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Denise Maloof | | March 14, 2014

Maloof: Mighty Ducks?

ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. -- Who can stop the Ducks?

That may be the cry as teams assemble for the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Track and Field Indoor Championship.

Scheduled Friday and Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center, the national indoor meet could be a coronation for Oregon or a chomp back by Florida.

Indoor Track & Field through the years
The two top-ranked teams in Division I — No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Oregon — get the favorites’ nod based on recent championship history. But intangibles and the omniscient possibility of surprise also could make this weekend someone else’s title meet.

Behind Florida and Oregon, Texas A&M is third. Georgia is fourth and Texas is fifth.

The 2014 Southeastern Conference Indoor champion, Florida seeks its first national indoor title in quite some time. The Gators haven’t triumphed indoors, nationally, since 1992, although they notched three consecutive runner-up performances in 2003, 2004 and 2005, sharing the 2003 runner-up spot with South Carolina.

Oregon’s situation is opposite. The Ducks seek their fifth consecutive national indoor crown. If they pull it off, they’ll tie LSU (1993-97) for the longest-running reign in indoor history.

If last year’s national indoor championship is any barometer, expect the 2014 outcome to go down to the wire.

A year ago Oregon, competing with many fresh faces on its 2013 roster, won the Division I indoor title by winning the last event -- the 4X400 relay. It was the only meet event the Ducks won. Ranked fourth nationally at the time, they had entered that event atop the meet standings. Oregon led then-second-place Kansas by three points and then-third-place LSU by seven. The 4X400 relay victory gave the Ducks the overall victory.

In 2014, who knows?

Florida is fresh off its third SEC title in the last five years. The Gators bring four individual-event SEC champions to Albuquerque -- the 4X400 and distance medley relay teams, junior Ciarra Brewer in the triple jump and senior Cory McGee in the 3,000 meters.

Florida’s 4X400 relay team is ranked second behind top-ranked Texas. Its distance medley relay team is sixth behind top-ranked Stanford. Brewer is ranked second in the triple jump behind San Diego State senior Shanieka Thomas and McGee is ranked 19 in the 3,000.

The Ducks will attempt to defend their individual title in the 4X400 relay. They arrive in Albuquerque ranked third in the event. Texas is ranked first and Florida is ranked second.

Laura Roesler leads the Oregon contingent. She’s ranked first in the 800 with a time of 2:01.32 that’s both an Oregon school record and the second-fastest all-conditions time in collegiate history. She also participates on the Ducks’ third-ranked distance medley relay team and 4×400 team; the latter has posted the second-fastest collegiate time of the season, at 3:30.08. Roesler will compete in the 800 and the two relays at Albuquerque.

Redshirt freshman Jasmine Todd is the only Duck to double up on individual events in Albuquerque: She’s ranked second in the 60 and the long jump.

Several other individual competitors bearing watching this weekend, among them Dartmouth senior Abbey D’Agostino, who will defend her 2013 indoor title in the 3,000. She’s ranked first in that event, as well as in the mile and 5,000.

Kansas senior Natalia Bartnovskaya seeks her second consecutive NCAA indoor title in the pole vault. She’s currently ranked 10th.

Mississippi State junior Erica Bougard also seeks a second consecutive NCAA indoor title in the pentathlon. She’s currently ranked first.

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