The University of Oregon’s Hayward Field will host the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships from June 9-12. That means that for the third year in a row a major track & field championship meet will take place in the city known as “Track Town USA”; that city would be Eugene, Oregon. The previous meets were the 2008 USA Olympic Trials and the 2009 USA Championships. There will be plenty of exciting competition at this year’s NCAA Championship meet – there always is.
At the 2009 NCAA Championships, before the final event – the men’s 4X400 meter relay – no less than four schools had a chance to be crowned team champion depending on the outcome of the 4X4. One scenario had four teams tying for first place with forty-six points. Heading into the 4X4 this was the situation:
- Oregon, 46 points – no 4X4 team
- Florida, 41 points
- Texas A&M, 40 points
- Florida State, 36 points
Florida State dominated the race, running sub-3:00 claiming ten points to tie with Oregon at 46 points. Florida battled hard and ended up in fourth place for five points so they, too, ended the day with 46 points. Texas A&M was in second place on the final exchange and they needed to stay in second for eight points and a national championship at 48 points. If Baylor were to catch them on the final lap and knock Texas A&M down to third place, Texas A&M would only get six points and they would be the fourth team tied with 46 points. This was some of the highest drama imaginable for an NCAA Championship meet. What a happened? Watch the video and remember to stay focused on whether Texas A&M gets second place (thus winning the championship outright) or third place (creating a four-way tie for the title).
Included in this year’s drama will be the host school, the Oregon Ducks, contending for both the men’s and women’s team championship. Track & Field News’ pre-meet predictions have the Oregon women in a near dead heat with Texas A&M. On the men’s side, Florida and Texas A&M are predicted to battle for the title with Oregon holding down third place. But there is a reason they actually have the meet and don’t crown the champion based on seed times. You can be sure that Oregon’s coach Vin Lananna will pull out all the stops to try to win a championships or two on their home track. The home crowd at Hayward Field has been known to cheer on local athletes to incredible performances (Remember the 2008 USA Olympic Trials Men’s 800 race?).
In truth, the NCAA Championships began the weekend of May 27-29 at the regional qualifying meets. For the first time, and somewhat controversially, qualification for the NCAA Championship meet began with qualifying rounds at two regional meets (the western regional meet in Austin, TX and the eastern regional meet in Greensboro, NC). The top forty-eight athletes in each event and the top twenty-four relay teams in each region qualified for regionals. The top twelve athletes and relay teams in each event at the regional meet then qualified to what’s called the NCAA Championships. The only exceptions made to this protocol of qualifying from regionals to the championship meet are for the heptathlon and decathlon. The top twenty-four athletes in each of these events qualify straight to the championship in Eugene.
Since there were preliminary rounds of competition at regionals, and there will be semi-finals and then finals for most events at the championships in Eugene, I consider what started on May 27 and will finish on June 12 to be one big and long NCAA Championship meet. This seventeen day meet began with the qualifying rounds in Austin and Greensboro, took a ten day break, and will end with the semi-finals and finals in Eugene.
Track & field isn’t the only thing happening at the University of Oregon. It’s also graduation time. After Eugene was named the host school for the 2010 NCAA Championships the University of Oregon had an issue to resolve, when would they hold their commencement exercises? Based on the University of Oregon’s traditional calendar commencement should be on Saturday, June 12, the first day following final exams. But Saturday, June 12 will be the last day of the NCAA Championship meet, and there was concern that there would not be enough hotel rooms in Eugene and its vicinity to house both the track & field fans and the graduates’ families. A number of ideas were bantered about, including: holding graduation either two weeks after finals (i.e. June 19) or after dead week but before finals (June 5). Both ideas had major drawbacks. With the first, students would have to wait around for a week after finals for graduation. With the second, could there be a graduation before final exams? Isn’t it mandatory for a student to pass those exams before they can achieve the necessary credits to graduate? The decision was finally made to hold the University of Oregon’s class of 2010 graduation ceremony on Monday, June 14. Throughout the debate there was criticism from those who felt that the university placed athletics ahead of academics. In fairness to the current Oregon administration, it was a previous regime that agreed to host the NCAA Championships.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one final news item connected to the University of Oregon. On Saturday, May 29, 2010, after ninety-six years on this earth, and exactly two weeks before the 2010 NCAA Championships will be decided at Hayward Field, Barbara Bowerman passed away. She was the widow of famed Oregon coach Bill Bowerman (if you haven’t read Kenny Moore’s book, Bowerman and the Men of Oregon, I highly recommend it). This year’s Oregon teams are hoping to repeat a feat that two of Bowerman’s Oregon teams achieved: winning an NCAA Championship at home (1962 and 1984). There have been some touching articles written about this gracious woman. On behalf of all runners, I hope you rest in peace and I thank you, Mrs. Bowerman, for sacrificing your waffle iron for the sake of future runners’ shoes.
FOR NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP COVERAGE:
There are plenty of places on the web to get NCAA Championship meet coverage. CBS will have live television coverage from 10:00 A.M. to noon pacific time on Saturday, June 12 (check your local listings).
