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Stan Becton | | March 12, 2023

How the outdoor track and field championships work

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Over 250 NCAA member institutions sponsor Division I track and field teams, and each year, these teams hope to compete in the championship meet. Here is a comprehensive guide to the NCAA DI outdoor track and field championships, for fans of every level.

What are the events?

The following are the events that are in the NCAA DI outdoor track and field championships:

*All events are for men and women unless otherwise noted*


  • 100 meters
  • 200 meters
  • 400 meters


  • 800 meters
  • 1,500 meters
  • 3,000 steeplechase
  • 5,000 meters
  • 10,000 meters


  • 100 hurdles (women)
  • 110 hurdles (men)
  • 400 hurdles


  • 4x100 meter relay
  • 4x400 meter relay


  • Pole Vault
  • Long Jump
  • High Jump
  • Triple Jump


  • Hammer
  • Javelin
  • Shot Put
  • Discus


  • Decathalon
  • Heptathlon

🤔: Here are the differences between the indoor and outdoor track seasons

How to qualify for the NCAA outdoor track and field championships

The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Track and Field and Cross Country Committee will select and announce the participants for the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships preliminary competitions.

There are two preliminary meets, one for the east region and one for the west region. The qualifiers out of these two regions will compete in the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

MORE: Click or tap here for more NCAA qualifying criteria

How does the scoring work?

Individual event scoring

In individual events at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships, winners are decided by their performance. Student-athletes can win first, second, third and more based on how they finish. The winner is decided by who finishes first in track events and who scores the highest in certain field events. In combined events, the winner is the competitor who scored the highest total number of points for all events.

Here is how winners are decided in the event of a tie.

Tiebreaker procedures for track events:

  • If two or more competitors are judged as having tied for a place, points for the places involved shall be divided equally between these competitors.

Tiebreaker procedures for throws and horizontal jump events:

  • In events in which place is decided by measurement (the throwing events, Long Jump and Triple Jump), ties produced by identical measurements shall be resolved by the second-best performances of the tying competitors; if a tie still remains, by the third-best performances, and so forth.

Tiebreaker procedures for vertical jump events:

  • The competitor with the lowest number of jumps at the height at which the tie occurs shall be awarded the higher place.
  • If the tie still remains, the competitor with the lowest total of failures throughout the competition up to and including the height last cleared shall be awarded the higher place.
  • If the tie still remains:
    • 1) If it concerns first place, the competitors tying shall have one more jump at each height, starting at the next height in the original progression above the tying height and, if a decision is not reached, the bar shall be raised if the tying competitors were successful, or lowered if not, 2 centimeters in the High Jump and 5 centimeters in the Pole Vault. Competitors tying must jump once on each occasion when resolving the tie. Withdrawal from competition in a jump-off shall not affect participation in subsequent events or negate a competitor’s performance in that event.
    • 2) If it concerns any other place, the competitors shall be awarded the same place in the competition.

💨: Wind and scoring in track and field, explained

Team scoring

In addition to individual finishes and accolades, individual participants are awarded points for their team. Every team starts a meet with zero points and only can win points from a competitor's performance.

Per section five, article two of the NCAA’s rule book, scoring is as follows:

Place 5 or fewer teams 6 or 7 Scoring teams 8 scoring teams
1st 10 10 10
2nd 8 8 8
3rd 6 6 6
4th 4 4 5
5th 2 2 4
6th 1* 1 3
7th - - 2
8th - - 1

*only the top 5 finishers score in relays for 5 or fewer teams

In relays, only one entry per institution can score points.

The winner of the meet is the team that has the most combined points won from every event.

Click or tap here to view the complete 2021-22 rule book.

Notable rule changes

Here are some notable rule changes:

  • Beginning January 1, 2021, all new water jump construction shall reduce the water level immediately after the barrier from 70 centimeters to 50 centimeters.
  • Time schedule changes preventing competitor(s) from fulfilling their obligation is not considered failure to participate.
  • In all jumping events, to allow competitors to wear the bib on either the back or front.
  • When measuring the throwing events or horizontal jumps, the measurement shall be immediate after each valid trial or immediate oral protest. In the case of an oral protest, the mark shall be recorded on a separate sheet until the protest is resolved. The mark in the landing area, for each attempt, shall be preserved until removal is authorized by the Chief Judge for the event.
  • A legal pole vault is one in which the competitor takes off by planting a pole in the vaulting box.
  • For the long jump and triple jump, it shall be a foul if, in attempting a jump, the competitor takes off outside of the runway whether beyond or before the takeoff board.
  • In the shot put, discus throw, hammer and weight throw, it shall be a foul if, after entering the circle and starting the throw or put, the competitor touches with any part of the body, before the implement hits the ground:
    • 1) In the front half of the circle, any surface area outside of the circle’s metal band, except the inside surface.
    • 2) In the back half of the circle, any surface area outside of the top of the circle’s metal band.
    • 3) Shot Put only: Any surface outside of the top of the stopboard except its inside surface

Click or tap here to see more rule changes in track and field for 2021-22

When are the 2023 outdoor track and field championships?

The 2023 DI outdoor track and field championships are from Wednesday, June 7- Saturday, June 10.

How does the schedule work?

The NCAA announces the NCAA DI Outdoor Track & Field Championships schedule of events. 

The four days of competition are largely separated between men’s and women’s events. Here’s a brief breakdown of a typical schedule from recent years:

  • Day 1 will feature all of the men’s track semifinals and five men’s field event finals.
  • Day 2 will feature all of the women’s track semifinals and five women’s field event finals.
  • Day 3 will feature all of the men’s track finals and three men’s field finals. The men’s outdoor track and field team champion is decided on this day.
  • Day 4 will feature all of the women’s track finals and three women’s field finals. The women’s outdoor track and field team champion is decided on this day.

The men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon events are also conducted across the four day championship period.

🗓: Here's when the 2023 outdoor track and field season starts

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