WEEKEND PREVIEW: The Chase For DMR Marks Is On!

Notre Dame doesn’t mince words when it comes to the Distance Medley Relay being run at the Alex Wilson Invitational this weekend: “It is our intention to create a racing environment that is best suited for teams looking to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. In order to create adequate racing conditions, we will be running ONE invitational section for each gender.”

Heck, for the past few years, JDL Fast Track explicitly named the meet it hosts in late February the “JDL DMR Invitational,” even though it has a number of other events being contested.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZone: Meets & Results | Broadcast Schedule

If you’re wondering why, the answer is simple: It’s DMR Weekend at the NCAA Division I and NCAA Division III level. Those are the two divisions in which relay teams must be among the top-12 performers at the end of the season to earn a berth into the NCAA Championships. And this weekend often presents the best chances for those divisions to qualify.

Case in point: Fourteen of the 24 possible qualifiers in the DMR at the 2019 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships punched their ticket last year on this weekend – including eight of the 12 men’s teams and six of the 12 women’s teams – as did four men’s teams for the 2019 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Here are the bubble times for teams looking to qualify for NCAAs.

  • NCAA Division I Men – 9:47.05 (Stanford)
  • NCAA Division I Women – 11:19.48 (Michigan State)
  • NCAA Division III Men – 10:24.19 (Case Western Reserve)
  • NCAA Division III Women – 12:32.94 (Hope)

There have been some strong marks turned in by DMR teams this season.

A little less than one month ago, Oregon’s men broke the collegiate record in the event with its 9:24.52. What was even more impressive about the Ducks’ record-breaking effort was that it was done completely solo from midway through the first leg to the end. Oregon ended up winning by 11.36 seconds, which was eerily similar to the margin of victory that Texas posted on the same track 12 years earlier when it set the standard that the Ducks ultimately smashed.

SEE MORE: All-Time Top-25 Performers (DMR) – Collegiate History

Then it was this past weekend at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational where Williams clocked the second fastest time in NCAA DIII history and what is now the 14th fastest mark across all collegiate divisions this season. The Ephs got the baton around in 9:46.98, which was just 0.03 seconds shy of the NCAA DIII all-time best established by Middlebury back in 2017.

SEE MORE: All-Time Top-25 Performers (DMR) – NCAA DIII History

Could we see some big marks this weekend? Most definitely.

Will those times turned in at the Alex Wilson Invitational be used for collegiate record purposes? Unfortunately not.

That’s because Notre Dame has an oversized track and our collegiate record book is reserved for those performances on 200-meter tracks or shorter. If you’re curious, though, four of the top-5 performances by a men’s team on an oversized track in collegiate history came at the Alex Wilson Invitational, as did two of the top-6 women’s times.

It should also be noted that marks turned in at the JDL DMR Invitational will be converted up since it is a 200-meter flat track and the 2020 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships will be contested on a 200-meter banked track in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Taking a look at other divisions, there have been 45 auto or provisional marks hit by NCAA DII teams so far this season, 33 by those in the NAIA and 21 by those in the NJCAA.

Other Meets Of Interest

It’s beginning to look a lot like the postseason.

There will be 22 conference championship meets held across the nation this weekend with a near-even split across the board in four of the collegiate divisions: NCAA Division I (5), NCAA Division II (5), NCAA Division III (5), NAIA (6) and the NJCAA (1).

And this is neither here nor there, but the Birmingham CrossPlex – the site of the 2020 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships – will host a track & field meet for the next 14 days straight. Just this weekend alone, you’ll see the SWAC Indoor Championships today and tomorrow and the Conference USA Indoor Championships on Saturday and Sunday. Then the Sun Belt Indoor Championships go from on Monday and Tuesday to get the party started in the last week of February.