2023 DI NCAA East Preliminary Round

Katelyn Tuohy, Britton Wilson Star At NCAA Track & Field East, West Prelims

Katelyn Tuohy, Britton Wilson Star At NCAA Track & Field East, West Prelims

Five takeaways from the NCAA East and West Prelims which featured strong performances from Britton Wilson and Katelyn Tuohy.

May 29, 2023 by Kevin Sully
Katelyn Tuohy, Britton Wilson Star At NCAA Track & Field East, West Prelims

After a busy four days of prelims, the fields are set for the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The opening rounds in Sacramento and Jacksonville didn’t provide too many surprises as the form charts mostly held. Instead, the meets served to reinforce several of the themes that we’ve seen throughout this collegiate season. Here are five takeaways as we head into the final stretch before the NCAA track world converges on Austin, Texas. 

Britton Wilson’s Brilliance On Full Display

The Arkansas star is attempting to complete the 400m and 400m hurdle double. On paper (given the lack of down time), it looks ridiculously impossible. But after the prelim round you can see why for Wilson it is well within her capabilities. In the first round in Sacramento, Wilson ran 50.15 in the 400m and then 54.08 for the hurdles. Two days later, she ran 49.51 and then 53.71. She completed both with minimal rest (around 55 minutes on Thursday and about 35 minutes on Saturday). 

The break time drops dramatically for the NCAA Championships–just 25 minutes between the 400m and 400m hurdle finals. 

Aside from the scant amount of rest, the biggest obstacle looks to be Rhasidat Adeleke of Texas. Adeleke ran 49.54 to set a personal best on Saturday in the heat after Wilson’s. But since the 400m is first, Wilson can empty the tank in order to secure the win. 

Her margin in the 400m hurdles is much greater with the next fastest woman in the nation almost two seconds behind Wilson. 

Is that enough to make up for the fact that Wilson will be gassed? If the prelims are any indication, she should be fine. She was more than two seconds clear of second place in the quarterfinals out west and nobody in the other region ran under 56 seconds. 

Katelyn Tuohy Keeps Rolling

The other high profile double features NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy who is attempting the 1500m and 5000m. She got through her prelim rounds without incident, crossing the line first in all three of her races. Tuohy will have over 90 minutes recovery between the 1500m and 5000m in Austin and the late start times will give her respite from the Austin heat (the 5000m starts at 9:55 PM).

Her 15:03 5000m run from Track Fest doesn’t count for NCAA qualifying, but it puts her well ahead of the rest of the field. NC State coach Laurie Henes has kept Tuohy’s race count low (seven race outdoors in total, including the three from Jacksonville) so she should be fresh and ready to put on the type of performances we saw at the NCAA Indoor Championships.  

Incredibly Fast Sprint Times Out East

The wind was blowing at the East Prelims on Friday and the men’s sprinters took full advantage. With wind readings of +5.5, +4.4 and +2.7 the top ten men broke ten seconds and three ran under 9.90. 

Da’Marcus Fleming of LSU led the way with a 9.85 in +5.5.

It continued in the 200m when Florida’s Robert Gregory ran 19.60 with a 4.8 behind him. In the same heat, Kennedy Lightner of Kentucky ran 19.90.

It wasn’t as windy in Sacramento, but the times were still impressive. Udodi Onwuzurike of Stanford ran a personal best of 9.92 to edge Texas Tech’s Terrance Jones by .01. Courtney Lindsey (Texas Tech), Micah Williams (Oregon) and Shaun Maswanganyi (Houston) were the next three qualifiers and all are capable of taking the 100m title. Add that to the fast times from Jacksonville and the men’s 100m is going to be spectacular in Austin. 

Wide Open Men’s 5000m

The top eight from the latest FloTrack rankings advanced in the men’s 5000m, setting up a terrific race for the title. It was tactical in Jacksonville, but in Sacramento they were moving. 

Four of the top six set lifetime outdoor bests, including heat one winner Ky Robinson of Stanford who ran 13:22.29. The second heat was a bit more subdued with Nico Young of NAU crossing first in 13:33.77. 

Tennessee’s Dylan Jacobs, who holds the number one ranking in the event, didn’t seem to expend much energy with his 14:03.91. 

The biggest surprise on the men’s distance side came with NAU’s Drew Bosley scratching the meet. 

Duncan Hamilton Runs Scintillating Steeplechase

Hamilton moved to #2 on the all-time NCAA steeplechase list behind Henry Rono after Hamilton ran a solo 8:16.23 in Sacramento. The next fastest runner in Hamilton’s heat was 19 seconds behind him. 

The mark moved BYU’s Kenneth Rooks down to number three all-time. Rooks took a different approach to the meet. He ran 8:25.05, a bit off his 8:17.62 that he ran at the beginning of May. Meanwhile, Parker Stokes of Georgetown, fifth on the all-time list, easily qualified in Jacksonville, running 8:44.06. With three of the five fastest in history this will be one of the races of the meet.