In a matter of days, the Division I men's outdoor track and field championships will commence in Eugene, Ore., making it the perfect time to predict the winners of each event.
Before diving into the predictions, I'll explain how I selected each winner. The start lists are out and in events with three heats, the top two in each heat, plus the competitors with the next three best times, advance. In events with two heats, the top five in each heat, plus the next two best times, advance. The structure of the heats means it's important to look at which athletes are likely to win their heats because they will be guaranteed a spot in the finals.
I won't be diving that deep into the predictions though; only the final champions will be predicted.
The best of the best finally meet in the 100 meters at the championships. Predicting the 100 is no easy task with a field that features plenty of sprinters with strong times. My pick to win is Oregon's Micah Williams. Williams owns the nation's fastest wind-legal 100-meter time of 9.86 seconds, also running sub-10 in three other races (all conditions). No other competitor has run sub-10 more times than Williams.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Everything you need to know for the DI outdoor track and field championships
The 200 meters was another tricky pick, but I think Georgia's Matthew Boling will earn the victory in the event. Boling was my choice over others like Florida's Joseph Fahnbulleh thanks to Boling's head-to-head win at the SEC championships. Boling's 19.92-second sprint against a headwind gave him a slight advantage over Texas' Micaiah Harris, who ran a time of 19.79 with a 3.8 tailwind.
The 400 meters will have plenty of competition this year. There's a trio of Florida Gators competing and an Olympian in Texas' Jonathan Jones. However, I think 2022's winner will be North Carolina A&T's Randolph Ross. Ross can complete the indoor-outdoor 400-meter sweep with the win. Ross has the fastest time in the country this season, finishing in 44.23 seconds at the prelims. He'll carry his momentum from one meet to the next en route to a win.
Texas Tech's Moad Zahafi has been elite this season in two laps around the track, winning every meet but two. The two athletes to defeat Zahafi — he finished second both times — aren't competing in the 800 meters at the championships, giving the Red Raider a clear shot at the title. Expect Zahafi to cruise to victory.
Heat two in the 1500 meters is one to watch as Ole Miss' Mario Garcia Romo and Alabama's Eliud Kipsang will be two of the favorites competing for a berth in the finals. With the top five finishers advancing, expect both to make Saturday's finals.
In the finals, I predict Garcia Romo to come away with the win, defeating the national-leader Kipsang for a second consecutive race after taking him down in the SEC Championships.
Eastern Kentucky's Ahmed Jaziri will secure the steeplechase title at the 2022 championships. Jaziri is the national leader in the steeplechase with a time of 8:24.33. Jaziri also showed off his distance speed with the 1500/5000-meter double at the ASUN championships. This versatility will carry him to a win.
The finals in the 5000 meters project to be a close race, likely coming down to the final lap. That's when Michigan State's Morgan Beadlescomb will pull ahead of the pack to win the race. Beadlescomb is a veteran, making each of the last two 5000-meter championships. That experience will allow him to run his race and leave enough in the tank for the victory.
NAU's Abdihamid Nur swept the distance championships during the indoor season. He's the pick for the 10000 meters in the outdoor championships after running the fastest time at the West prelims, only his second time running the event this season. Nur could've competed in any distance event at the championships. He wouldn't have selected the 10000 meters if he did think he could win it.
This prediction is simple. Florida State's Trey Cunningham will win the 110 meter hurdles at the 2022 outdoor championships. Cunningham has dusted the competition all season long and he has competed at a different level. If Cunningham doesn't win, it'll likely be the biggest upset of the entire championships.
400 meter hurdles
The 400 meter hurdles likely come down to the wire with a deep field participating. Making it to the finals will play a big part and that's where Houston's Quivell Jordan-Bacot will be. He'll attempt the hurdles double during the weekend and I think he will nab the win in the longer of the two events after running the fastest 400-meter hurdle time at the West prelims.
North Carolina A&T is the pick to win the 4x100 meter relay. The Aggies have two stars running in the relay in Randolph Ross and Javonte Harding. Harding is one of the best anchors in the country and he should be able to lead A&T to a victory in a competitive field.
Earlier this year, Florida set a new collegiate record in the 4x400-meter relay. The Gators followed that performance with the fifth-fastest 4x4 time in their SEC championship victory. Florida should run away — no pun intended — with the relay crown.
We've seen epic pole vault battles between BYU's Zach McWhorter and Princeton's Sondre Guttormsen before. The outdoor championships should be the latest installment. While Guttormsen will go for the indoor-outdoor championship sweep, McWhorter is my pick to win the title. McWhorter enters the championships on a strong run, tied for the highest preliminary vault and having won the BYU Cougar Invitational. His late-season consistency is why he's my pick.
Tennessee's Wayne Pinnock will complete the long jump season sweep at the outdoor championships. Pinnock has followed up his indoor title with every regular-season jump landing over eight meters. Pinnock is one of the best there is and he'll show it at the championships.
The high jump has the potential to be a back-and-forth affair between Oklahoma's Vernon Turner and Southern California's Earnie Sears III battling for the first time since Texas Relays. There, Turner got the victory. He'll go for the indoor-outdoor championship sweep in Eugene. However, Sears is my pick to win the title, thanks to his strong finish to end the season.
Only two collegians touched 17 meters in the triple jump this season — TCU's Chengetayi Mapaya and Oregon's Emmanuel Ihemeje. Jumping 17 meters at the championship may be a stretch, but a jump close to it likely will win the title. Ihemeje has been the more consistent jumper of the two, and he can pull off the triple-jump sweep on his home track.
Southeast Missouri State's Logan Blomquist will stand atop the podium after the hammer. Blomquist is the only male collegian to surpass the 73-meter mark but his run in 2022 has been impressive even without his national lead. Blomquist has thrown over 70 meters six times this spring. That's two more than Alabama's Bobby Colantonio, the owner of the second-farthest throw this season.
Baylor's freshman phenom Chinecherem Prosper Nnamdi is my predicted winner in the javelin. Nnamdi has not been beaten by a collegiate opponent all season long, winning the Big 12 title during his streak. I think he'll end his impressive season with a first-place trophy.
Texas' Adrian Piperi will rebound from a second-place indoor finish in the shot put to win the 2022 outdoor title. Piperi has been dominant this spring, throwing over 21 meters in every meet but the prelims; no one else has hit 21 meters this season. More impressively, none of Piperi's shot-put attempts this season have surpassed his personal-best mark, meaning he still has room to improve entering the championships.
California's Mykolas Alekna has been elite from day one as a freshman. Alekna leads the nation in the discus by 1.7 meters, earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors. He'll add the icing to his freshman-year cake with an individual title.
The decathlon is a toss-up between two all-time collegians in the event, Georgia's Kyle Garland and Arkansas' Ayden Owens-Delerme. The duo sits one-two this season nationally, with the two having the first and third-best decathlon point totals in collegiate history, respectively. The 2022 championships will see a historic battle between the duo.
As for a winner, I'm going with Garland because he's had more rest entering the meet since he did not participate in any preliminary events.