2024 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

Maia Ramsden, Nico Young & Olivia Markezich Highlight NCAA Regional Fields

Maia Ramsden, Nico Young & Olivia Markezich Highlight NCAA Regional Fields

Harvard's Maia Ramsden, Northern Arizona's Nico Young & Notre Dame's Olivia Markezich are three of the top athletes to focus on at both NCAA Regionals.

May 22, 2024 by Maxx Bradley
Maia Ramsden, Nico Young & Olivia Markezich Highlight NCAA Regional Fields

Just like that, it's time for NCAA regionals. Even though it seems like the collegiate outdoor season just started, it's already nearing an end.

Over the next four days, two sites will be the host for regional action: the East Regional in Lexington, Kentucky and the West Regional in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

These two competitions will narrow the NCAA Championship fields down to 24 athletes apiece before the top dogs head to Hayward Field.

Here are three storylines to follow at the NCAA East Regional and three more at the NCAA West Regional.

Maia Ramsden Chasing NCAA Qualifier & Olympic Standard

Even before Harvard's Maia Ramsden took down then-NCAA juggernaut Katelyn Tuohy in the 2023 1,500m Final, the the New Zealander was a force to be reckoned with. 

Since her breakthrough win in Austin, Texas last June, Ramsden has rapidly rose to the top of the NCAA landscape, winning titles and breaking records. This weekend, she's chasing more than just a qualifying time, but the elusive Olympic Standard, which she is just .08 seconds away from as of now -- this past weekend, she ran 4:02.58 for 1,500m, which was just shy of the Olympic standard. 

She's entered in both the 1,500m and 5,000m at the East Regional this weekend and shouldn't have to exert too much to punch her ticket in her prime event. 

With roughly five weeks left to secure an automatic ticket to Paris, it'll be interesting to watch to see what Ramsden has up her sleeve between now and then.

Graham Blanks Looking To Return To Form, and Nationals

The other head of Harvard's two-headed monster is finding his late 2023 form as he awaits 12.5 laps at the East Regional. Last fall, Blanks engineered a perfectly crafted cross country season, winning all five races and the last being his first NCAA title. 

Two weeks later, Blanks witnessed the 'BU Magic' first-hand, becoming the first collegian of the season to break the 12-year-old NCAA record of 13:08.28 once held by Lawi Lalang. 

Blanks cruised around the track in 13:03.78. Unfortunately, Blanks spent the entire indoor season battling an injury before making his outdoor debut at the Wake Forest Invitational, winning in 13:37.34. 

He hasn't quite returned to to form in the few weeks he's been competing, but to fully count out the tactician that is Blanks would be silly.

Olivia Markezich Set To Begin What Could Be A Very Busy Summer

In case you've missed it over the last few weeks, the U.S. women's steeple pool has lost two of the greatest American athletes to ever grace the event, with both Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs devastatingly sustaining injuries and being forced to miss the Olympic season. 

However, the women in line to make up the American team are more than capable, and one of them is still in college. 

Notre Dame's Olivia Markezich comes into the regional weekend as the defending NCAA champion and the third-fastest in collegiate history. Last July, Markezich ran 9:17.63 to finish as the first woman off of the American team for the 2023 World Championships. 

Markezich has only raced the event once this spring, punching her ticket to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene next month. But before she can officially switch her focus onto international competition, she has to win a trio of races to successfully defend her title. 

Both women that sit ahead of Markezich on the NCAA lists reside in the East Regional, meaning she'll get a glimpse of her biggest threats this Saturday. 

Jaida Ross Could Throw Even Farther, Entered In Both Shot And Disc

Jaida Ross is far and away the best shot put thrower in the NCAA this season, especially considering she broke the collegiate record last month and then matched it a few weeks later. 

Ross heaved the shot a mark of 64 feet, 8 inches, bettering Ohio State's Adelaide Aquilla's record of 64-5.25 from 2022. Not only is Ross now the best in the country in the event, but she's also No. 7 in the world this year and No. 9 in American history. 

Ross won't only be focusing on the shot put, though, but will also tackle the discus after throwing 196-0 to win the last-ever Pac-12 discus title. She's not as dominant as she is in shot put, but remains one of the best in the country, currently sitting seventh in the country heading into the West Regional. 

Tyus Wilson Leads Deep High Jump Field In Fayetteville 

Since last year, Nebraska's Tyus Wilson has quite literally soared to new heights, finishing fourth at both the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Championships and the 2024 NCAA Indoor Championships. 

Heading into the West Regional, Wilson is coming off of his best-ever jump of 7-6, which won him the Big 10 title and put him atop the NCAA leaderboard. 

This spring, Wilson is one of just 11 collegians over 7-2.5 and is the lone athlete to clear 7-6, holding a quarter inch lead over the rest of the country. 

Wilson is set to face quite a contingent in Fayetteville on Friday. This is Wilson's first time entering the meet as the top seed, but it's clear he's not the same jumper he was last May.

Nico Young Focusing Solely On 5,000m At NCAA's

From the 1,500m to the 10,000m, Northern Arizona superstar Nico Young has been nearly untouchable. 

After an indoor season that saw him lower the recently-broken NCAA 5,000m record down to 12:57.14 and then win a pair of NCAA titles, Young hasn't missed a beat as he's continued his dominance on the outdoor circuit. 

He started his outdoor campaign with a bang, clocking 26:52.72 for 10K as he became the first collegian under 27:00 minutes, absolutely shattering Sam Chelanga's 14-year-old record of 27:08.39. 

Over the next few months, Young ran 1:47.65 and 3:34.56 (NCAA All-Time No. 3) over 800m and 1,500m, as well as qualifying for the West Regional in the 5,000m in 13:36.58. 

However, Young has confirmed he is focusing solely on the 5,000m throughout the remainder of the NCAA season and will be 100-percent fresh as he takes on Oklahoma State's Brian Musau (13:13.29) and New Mexico's Habtom Samuel (13:13.34) at the West Regional. 


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