Today marks the beginning of one of my favorite time of the year — NCAA championship track season.
Iowa has 30 individual events and four relays qualified for the regionals, which are being held in Sacramento this year. Since 2010, the NCAA has divided up into a Western and Eastern Regional, taking the top 48 individuals and 24 relays.
By Saturday night, that will be whittled down to 12 individuals and 12 relays who will compete in Eugene, Oregon for NCAA titles.
First, a look at who’s qualified for Iowa:
As has been the case for the past few seasons, Iowa’s field events, hurdles and relays will certainly lead the pack.
The Iowa women, who finished third at the Big Ten Championships with 98 points, are looking especially strong at this point in the year. Jahisha Thomas (long & triple jump) and Laulauga Tausaga (discus & shot) are both ranked in the top-13 in the region in each of those events.
Together, the pair accrued 40 of Iowa’s points at the Big Ten meet and won each of those events. That’s more than impressive, it’s special. Also, if you get a chance, read Mark Emmert’s piece on Thomas.
Who else should you be watching for?
Mar’yea Harris, for starters. The junior, a returning first-team All-American, was part of Iowa’s third-place 1600-meter relay squad last season. Harris is a brilliant 400 runner and ranks eighth in the nation with a time of 44.98 that he set while winning the event at the Big Ten Championships.
The 4x400 crew of Harris, DeJuan Frye, Antonio Woodard, and Collin Hofacker won the relay at the B1G’s as well in 3:06.32. Their fastest time this year is 3:04.38, which ranks 14th in the nation.
Reno Tuufuli will certainly compete in the discus, an event that he finished fifth at the NCAA’s in last season (196 feet, 2 inches). His best toss this season is a 199 foot, 8 inch throw at the Big Ten Championships, which placed second.
On the sprints side, Brittany Brown is a returning All-American in the 200-meters. She finished fifth last season, running a 22.92 at the NCAA Championships. Her best this season is a 22.76 (17th NCAA) that she ran on April 7 at LSU.
There’s certainly bound to be a few surprises and a couple disappointments, but once again it’s looking like Iowa will have a number of qualifiers headed to Eugene.
FloTrackPro is streaming the whole thing, here’s a link to that.