A/N: Thanks again goes to Scott Jedlicka (@scottyj512) for writing up this piece. He is getting his PHd in sports so he knows what he is talking about.
All times CST.
Pentathlon (First event: 11:45 a.m.; rolling schedule w/ 30 minute break between each event)
With perennial champion Brianne Theisen of Oregon now graduated, the competition for the pentathlon title is, at least theoretically wide open. Three-time qualifier and Arkansas senior Makeba Alcide is the 2013 leader by a margin of over 300 points, having amassed 4,569 points at the SEC indoor meet. Tied for second on the national list are seniors Lucie Ondraschkova of Georgia and Keia Pinnick of Arizona State; both have scored 4,208 this season. The top returner from a year ago is Mississippi State sophomore Erica Bougard (SB: 4,190), who finished tenth in 2012. Athletes will compete in the 60m hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump, and the 800m run.
Shot Put (4:00 p.m.)
Three names stand out in this field: Tia Brooks (Oklahoma), Julie Labonte (Arizona), and Felisha Johnson (Indiana State). All seniors, these women are three of the premier throwers in the NCAA. Brooks is the season leader by a fairly wide margin at 18.76m, and has never finished worse than fifth in the indoor shot put (in 2010), finishing second in 2011 and taking the title last year. Labonte is seeded fourth (SB: 17.49m), and took third in 2012 after placing first in 2011 and 12th in 2010. Johnson, who is the top seed in the weight throw, is seeded second in this event (SB: 17.80m), and finished seventh in 2012. Others in the mix are Iowa State sophomore Christina Hillman (SB: 17.61m), Arizona State junior Anna Jelmini (SB: 17.35m; 5th in 2012 and 2011), Illinois State senior Brittany Smith (SB: 17.30m; third as a sophomore), and Baylor senior Skylar White (SB: 17.07m; 4th in 2012; 10th in 2011).
Pole Vault (5:30 p.m.)
Like the pentathlon, this event is characterized by the absence—due to graduation—of a multiple-time champion (Tina Sutej of Arkansas). Georgia sophomore Morgann Leleux has positioned herself as the heir apparent, building on a runner-up finish in 2012 with a 2013 national-leading vault of 4.50m. An event that has in recent years been dominated by seniors, the top five on the national leaderboard all are sophomores and juniors. In addition to Leleux, Virginia Tech sophomore Martina Schultze (SB: 4.45m; 7th in 2012), Arkansas junior Sandi Morris (SB: 4.43m; two-time NCAA qualifier while at North Carolina), Kansas junior Natalia Bartnovskaya (SB: 4.43m), and South Dakota junior Bethany Buell (SB: 4.41m) have all surpassed the 4.40m mark this season. Bartnovskaya’s finish could have an impact on the team race.
Triple Jump (6:00 p.m.)
The final field event of the Championships may have some team race implications. Three-time NCAA qualifier and defending champion Andrea Geubelle of Kansas (SB: 13.91m) will be looking to offset the potential double score from LSU duo Keri Emanuel (SB: 13.46m) and Lynnika Pitts (SB: 13.33m). San Diego State junior Shanieka Thomas comes in as the top seed and the only jumper to have broken then 14 meter mark this year (SB: 14.08; 7th in 2012, 9th in 2011). Last year’s sixth-place finisher, sophomore Ciarra Brewer of Florida, will also be in the hunt (SB: 13.35m).
3000 Meters (7:40 p.m.)
Because of its position on the schedule, the 3000m tends to be a tactical, sit-and-kick type of race, as many of the competitors are fatigued, both mentally and physically, from earlier races. Given this probability, and the level of talent in the field, this promises to be an exciting race. Three women have dipped under the nine-minute barrier this season: Dartmouth junior Abbey D’Agostino (SB: 8:55.41; 8th in 2012), Oregon senior Jordan Hasay (SB: 8:57.46; 4th in 2012; 1st in 2011), and Kentucky senior Cally Macumber (SB: 8:59.98). The two favorites in the 5000, Betsy Saina of Iowa State (SB: 9:04.57; 3rd in 2012) and Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton of Wichita State (SB: 9:07.21; 7th in 2012), are in the field as well. Idaho junior Hannah Kiser (SB: 9:04.74) and Georgetown freshman Katrina Coogan (SB: 9:04.85) are among the NCAA leaders and could contend.
4×400 Relay (8:05 p.m.)
The final event of the Championships rarely disappoints in terms of drama, and this year is no exception. The two primary contenders for the team title, Kansas (SB: 3:33.71; 3rd last year) and LSU (SB: 3:33.91; 1st last year), both have qualified relay squads, although neither is expected to score many (if any) points in this event. Arkansas, racing on its home track, is the favorite with a season-best time of 3:29.60; the Razorbacks were fourth in 2012. Last year’s runner-up squad, the Texas Longhorns, is seeded second with a time of 3:30.95. Florida (SB: 3:31.68) and Illinois (SB: 3:33.30) will join Arkansas and Texas in the fastest heat of the three-heat timed final.