2010 NCAA Indoor Champs - Men's Preview
March 10, 2010
The NCAA indoor meet is coming this Friday and Saturday and we wanted to give our readers a quick preview of what we're excited about. We give you our favorites in selected events and pick our team favorite.
Despite being a distance-oriented site, we'll start with some sprints.
Men's 400 - Meet The SEC Studs
Alabama freshman Kirani James and Georgia sophomore Torrin Lawrence are the top 2 indoor 400 runners in the world by time. Lawrence ran 45.03 at Tyson and 45.10 to win SECs and break world champion Kerron Clement's SEC record. That's right, a freshman and sophomore are 1-2 in the world in their events.
We are so impressed with these two guys that we wanted to provide some more stats. Lawrence, 20, ran 32.32 this year for 300m indoors without the use of blocks. Sure, it's a rarely-run event, but still it's the 5th-fastest time ever run indoors at the distance.
James (who hails from Grenada and is still only 17) has a 45.24 to his name this indoor season. It's the 9th-fastest time ever run indoors and it didn't even win his conference meet (Lawrence won in 45.10)!
Both James and Lawrence have run very fast on Arkansas' track. SECs and Tyson were run on the same track as nationals. We thought we might see a world record but realized the world mark is a long way off. The world junior record belongs to LaShawn Merritt at 44.93 - that seems doable for James. But the overall world record is 44.57 by Kerron Clement set back in 2005 on the Arkansas track.
Our Predictions: We're going with Lawrence 1, James 2, with both under 45.
|Photo: Robby Andrews - will he upset Andrew Wheating while still a true freshman?|
Men's 800m - Huge Event For Oregon In Team Title Chase
Oregon senior Andrew Wheating is the clear favorite. It's hard to believe that Wheating was an Olympian almost 2 years ago as he always makes the NCAA championships interesting. Wheating won the 2009 NCAA outdoor 800m championship with a big kick at the very last moments of the race to pass Texas' Tevan Everett. At NCAA indoors in '09, he was second to Texas' Jacob Hernandez. In '08, the year Wheating made the Olympics for the US, he didn't run indoor nationals and outdoors he was 2nd to Hernandez by 0.01.
|Photo: Andrew Wheating always makes the NCAA 800m championships interesting.|
Will Wheating have trouble this year? It's hard to imagine, as he has run almost a full second faster than anyone else in the NCAA despite only running the 800 once this year. The one thing to watch for is Wheating's endurance over the 2-day event, where he'll have to run 2 800s and likely will anchor the DMR on Friday night. Coming back from injury, Wheating might not have the endurance, though he's clearly the best if you simply line everyone up for one race.
Shifting focus, Penn State qualified 4 men for the 800, an amazing accomplishment. The Lions are led by Aussie Ryan Foster and have 3 under 1:48 indoors. Also of note is Oregon true freshman Elijah Greer. Greer's 1:47.33 is 3rd in the NCAA, right behind Foster. Can Greer come through for the Ducks with the team title on the line?
Going a little deeper in the rankings, our eyes will be on Robby Andrews of Virginia, one of several unusually fast freshman half milers. Andrews has been unbeatable on the East coast. He hasn't run under 1:48, but he also hasn't been running these oversized track rabbited races, either. We don't think he has crossed a finish line behind another runner yet this year. If anyone can challenge Wheating, we think it will be Andrews as his last 200 is unreal, but then again, so is Wheating's. We hope they try to outkick each other.
Predictions: It's ridiculous to try to predict a championship 800, but we'll try: 1. Wheating, 2. Andrews, 3. Foster
Event 4 Men 800 Meter Run Prelims =============================================================================== Name Year School Seed =============================================================================== 1 Andrew Wheating SR Oregon 1:46.36D 2 Ryan Foster JR Penn State 1:47.32D 3 Elijah Greer FR Oregon 1:47.33D 4 Zach Mellon FR Wisconsin 1:47.45D 5 Owen Dawson JR Penn State 1:47.77D 6 Richard Jones JR LSU 1:47.78D 7 Sharif Webb JR Kentucky 1:47.86D 8 Casimir Loxsom FR Penn State 1:47.98D 9 James Gilreath JR Baylor 1:48.00D 10 Robby Andrews FR Virginia 1:48.02D 11 Mason McHenry SO Arizona Stat 1:48.04D 12 Chris Gowell SR Baylor 1:48.23D 13 Dan White JR Ohio State 1:48.26D 14 Lionel Williams JR Penn State 1:48.53D 15 Jack Howard SR Notre Dame 1:48.60D 16 Jamaal James SR LSU 1:48.73D
|Photo: Lee Emanuel of the University of New Mexico, the 2009 NCAA Indoor Mile Champion.|
Men's Mile - Briton Lee Emanuel Of UNM Is The Returning Champion
Oregon could play a big role in the other men's individual mid-distance race with freshman Mac Fleet and senior A.J. Acosta having run 3:57 and 3:58 this year on oversized tracks. Minnesota sophomore Ben Blankenship is one to watch, as he ran very well last week to make the meet, winning over Galen Rupp and others in Washington. Lee Emanuel is a clear favorite simply based on three facts: he won the meet last year, he's got the best time in the country this year, and he's got the experience of a 25-year-old. That's right, he's 5 or 6 years older than half the field, so if you're handicapping the field, factor that in.
