Teams make a run for it
Action begins Wednesday at the DI Track and Field Champ.
Not often do you associate ducks with balance. But not often do you see a team like Oregon’s women.
The two-time NCAA indoor team champions, will send 16 entrants to the NCAA championships that start today and run through Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa – a contingent that is tied for the second largest at the competition.
On the strength of that, Oregon is the favorite to win the outdoor title too. But it will have two-time defending champion Texas A&M and LSU right there with them battling for the title.
Both Aggie teams are defending champions and have a legitimate chance at a three-peat. It has been attempted twice before by LSU and Texas A&M and failed. Aggies head coach Pat Henry, the losing coach both times, has one more shot.
“It’s not something you think real hard about,” said Henry, who has won four NCAA titles at Texas A&M and a total of 31 national championships over the past 22 year. “It’s not true to say you don’t think about it at all, because you do. The main emphasis here is making sure each individual does exactly what they are capable of doing over the next few days.”
One thing A&M hopes will continue is its success in the 4x100 meter relay, where they have one the past five titles. Over the past five years, they have an unbeaten streak of 21 races and 12 finals in the postseason over the past five years. This team also won its fifth consecutive Big 12 title.
Jeneba Tarmoh, the second leg of the 4x100, returns as the NCAA silver medalist in the 200. She also is the defending Big 12 champ in the 100 and winner of the conference’s 200 meters.
Jessica Beard was the anchor on the Aggies’ 4x100 title squad. She won her first NCAA individual title during the indoor season in the 60 meters.
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LSU will bring 15 women to Des Moines. That’s a big deal given that it has had to deal with some adversity by way of injuries along the way.
“We’re excited to be in Des Moines,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “It’s a great facility, a great warm up area. We’re well prepared and healthy. We’re competing with a lot of confidence.”
Their 4x100 meter relay team – Kenyanna Wilson, Semoy Hackett, Rebecca Alexander and Kimberlyn Duncan – is outstanding collectively. Individually they will also be counted on.
Duncan, the reigning NCAA indoor champion in the 200 meters, will try for an outdoor title. Alexander will also be there in the 200.
The 4x400 meter relay of Alexander, Cassandra Tate, Latoya McDermott and Jonique Day also will be bidding for a title.
“We’ve had a lot of consistent performances this year,” Shaver said. “We’ve got 15 scoring opportunities so we’ll be up there with the other teams. It should be a wide open meet that probably won’t be decided until the last day. So we have to concentrate on every event every day.”
FSU will have strong representation. Kim Williams seeks her sixth NCAA championship, as she will compete in the triple jump and long jump. She’s had the best top triple jump mark in the country and will be joined in that event by her teammate Michelle Jenije.
The Lady Seminoles also qualified for the 4x100m relay and Hannah Brooks, who has finished the season very strong, will be in the 1500m run.
“Who knows what will happen here,” Braman said. “What you don’t want is a meet that goes according to script. For the good of the sport you want the meet to come down to the last day. You want it settled by the 4x400 on the last day. For that to happen you can’t be weak.