Welcome to the 2014 Flotrack Track and Field March Madness Bracket!

Every year, for what seems like, and probably is eternity, I lose my March Madness pool. One time, and I swear to whatever deity or deities control this anarchical NCAA event, this guy in my office made his winning bracket based on coin flips. COIN FLIPS, PEOPLE. I spent sleepless days, sort of like Nate Silver on election night, running shot matrix projections, hoping that I can find the answer in my math. But alas, I never win.

So, in an effort to try and combat the madness that is March, Flotrack has produced its own track and field bracket to decide who or what wins in the world of running.

I’m not talking objective wins and loses, or even an arbitrary debate: this is the end-all, be-all, absolute final say to decide the king, queen, or whatever anthropomorphic object will be our new ruler.

Below are the 32 seeds for our track and field bracket. The picks were selected by the Flotrack panel and the seeds were chosen by Gordon Mack because why not.

I’m really at a loss for words for how to explain this. The bracket is a combination of people, things, moments, and phenomena. Enjoy.

Professional Athletes
#1: Usain Bolt: The GOAT is faster than your favorite football player
#2: Mo Farah: The 5k / 10k double double, one of the fastest 1500m marks of all-time, and soon, the London Marathoner
#3: Genzebe Dibaba: The Queen of Indoors set three world records in 14 days, proving that nothing makes sense anymore
#4: Bernard Lagat: Despite his near world record marks during his younger years (read: outliers), Lagat’s performance seems to be inverse to his age
#5: Galen Rupp: Two American records this winter, a few mind-blowing workouts, and just short of a World Championship medal
#6: Mary Cain: The heartthrob of the running world dominated the U.S. circuit and made her debut on the world stage in fine fashion
#7: Alan Webb: Goodnight, sweet prince
#8: Lolo Jones: The Queen of Social Medial and dual Olympic participant.

Phenomena
#1 Disqualifications / Protests: The new black
#2 #cainsanity: I for one, welcome Mary Cain as our new running overlord
#3 Steeple Fail GIFs: Does enjoying schadenfreude make me a bad person?
#4  Running Selfies: If you had to take a selfie during something, at least it's during a running event
#5 Cheserek Stunners: Everything you know is a lie
#6 Beardsicles: Also an acceptable selfie
#7 Sponsorship Changes: There’s always money in running, or, in the very least, the banana stand
#8 2013 NXN Races: Alexa Efraimson over Sarah Baxter and Elise Cranny, plus Kai Wilmot’s course record.

NCAA Athletes
#1 Edward Cheserek (Oregon): Three for three in his NCAA title attempts
#2 Abbey D’Agostino (Dartmouth): The first NCAA female athlete to win the 3k and 5k in back-to-back years
#3 Lawi Lalang (Arizona): Shot for the moon, didn’t land among the stars, but we can’t fault him for trying
#4 Phyllis Francis (Oregon): Without a doubt, THE most electrifying woman at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships
#5 Laura Roesler (Oregon): She ran for the name on the front and helped bring home three NCAA titles to Eugene, Oregon
#6 Deon Lendore (Texas A&M): Is Lendore vs. Hall the best rivalry in the NCAA?
#7 Cory McGee (Florida): An incredible summer of racing, plus a strong indoor campaign
#8 Curtis Beach (Duke): The NCAA’s best athlete?

Moments
#1 Dibaba’s World Record Triple: I wish I could make anything look as easy as Dibaba does running
#2 Gabe Grunewald Protest: Oh hey we almost forgot about this, but no, it still doesn’t make any sense.
#3 Galen Rupp’s Workout: We’re not sure if this made more or less sense than the seed above it.
#4 NCAA Women’s 4x400m: The most exciting end to any track and field meet. If you argue against this, you’re wrong.
#5 Emotional Interviews: With so much dedication and passion for the sport, it’s refreshing to see some genuine post-race interviews.
#6 Tyson Gay Positive Test: WHY TYSON, WHY.
#7 Osacar Pistorius Murder and Ensuring Trial: No one wins here
#8 Will Leer’s Beard / Stache: The play-in champion over Evan Jager’s hair. Twitter followers said otherwise, but we’re playing the topical card here.

