Simulating The NCAA Indoor Championships

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The statistics website FiveThirtyEight recently simulated the results of the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments. To crown the champions, they used their own statistical model and a "100-sided dice roll"

Though I don’t have the ability to mimic any of the hard math required, I do have the desire to predict/speculate the results of the canceled track season. 

Up first, I’ll look at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Remember, all simulated results are unofficial.

Here are the highlights from the running events:

The Distance Races

We start in the 800m where Texas A&M's Devin Dixon has a great final day and gets the individual title that has escaped him in prior seasons. The mile lives up to its billing with Oliver Hoare and Geordie Beamish reenacting their race from 2019. This time, Hoare gets into lane one before the bell and holds off Beamish for the win. 

Dani Jones obliterates the field in the women’s mile, as expected. Her bid for an 800m/mile double comes up short when Penn’s Nia Akins runs wire-to-wire to get her first NCAA title. 

On the first night of racing, Yared Nuguse reprises his role as kicker extraordinaire and leads Notre Dame to a repeat distance medley relay victory. The women’s race looks an awful lot like the cross country championships with Stanford, Arkansas and BYU in it with 400m to go. BYU’s Whittni Orton separates from the other two teams on the last lap and BYU gets their title. 

In the 5000s, the NAU men push the pace, dropping everyone except Joe Klecker and Edwin Kurgat. Kurgat takes command in the last 800m and holds off a late rush from Klecker. NAU’s Tyler Day places third and three Lumberjacks score to keep them in the team race. Weini Kelati uses the home altitude advantage in the women’s 5000m race and wins by 25 meters. 

Kelati tries to pull off the double the next day, but runs into a deep field with Katie Izzo, Alicia Monson and Whittni Orton. Monson is the only one racing on fresh legs and she takes advantage, winning her second NCAA individual title. 

The men’s race is equally deep. Klecker, Kurgat, Nuguse, Day, Luis Grijalva, Beamish and Cooper Teare are all in the mix in the last 1200. NAU needed a huge score here for the team title so they swing for the fences. Klecker weathers the strong pace and wins his first NCAA title. Grijalva beats Kurgat for second, the best NCAA performance of his career. Teare, Nuguse, Peter Seufer, Day and Beamish round out the scorers. 

The Sprints & Hurdles 

Raymond Ekevwo keeps the 60m title in Gainesville and wins the men’s race. For the women, Twanisha Terry defends her title and gets 10 big points for USC. LSU’s Terrance Laird wins the men’s 200m and Matthew Boling of Georgia comes in a solid 5th, winning the second section. Anavia Battle of Ohio State wins the women’s race, USC doesn’t get too many points here, but it doesn’t matter because they score big in the 400m. Three Trojans finish in the points in the women’s 400m, led by Bailey Lear’s second-place finish. Alexis Holmes of Kentucky takes the individual win. 

The men’s race is crowded, but Jonathan Jones of Texas uses his Diamond League experience to get the victory. North Carolina A&T’s Randolph Ross gets second. Good run for the freshman. 

To the hurdles, which held extra significance because of the team race. Trey Cunningham of Florida State breaks 7.50 and wins the individual race but Eric Edwards and Damion Thomas finished 2-3 to give a huge boost to LSU. A similar story plays out for the women. Tonea Marshall wins the individual race, but the team favorite USC gets points from Anna Cockrell and Mecca McGlaston.

USC’s depth is too much in the women’s 4x400m and they edge out Kentucky for the win. Texas A&M puts together a great men’s 4x400m for about the 100th year in a row and take the men’s race. 

The Team Race

As expected, USC rolls in the women’s competition and sets up the possibility that they can sweep all the sprints, hurdles and relays outdoors. 

Heading into the 4x400m in the men’s race, LSU needs five points to surpass NAU. They run 3:05.50 to win the second section, meaning they can score no lower than four points and have clinched a tie at the very least. The NAU team cheers wildly for all four teams in the final section to beat 3:05:50. The slowest of the heat runs 3:05:20. No protests are filed. We have an LSU/NAU tie.

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The recent announcements of program cuts to men's cross country at Akron and men's track at Central Michigan have resurfaced a feeling of uncertainty for the future of NCAA cross country and track. Here is a breakdown of where our sport currently stands within the NCAA system.

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