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Here are the endangered NCAA relay records and the formidable squads that have them in their sights.
Men’s Sprint Medley Relay Record | 3:12.13, Arkansas (2000)
After opening the season with a 3:14.24 at the Florida Relays, the Gators’ sprint medley relay is primed for a record-setting performance this weekend at Franklin Field.
In April, 800m stud Andres Arroyo grabbed the Olympic standard in his signature event with a 1:45.78 PR. Arroyo will anchor Florida’s relay against a stout field that includes Brigham Young's Shaquille Walker, who recently ran the fastest 800m in the NCAA this year (1:44.99); Penn State’s NCAA Outdoor 800m runner-up, Brannon Kidder (1:45 PR); and NCAA Indoor 800m runner-up, Eliud Rutto of Middle Tennessee State (1:45 PR).
But the race won’t come down to the anchor if the Gators' first three legs deliver. Pan-American relay champion Ryan Clark and four-time NCAA champion Hugh Graham, Jr. will each run a 200m leg. After that, All-American Kunle Fasasi will race a lap before handing off to Arroyo. Fasasi, who is only in his second semester of competition, just set two PRs (20.98 200m, 45.43 400m) at Florida’s Tom Jones Memorial.
Florida 2016: Clark (20.59 200m PR), Graham (20.84 200m PR), Fasasi (45.43 400m PR), Arroyo (1:45.78 800m PR) = 3:12.64
Arkansas 2000: Chandun O'Neal (20.5), Melvin Lister (20.6), Sam Glover (45.0), James Karanu (1:46.0) = 3:12.13
The Gators will have to aim for PRs in order to break the NCAA record. Fasasi might be the one with the most upside, but fast anchors could goad Arroyo into sub-1:45 territory.
Women’s Sprint Medley Relay Record | 3:41.78, Tennessee (2004)
At last year’s Penn Relays, Oregon stole a sprint medley victory from Clemson with a decisive lean by 800m anchor Annie LeBlanc, who split 2:03.80. Two Ducks from that winning team will return to Franklin Field this weekend in order to defend their title: All-American Jasmine Todd, who will run the second 200m leg, and Raevyn Rogers, the reigning NCAA 800m champion.
Watch the 2015 race:
Although Oregon lost leadoff leg Jenna Prandini to a professional sprinting career with Puma, the Ducks shouldn’t miss a beat with Hannah Cunliffe at the helm. The sophomore currently sits at No. 2 in the NCAA 100m with a 10.99 PR, which she set at last weekend’s Mt. SAC Relays. Keep an eye out for their dark horse 400m leg, Deajah Stevens, who blitzed a 53.63 in 2015 and has spent her subsequent seasons focusing on speed training.
Oregon 2016: Cunliffe (22.71 200m PR), Todd (22.89 200m PR), Stevens (53.63 400m PR), Rogers (1:59.71 800m PR) = 3:38.94
Tennessee 2004: Tianna Madison (Unknown), Toyin Olupona (Unknown), Dee Dee Trotter (51.0), Kameisha Bennett (2:04.2) = 3:41.78
If the Ducks are pushed, they could eclipse the NCAA sprint medley record by a few emphatic seconds to put it out of reach for generations to come.
Men’s 4x400m Relay Record | 2:59.59, Louisiana State (2005)
To put this into perspective, Louisiana State’s 2:59.59 would have taken silver at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Now, several NCAA teams have sub-three-minute potential, and Florida is one of them. At last weekend’s Tom Jones Memorial in Gainesville, the Gators stormed to first in 3:03.07.
Graham Jr., Fasasi, Arman Hall, and Najee Glass will reprise their roles in that victory at this weekend’s Penn Relays, and you better believe they have the firepower to secure that NCAA record. At last year’s Tom Jones, Glass ran a 44.79 PR to outpace adidas’s David Verburg. Although he wasn’t able to venture below 45 seconds again that year, Glass is already off to a hot start in 2016—he ran 45.59 last week in his first open outdoor 400m of the season.
Hall, who took fourth in the 200m and 400m at NCAA Indoors this year, also opened his outdoor schedule at the Tom Jones. His 45.17 makes him the fastest Gator through 400m this year, so he could be trusted with anchor duties for Florida.
