NCAA Indoor Preview 2013 - trackboundUSA

NCAA Indoor Preview 2013

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While emphasis in the UK is placed firmly on the outdoor season, this is less the case in the NCAA. Athletes are often the focus of derision for an early season indoor performance at UWIC or Lee Valley here.  While certainly not of equal stature with the outdoor season, the NCAA and its athletes, coaches and directors alike take the indoor season as a prelude and a good way to carry momentum outdoors. And if you’re in shape in the early months, racing on an oversized track (up to 321m at some facilities), then it’s as good an opportunity to hit a mark than at 90%+ of outdoors meets, or non-CA meets.

This year’s championships head back to Arkansas and the Randal Tyson Track Centre in Fayetteville. Home of John McDonnell’s famous Razorback legacy and the home to many British and Irish Champions. Niall Bruton is one athlete feature with that accolade.

Season Structure

Regardless of the level of importance placed on indoors, most schools will follow the same basic structure through the 2013 season:

January: Local, low key open meets to start the season

February: Big invitational open meets

22-24 February: Conference Championships

1 March: ‘Last Chance’ weekend

8/9 March: NCAA Indoor Championships

There is less team emphasis during indoors and outdoors compared to cross country, with the individual differences in athletes and events being considered. However the Conference and NCAA Championships are both team scored meets.

Qualifying Process

Love it or hate it, the NCAA Indoor season is extremely competitive and is numerically harder to qualify for than the outdoor championships. Qualifying is the most cut throat of the three seasons, calculated purely on a descending order list. Also note that unlike cross-country and outdoors, there is a ‘last chance’ weekend that takes place after the conference weekend. The only way to guarantee qualification is to hit an NCAA automatic qualifying mark. These are understandably very tough and will typically only be reached by several athletes in each event. What makes qualifying even tougher is that there is no set number of athletes per event. The only stipulation is that a total of 284 men and 284 women are allowed into the meet. This usually works out at roughly the top 16 per event though it will be affected by the number of athletes competing in more than one event. For example 21st on the list may be good enough to qualify for the 3000m if other athletes have already qualified through the mile or 5000m. On the other hand it is possible to be as high as 15th on the list and not qualify.

Rightly or wrongly, the qualifying marks do allow for variations depending on certain circumstances. For example altitude adjusted performances do count for qualifying, meaning that a 14.20 5000m run in Flagstaff would equate to something in the low 13.50 range.

The huge variation in tracks is also worth considering. Vast oversize tracks like Washington, Notre Dame, Iowa State (all 300m+) are hugely different from flat 200m tracks found at other schools like Houston, Oklahoma and Kansas State. Take a trip to Texas Tech and you can compete on their oval track with its perpetuating bends.

This year’s qualifying marks have not been released yet, but last year’s are linked below. Trends over the past few years would suggest that 2013’s will be tougher again such is the depth in the NCAA at the moment.

2012 Men

2012 Women

In terms of British and Irish interest, we have only one returning Champion, namely Chris O’Hare of Tulsa. Boston’s Rich Peters returns as a silver medalist. Both in the Men’s mile. They are the only returning All-Americans from last year’s meet (results below).

Name School Event Position Performance
Chris O’Hare Tulsa Mile 1 4.01.66
Rich Peters Boston Mile 2 4.01.78
Dave McCarthy Providence Mile 9 4.04.05
Tom Farrell Oklahoma State 3000m 9 7.55.09
Ross Millington New Mexico 3000m 13 8.08.73
Mitch Goose Iona 3000m 16 8.22.70
Anthony Lieghio Arkansas DMR 5 9.36.41
Drew Graham Adams State (DII) Mile 1 4:10.25
Drew Graham Adams State (DII) 800 2 1:52.55
Matt Bond Adams State (DII) 5000 5 14:22.28
James Mee AIC (DII) DMR 9 10:20.24
Hannah Brooks Florida State mile 8 4.40.96
Josephine Moultrie New Mexico mile 8(h) 4.49.56
Sarah Waldron New Mexico 5000m 8 16.07.04

Keep tuned for a full week-by-week review up to Nationals on the 8th and 9th March.

Given the unprecedented success for home-bred athletes at the National XC Champs in Nov, we could be in for another show of strength.

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