NEW ORLEANS -- As painfully protracted winter forces yet another round of cancelled outdoor track & field meets in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast, it might be difficult to believe that conference championship season is already upon us.
Nevertheless, ten NCAA conferences between all three Divisions will crown their team champions this weekend, headlined most notably by the ACC Championships this Thursday through Saturday at North Carolina.
While some are battling for team glory this weekend, others are in qualifying mode at one of the season’s most largest and most prestigious meets, the Mt. SAC Relays, also April 17-19 in Walnut, Calif. Throngs of teams from all three NCAA divisions will be represented, including many among the top 10.
Being two high caliber meets with completely different goals, choosing one over the other for Division I National Meet of the Week is like comparing apples and oranges, so the two split the honor.
The Division II Meet of the Week is shaping up to be the CIAA Championships, Division III’s Meet of the Week is the Augustana (Ill.) Meet of Champions/Invitational.
At the ACC championships, the No. 5 Florida State men and the No. 15 FSU women will look to become just the third school in ACC history to sweep the indoor and outdoor league titles in the same season. FSU’s women will have a particularly tough challenge on their side, with No. 22 Notre Dame and No. 24 Maryland also aiming for the ACC title.
Two men on the most recent watch list for the Bowerman Trophy will be in action with Florida State’s James Harris in the high jump and 200 meters, and Duke’s Curtis Beach in the decathlon and the long jump.
Other events to especially watch for include the men’s 400 (No. 3 Brycen Spratling of Pitt vs. No. 4 Patrick Feeney and No. 6 Christopher Geisting of Notre Dame vs. No. 10 Ceo Ways of North Carolina) and the women’s 400 (No. 5 Jordan Lavender of Virginia vs. No. 6 Shakima Wimbley of Miami vs. No. 9 Margaret Bamgbose of Notre Dame).
Also keep an eye on Division I men’s 5000 meters leader Nick Happe of Notre Dame against a field with as many as seven other top-25 competitors, and a top-four showdown in the women’s pole vault between No. 2 Megan Clark of Duke and No. 4 Martina Schultze of Virginia Tech.
Meanwhile at Mt. SAC many of the top collegians in the country will be rubbing elbows with some of the world’s best professionals as they try to lock up qualifying times to the East and West preliminaries on the road to the national championships.
Members of the Bowerman watch list (post-NCAA indoor) who will be in action include Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino (5000 meters invite) and Oregon’s Phyllis Francis (400 meters invite) and Laura Roesler (800 meters invite) on the women’s side.
Men’s Watch List members in action include Arkansas’ Jarrion Lawson (long jump invite) and returning 2013 Finalist Julian Wruck of UCLA (discus invite).
The guys over at Flotrack will be broadcasting live from the meet and will be dissecting this loaded meet in depth over the next few days. Be sure to look at the broadcast schedule below for when they’ll be on the air and their Mt. SAC Relays 2014 page for more info on the meet.
More elite relay action will take place elsewhere around the country at the Kansas Relays and the Oregon Relays.
Last week’s Johnson C. Smith Invitational – itself a Division II National Meet of the Week – was a dress rehearsal for this week’s top DII action, the CIAA Championships. The Friday-Saturday meet at Virginia State will feature defending national men’s champion No. 1 Saint Augustine’s and the No. 2 Johnson C. Smith women.
JCS’s women will take on No. 7 Saint Augustine’s and No. 24 Livingstone.
Division III’s National Meet of the Week at Augustana (Ill.) featured No. 8 UW-Whitewater’s women against No. 23 Monmouth (Ill.) on Thursday, and the No. 4 UW-Whitewater men against No. 14 Augustana and No. 18 Carthage on Friday.