We're days away from the 2023 DI outdoor women's track and field championships. There's no better time than now for my championship predictions, event-by-event. Let's dive in.
Decathlon - Kyle Garland, Georgia
Kyle Garland is the collegiate record holder in the decathlon. That would be a strong case for him to win the event this year, but the case gets stronger after his performances earlier this season. After a disappointing showing in the decathlon earlier in the spring, Garland responded with the second-best all-time collegiate decathlon score at SEC Championships. A motivated Garland entering the postseason has to be the favorite here.
100 meters - Godson Oghenebrume, LSU
It seems like everyone was running a sub-10 second time or close to it at NCAA prelims (impressive even with the wind). You can take your pick after those races as to who will win the 100-meter title, but I'm going with LSU's Godson Oghenebrume. He's been the most consistent sprinter, never running slower than a 10.18 this year.
110 meter hurdles - Darius Luff, Nebraska
Nebraska's Darius Luff has run six 13.4 times over the 110 hurdles this season. That consistency gives me confidence that he can run a low time when the stakes are highest to win the title.
200 meters - Udodi Onwuzurike, Stanford
Sometimes an athlete is just feeling it. Stanford's Udodi Onwuzurike is one of those athletes entering final site championships. There might not have been a better sprinter in the 100 and 200 meters combined during conference championships and NCAA prelims, with Onwuzurike running a sub-10 second 100 and sub-20 second 200, both wind-legal. No athlete has run faster than Onwuzurike in the 200 meters, with the wind being legal. That's why he's my pick here.
400 meters - Ryan Willie, Florida
My actual pick for the 400-meter champion would be best served after the semifinals when lanes are set, but in place of that, I still have to make a prediction. I'm more confident in Ryan Willie winning his heat regardless of who's in it, which means he'll get a preferred lane in the finals. I don't think there's anyone who can beat Willie with a good lane draw, especially with the strength he's shown to finish his races over the final 100 meters.
400 meter hurdles - Ayden Owens-Delerme, Arkansas
Not one. Not two. Not three. Not four. But five 400 meter hurdles races. That's how many career 400 hurdles races Arkansas' Ayden Owens-Delerme has had entering the NCAA Championships. Yet, the man who built his name as a decathlete has the collegiate leading time in the event. That number will increase to a "whopping" seven races by the end of the outdoor championships.
While Owens-Delerme is inexperienced in the 400 hurdles, that won't stop him from winning the title this year. The 400 hurdles is one of the most grueling events in track and field by popular opinion, but it's nothing compared to the decathlon and its 10 events. That has shown on the track so far for Owens-Delerme through his success, and it will show in June when he wins the title.
800 meters - Will Sumner, Georgia
There will be plenty of contenders for the 800-meter title, with Texas' indoor champion Yusuf Bizimana and Mississippi State's Navasky Anderson being some of the top contenders. However, I have Georgia's star freshman Will Sumner winning the 800, thanks to his performance in the prelims.
Sumner and Anderson had some fun during the prelim heats, smiling at each other while crossing the finish line during the first round. In the quarterfinals, the way Sumner took the lead across the final 100 meters stood out. That showing gives me confidence that he can win what figures to be a close, tactical race.
1500 meters - Fouad Messaoudi, Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State's Fouad Messaoudi ran the fourth-fastest 1500 meters in NCAA history this year and didn't lose a race until the prelims where he just had to qualify. He's my pick in Austin.
3000 meter steeplechase - Duncan Hamilton, Montana State
The only person to run faster than Montana State's Duncan Hamilton in the steeplechase is all-time great Henry Rono. I don't think Hamilton will break Rono's record this year, but I also don't think anyone will beat Hamilton either.
5000 meters - Brian Fay, Washington
Washington's Brian Fay has been one of the best distance runners during the entire academic year, but he doesn't have an individual NCAA title to show for it. That'll change at the outdoor championships in the 5000 meters. Fay didn't lose a race before prelims and owns the collegiate-leading time this year.
10,000 meters - Patrick Kiprop, Arkansas
Arkansas Patrick Kiprop has impressed in the 10K all year long. He'll continue to impress with a title on the line, finally getting a sub-28-minute time.
4x100 meter relay - LSU
The 4x100 collegiate record-holding LSU Tigers have been at a different level in the relay this year. They'll continue their success at the NCAA championships.
4x400 meter relay - Florida
Florida set the collegiate record in the 4x4 at SEC championships and the Gators are my pick to win the title at the NCAA Championships. Alabama and Georgia could push the Gators, but Florida has three members of its relay team running in the 400-meter semifinals. Then they have Jacory Patterson who, along with Ryan Willie, has run legs on each of the last two collegiate record-setting 4x4s. When it comes to a leg vs. leg showdown, no team in the country is matching Florida at its best.
Pole vault - Sondre Guttormsen, Princeton
Princeton's Sondre Guttormsen has consistently been a step above the rest in the pole vault over the last two years. He should vault his way to another title, and a collegiate record could be in the works.
High jump - Vernon Turner, Oklahoma
Since 2018, Oklahoma's Vernon Turner has hovered around the high jump podium at NCAA championships. He has an indoor title from 2022 but hasn't finished higher than fourth in an outdoor final. Currently, Turner is the collegiate leader in the high jump reaching 2.30 meters. He may not need to reach that height to win the 2023 outdoor high jump title, but he's shown an ability to frequently reach 2.2 or higher meters throughout his career. Turner can get over the hump — or the bar in this case — to win the title
Long jump - Wayne Pinnock, Arkansas
Arkansas' Wayne Pinnock is the defending outdoor long jump champion and will make it three out of four long jump titles across seasons in the last two years. Pinnock has jumped over 8.0 meters at every meet this year, a distance that will be needed to win the tile.
Triple jump - Jaydon Hibbert, Arkansas
Arkansas' Jaydon Hibbert is only a freshman and he's turning out one of the most impressive freshman seasons ever. Hibbert already owns the triple jump collegiate records across the indoor and outdoor seasons and will sweep the 2023 triple jump titles come June.
Shot put - Jordan Geist, Arizona
The shortest distance Arizona's Jordan Geist has thrown in the shot put this year is 20.60 meters. Only four other men have reached that distance in the NCAA this year.
Hammer - Kostas Zaltos, Minnesota
Minnesota opened the season ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA ratings, thanks to impressive performances from athletes like Kostas Zaltos. While the Gophers aren't likely to finish the season atop the team scoring, Zaltos will finish atop the podium for the hammer throw. He has thrown beyond 74 meters in his last three meets and has only thrown below 72 meters at one meet this season.
Discus - Mykolas Alekna, California
Cal's Mykolas Alekna is the collegiate record holder in the discus and has his name all across the top 10 all-time marks. But he doesn't have an NCAA title after finishing in second last year. Alekna won't fall short this go-around.
Javelin - Marc Minichello, Georgia
Georgia's Marc Minichello is the defending javelin champion from 2022. LSU's Tzuriel Pedigo is the defending javelin champion from 2021, and he had the farthest throw between both preliminaries. Those are my top two contenders for the 2023 javelin title, and I give Minichello the edge here because he beat Pedigo at the 2023 SEC Championships.