It's been a great year for the Syracuse Orange Cross-Country/Track & Field teams, and this weekend the program hopes to qualify a record-number of athletes for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene. Syracuse will have 15 individuals, and one relay squad, in competition over the next three days in Jacksonville, Florida at the NCAA East Regional meet. In order to qualify, they will need to finish in the top 12-15 (depending upon event), to advance to Eugene. Let's take a closer look at their chances, starting with the women.
Shaina Harrison hasn't been as strong this outdoor season, but the senior brings a lot of experience to the 100m dash. Harrison will face an uphill climb as she has the 2nd-slowest seed time in her 1st round heat. If she can advance to the quarterfinals, she'll need to improve upon her season-best performance of 11.61 to be one of the 15 sprinters to move on to Eugene.
Tia Thevenin makes her 1st NCAA Regional appearance in the 100-meter hurdles. Thevenin has a seed time of 13.46, which puts her as a longshot for the qualifiers this year, but she has a bright future ahead.
Shaylyn Tuite and Margo Malone will enter tonight's 10k as favorites to finish in the top 12 and make it through to Eugene. Malone will be looking for her 3rd straight NCAA Outdoor appearance and will look to build off of her top 3 finishes in the 10k and 5k at the ACC Championships. Tuite had a disappointing run at the ACC meet, but she has a top 5 seed and will be looking for her 1st NCAA Outdoor appearance. I'll agree with FloTrack's predictions that both finish in the top 12.
The Syracuse men have four athletes looking to return to Eugene for the 2nd straight year: Freddie Crittenden III, Justyn Knight, Collin Bennie, and Dan Lennon. The group of Bennie, Lennon, Philo Germano, and Kevyn Hoyos will get things started in the 10k tonight. The first three all have seed times in the top 12, and I expect them to work together to punch their ticket to Eugene. Hoyos will need to have a very strong race to join them, but with a tactical race likely, a lot can happen.
Friday will start the competition in Syracuse's other strong event- the 110m hurdles. Crittenden has had an outstanding 2016 and as the #3 seed, he should make his 3rd straight trip to Eugene. Richard Floyd and David Gilstrap will be looking to make it into the quarterfinals, to finish off strong seasons, and gain some more big-meet experience.
Junior Winston Lee will compete in the 100m dash. Lee just made it into the field of 48 competitors, but his 1st Syracuse season has seen him contribute points at both ACC Championships.
Adam Palamar and Joel Hubbard will be among the favorites in the 1500m. They will need to survive challenging 1st-round heats, but both project to earn a top-12 finish. Hubbard has a very interesting draw as his heat contains four Ole Miss Rebels runners, which certainly gives them an advantage. Hopefully Hubbard can run his race and make it through as he has run a bit better as the outdoor season has gone on. Palamar has been very strong in his 1st Syracuse season.
Justyn Knight will focus on the 5k in Jacksonville. Knight didn't have a great 10k at the ACC Meet, but he's back in a more natural event, and he should be able to qualify. Knight also got a favorable draw as his heat isn't as challenging as the other, and he'll have Virginia Tech Hokies star Thomas Curtin to work with as they both look for a top-5 finish in the heat to make it to Eugene.
The Syracuse 4x100m relay is an unlikely qualifier, but the Orange will only need a top 3 finish in their heat to get into the NCAA field. We'll be providing updates throughout the weekend, so be sure to check back each day to see how the Orange fare.