Edward Cheserek May Never Win The Bowerman Thanks to Christian Coleman, The Oregon Women Are Amazing, and Brother/Sister History in the Multis

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by LetsRun.com
March 14, 2017

The 2017 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships are in the books. The Oregon women were simply dominant winning with a record 84 points and the Texas A&M men won in the most dramatic fashion by winning the final event, the 4×400 relay, to win the meet by half a point over Florida. You can find all our 2017 NCAA Indoor Coverage here.

Our coverage focused on the distance races, below we have more post NCAA news on the sprints and multi-events.

The Oregon Women’s Sprint Corps is Simply Amazing

Oregon entered the meet projected to score 80.5 points (based on seeds), which would eclipse the meet record of 71 set by Texas in 1988. And by winning last weekend in College Station, the Ducks didn’t just secure their seventh women’s title in eight years; they stamped themselves as the greatest team in NCAA history, exceeding the pre-meet projection to amass a record 84 points. And Oregon managed all this despite the fact that Olympian Deajah Stevens was disqualified in her specialty event, the 200 meters, after setting the collegiate/American record in the preliminaries (the Ducks wound up going 1-2 in that race anyway).

The Dominant Oregon Women via @OregonTF

The Dominant Oregon Women via @OregonTF

A full breakdown of the Ducks’ points:

  • 60: 20 points (Hannah Cunliffe 1st, Ariana Washington 3rd, Deajah Stevens 5th)
  • 200: 18 points (Washington 1st, Cunliffe 2nd)
  • 60 hurdles: 11 points (Sasha Wallace 1st, Alaysha Johnson 8th)
  • 3000: 11 points (Katie Rainsberger 3rd, Samantha Nadel 4th)
  • 800: 10 points (Raevyn Rogers 1st)
  • 4×400: 8 points (2nd)
  • DMR: 6 points (3rd)

Remarkably, as we pointed out before the meet, Oregon scored every single point on the track as it didn’t qualify any field events for the meet. And as impressive as the Ducks ran, it’s not hard to imagine them cracking 90 points if Stevens hadn’t been DQ’d in the 200.

Maurica Powell's distance runners went 3-4 in the 3k

Maurica Powell’s distance runners went 3-4 in the 3k and got 3rd in the DMR, but the sprinters would have won NCAAs on their own.

While the Oregon mid-d/distance crew had a great meet (27 points and a meet record from Rogers in the 800), what the sprinters did was simply ridiculous. If you scored only Oregon’s sprinters (including hurdles) against every other team in the NCAA, the Ducks would still have won the team title. Heck, if you only scored Oregon’s points from the 60 and the 200, they would have beaten every other school except for Georgia.

What the Oregon women have going in the 60/200 (and 100/200 outdoors) is simply amazing. Hannah Cunliffe is the NCAA record holder at 60m. Deajah Stevens broke the American 200m record before she was DQ’d. That means the #2 Oregon runner at the 60 and 200 is Ariana Washington, who won the 100 and 200 at NCAAs last year outdoors. Yes, Oregon’s “back-up” indoor sprinter pulled off the 100/200 double last year.

Those three are so good Oregon could have won the meet with only 4 women – the 60/200 women (Cunliffe, Washington, Stevens) and Sasha Wallace or Raevyn Rogers. The 60/200 women scored 38 points. Throw in Wallace or Rogers and that is 48 points (Georgia had 51 points in second), but that includes the DQ for Stevens. Without Stevens getting DQ’d, add 6 more points to the Ducks’ total and that is 54 points, enough to win the meet.

Devon and Kendell Williams via @UGATrack

Devon and Kendell Williams via @UGATrack

Final-event drama and brother/sister history in the multi-events

The very first title of the weekend was awarded in the pentathlon, and we saw history as Georgia’s Kendell Williams became the first woman to win the same event four times at NCAA Indoors (two men have done it: UTEP’s Suleiman Nyambui in the mile and SMU’s Michael Carter in the shot put). Williams entered the final event, the 800, with a nine-point lead over second place Taliyah Brooks of Arkansas, meaning that Brooks had to beat Williams by just over a second to win the title. She tried to hang with Williams over the first two laps, but Williams beat her handily in the end, 2:15.61 to 2:22.39, to make history.

On the men’s side, the heptathlon actually wound up being more dramatic, despite the fact that Kentucky’s Tim Duckworth had a seemingly-insurmountable lead of 224 points over Georgia’s Devon Williams — Kendell’s older brother — entering the final event, the 1000. Duckworth had set or tied his PR in five of the first six events (60, 60 hurdles, high jump, pole vault, shot put). His massive lead meant that he merely had to finish within about 21 seconds of Duckworth to clinch the title. The 1000 is not Duckworth’s strong suit — his PR is only 2:57.51 — but even so it was going to take a massive effort for Williams (whose PR was 2:43.10) to catch him.

Unfortunately for Duckworth, that’s what happened. Williams summoned a magnificent clutch performance to PR in 2:41.26 while an exhausted Duckworth could only manage 3:04.24. That was enough to flip the standings and give Williams the title by 12 points, in the process making Kendell and Devon the first siblings to sweep the multis at an NCAA meet. We can’t remember two siblings ever winning a title at the same NCAA championships — if you know of it ever happening, shoot us an email.