22 NCAA men broke 4:00 indoors this year. Many of the times were run on oversized tracks or in time-trial-esque "races," but 22 collegiates under 4:00 is incredible. Of the 16 men in the mile at NCAAs, 8 are listed as freshmen or sophomores. That's surely a sign that coaches and athletes, many of them American, are figuring out how to run fast.
Predictions: We'll go with experience - seniors 1-2. 1) Emanuel repeats, 2) See, 3) Blankenship (Big 10 champ)
Event 5 Men 1 Mile Run Prelims =============================================================================== Name Year School Seed =============================================================================== 1 Lee Emanuel SR New Mexico 3:57.62D 2 Mac Fleet FR Oregon 3:57.70D 3 Ben Blankenship SO Minnesota 3:57.87D 4 A.J. Acosta SR Oregon 3:58.08D 5 Abdi Hassan SO Arizona 3:58.50D 6 Kyle Merber SO Columbia 3:58.52D 7 Jeff See SR Ohio State 3:58.82D 8 Dylan Ferris SO Stanford 3:58.90D 9 Riley Masters SO Maine 3:59.07D 10 Patrick Casey FR Montana Stat 3:59.17D 11 Rob Mullett SR Butler 3:59.37D 12 Jacob Boone SR Oklahoma 3:59.44D 13 Erik van Ingen JR Binghamton 3:59.58D 14 Cameron Levins JR Southern Uta 3:59.80D 15 Blake Shaw SO USC 3:59.85D 16 Eric Harasyn JR Oklahoma 3:59.97D
Men's DMR, 3,000 And 5,000 - The David McNeill Show?
|Photo: Think Ulrey can't run distance? He was 6th at NCAA cross-country this year.|
We hope Aussie David McNeill is reading our preview, as we are going to take some pressure off of his back. Although McNeill's NCAA-leading times in both the 3,000m and 5,000m make him the quick-glance favorite to win both, we give you two names from lower in the ranks to watch out for.
McNeill's biggest contender in the 3,000 will be a guy who most would expect to see in the mile - Arkansas' Dorian Ulrey. Most readers are going, "Huh? Why isn't Ulrey in the mile?" Ulrey made the US Worlds team last year in the 1,500, but likely is running the 3,000 so the Razorbacks have a better shot at winning both the 3,000 and the DMR (otherwise he would have to run the mile prelim before the DMR). The distance medley is Friday night and the 3,000 is late in the program on Saturday. Look for Ulrey on the Arkansas 1,600m anchor leg - we'll basically guarantee that one. We can't guarantee this, but we're 99% sure you'll see Oregon's Andrew Wheating on the 1,600 leg for Oregon in the DMR (they aren't trying "The Rupp" with Wheating, having him do something like 800, mile, DMR because the schedule would be too insane).
Ulrey/Wheating, Arkansas/Oregon on the DMR anchor would be a great showdown of athletes who have both worn the US jersey at international senior competitions. By the way, Wheating has only run 2 races in 2010 coming back from a calf injury that has kept him out since 2009 NCAA outdoors. Those performances were a 1:46 800 and a 3:58 mile. Not bad.
His 3:58 mile was actually remarkable as he won by almost four full seconds. Wheating is the class of the mid-d guys at this meet and therefore we think the Oregon DMR will win.
|Photo: 2009 NCAA cross-country champion Samuel Chelanga ran 13:44 to win by 7 seconds at Tyson this year.|
In the 5,000, McNeill will compete against Liberty junior Sam Chelanga. Chelanga crushed everyone, including McNeill, at NCAA XC this fall. McNeill was the best of the rest in 2nd. Chelanga is way better at McNeill over 10,000m in terms of PRs, but he's not that much better at 5,000m (13:24 compared to 13:30) and we aren't sure Chelanga is really on fire yet this season. He won Tyson by 7 seconds in 13:44, but McNeill, with his 7:47 3,000m and his 13:39 5,000, seems sharper, so that's why he's still the slight favorite on the indoor track.
Stat Of The Preview: How many NCAA track titles does Sam Chelanga have? Zero. Hard to believe considering he's a 27:28 guy.
If Oregon is going to compete for the team title, they're going to need a big DMR performance (they've got the NCAA #1 time) and some points from Luke Puskedra, their lone entrant in the 3,000 and 5,000. Puskedra's times in the events aren't among the top 5, but he proved last year as a freshman that when he's on top of his game, he can sneak in for some big points.
