Five Races That Will Be Especially Close At NCAA Prelims

The Road To Eugene Runs Through Prelims

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The race for the top 12 begins this Thursday in Sacramento, California, and Tampa, Florida, as the NCAA's best try to navigate the preliminary rounds and advance to Eugene. The qualifying system is clear-cut and unforgiving, making events with obvious favorites still very intriguing. Here are five of the deepest events that could lead to some intense battles for the 12 qualifying spots.  

Watch The NCAA DI East and West Preliminary Rounds Live On FloTrack

Men's 5000m: West

The sheer depth of the men’s 5000m makes it hard to feel confident narrowing the list down to 12 names. Seed times don’t give as good an indication of the pecking order in the distance races with many athletes running just to qualify throughout the season. This field is filled with athletes who have championship experience and, in some cases, NCAA titles. 

Stanford’s Grant Fisher is the reigning NCAA champion in this event and Andy Trouard of NAU won the 3000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. Jack Bruce of Arkansas was runner-up to Fisher last year and has run 13:28 this year. BYU has four entrants in the field with Clayton Young, Rory Linkletter, Connor McMillan, and Daniel Carney. 

All-Americans Dillon Maggard (Utah State), Cole Rockhold (Colorado State), Colby Gilbert (Washington), and Mike Tate (Southern Utah) should be safely through, but in a field this tough it will take a solid effort. Colorado has two top entrants in Zach Perrin and Ryan Forsyth. Oregon’s Cooper Teare and Northern Arizona’s Luis Grijalva, both freshmen, have proven themselves more than capable of turning in a big performance. 

In short, somebody deserving isn’t going to make the cut.  

Women’s 5000m: West

Like the men’s race, the women’s 5000m in Sacramento is completely loaded, and odds are someone with championship experience will find themselves on the wrong side of the cutoff. Five of the top six women from the 5000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships (and 10 of the top 13 in the 3000m) are in this race.

Karissa Schweizer of Missouri and Allie Ostrander will be racing their second events of the weekend, but they shouldn’t have any issue finding their way into the top 12. The same is true for NCAA cross country champion Ednah Kurgat, Kurgat’s New Mexico teammate Weini Kelati, and Vanessa Fraser of Stanford. 

However, there’s isn’t much margin for error. 

The race also features Amy-Eloise Neale of Washington, Fiona O’Keefe (Stanford), Marie Bouchard (San Francisco), Sharon Lokedi (Kansas), Lilli Burdon (Oregon), and Makena Morley (Colorado). 

Claire Green of Arizona, Kaitlyn Benner of Colorado, Clare O’Brien and Emily Venters of Boise State, Charlotte Taylor of San Francisco, and Erin Clark of Colorado sit 12th through 17th on the seeding—all of whom are capable of grabbing a qualification spot. 

Women's 800m: East

It took 2:07.96 to qualify for the meet, the fastest time required in the nine-year history of the preliminary qualification system. 

That high bar is also accompanied by a parity. The top seed, Heather MacLean of UMass, is 10th on the yearly performance list across the NCAA. Most of the best women’s 800m times have come from out west this season. 

Add in the fact that 2:03 runner Kayla Johnson of Miami is not competing in the meet and Rachel Pocratsky, Danae Rivers, and Jaime Morrissey are all focusing on the 1500m, and suddenly you have a field with a high floor and a low ceiling. 

MacLean’s 2:03.45 is the best of the remaining entrants, but Villanova’s Siofra Cleirigh Buttner might be the one to beat by virtue of her runner-up finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. 

But this meet is about finishing in the top 12. There it is also jumbled. Five women have seed times in the 2:03s, three in the 2:04s, and 11 in the 2:05s. 

Men’s 110m Hurdles: East 

Grant Holloway of Florida is in a class by himself and should have no issue advancing to Eugene. Three of Holloway’s SEC compatriots—Daniel Roberts (Kentucky), Ruebin Walters (Alabama), and Damion Thomas (LSU)—have all run under 13.40 this season and are also are in good position. That has put a bit of separation between those four and rest of the field. 

The race for the other eight spots is where it gets complicated. Nine hurdlers are clumped between 13.54 and 13.69, including Florida State’s Trey Cunningham and Chad Zallow of Youngstown State. Zallow has finished in the top eight in the last two NCAA Indoor Championships and sits 13th on the seeding. Outside of that group, there are other top hurdlers. ACC champion Angelo Goss of Syracuse has a season best of 13.72 and is ranked 15th entering this meet.  

Women's 100m Hurdles: East 

Much like the men’s race, there are heavy favorites and then a mad scramble for the remaining qualifying spots. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Kentucky and Devynne Charlton of Purdue are the top two seeds at 12.40 and 12.70. 

The real fun will be sorting out the back end of this race. Georgia super freshman Tara Davis is seeded 12th with a mark of 13.04, but after that it gets very hard to sort things out. Seeds 13 through 19 are separated by just 0.03 seconds. Yes, the top 12 qualify, but how often to hurdle races in championship settings go to plan?

Big Ten, Pac-12 Call Off Fall Sports

Big Ten

Two of the NCAA’s Power 5 conferences won’t be competing this fall. The Big Ten and the Pac-12 are suspending fall sports, including cross country, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Stahl, Vetter Post Big Throws In Turku

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The Continental Tour kicked off on Tuesday with the first stop taking place in Turku, Finland. As expected, the throws stole the show.

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How to Watch: 2020 World Athletics Continental Tour | Turku

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Here's how to watch the 2020 World Athletics Continental Tour: Turku on FloTrack in the United States.

Ritz-Led On Athletics Club Rolls Out Inaugural Roster

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On Running, the Swiss-based shoe company, just released its full roster for the newly formed On Athletics Club. 

Erriyon Knighton Has Arrived With 200m National Record

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Erriyon Knighton put everyone on notice on Friday. 

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London Marathon To Go Forward As Elite-Only Race On October 4

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Organizers of the postponed 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon announced today that the gala 40th edition their event would proceed as an elite-only race on a closed course within St. James's Park in Central London on Sunday, October 4.  Organizers said that they would create a "secure biosphere," a contained COVID-safe environment, which would allow the race to be run on a small circuit, at least for top athletes.  Citizen runners will only be able to participate remotely, running on their own.

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NCAA Division II/III Fall Championships Canceled

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Fall sports national championships for NCAA Division II and Division III have been canceled. 

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Tamaal Myers Is Ready For His Encore At AAU

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One of the most anticipated races of the AAU Junior Olympic Games this week is led by an athlete that few might know about. 

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Confidence Is Key For Aly Conyers Ahead Of The AAU JO Games

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With less than one week until the AAU Junior Olympic Games, Heathwood Hall's (SC) Aly Conyers is ready to see the results of her season's -- or to some, pandemic -- training finally pay off.

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AAU Junior Olympic Games Performance Lists

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The 2020 AAU Junior Olympic Games begin on Wednesday, August 5th in Brevard County, Florida. Check out the full schedule for the meet here and see the performance list for all events and age groups below.

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