Texas is favored to win the women’s tile, while the men’s title competition looks like a four-way, pitched battle between Florida, Texas, North Carolina A&T and Georgia when the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships begin a four-day run Wednesday at Hayward Field.
In a departure from the norm, the host Oregon Ducks don’t figure to be in the hunt for a team trophy. Trophies go to the top four teams in both genders.
If the Track & Field News form charts are correct, the Ducks will finish outside the top 10 in both the men’s and women’s standings for the first time since 2007.
The meet gets underway at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday with the decathlon 100 meters. Most men’s event will take place on Wednesday and Friday, with the women largely competing on Thursday and Saturday.
Team points are awarded to the top eight finishers in each event on 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
Track & Field News forecasts the Texas women scoring 79 points, and Florida second with 63. The Ducks are way down, among the also-rans.
On the men’s chart, Florida has 42 points, and a two-point edge over Texas. But North Carolina A&T and Georgia are all within seven points of the top. In a collegiate championship meet, that’s a statistical dead heat. Oregon is penciled in for 11th.
There will be live television on ESPNU beginning at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and 5:30 p.m. Thursday, on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. Friday, and on ESPN at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Field events and the multi events will be live streamed on ESPN3.
MORE: Broadcast information
The Ducks do have potential high-end scorers.
Olympian Micah Williams, the turbo-charged sophomore from Portland’s Benson High School, is tied for the NCAA’s No. 3 time on record in the 100 meters, at 9.86 seconds.
Italian Olympian Emmanuel Ihemeje is the defending triple jump champion. He ranks No. 1 on this year’s collegiate list in with a mark of 56 feet, 2¾ inches.
Beyond that, T&FN has UO individuals scratching for places in the top eight, and just 23 projected team points. It’s even more bleak on the women’s side, where T&FN has the Ducks scoring 12 points and finishing in a four-way for 19th place.
It’s a long way from 2015, when Oregon swept the men’s and women’s team titles.
As recently as 2017, the Ducks completed a women’s triple crown — NCAA titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor track in the same academic year — by scoring 64 points to claim the outdoor championship.
The UO men were second to LSU a year ago in a meet which Oregon runners Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker went 1-4 in the final 5,000, and Hocker won the 1,500.
Both left after last season with eligibility remaining. Hocker was a Tokyo Olympics finalist in the 1,500. If both had stuck around and stayed healthy, Oregon would be the mix, and possibly the favorite for the men’s title.
There was additional misfortune when Reed Brown, who has the third-best collegiate time this year in the 1,500, failed to survive this year’s regional qualifying.
The UO women also had trouble in this year’s regional, where Polish Olympian Aneta Konieczek didn’t qualify in the steeplechase. Neither did Alessia Zarbo, No. 2 on this year’s collegiate 10,000 list.
Alysah Hickey, fifth in last year NCAA long jump, didn’t compete in regional qualifying after repeating as Pac-12 champion two weeks earlier.
But the UO women’s team seems to have deeper problems. They finished in the top three at the NCAA meet from 2009-17, winning the national title twice. They haven’t been in the top four since.
Six female track athletes — five with remaining eligibility — told The Oregonian/OregonLive last fall they believed the track team’s approach to their weight and body fat percentages contributed to eating disorders.
The program since has revised its policies pertaining to weight and body fat percentage.
The Ducks have remained strong at the conference level. The UO men have won every conference title since 2007. Oregon swept the men’s and women’s team championships this year.
UO coach Robert Johnson was named 2022 Pac-12 men’s and women’s outdoor coach of the year.
— Ken Goe for The Oregonian/OregonLive
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