NCAA Champs, Day 2 Preview

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Day two of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships is another day of prelims and a 10,000 meter final, but the nature of these qualifying rounds and the championship atmosphere will make this one of the most exciting days yet.

The first running event of the day will be the men’s 200m dash. It will feature the newest member of the sub-10 second club, Auburn’s own Harry Adams. In yesterday’s 100 meter preliminary the junior ran away with the race, stomping his way to a US #2 9.96. If Adams brings this kind of heat to the track today, get your popcorn, because you’re in for a show. Also in the 200m will be Texas A&M’s Prezel Hardy Jr. Hardy Jr., after coming in to the 100m dash ranked #1, failed to get out of prelims. Hardy will be out looking for some redemption and is ready to give Adams a run for his money. Others to watch in the prelims will be US #5 Maurice Mitchell, 20.20 man Ameer Webb, and US #9 Kind Butler.

Following the men’s 200, will be the women’s 200 meter dash. The obvious favorite is going to be LSU junior, current US#1, NCAA Indoor Champion, and defending NCAA outdoor Champion, Kimberlyn Duncan. This year she has a wind legal 22.22 under her belt as well as a wind aided 22.12. Duncan, however, won’t be without good company. Her LSU teammate, Semoy Hackett, finished 2nd to Duncan at the SEC Conference meet, and is also carrying a PR of 22.55. Also look out for Chalonda Goodman, Octavious Freeman, and Ashley Collier.

The men’s 1500 is going to be another blistering prelim. It’s going to feature Columbia’s Kyle Merber, coming off of his American Collegiate record of 3:35.59, Miles Batty of Millrose Game fame where ran an indoor collegiate record of 3:54.54, Binghamton senior Erik Van Ingen, with a season’s best of 3:38.06, Wisconsin Badger Rob Finnerty, who has the fastest regional qualifying time, and of course Arizona’s Lawi Lalang who will kick off his 1500/5000 meter double with this prelim.

On the women’s side, the top qualifier coming into the prelims is Natalia Piliusina, a sophomore out of Oklahoma State who owns a season best of 4:09.51. Though Piliusina has the fastest time in the NCAA, we can’t forget last years’ runner up and NCAA Indoor Champ, Lucy Van Dalen of Stony Brook. Katie Flood of Washington will also get a chance to test her sea legs, Flood has already run a 4:11.66 this year at Mt. SAC. Another runner people may have heard of is Oregon’s Jordan Hasay. She’s this year’s Pac-12 Champion, third place finisher at the 2012 NCAA Indoors, eighth place finisher at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships and always a contender. A few other girls that will be at the front of their heats are Georgetown’s Emily Infeld and Cory McGee of Florida.

Men’s steeplechase prelims will also be held on Thursday. The talk of Corn Town (read: Des Moines) has to be Donn Cabral. The Princeton senior moved the crowd to tears at the Oxy High Performance Meet after breaking the American Collegiate record by running 8:19.14. Though the Ivy Leaguer has the credentials, there are a few gentlemen out there that will give Cabral a run for his money. Michigan’s Craig Forys holds a season best of 8:28.90, Cory Leslie of Ohio State is packing a season’s best of 8:32, and last year’s third place finisher, Andrew Poore of Indiana is bringing an 8:35 SB. Also on the docket are Colorado’s Aric Van Halen, Indiana’s De’Sean Turner, and Big 12 Champion Henry Lelei.

The only final of the night will be the much anticipated women’s 10,000 meter run. Cal’s Deborah Maier is coming in as the favorite, but recently having struggled with injury will have a huge target on her back. Iowa State’s Meaghan Nelson is coming in with a season’s best of 32:14.27, which she ran at the Payton Jordan Invitational, finishing just behind Maier. After running away from the field at the West Preliminary Meet, Aliphine Tuliamuk may be the woman to beat. Last year at this meet she placed 5th in a time of 34:32.77 and is coming into this race with a season’s best of 32:39.35. Last year’s NCAA Champion, Juliet Bottorff of Duke, will also be in the race, but she is coming into it with one of the lowest seed times and a season best of only 34:07.30.

With all of this action going on tomorrow, everyone out there in Middle America should be going gangbusters over this meet. Though it’s just a preliminary round, the number of big names in these races is enough to give it the same sense of urgency as a final. With that in mind, make sure to watch or risk being the least interesting  person that managed to finish reading this preview.