Duckworth has the consolation of smashing his own British record. No one has ever scored more points than Duckworth (6165) at an NCAA championship and lost, and it was a deep event behind him as all-time NCAA marks for place were set in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th as well.

Does the Emergence of Christian Coleman mean no Bowerman for Edward Cheserek?

Edward Cheserek has been a finalist for The Bowerman — track and field’s version of the Heisman Trophy — in each of the past three years, and we expect him to be a finalist once again in 2017. Yet despite 15 individual NCAA titles across cross country, indoor and outdoor track (tied for the most ever) plus two relay titles, Cheserek has yet to win The Bowerman. Even if Cheserek sweeps the 5,000 and 10,000 at NCAA outdoors in June, giving him four NCAA titles in 2017 (and 17 NCAA titles in all), that still may not be enough for Cheserek to win The Bowerman thanks to what Tennessee’s Christian Coleman did this weekend.

Coleman didn’t just become the first man since fellow Volunteer Justin Gatlin in 2002 to sweep the short sprints at NCAA Indoors; he tied the collegiate record of 6.45 seconds in the 60 (T-6 on the world all-time list) and was .01 behind Wallace Spearmon’s collegiate record in the 200, running 20.11 (#3 on the world all-time list). If Coleman sweeps the 100-200 at NCAA outdoors — he’s the top returner in each — even another collegiate record by Cheserek may not be enough to prevent Coleman from winning The Bowerman.

It seems impossible that Cheserek could retire with 17 individual NCAA titles and not win collegiate track and field’s highest individual honor. Here’s what Cheserek has done during his career and who beat him each year (The Bowerman is awarded based on performances in the NCAA indoor & outdoor season only — so no cross country, and no track meets after the NCAA outdoor championships).

2014

Cheserek: NCAA 3k/5k champ indoors, NCAA 10k champ/5k runner-up outdoors. SBs of 3:36.50 (#9 all-time NCAA), 7:47.20, 13:18.71 (#10 all-time NCAA), 28:30.10.

Deon Lendore, Texas A&M: NCAA 400 champ indoors, NCAA 400 champ outdoors; also split 44.11 on anchor leg of winning 4×400 relay that ran 2:59.60 (.01 off collegiate record) and ran on runner-up 4×100 relay. SBs of 45.03 indoors (T-#4 all-time NCAA) and 44.36 outdoors (#7 all-time NCAA).

2015
Cheserek: NCAA mile champ/3k runner-up indoors; also split 3:57.68 on winning DMR squad. NCAA 5k/10k champ outdoors. SBs of 3:56.43, 7:49.56, 13:45.25, 28:58.92.

Marquis Dendy, Florida: NCAA long jump/triple jump champ indoors and outdoors. SBs of 8.28m and 17.37m (#3 all-time NCAA, NCAA meet record) indoors, 8.34m and 17.50m (#3 all-time NCAA) outdoors.

2016

Cheserek: NCAA 3k/5k champ indoors; also split 3:52.84 on anchor leg of winning DMR that set meet record of 9:27.27. NCAA 5k/10k champ outdoors. SBs of 3:57.38, 7:40.51 (#2 all-time NCAA), 13:25.59, 28:58.57.

Jarrion Lawson, Arkansas: NCAA long jump champ indoors, 5th in 60. NCAA 100/200/long jump champ outdoors. SBs of 8.17m and 6.60 seconds indoors; SBs of 10.07, 20.17 and 8.15m outdoors.

Cheserek’s best season was 2016, but even though he was way better than Lawson indoors, the voters gave it to Lawson, who was the first man to win the 100, 200 and long jump at NCAAs since Jesse Owens did it in 1936. Dendy was incredible in 2015 and won more NCAA individual titles than Cheserek that year, so it’s hard for Cheserek supporters to be too upset with the outcome there. Compared to their historical peers, Lendore’s times were better than Cheserek in 2015, but Cheserek won more individual titles.

We’ll get a better idea of Cheserek’s 2017 chances in June after the outdoor championships. We wonder if some of the voters who didn’t vote for Cheserek in the past will change their minds to ensure the most decorated NCAA runner of all time does not go his entire career without winning collegiate track and field’s most prestigious prize.

Coleman via @UT_Vols

Coleman via @UT_Vols

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As for Coleman, Grant Ramey of Vols247.com has a nice profile on him and we’ve got a video interview with him below from NCAAs. The US sprint future looks very bright as Coleman only turned 21 last week. He’s 8 months younger than Trayvon Bromell who made the US Olympic 100m team last year as a 20 year old. Justin Gatlin is 35 years old and Tyson Gay turns 35 this year. Speaking of Gatlin, the former Vol, was one of the first to call Tennessee coach Beth Alford-Sullivan and congratulate her on Coleman’s success.

And while Usain Bolt has revolutionized sprinting with his 6’5″ frame, Coleman is in the Trayvon Bromell camp of smaller powerful guys who can fly. Both are listed as 5’9″. Seeing Bromell at NCAAs walking around, we were reminded how different the body types are of the world’s fastest men.

Coleman After 60m Record