Each match-up was decided by a vote from the Flotrack seven-man panel. In an effort to explain the reasoning behind the winner, I’ve just provided the best snip-it from the day’s debate.

First Round


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The Eugene Region

Dibaba Triple (1) vs. Lolo Jones
Next.

Cheserek Stunners (5) vs. Bernard Lagat (4)
If Lawi Lalang beats Lagat in training, and Cheserek just beat Lalang at NCAAs, doesn’t transitive property just apply here?

Steeple Fail GIFs (3) vs. Deon Lendore (6)
I’m not proud of this one, but I’ve yet to see someone topple over a barrier into a pool of water, and not been smiling at the end... am I terrible person?

Sponsorship Changes (7) vs. Abbey D’Agostino (2)
I like to see new faces in new jerseys. It really keeps that sport honest and maintains some form of integrity, because when an athlete signs with a company, it's because he or she truly believes in their mission statement.

That being said, D’Agostino just destroyed everyone in the NCAA for the sixth time in a row, so, yeah.

The Terre Haute Region

Edward Cheserek (1) vs. 2013 Nike Cross National (8)
“Remember when Alexa Efraimson beat Sarah Baxter, the unbeatable high school phenom?”
“Remember when Edward Cheserek beat Kennedy Kithuka, the unbeatable college freight train?”

Laura Roelser (5) vs. NCAA Women’s 4x400m (4)
Can Laura Roesler really eliminate herself? There has to be something in the rule book.

Genzebe Dibaba (3) vs. Beardsicles (6)
I hear you: Three world records in 14 days and a World Championship gold medal. But we had over 100 beardsicles submissions AND one from a gold medalist. I rest my case.

Alan Webb (7) vs. #cainsanity (2)
Alan Webb inspired a generation and single-handedly raised the bar in American distance running... but did he have his own hashtag? Check and mate.

The Austin Region

DQ / Protests (1) vs. Curtis Beach (8)
If Beach would have run 2:04 for 1,000-meters, then he would have broken Ashton Eaton’s Heptathlon Collegiate Record. We’re disappointed he didn’t even go for it.

Emotional Interviews (5) vs. Phyllis Francis (4)
The fact that we’re eliminating the most incredible athlete from the NCAA meet in the first round is simply appalling and makes this entire bracket suspect. That being said, I did cry when I watched Matt Elliott’s U.S. Championship interview.

Please don’t write that one.

Rupp’s Workout (3) vs. Mary Cain (6)
“Who made these seeds? This is !@#$%^&*.”
“I pose the following question: What generated more chatter this winter, Cain beating a bunch of professionals or Rupp’s five by mile workout after running the American 2-mile record?”

Mo Farah (2) vs. Pistorius Trial (7)
Both have left my speechless, but for opposite reasons.

New York City Region

Usain Bolt (1) vs. Leer’s Beard (8)
You hope the play-in winner will keep on winning, but it has to play a #1 seed. Bolt all the way.

Galen Rupp (5) vs. Running Selfies (4)
The selfie is the single worst thing to happen to humanity. I'm sorry, but it has to be said. It’s not like we were vain enough as a species, but now you can take pictures of yourself, and its socially acceptable, nay, encouraged?

It’s newest disease that plagues our past, present, and future planet Earth. Our children will need vaccinations prevent future outbreaks. It’s an epidemic. I swear, if someone in this room takes another selfie, I’m going to cast a plague on your house for all and haunt your family for eternity.

Note: The vote was 6-1, in favor of Running Selfies.

Lawi Lalang (3) vs. Tyson Gay Bust (6)
Zero titles last weekend for the Arizona senior. I guess... Gay’s positive test beats that? Upset alert!

