The 92nd NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships get underway Wednesday afternoon at historic Haywood Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Last time around the Florida Gators needed a win and a last place finish by the Texas A&M Aggies in the final event of the Championships –the 4x400 meter relay to grab a share of the team title. A bad exchange on the first leg dropped the Aggies in a 30 meter hole behind eventual relay winner and co-champion Florida.
Another showdown in the relays looms off in the distance as both the Gators and the Aggies return 3 of the 4 members of their 2013 relay teams. Arguably both teams stand the best chance to walk away with the championship trophy. Scoring the teams on where there athletes are seeded both Florida and A&M would finish with 61 points.
Waiting in the wings with the most individual athletes qualifying for the Championships is the University of Oregon with 17. Oregon could conceivable score 50 points if 13 of their competitors finish according to their seeding.
Behind the Ducks in potential scoring are two more SEC teams, Louisiana State (37) and Georgia (33). Fellow PAC 12-mate Southern Cal rounds out the top six spots.
In the women’s competition, the Lady Aggies of Texas A&M return to the top of the heap with a strong squad. Led by sprinters Olivia Ekapone and Kamaria Brown and hurdler Janeil Bellille, the 2013 runner up could pick up all of its potential points 62 points without an athlete running a distance longer than 400 meters. Ekapone, the top 200m athlete in the field, is seeded seventh in the women’s 100m dash. With a good start out of the blocks she could win the race.
Sitting behind Texas A&M in potential points are the ladies from Georgia (51). The Lady Bulldogs have never been counted in the top three in the 32 year history of the Women’s Championship. Half miler Megan Malasarte, high jumper Leontia Kallenou, and heptathlon athlete Kendell Williams arrive in Eugene as the top seeds in their respective events.
Home town favorite Oregon sits in third place with 50 potential points. Twenty-three of those points hinge on Jenna Prandini. The super soph is seeded in the 1,2, and 4 spots in the long jump, 100m dash, and 200m dash.
Texas, Florida and Kentucky are the only remaining squads that possess enough potential points to challenge for the title. Two-time NCAA Outdoor 400m champion Ashley Spencer rocked the sport transferring to Texas from Illinois. Spencer is not listed on the 4x400m relay team but don’t be surprised if she gets the call with the title on the line for the four-time champions.
Events will run through Saturday with the first set of finals beginning on Thursday.
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