDA (#1)
Total projected: 67 points, 2nd place
Pre-meet projected: 69 points, T1st place
Remaining Entries: 7
Mark Parrish makes the steeplechase final
Marquis Dendy wins the long jump (10 points)
Defending Champ Dedric Dukes No. 2 qualifier at 200 meters
Indoor Shot Put Champ Stipe Zunic third in the shot put
4×100 Relay qualifies for the final (No. 3)
Andres Arroyo qualifies for the 800-meter final
4×400 Relay qualifies for the final
Eric Futch qualifiers for the 400H finals (No. 2
Ryan Schnulle (2014 outdoor 800-meter runner-up) misses final
Friday Outlook: All in all, it was a good day in the office for the 2012-2013 NCAA Champions. Marquis Dendy won his sixth career NCAA title with a huge jump of 27-8w (8.43m/+2.3m/s) to beat rival Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas by three-and-a-half inches. Stipe Zunic didn’t quite replicate his indoor shot put title, but a third-place effort for six points was still a very strong showing.
Turning to Friday, the Gators will have seven entries in seven different events. Dendy will look to defend his triple jump title, while the qualifiers from Wednesday’s competition will join him. That’d be defending national 200 meter champ Dedric Dukes (virtually tied with indoor champ Trayvon Bromell of Baylor for the top semifinal time at 20.03) – who will also run legs of the qualifying 4×100 and 4×400 relays – Andres Arroyo in the 800 and Eric Futch in the 400-meter hurdles.
Arroyo may have made the outdoor final after missing it indoors, but he’ll be without last year’s national outdoor runner-up Ryan Schnulle, who did not qualify.
3rd – TEXAS A&M (#3)
Total projected: 47 points, 3rd place
Pre-meet projected: 65 points, 3rd place
Remaining Entries: 6
Gregory Coleman advances to the 400-meter hurdles final (No. 6)
Audie Wyatt finishes fourth in the pole vault, seeded No. 5 (5 points)
4×100 relay advances to the final (No. 6, heat winner)
Deon Lendore advances to the 400-meter final (No. 2, heat winner)
Bralon Taplin misses the 400-meter final
Shavez Hart misses the finals at 100 and 200 meters
Friday outlook: Of all six contending teams, none were hit harder on Day One than Texas A&M. While they did get a boost from Gregory Coleman making the 400-meter hurdles final with the sixth-fastest time from the semis and from Audie Wyatt moving up a spot to finish fourth in the pole vault, it wasn’t enough to offset some significant subtractions from their Friday roster.
Bralon Taplin missed the 400 meter final (he was third in this race during the indoor season) and sprinter Shavez Hart did not qualify to either the 100- or 200-meter finals.
The biggest bright spot, as always, for the Aggies was reigning Bowerman Trophy winner Deon Lendore. The senior won his section of the 400 and anchored 4×100 and 4×400 relays that qualified for the final day of competition.
4th – LSU (#4)
Projected now: 43 points, 4th place
Pre-meet projected: 51 points, 4th place
Friday entries: 7
Tremayne Acy, made 200 final
4×100, made final
4×400, made final
Aaron Ernest, made 200 final
Quincy Downing, made 400 hurdles final
Vernon Norwood, made 400 final
Joshua Thompson, made 110 hurdles final
Jordan Moore, missed 100 hurdles final;
Friday outlook: It’s going to be very close between LSU, A&M, Arkansas, and USC for the last two team trophies. The Tigers will go head to head with some combination of the other three teams in the 200, 400, both sprint relays, and both hurdles. What they lost in Jordan Moore missing the 100 hurdles final, they may have made up with Tremayne Acy making the 200 final. And the sprint relays remain wild cards, but Aaron Ernest looked absolutely tremendous anchoring the 4×1. Outside of the six sprint finals—where LSU’s trophy hunt will be made or broken—Rodney Brown is heavily favored to win the discus on Friday evening.
5th – Southern California (#6)
Projected now: 41 points, 5th place
Pre-meet projected: 39 points, T6th place
Friday entries: 4
Adoree Jackson, 5th in long jump
Nicholas Ponzio, 8th in shot put
4×100, made final
Conor McCullough, won hammer (No. 5 performer in meet history)
Andre de Grasse, made 100 and 200 final
Beejay Lee, missed 100 final
Friday outlook: Who said USC was just sprints? They’re going to have more athletes score in the field than in the sprints. Andre De Grasse is going to score in both the 100 and 200, but he’s the only Trojan to make it to any sprint final. Adoree Jackson and Nicholas Ponzio added surprising points in the long jump and shot put, respectively, to Conor McCullough’s unsurprising win in the hammer. And Randall Cunningham (no relation)(just kidding, it’s his dad) could score in the high jump.
On Friday night, it’s the De Grasse show for USC. The Canadian junior looked good in both sprint finals, including a funky 100 prelim where he struggled out of the blocks but had the fastest final fifty meters in a field that included Trayvon Bromell running 9.90 wind-legal. If the wind is legal, the combination of hot weather and spicy competition is going to burn Ngoni Makusha’s 9.89 collegiate record on Friday night.
6th – ARKANSAS (#5)
Total projected: 40 points, 4th place
Pre-meet projected: 39 points, T 5th place
Remaining Entries: 8 (plus one in the decathlon on Thursday)
Jarrion Lawson makes the 100-meter final (seeded 17th based on 2015 times)
Jarrion Lawson finishes runner-up in the long jump (8 points)
Omar McLeod is the top qualifier in the 110 hurdles
4×100 relay advances to the final (No. 2 seed)
Stanley Kebenei advances to the steeplechase final (No. 7, heat winner)
4×400 relay advances to the final
Friday outlook: While Oregon may have stolen the headlines with their surprisingly strong Day One, Arkansas quietly had itself a strong opening day; you’ll notice the “Below Projections” section above is empty.
The Razorbacks’ studs came through for them today, particularly Jarrion Lawson. He again performed well in the long jump, falling to two-time champ Dendy by less than four inches as both surpassed 27 feet, but his biggest contribution may have come on the track. Not only did he run legs of the final-qualifying 4×100 and 4×400 relays, but he made the open 100-meter final in a wind-legal 10.04 for a share of the No. 4 qualifying spot. He entered the meet with the 17th best time in 2015 among the meet entrants.
Steeplechase champion hopeful Stanley Kebenei made it through his heat without incident. He’ll be joined on the distance front on Friday by Kemoy Campbell in the 5000, who will look to prevent Oregon from notching another 1-2 sweep. They’ll also have Clive Pullen in the triple jump.