- Runnerspace – http://www.runnerspace.com/NCAAOutdoorChampionships
- Letsrun - http://www.letsrun.com/2010/ncaapreviews2010.php
- Track & Field News – http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/
- US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association – http://www.ustfccca.org/division-i
Ryan Brown from the University of Washington has become one of my favorite athletes because of his incredible journey over the last 4 years. Check out the links below about him.
May 2005 (after Pac-10 Championships):
June 2006 (before NCAA Championships):
- Spring 2002 – Runs track for the first time and wins State in 1:55.3.
- Spring 2003 – Sets UW freshman record in the indoor 800 at 1:50.97.
- Spring 2004 – Decides not to run for UW to concentrate on school….says he really doesn’t like to run.
- Pac-10’s 2005 – Seeded 9th at the Pac-10 Championships. At 600 meters is stuck in 5th place before unleashing a great kick to pull off an upset win…in an amazing time of 1:47.31. Previous PR was 1:49.21. Coming into the meet he was only the #2 guy on his team in the 800.
- West Regional 2005 – Again comes from behind to win the 800, 1:48.191 to 1:48.195 over the heavily favored Jon Rankin from UCLA. Qualifies for the NCAA Championships, where he will be the #8 seed, after being the #9 seed coming into the Pac-10 Championships 2 weeks earlier.
- NCAA’s 2005 – Did not advance to the Finals but earned All-American status with the 10th fastest time in the 800. Also ran on the 4X400 relay team that was also 10th.
- Indoors 2006 – Ran on relay teams that placed 3rd (4X400) and 5th (DMR) to earn two more All-American honors.
- Outdoors 2006 – Hampered by some injuries during the outdoor season. Does not qualify for Regionals until the Pac-10 meet. Unable to defend Pac-10 and West Region titles in the 800 (places 3rd at both) but does manage to qualify for NCAA’s and enters the meet seeded 9th.
- NCAA’s 2006 – Wins the 800 Championship in 1:46.29, with another come from behind victory. Adds an 8th place finish in the 4X400.
4 years ago he was finishing his first ever track & field season as a high school senior.
2 years ago he was not even doing the sport.
16 months ago his PR was 1:49.21 and he was not even the best on his team in the 800.
Today he is an NCAA Champion with a PR of 1:46.29 and is a 6-time All-American.
I vaguely remember this athlete because she was in the same event as Shannon Rowbury, who I was following closely at the 2005 NCAA Championships. In the prelims Amy ran a :04 PR (4:18.19) to qualify for the Finals. In the Final, she placed 12th (last).
In 2006, she was 2nd at Pac-10’s in the 1500 and then qualified for NCAA’s by placing 3rd at the West Regional. Coming into NCAA’s her season best was 4:18.88 and her PR was the 4:18.19 from 2005. She was seeded 9th for NCAA’s. In the Prelims she was ran 4:20.99 and was the 12th and last qualifier for the Finals (qualified by 0.37 seconds). In the Final, she was running where she was seeded (last) with 250 meters to go. That’s when she made a huge surge, had to go into lane 3, and passed the entire field to win the 1500 Championship in 4:14.63 (nearly a :04 PR). Her high school PR’s were 5:07 (mile) and 2:15 (800).
Nice re-cap of the race (re-cap of Ryan Brown’s 800 win, too)…scroll down and look for the Saturday entries. http://gohuskies.cstv.com/sports/c-track/spec-rel/060606aab.html
Post-race interview: http://www.trackshark.com/podcasts/2006/amy_lia.php
The University of Texas senior hurdler had quite a busy meet. With 100m and 200m star, Marshavet Hooker injured and out of the meet, Melaine had to step up to lead the team.
- 3:00pm – 4X100 Prelim. 1st in heat 4 (43.25).
- 4:30pm – 100H Prelim. 1st in heat 3 (13.00).
- 6:30pm – 100H Semi-Finals. 2nd in heat 2 (12.86).
- 4:10pm – 400H Prelim. 1st in heat 4 (57.69).
- 4:00pm – 4X100 Final. Anchors Texas to 1st place (42.84).
- 5:00pm – 100H Final. 3rd place (12.75).
- 6:10pm – 400H Semi-Finals. 2nd in heat 1 (55.63).
- 12:52pm – 400H Final. 1st across the finish line (53.84) but is later DQ’ed.
9 races over 4 days. First person since Jesse Owens (1935 & 1936) to win 4 events at the NCAA Championships. Won the 100 (10.09) and 400 (44.53) with PR’s. 1st person to win gold in the 100 & 400 at the same NCAA Championships.
- 3:20pm – 4X100 Prelim. 1st in heat 2 (38.87).
- 6:10pm – 400 Prelim. 1st in heat 2 (45.51).
- 3:50pm – 100 Prelim. 1st in heat 3 (10.25).
- 5:35pm – 100 Semi-Final. 2nd in heat 2 (10.15).
- 6:55pm- 4X400 Prelim. DNR (LSU used an alternate to place 1st in heat 3).
- 4:10pm – 4X100 Final. 2nd leg on LSU’s 1st place team (38.44).
- 5:35pm- 400 Semi-Finals. 1st in heat 1 (44.96).
- 12:42pm – 100 Final. 1st place (10.09).
- 1:20pm – 400 Final. 1st place (44.53).
- 2:45pm – 4X400 Final. Anchor leg on LSU’s 1st place team (3:01.58).