March 1, 2017
Last night, the NCAA announced the list of qualifiers to the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, to be held March 10-11 at Gilliam Indoor Stadium in College Station, Tex. 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.
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 six men’s teams below.
Here are the events in which each school has an athlete(s) entered but not projected to score:
Oregon: 60 (#10), 3k (#14)
Arkansas: mile (#11 and #15), 3k (#11), long jump (#9)
LSU: 60 (#9, t-#11 and t-#11), 200 (#16), 800 (#10), weight throw (#16)
Kentucky: 60 (t-#11), 200 (t-#10 and #12), long jump (#16), triple jump (#10 and #14)
Ole Miss: pole vault (#16)
The Oregon women are comically loaded and it would take a catastrophe to prevent the Ducks from winning their seventh NCAA title in eight years. The more interesting question isn’t whether Oregon will win, but whether this is the greatest collegiate indoor squad of all time. Based on seeds, Oregon is expected to score 80.5 points, which would eclipse the meet record of 71 set by Texas back in 1988. Even more amazing: Oregon is projected to score every single one of those points on the track. The Ducks don’t even have a field event athlete entered in the meet. But with two collegiate record holders (Hannah Cunliffe in the 60 and the DMR squad), an Olympic finalist (Deajah Stevens) and two more multi-time NCAA champions (Ariana Washington and Raevyn Rogers), Oregon doesn’t need any field eventers to win the title. Oregon is so loaded that Ariana Washington, who swept the 100 and 200 at NCAA outdoors last year, is only its third-fastest entrant in the two short sprints (60 and 200). And if Rogers wins the 800 — as she has at the last three NCAA championships — the Ducks could score even higher.
This year, it may be more appropriate to have separate championships for track and field. Just as Oregon has no field eventers entered, the #2 team on paper, Georgia, has no one entered in the running events (unless you count Kendell Williams and Louisa Grauvogel in the pentathlon). Even with that caveat, however, Georgia is projected to score 54 points, a total that would have won NCAAs in three of the past five years. The Bulldogs are led by stars Kendell Williams in the pentathlon — looking to become the first woman ever to win the same event all four years at NCAAs — and horizontal jumper Keturah Orji, who set the U.S./collegiate record in the triple jump last weekend at SECs. The good news for the Bulldogs is that all of their entrants are predicted to score, but the drawback is that it makes it difficult for them to exceed their projection. And they’re going to need to do that if they’re to beat Oregon.