3,000m Predictions: 1. Ulrey, 2. McNeill, 3. Craig Miller
5,000m Predictions: 1. McNeill, 2. Chelanga, 3. Colby Lowe
DMR Predictions: 1. Oregon, 2. Arkansas, 3. Cal
Event 6 Men 3000 Meter Run =============================================================================== Name Year School Seed =============================================================================== 1 David McNeill JR Northern Ari 7:47.52D 2 Craig Miller SR Wisconsin 7:49.94D 3 Lee Emanuel SR New Mexico 7:51.20D 4 Michael Coe JR California 7:52.14D 5 Brandon Bethke SR Arizona Stat 7:54.27D 6 Chris Rombough SR Minnesota 7:54.57D 7 Dorian Ulrey SR Arkansas 7:55.23D 8 Andrew Bayer FR Indiana 7:55.25D 9 Mark Matusak SR California 7:55.63D 10 Rory Fraser SR New Mexico 7:56.31D 11 Matthew Leeder JR Florida Stat 7:56.40D 12 Jeff See SR Ohio State 7:57.14D 13 Justin Marpole-Bird SR Stanford 7:57.15D 14 Luke Puskedra SO Oregon 7:57.42D 15 Andrew Poore SO Indiana 7:57.44D
Event 7 Men 5000 Meter Run =============================================================================== Name Year School Seed =============================================================================== 1 David McNeill JR Northern Ari 13:39.32D 2 Sam Chelanga JR Liberty 13:44.16D 3 Colby Lowe SO Oklahoma Sta 13:45.01D 4 Ryan Collins SO Virginia 13:46.41D 5 Elliott Heath SO Stanford 13:47.14D 6 Chris Barnicle SR New Mexico 13:47.16D 7 Rory Fraser SR New Mexico 13:48.24D 8 Colton Tully-Doyle SR Washington 13:48.86D 9 Andrew Poore SO Indiana 13:48.88D 10 Scott MacPherson SR Arkansas 13:49.57D 11 Luke Puskedra SO Oregon 13:50.87D 12 Festus Kigen JR TCU 13:51.72D 13 Jon Grey SR William and 13:52.11D 14 Justin Tyner JR Air Force 13:52.47D 15 Jake Riley JR Stanford 13:52.87D
Event 10 Men Distance Medley =============================================================================== School Seed =============================================================================== 1 Oregon 9:29.82D 1) Mac Fleet FR 2) Chad Barlow SR 3) Elijah Greer FR 4) A.J. Acosta SR 2 Stanford 9:30.25D 1) John Sullivan JR 2) Amaechi Morton SO 3) Dylan Ferris SO 4) Justin Marpole-Bird SR 3 UCLA 9:31.07D 1) Scott Crawford SR 2) Quentin Powell JR 3) Cory Primm JR 4) Marlon Patterson SR 4 Arizona State 9:31.34D 1) Nectaly Barbosa JR 2) Mason McHenry SO 3) Brandon Bethke SR 4) Donald Sanford SR 5 California 9:32.11D 1) Mark Matusak SR 2) Tom Blocker FR 3) Sebastian Sam SO 4) Michael Coe JR 6 Eastern Michigan 9:32.72D 1) Curtis Vollmar SR 2) Ackeem Forde SR 3) Blake Figgins SR 4) David Brent SR 7 Indiana 9:32.73D 1) Ben Hubers SO 2) Kind Butler SO 3) De'Sean Turner JR 4) Andrew Bayer FR 8 Villanova 9:33.11D 1) Carl MacKenzie JR 2) Garrett Kroner SR 3) Cody Harper JR 4) Mathew Mildenhall FR 9 Arkansas 9:33.12D 1) Drew Butler FR 2) Ben Skidmore SO 3) Chris Bilbrew JR 4) Dorian Ulrey SR 10 Minnesota 9:33.86D 1) Andy Richardson SO 2) Logan Stroman SR 3) Harun Abda FR 4) Chris Rombough SR 11 Texas 9:34.26D 1) Logan Gonzales JR 2) Danzell Fortson JR 3) Tevas Everett SR 4) Patrick Todd SO
Team Race - If Florida Doesn't Win ... We'll Be Shocked
The latest USTFCCCA team standings have Florida #1, Oregon #2 and Texas A&M #3. Florida has more big guns than anyone. They've got Jeff Demps in the 60, Calvin Smith in the 200/400, Christian Taylor in LJ/TJ, a great 4 x 400, and about a half a dozen other guys ranked around 8th or 9th in the country. Only 8 score, so if one of the Florida stars doesn't have it, then that's where Oregon or A&M could sneak in.
Oregon has a very good shot at 10 points with Ashton Eaton in the heptathlon. Andrew Wheating and Elijah Greer are in the 800, the Ducks have a decent shot at points in the 4 x 400, the NCAA #1 DMR (assuming Wheating on the anchor, they might win), Acosta and Mac Fleet in the mile, and Puskedra in the distance events.
We don't like the Ducks over the Gators in a tug-of-war, that's for sure. And frankly it will be a major upset if the skinny guys upset the speedsters from Florida. We're going with Florida for the team title, but it will be fun to see the Oregon distance guys go for a team title without Rupp (remember, they almost won cross-country when only ranked 8th in the pre-meet polls).