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NCAA Championships: What to Watch on Wednesday

NCAA Championships: What to Watch on Wednesday

| On 08, Jun 2016

The NCAA Championships begin today at Oregon’s historic* Hayward Field, and we’ll have our own inimitable style of coverage right here at the Daily Relay.

(*I am told that Nike lawyers will slap you with a lawsuit if you do not refer to Hayward as “historic”.)

Texas A&M coach Pat Henry may be right. There are a whole bunch of great things about this meet. It’s a team competition and an individual competition. It brings together athletes from every state in the union and 45 countries.

What I have for you today is a breakdown of your key links and information, an analysis of each of the team favorites, and a preview of each of today’s events.

Key Information

For the second year in a row, the meet has been split into men’s competition (today and Friday) and women’s competition (Thursday and Saturday)
Schedule, start lists and live results

TV/web: You can see it all on the various ESPN networks.
ESPN3.com will have live decathlon and field event coverage from 3:30pm ET.
Television coverage begins at 7:30pm on either ESPNU or ESPN2, and switches over to either ESPN or ESPN2 at 8:30pm (channels are dependent on Women’s World Series result).

All the other information you need can be found at the USTFCCCA’s National Championships Central.

Team favorites

There are several ways of looking at who the team favorites are. One is the USTFCCCA computer rankings, and another is Track and Field News’ formcharts. For each of the top-rated teams, I’ve summarized their ranking and their season, plus listed all of their entries into the meet and how they are predicted to finish (an “x” means not picked for the top ten).

As the meet goes along, you can follow many different team scoring projections all in one nifty form chart tracker.

Texas A&M Aggies

USTFCCCA rank: #1
TFN formchart pick: #2
NCAA indoor finish: 10th
Outdoor conference finish: 2nd in the SEC
Last outdoor championship: 2013
Why they’ll win: The USTFCCCA computer ratings has them picked for #1, and the system has a pretty good track record for picking the winner.
Why they won’t win: They’re counting on big points in events that are notoriously unpredictable: the 800 meters, the pole vault, the javelin, and the decathlon.
Complete entry list:

Athlete    Event    TFN pick
Fred Kerley    400m    5
Donovan Brazier    800m    4
Hector Hernandez    800m    5
Robert Grant    400H    3
relay    4×100    9
relay    4×400    3
Chase Wolfle    PV    7
Carl Johansson    PV    x
Jacob Wooten    PV    x
Will Williams    LJ    5
Latario Collie    TJ    3
Lathone Collie    TJ    x
Jeffrey Protho    TJ    x
Jeff Bartlett    DT    x
Ioannis Kyriazis    JT    2
Sam Hardin    JT    x
Lindon Victor    Dec    1

Oregon Ducks

USTFCCCA rank: #3
TFN formchart pick: #3
NCAA indoor finish: 1st
Outdoor conference finish: 1st in the Pac-12
Last outdoor championship: 2015
Why they’ll win: The Ducks have lots of firepower, and they always seem to beat expectations at the outdoor NCAAs.
Why they won’t win: Well, ya got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here in Track Town USA. Edward Cheserek has been banged up most of the spring, and he’s not the only Duck with injury woes. And they’ll be asking Devon Allen for a nearly Owensish level of performance in the 200, high hurdles, and both relays.
Complete entry list:

Athlete    Event    TFN pick
Devon Allen    200m    x
Marcus Chambers    400m    4
Matthew Maton    1500    5
Blake Haney    1500    6
Sam Prakel    1500    7
Edward Cheserek    5k    1
Jake Leingang    5k    x
Edward Cheserek    10k    1
Devon Allen    110H    1
Ben Thiel    400H    x
relay    4×100    x
Cole Walsh    PV    x
Greg Skipper    HT    3
Cody Danielson    JT    10
John Nizich    JT    x
Joe Delgado    Dec    x
Mitch Modin    Dec    x

LSU Tigers

USTFCCCA rank: #4
TFN formchart pick: #1
NCAA indoor finish: 4th
Outdoor conference finish: 4th in the SEC
Last outdoor championship: 2002
Why they’ll win: Track and Field News‘ John Auka has them as the favorites in his formcharts.
Why they won’t win: The Bayou Bengals have more downside than upside. When you’re picked for four wins and a second, it’s easy to score less than expected and very hard to score more.
Complete entry list:

