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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | April 20, 2022

The midseason superlatives — and a sleeper pick — for women's outdoor track and field

2022 midseason superlatives for women's outdoor track and field

We're at the midpoint in women's track and field and the season is red hot with championships rapidly approaching.

Let's hand out midseason superlatives to some of the nation's top performers in 2022 ... so far.

The best individual performance

The best individual performance of the season comes from Florida's Anna Hall at Texas Relays. Hall became the NCAA and world leader in the heptathlon, scoring 6,412 points. That point total is the fourth-most in NCAA history, with Hall passing track and field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee in the process.

Hall ran 2:04.61 in the 800 meters, the final event of the heptathlon. Her first lap was a blazing 58.39 seconds, setting an American and NCAA record in the heptathlon's 800 meters. At the time of her finish, Hall's 800 meters set the national lead.

MORE: The top 10 women's track and field performances from the first half

The freshman of the year

The top freshman is none other than Texas' Ackelia Smith. The Longhorns have been the top team in the national ratings index all season long. Smith's performance is a big reason why. 

She sits third nationally in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump. No other freshman ranks in the top-10 of multiple events nationally.

HOOK 'EM: 11 numbers to know from Texas Relays

The best distance runner

BYU's Courtney Wayment is the best distance runner so far this season. Wayment ran a 9:26.88 in her first race of the year in the 3,000 meter steeplechase at Mt. SAC Relay. That's the fastest time in the nation. Wayment also has the second-fastest time in the 1500 meters as one of two athletes to run sub-4:12 all season. 

GATORS: 7 numbers to know from Florida Relays 

The best sprinter

There are plenty of names in the hat for the best sprinter at the midseason point. But the best so far has to be the new 200-meter collegiate record holder, Favour Ofili from LSU.

Ofili ran a 21.96 to claim the 200-meter record and also holds the fifth-fastest 100-meter time this season. Kentucky's Abby Steiner and Texas' Julien Alfred also come to mind when mentioning elite sprinters but Ofili's record boosts her to the top.

WATCH: LSU's Favour Ofili sets new NCAA record in women's 200 meters

The best field athlete

The candidates here are all elite, making picking just one a difficult decision. 

You have two of the best jumpers in the nation in Texas A&M's Deborah Acquah and Florida's Jasmine Moore, with nation-leading marks in the long jump and triple jump, respectively; the duo each sits fourth nationally in the other, non-leading jump.

You have California's Camryn Rogers, who rewrites the hammer-throw record book week after week.

There's also Olympian and 2021 Bowerman Award finalist Tyra Gittens, who's continuing her dominance in her first season at Texas.

Yet, none of those athletes earned the best field athlete title at the season's midpoint.

The best field athlete through midseason is Arizona State's Jorinde Van Klinken. Van Klinken is the ONLY athlete in the country to own a national lead in two events, sitting atop the discus and shot put leaderboard. More impressively, she achieved both marks during the same weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays. 

BIG NAMES: 40 names you should know in the 2022 women’s outdoor track season

The sleeper team

My sleeper team entering the season's second half is BYU. Yes, the Cougars are in the top-10 of the national ratings index after Week 4, but they are all the way down at No. 8, lurking below title favorites. I'm not predicting BYU to win the national title, but the Cougars have what it takes to at least finish on the podium, knocking off teams ranked ahead of them.

How can the Cougars do it?

By dominating the distance events. Courtney Wayment leads the pack as the nation's best distance runner, but she's not the only successful runner from BYU. 

Lauren Ellsworth sits fifth nationally in the 800 meters and 1500 meters, with two of five of the BYU's top-eight national marks on the track. Meanwhile, Claire Seymour has the talent to take home a title in the 800, even though she currently sits 12th-overall in the event.

In total, the Cougars have seven different athletes in the top-20 of an event. It's reasonable to think that BYU can take home two to three individual titles in distance events come June (20-30 points), while also picking up at least 10 more points from other finishes in distance events. Outside of distance events, BYU has two current eighth-best marks in the javelin and heptathlon.

If the season ended today, BYU would have 30 points total in national championship scoring. But with a few improvements along the way, the Cougars can surpass the 37.50 points that won third place at the 2021 championships.

💍: 5 track and field programs that could be the next first-time national champion

The Bowerman Award winner

If the season ended today, the Bowerman Award would have to go to Kentucky's Abby Steiner. Because the Bowerman is a cumulative award, recognizing performances from both the indoor and outdoor season, Steiner's combination of indoor and outdoor performances reign supreme.

BOWERMAN AWARD: Complete history of the track and field honor

After a record-breaking indoor season, Steiner leads the country with the fastest wind-legal time in the 100 meters and sits second nationally with a 22.38 (-5.6) 200 meters. She also runs the second leg of the second-fastest 4x100 meter relay and the fourth-fastest 4x400 meter relay.

Steiner already has her own day named after her in Kentucky, but if she can add a national title or two come June, she could add a Bowerman Award to impressive list of accomplishments.

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