The Top Unanswered Questions Heading Into NCAA Track And Field Regionals

The Top Unanswered Questions Heading Into NCAA Track And Field Regionals

Coming off the conference championships, there are still a few unanswered questions that will determine the outcomes for some premier events in Eugene.

May 17, 2024 by Lincoln Shryack

We have entered the NCAA Championship portion of the collegiate track and field calendar. 

But before we can turn our attention to the finals in Eugene, East and West regionals await next Wednesday through Saturday in Lexington, Kentucky, and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Coming off the conference championships last weekend, there are still a few unanswered questions whose answers will determine the outcomes of some premier events in Eugene. The action at East and West regionals should provide more clues about what to expect come nationals.

Is Tennessee’s Jacious Sears recovered from SECs?

Sears, the second-fastest 100m performer in NCAA history (10.77), appeared well on her way to a 100m SEC title on May 11 before pulling up at 60m with an apparent injury. 

Now her status as the prohibitive favorite in Eugene is in question; her scratching the 200m isn’t a promising sign.

We’ll find out at East regionals if Sears is healed up enough to compete in two rounds of the 100m and the 4x100m.

Will Terrence Jones be a factor?

The Texas Tech senior entered the outdoor season as arguably the favorite to win the 100m and 200m after he swept the 60m and 200m indoors. But Jones has been largely absent this spring, as he competed just twice due to a hamstring strain— at the Texas Relays in March and then the Big 12 Championships last weekend.

Understandably, Jones wasn’t up to his usual standards at Big 12s as he ran 10.35 in 100m for eighth place. (He did win his section in the slow heat; the Big 12 100m was a straight final.) Jones, the top returner in the NCAA 200m (third in 2023) didn’t make it out of the rounds in the 200m as struggled to a 21.23 finish.

Based on those results, it seems likely that his season will be a disappointing one, but if he can just make it through regionals, he’ll have two more weeks to get healthy before Eugene. Remember, this is a guy who’s run 19.87, so I’m not writing him off entirely just yet.

Can Washington’s milers keep their streak alive?

A University of Washington men’s miler has won each of the last four NCAA 1,500m/mile titles dating back to 2022 outdoors and, remarkably, each of those champions is still competing for the Huskies.

- 2024 NCAA Indoor mile champion: Luke Houser

- 2023 NCAA Outdoor 1,500m champion: Nathan Green

- 2023 NCAA Indoor mile champion: Luke Houser

- 2022 NCAA Outdoor 1,500m champion: Joe Waskom

The defending champion Green has had the best outdoor season of the trio as he ran a 3:34.79 PB at Bryan Clay and finished runner-up at PAC-12s last weekend. But to keep this UW streak going, this accomplished group will have to get past NAU’s Colin Sahlman at NCAAs, which none of them could do at Bryan Clay when Sahlman ran the second-fastest NCAA 1,500m ever in 3:33.96. 

It could be telling that none of the three Huskies won PAC-12s, which both Waskom and Green did prior to their NCAA victories in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The PAC-12 champion, Oregon’s Elliott Cook, should also be a threat to the streak should the sophomore Sahlman prove to not be up to the task.


Who’s the favorite in the men’s 800m?

Texas A&M junior Sam Whitmarsh has had a dream 2024 season. 

Not only did he sweep the indoor and outdoor 800m SEC titles, but he also posted the fastest time in the country this season with his 1:44.46 in late March, good for No. 7 on the all-time collegiate list.

Even so, Whitmarsh’s status as the NCAA favorite is tenuous as he’s never run in an NCAA final and only qualified for the championships once before. Will his inexperience cost him in Eugene? 

The 2023 NCAA runner-up Yusuf Bizimana of Texas is the foil to Whitmarsh— incredibly experienced at the highest collegiate level, but surely somewhat disappointed in his 2024 season to date. 

The Texas senior entered the indoor championships in March as the defending champion and favorite, but he didn’t even make it out of the rounds. That’s just one meet, and Bizimana has been solid otherwise, but he’ll have to elevate his game at NCAAs if Whitmarsh is running anywhere near his PB. 

Even as an NCAA champion and outdoor runner-up, Bizimana has never broken 1:45.

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