Athlete    Event    TFN pick
Tinashe Mutanga    100m    2
Neth. Mitchell-Blake    100m    1
Neth. Mitchell-Blake    200m    4
Renard Howell    200m    x
Michael Cherry    400m    1
Fitzroy Dunkley    400m    6
Lamar Bruton    400m    x
Jordan Moore    110H    6
relay    4×100    1
relay    4×400    1

Arkansas Razorbacks

USTFCCCA rank: #5
TFN formchart pick: #4
NCAA indoor finish: 2nd
Outdoor conference finish: 1st in the SEC
Last outdoor championship: 2003
Why they’ll win: All the Hogs do is win. They won the SEC Championships both indoors and out and they were second at the NCAA indoors. They have the most qualifiers of any team in the meet (19).
Why they won’t win: They’re only expected to score big in three events, the 4×100 and long and triple jumps. It’s pretty hard to nickel and dime your way to a championship.
Complete entry list:

Athlete    Event    TFN pick
Marqueeze Washington    100m    x
Jarrion Lawson    100m    4
Kenzo Cotton    100m    7
Marqueeze Washington    200m    x
Jarrion Lawson    200m    6
Kenzo Cotton    200m    8
Obi Igboke    400m    x
Ryan Thomas    800m    x
Frankline Tonui    3kSt    x
Gabe Gonzalez    10k    10
Larry Donald    400H    x
relay    4×100    2
relay    4×400    x
Ken LeGassey    HJ    9
Andreas Trajkovski    LJ    9
Kurt Jenner    LJ    x
Jarrion Lawson    LJ    1
Clive Pullen    TJ    1
Brad Culp    Dec    x
Derek Jacobus    Dec    x

Florida Gators

USTFCCCA rank: #2
TFN formchart pick: #5
NCAA indoor finish: 7th
Outdoor conference finish: 6th in the SEC
Last outdoor championship: 2013
Why they’ll win: They’ve got big-point opportunities in four events: the 400 meters, 400 hurdles, 4×400 relay, and triple jump
Why they won’t win: The Gators finished 6th in the SEC Championships, their worst finish in 20 years. That seems to indicate that they just don’t have the depth to pull it off.
Complete entry list:

Athlete    Event    TFN pick
Ryan Clark    100m    x
Arman Hall    400m    3
Kunle Fasasi    400m    x
Najee Glass    400m    9
Yanick Hart    110H    x
Eric Futch    400H    1
TJ Holmes    400H    4
relay    4×100    5
relay    4×400    2
KeAndre Bates    LJ    7
KeAndre Bates    TJ    1
Anders Eriksson    HT    6

Event-by-event viewer’s guide

Decathlon

First event at 12:30pm local time (3:30pm ET), runs all day
Running score
The favorite: Lindon Victor, Texas A&M
The first-year collegian (junior eligibility) out of Grenada added nearly a thousand points to his PR at the SEC Championships and is suddenly one of the top ten in the world.
The challenger: Maicel Uibo, Georgia
This is the rare situation where the two-time defending NCAA champion is not the favorite. He’s proven and consistent, but lost to Victor at the SECs despite recording the second-highest score of his career.
Team implications: Texas A&M is looking for a victory out of Victor and the ten points that go with it. Oregon and Arkansas each have two qualifiers, none of whom are expected to score, so any could give their team a big boost if they do manage to finish in the top eight.
Key indicators: The decathlon is a complex but interesting event to follow. Every athlete has their strengths and weaknesses and will have ups and downs. The leader at the end of the first day doesn’t always win, so watch who is beating their PRs more than who is at the top of the leader board. The easiest way to keep up with that is via the TFN message boards.

Hammer Throw

Begins at 2:00pm local time (5:00pm ET)
Two flights of 12, then 9 to finals

Start list & live results
The favorite: Nick Miller, Oklahoma State
This is Miller’s fourth trip to the NCAA Championships. He’s never won, and at times has seriously underperformed, but he’s become more composed in competitive situations; he got to the finals of last year’s World Championships.
The challenger: Rudy Winkler, Cornell
Winkler was a high school superstar who is just now growing into the outsized expectations placed on him.
Team implications: TFN picked Oregon’s Greg Skipper for third and Florida’s Anders Eriksson for sixth.
Key indicators: If Miller struggles in the early rounds, more often than not he does not pull it together later. This does not appear to be true for Winkler.