Cory McGee (7) vs. Grunewald Protest (2)
She may have beaten her at the U.S. Outdoor Championships, but #freeGabe.


Sweet 16


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Eugene Region

Dibaba Triple (1) vs. Cheserek Stunners (5)

I think three world records surpass three national titles.

Steeple Fail GIFs (3) vs. Abbey D’Agostino (2)
I’ve never not smiled at Steeple Fail GIFs. That being said, when is D’Agostino not smiling?

Terre Haute Region

Edward Cheserek (1) vs. NCAA Women’s 4x400m (4)
I’ll ask you again: Why is there so many Oregon on Oregon match-ups? That’s totally unfair to the Hayward Faithful.

I’ll admit, I was excited for Cheserek’s double. He’s a machine. But in an event, where I had zero invested, emotionally speaking, I came out from watching the 4x400m sweating from areas I didn’t know I could sweat from.

Beardsicles (6) vs. #cainsanity (2)
Beardsicles is seasonal, #cainsanity is a lifestyle.

Austin Region

DQ / Protests (1) vs. Emotional Interviews (5)
I feel bad knocking off Meb Keflezighi here, but some of these disqualifications made so little sense, that picking them to win this match-up makes sense.

Rupp’s Workout (3) vs. Mo Farah (2)
I’ll ask again: Who made these seeds? This is blasphemy. Anyway, Rupp sat down after his post-race workout and Farah collapsed at the finish of the NYC Half Marathon. I think we know who to award here.

New York City Region

Usain Bolt (1) vs. Galen Rupp (5)
Rupp gets double eliminated in this round? Harsh, but really, did he have a chance in that region?

Tyson Gay Bust (6) vs. Grunewald Protest (2)
The protests was a hilarious scene of gross mismanagement from USATF, but at least it had a happy ending (editor's note: sort of). We’re still suffering in the wake of losing the biggest American sprint star to a positive test.


Elite Eight



Eugene Region

Dibaba Triple (1) vs. Abbey D’Agostino (2)
You’re going to put the number two college athlete against the best moment in the world from the winter season? Is there a mercy rule in March Madness?

Terre Haute Region

NCAA Women’s 4x400m (4) vs. #cainsanity (2)
All good things must come to an end. #cainsanity will live forever, though. Plus, it was trending nationally that one time.

Unrelated, but is Francis vs. Spencer the best rivalry in the NCAA?

Austin Region

DQ / Protests (1) vs. Mo Farah (2)
The most ironic ending, huh.

New York City Region

Usain Bolt (1) vs. Tyson Gay Bust (2)
When Usain Bolt leaves this sport, which will hopefully be never, this community will lose a lot. He’s the support beam of this dilapidated house. Just thinking about it now, Tyson Gay just makes me sad.


Final Four


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Dibaba Triple (1) vs. #cainsanity (2)
I know what you’re thinking: Cain couldn’t touch Dibaba right now. Yes, that may be true, but records are meant to be broken; #cainsanity is eternal (on social media).

DQ / Protests (1) vs. Usain Bolt (1)
Bolt was disqualified in the 2011 World Championship 100m final. Ipso facto, DQ / Protests wins.


Championship Game


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#cainsanity (2) vs. DQ / Protests (1)
“Let’s just look at the facts. Disqualifications are in right now. Everyone’s doing it. At SECs, Florida DQ’d A&M to win the team championship, even though they weren’t negatively impacted from the race. Don’t get me started at USAs. Then, at Worlds, everyone’s getting DQ’d and medals are being awarded not based on time, but based on who could yell more in the protest area.

Lastly, there’s NCAAs. Did anyone notice that in the men’s 4x400m final, Florida got DQ’d for contact on A&M, and then A&M got DQ’d for unsportsmanlike conduct? Insanity.”

“... more like #cainsanity.”

And there you have it folks, #cainsanity is the winner of our March Madness Track and Field Bracket!