NCAA Final Day Preview
The day kicks off with the men's 400m relay. Last year's defending champions, Florida State University, is coming in with the third best seed time from the prelims, where they dipped under the 39 second barrier for the first time this year. Texas A&M, last year's NCAA runner-up, has also been looking strong this year and with names like Ameer Webb and Prezel Hardy Jr holding down their team, could be the team to watch up front. The talk of the meet, however, has been Auburn, spearheaded by their new sub-10 man Harry Adams. The Auburn crew has ran 38.30 seconds this year, at the very early Texas Relay Meet. In Prelims they ran 38.53 seconds to win the heat by nearly half a second. There has been some NCAA record talk, and if they can click today, Auburn could be close to that 38.04 record mark.
On the women's side it's going to be a race between Texas A&M and LSU. LSU's squad is packing some serious heat with senior Semoy Hackett and junior Kimberlyn Duncan, the 2nd place and 3rd place finisher in yesterday's 100m final. Texas A&M isn't without their powerhouse runners. On their team they have freshman Dominique Duncan (an 11.15 lady) and Ashley Collier (11.01 second PR). One team that could challenge these two up front is the Oregon crew. They're holding on to 400m powerhouse Phyllis Francis and this year's 100m dash champion English Gardner. LSU and Texas A&M have already dipped under 43seconds this year, and if conditions are right, hand-offs are flawless and everyone runs well, the NCAA record of 42.36 could be threatened.
The men's 1500m might be the most difficult event to try and highlight in a single paragraph. With so many big names in this heat, it's nearly impossible not to consider everyone a viable threat for the title. Lawi Lalang is one that can never be left out of the conversation. Coming off of a 13:42 third place finish in yesterday's 5000m, Lawi will be looking to show off his 3:36.77 legs and prove he can take away a track title. Rob Finnerty has also been looking strong this season, entering the meet with the fastest seed time from regionals. Ryan Hill of NC State, Chris O'Hare of Tulsa, BYU's Miles Batty, OSU's Geman Fernandez, Binghamton's Erik Van Ingen, Indiana's Andy Bayer. Literally any of these guys could take it.
The women's race looks just as tight. Last year's runner up and 2012 Indoor champion, Lucy Van Dalen, is always a contender and with her championship experience is one to watch for. In recent interview Oregon's Jordan Hasay has said that things are starting to click, and when Jordan Hasay feels good it can be a very dangerous thing. OSU's Natalja Piliusina is bringing the fastest SB to the field having run a 4:09.51 at the Payton Jordan Invite. Other girls to watch out for are going to be Georgetown's Emily Infeld, Washington's Katie Flood, and Florida's Cory McGee.
The men's 200m dash is going to feature a slew of very fast men. Florida State senior Maurice Mitchell is going to be the obvious favorite, he was last year's NCAA Champion, has the fastest time from prelims and is a member of the sub-20 second club. There are a few men in the field, however, that are going to make it tough for Mitchell to repeat his championship. Harry Adams, this year's NCAA runner up at 100m and recent sub-10 second performer, will be giving Mitchell a run for his money. Ameer Webb, who ran 20.20 in the West Prelim meet, should be expected to be up there as well. And last, but certainly not least, is Isaiah Young of Mississippi. The junior is coming in with an SEC title and a PR of 20.32, as well as the 2nd fastest time out of the qualifying round.
For the women, it looks like LSU duo of world #1 Kimberlyn Duncan and 22.55 woman Semoy Hackett are going to be the ones to beat. Duncan, who lowered her world leading time to 22.19 in the prelims, is coming off a second place finish in yesterday's 100m dash. Other women to keep an eye on will be UCF freshman Octavious Freeman and Texas A&M sophomore Ashley Collier.
Men's 3000m Steeple
Princeton's Donna Cabral, new American Collegiate record has all but won the 3k steeple title, as he is coming in with the fastest PR by ten seconds. But this is a championship event, and as we saw in Kyle Merber's case in the 1500m, nothing is guaranteed. Don't be surprised to see a few men sticking their necks into the ring with Cabral. Two guys to watch out for are going to be A&M's Henry Lelei and Michigan's Craig Forys. Ohio States Cory Leslie could be up there, as well as Indiana's Andrew Poore. A guy that has been coming on strong late this season is Tulsa's Carl Stones. In the wise words of NBA superstar/trash talking thug, Kevin Garnett, "anything is possible."
When it comes to the women's 5k final, there are a lot of names to be thrown around. Jessica Tebo (formerly Pixler) of Colorado will enter today's race with a PR of 15:19.43. Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino isn't too far off of Tebo, bringing her own impressive 15:23.35 to the field. Canadian sweetheart, NCAA Cross Country champ, and 2011 5000m champ, Sheila Reid will be upfront, and is another one that is a clear favorite for the 5k title. Thursday's 10,000m surprise 10,000m champion, Natosha Rogers will most likely be in the mix along with, runner-up Aliphine Tuliamuk. Other names to look out for in the final are Stanford's Kathy Kroeger, Oregon senior Alex Kosinski, Providence's Emily Sisson and Washington's Megan Goethals.
The men's 1600m relay is going to be one for the record books. In the preliminary round six teams ran 3:02 or faster, including Penn States ridiculous 3:01.52 and LSU's absurd 3:01.97. Did we mention this was in the prelims? The NCAA record is 2:59.59, with so many guys ready to throw down, if the weather is favorable, we could possible see a team go sub-3 minutes.
On the women's side, there are a handful of teams that are viable options for the 1600m title. Kansas, Oregon, LSU and Texas are all going to be up there, and with their respective anchors, a collection of NCAA qualifiers and podium finishers in the 400m, it's anyone's race.