Running event semifinals

Begin at 4:30pm local time (7:30pm ET)
Start lists and live results
The real drama in semifinals are not at the front, but at the fringes of qualifying. Looking good in a semi only has so much meaning, and if a favorite struggles to qualify then they are no longer the favorite. In the team race, it’s all about getting as many qualifiers as possible.

Pole Vault

Begins at 5:00pm local time (8:00pm ET) and will last a good long time.
Start list and live results | Live twitter coverage
The favorite: Jake Blankenship, Tennessee
Blankenship was a heavy favorite going into the national indoor championship but was hurt and had the dreaded no-height. He looks healthy again and ready to go.
The challengers: Jax Thoirs, Washington and Devin King, SE Louisiana
Thoirs won the NCAA indoor title and hasn’t lost since. King was third at the NCAA indoors and has improved more during the outdoor season than any of the top contenders.
Team implications: Texas A&M has three qualifiers (Chase Wolfle, Carl Johansson, Jacob Wooten) and this event could make or break the Aggies. Oregon’s Cole Walsh has qualified but is not expected to score.
Key indicators: We won’t really get down to the nitty-gritty until the bar is up around 5.70 meters (18′ 6″). By that point we’ll know if Blankenship is back to his usual self.

Javelin Throw

5:45pm local time (8:45pm ET)
Start list and live results
The favorite: John Ampomah, Middle Tennessee
Ampomah is the top returnee from last year’s NCAAs and is undefeated in 2016.
The challenger: Ioannis Kyriazis, Texas A&M
Kyriazis has the year’s longest throw and is also undefeated.
Team implications: The Aggies need Kyriazis to score big, and they have a second qualifier in Sam Hardin. Oregon’s Cody Danielson is a long shot to score but looks to be rounding into shape at just the right time, and the Ducks also have John Nizich.
Key indicators: The javelin has a reputation as a wildly unpredictable event, so there may not be any.

Long Jump

Begins at 6:00pm local time (6:00pm ET)
Start list and live results
The favorite: Jarrion Lawson, Arkansas
When Lawson hits a big one, it’s very big. He’s jumped 27 feet or more three times in his career and no one else in the field has done it even once.
The challengers: Stefan Brits, Florida State and Jonathan Addison, NC State
Lawson is going to be shouldering a big load, running semis in the 100, 200, and relay in addition to the long jump. That opens the door for these two, who were second and third at the NCAA indoor championships.
Team implications: This is an important event. Arkansas has Lawson plus Andreas Trajkovski and Kurt Jenner; more than ten points here is a plus for the Hogs, less than ten is a minus. Florida needs some points out of KeAndre Bates, as does Texas A&M out of Will Williams.
Key indicator: How much will all that running take out of Lawson?

Shot Put

Begins at 6:30pm local time (9:30pm ET)
Start list and live results
The favorite: Filip Mihaljevic, Virginia
Mihaljevic was the NCAA indoor runner-up to Texas’ Ryan Crouser (who is now out of eligibility) and hasn’t lost since then.
The challengers: Nicholas Scarvelis, UCLA and JC Murasky, Ohio State
Scarvelis has only three meets under 20 meters this year, but unfortunately for him one of them was the NCAA indoor championships where he finished sixth. Murasky was third at the NCAA indoor and hasn’t lost since then.
Team implications: None of the team contenders have a qualifier.
Key indicator: About 13% of the world’s 20-meter throwers are in this meet, but only two of them managed to do it at the NCAA indoor championships. Keeping calm under pressure is possibly more important in the throws than in any other group of events.

10,000 meters

7:08pm local time (10:08pm ET)
Start list and live splits
The favorite: Edward Cheserek, Oregon
Cheserek’s worst finish at an NCAA Championships is second, but he’s never been as banged up as he’s been this spring. Generally speaking, though, the only way he loses is if it comes down to the last 100 meters, and he doesn’t let that happen if at all possible.
The challenger: Futsum Zienasellassie, Northern Arizona
Zienasellassie has been consistently good for a very long time, but he’s never been in contention to win an NCAA title and isn’t known for a strong finish. If Zienasellassie beats Cheserek, a whole lot of others are going to do it too.
Team implications: Oregon needs Cheserek to win this. Arkansas’ Gabe Gonzalez is a potential scorer.
Key indicators: Cheserek likes to make a sudden move and blow the race open before it comes to the homestretch. The question is whether or not he’s fit enough to do it.

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