Florida 2016: Graham Jr. (45.29 PR), Fasasi (45.43 PR), Hall (44.82 PR), Glass (44.79 PR) = 3:00.33
Louisiana State 2005: Reggie Dardar (46.4), Kelly Willie (44.4), Bennie Brazell (44.8), Xavier Carter (44.0) = 2:59.59
Each Gator will have to run faster than they ever have to catch Louisiana State’s record-setting relay, which featured football star/track phenom Xavier Carter on the anchor leg. But if frosh Fasasi continues to improve, Glass returns to sub-45 territory and the rest of the crew digs deep, they might be able to nab it.
Women’s 4x800m Relay Record | 8:17.45, Villanova (2013)
The Wildcats set this record at the Penn Relays in a down-to-the-wire battle between Oregon’s Laura Roesler and Villanova’s Emily Lipari, so it would only be fitting for a team to reset it again at Franklin Field this weekend.
Perennial powerhouse Oregon will bring a blockbuster team that could exact revenge by snatching the NCAA record back from the Wildcats this year. 2015 Outdoor and 2016 Indoor NCAA champion Rogers headlines the quartet, which will be rounded out by seasoned veteran Annie Leblanc, Ole Miss transfer Brooke Feldmeier, and Olivia Burdon, who has run 4:38 in the mile.
But instead of “simply” chasing the record, the Ducks will have to worry about fending off the Cowgirls. Oklahoma State’s talented crew features Kaela Edwards, the reigning NCAA Indoor mile champion; stalwart All-American Savannah Camacho, who has run 800m in 2:02; and two sub-2:07 runners in Kaylee Dodd (2:06) and Clara Nichols (2:04).
Let’s compare both teams to Villanova’s record-breaking squad to see how they stack up:
Oregon 2016: Rogers (1:59.71 PR), Leblanc (2:03.77 PR), Feldmeier (2:03.13 PR), Burdon (2:08.74 PR) = 8:15.35
Oklahoma State 2016: Edwards (2:01.97 PR), Camacho (2:02.84 PR), Dodd (2:06.30 PR), Nichols (2:04.45 PR) = 8:15.56
Villanova 2013: Kelsey Margey (2:07.04), Angel Piccirillo (2:04.12), Nicky Akande (2:04.04), Emily Lipari (2:02.25) = 8:17.45
Oklahoma State definitely looks better on paper, but the elephant in the room is Oregon’s Burdon. The freshman is a bit of an unknown quantity in the 800m. But with precocious 4:38-mile speed, you have to imagine the Oregon coaching staff trusts her on this relay for a reason. Regardless, the NCAA 4x800m record will definitely be in jeopardy when the Cowgirls and Ducks toe the line this weekend.
Men’s 4x800m Relay Record | 7:08.96, Arizona State (1984)
Middle-distance powerhouse Penn State will look to not only defend their home turf, but break the 4x800m relay record that has stood for more than two decades. All-American Robby Creese has run in the 1:48 range, and so has his teammate, Jordan Makins, who will run second. Freshman talent Isaiah Harris, who blew through 800m in 1:46 this year, will set things up for All-American anchor Brannon Kidder, who finished as the runner-up at NCAA Outdoors last year.
The Nittany Lions will face a challenging cast of characters that could push them beyond the 7:08.69 mark, including Georgetown’s Ahmed Bile (3:40 1500m PR), Cole Williams (3:57 mile PR), and Joe White, who recently ran 1:46 to beat Harris at the Stanford Twilight meet.
Penn State 2016: Creese (1:48.54 PR), Makins (1:48.54 PR), Harris (1:46.05 PR), Kidder (1:45.58 PR) = 7:08.71
Arizona State 1984: Pete Richardson (1:47.5), Eddie Davis (1:47.8), Treg Scott (1:48.1), Mike Stahr (1:45.6) = 7:08.96
If everyone on Penn State’s relay ran to the best of their ability, they would narrowly clip the record by two tenths of a second, but that they could go even further below that mark with the right conditions.