Another Victory for Florida State

It is a house built on speed. Mike Long Track on Florida State's campus has been burning up from the fast performances by Seminole sprinters. Bob Braman inherited the ACC indoor and outdoor champions four years ago and has added the final ingredients to get the team to a national championship, quality distance runners.

A successful distance running coach at South Florida, Braman has successfully recruited some of the top young British distance runners (every school record from 800 to 10,000 meters has been set by a current Seminole). The mix of high level distance runners and sprinters helped (with jumpers) the Seminoles win last year's title and has them in position to win again. Auburn (hurdlers and throwers) and LSU (sprinters, hurdlers, and relays) will try with different tactics to get trophies but this should be a runaway win for the Seminoles. It would have been a stretch for Oregon to trophy because they would have had to rely on Galen Rupp winning both the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters and running 20,000 meters over three days. Running just the 10k gives Rupp a better chance of success.

The quartet of Walter Dix, Greg Bolden (100 only), Michael Ray Garvin, and Charles Clark (200 only) could score close to 20 points in each of the 100 and 200 meters. Dix recently broke the collegiate record during the East Regional meet (19.69) and his teammates beat the rest of the competition. NCAA indoor champion Ricardo Chambers is a favorite in the 400. Only a major mistake would prevent a win the 4x100 meter relay.

In the 100, collegiate leader Walter Dix will contest against ACC and East region record holder (10.00) Travis Padgett of Clemson. In the 200, defending champion Dix is expected to run away from the competition in which there are no other standouts. In the 400 Ricardo Chambers will be strongly challenged by Lionel of USC.

In the 800, defending champion Ryan Brown has won at every pace. Most of the rest of the competition has not emerged although Duane Solomon of USC is once again running very well and should improve on his fifth place performance from last year. The 1500 should be one of the best events of the competition. 2007 indoor and 2005 NCAA outdoor champion Lionel Manzano of Texas will have difficulty with Lopez Lomong, indoor 3,000 champ, and Russell Brown, indoor mile runner-up.

The steeplechase will be a tight competition with no dominant competitors. 2006 NCAA bronze medalist Aaron Aguayo of ASU is only the second Pac-10 distance runner to win four championships in one event (Steve Prefontaine of Oregon in the three mile was the other). He will contend with 2005 and 2006 fourth placed Andrew Lemoncello of Florida State and Augustus Maiyo of Alabama. In the 5,000 meters, four time NCAA champion and defending champion Chris Solinsky of Wisconsin will be a strong favorite over underachieving (until this year) Josh McDougal of Liberty and Bobby Curtis of Villanova, both tremendously talented young runners. The only person to defeat Solinsky this year in the 5,000, Galen Rupp of Oregon, will only run the 10,000 meters and is a heavy favorite.

The high hurdles are up for grabs this year. John Yarbrough of Mississippi has the fastest qualifying time this year and was fourth at last years NCAA meet. Marlon Odom of Texas Tech was 6th at the last two NCAA meets. In the 400 hurdles it could be a re-run of the SEC championships with Justin Gaymon of Georgia the SEC and East Region champ trying to win again against Isa Phillips of LSU (second at the SEC meet and Mideast region champ) Thomas Hilliard of South Carolina (third at SEC and second at East regionals), and Rueben McCoy of Auburn (second at the Mideast region meet).

The relays will have prohibitive favorite Florida State in the 4x100 meter relay and Baylor (indoor NCAA champ), and their young runners, should have tough competition against LSU (had won three consecutive NCAA championships).

High jump phenom Donald Thomas of Auburn, in his second year in the event, started high jumping when a friend bet him last year that he couldn't clear 6'6, he cleared 7'0. In January of 2006 at Lindenwood, an NAIA school, the head coach pursued him to compete in track and field, he jumped 7-3 1/4 and he finished second in the NAIA indoor meet. He wanted to compete for a Division one school and ended up at Auburn for his senior year. In March he won the NCAA title at 2.33m, 7-7 3/4 , equal third all-time collegiately. He is a strong favorite although track and field high school athlete of the year in 2005, Scott Sellars, has recently pr'd at 2.33 7-7 ¾.

Tommy Skipper of Oregon has returned from another injury to attempt to win his fifth NCAA title. He cleared 5.80m, 19-0 ¾, at the West Region meet to tie for sixth all-time on the collegiate list. The nearest competitor is ten inches behind. The long jump will be a lot closer event. NCAA indoor champ Tone Belt of Louisville will be tested by his teammate and conference champ Andre Black and Pac-10 champion Matt Turner of Arizona State. The triple jump also figures to be close with no stalwart competitor. Andre Black will try to repeat his indoor championship and will be challenged by Muhammed Halim of Cornell.

Noah Bryant of USC should be able to follow up his NCAA indoor title with a championship outdoors after consistently defeating his top competition, Ryan Whiting of Arizona State and William Denbo of USC. The Discus could be a repeat of the West region meet. Niklas Arrhenius of BYU defeated Pac-10 champion Greg Garza of UCLA (seventh in 2006 NCAA) and 2006 NCAA runner-up Adam Kuehl of Arizona. The hammer will have teammates Cory Martin and Jake Dunkleberger of Auburn contesting for the title with Egor Agafonov of Kansas (second in 2006) and Nick Owens of North Carolina,. The Javelin will have this years top two javelin throwers from North Carolina, defending champion Justin Ryncavage and collegiate leader Adam Montague.

The Decathlon lost some luster when three time NCAA indoor heptathlon champion, Donovan Kilmartin of Texas, decided to take the year off. Defending champion Jake Arnold of Arizona won the Pac-10 again this year and will be challenged by Raven Cepeda of Northern Iowa (third indoors) and returning runner-up Chris Helwick of Tennessee.

Other Duck competitors of note include Brian Richotte, the Pac-10 and West Regional hammer champ who could finish as high as fourth and Ryan Brandel in the javelin who ha focused his training to succeed at the NCAA meet. In the 1500 Mike McGrath has recovered from his Achilles injury and may be ready to make a national splash. Freshman AJ Acosta has added to his indoor mile appearance and the possibilities are endless for last years US junior champ. Marcus Dillon in the 400 is another athlete with tremendous potential now seeming to overcome his two years away from the sport. The relay teams are full of underclassmen that will gain valuable experience for the future.

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