Observations on the Men’s NCAA Indoors Entries: Can Anyone Prevent an Oregon Three-Peat?

By LetsRun.com
March 2, 2016

Last night, the NCAA announced the list of qualifiers to the 2016 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, to be held March 11-12 at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala. We already broke down what it took to make it in the distance events compared to years past, and today we’ll take a more detailed look at the entries and their implications for the team competition.

Men’s and women’s entries

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Men’s competition

Scored track meets can be hard to follow, but we’ve done our best to give you a starting point by scoring the meet based on the entry lists. To create the chart below, we simply looked at the entries and assigned points to the top eight seeds according to the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system used at NCAAs. In the event of a tie, we split the points as the NCAA would (eg. if two athletes tied for seventh, each would earn 1.5 points). We’ve listed the top seven men’s teams below.

60 200 400 800 Mile 3K 5K 60 H 4×4 DMR HJ PV LJ TJ SP WT HEP Total
Oregon 13 10 10 9 4 46
LSU 8 10 9 5 32
Tennessee 7 6 10 8 31
Florida 5 3.5 6 10 5 29.5
Texas 10.5 6 10 26.5
Arkansas 2 5 3 10.5 5 25.5
Texas A&M 3.5 14 4.33 1 22.83

Here are the events in which each school has an athlete(s) entered but not projected to score:

The Oregon distance men won the NCAA title by themselves last year

The Oregon distance men won the NCAA title by themselves last year

Oregon: 5000 (#11), DMR (#11), triple jump (#12), heptathlon (#11)
LSU: 60 (#10), weight throw (#14)
Tennessee: 400 (#13), 4×400 (#12)
Florida: 60 (t-#11), 60 hurdles (t-#10)
Texas: 400 (#15), pole vault (t-#11)
Arkansas: 200 (#10), 400 (#16), 800 (#12), 5000 (#9), high jump (t-#10)
Texas A&M: 4×400 (#11), pole vault (t-#11), long jump (t-#10), heptathlon (#10)

  • Oregon scored 74 points to take the title over Florida last year, tied for the highest score since 1994. They lost 42 of those points to graduation (20 from Eric Jenkins) but thanks to the return of Devon Allen (top seed in 60 hurdles) and the emergence of Blake Haney (top seed in mile), the Ducks are in position to win a third straight title.
  • It’s going to be VERY hard to stop Oregon. The Ducks have a near-automatic 20 points from Edward Cheserek in the 3k/5k plus the top seed in two other events. In addition, they also have four events where they could pick up points, including the distance medley relay. Oregon didn’t use either of its top milers, Cheserek or Haney, on the anchor when it ran its qualifying time. If one of those two men steps in at NCAAs (even though Cheserek would be doubling back from the 5k, which would give him about 30 minutes’ rest), Oregon could increase its total. Even without Haney or Cheserek running anchor, the Ducks could still pick up a few extra points with a good race. The schools chasing Oregon don’t have as much room for error. LSU, Tennessee, Florida and Texas, the teams projected to finish second through fifth, only have two other potential scorers each; Oregon has four.
  • Oregon is the only school projected to score more than 32 points. Last year, four schools were pegged to finish with 40 points or more using the same projections, with two squads predicted to score 60+. In the end, only Oregon and Florida wound up scoring more than 40, but Arkansas almost got there, finishing with 39.
  • Once again, the SEC looks to be the best track conference in America. In 2015, three of the top four teams at NCAAs were from the SEC; this year, projections have the SEC taking five of the top seven spots.