Seven Syracuse Orange track and field members will begin competing today at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. The competition begins at 4:00 pm Pacific time and tonight's events will be broadcast on ESPN 2. The rest of SU's competitions will be broadcast on ESPN (Thursday and Friday).
Kicking things off for the Orange is Adam Palamar in the 1500m, which gets underway at 4:46 pm today. Palamar has had a strong 1st season for SU and he'll be in Heat 2 today. The top five finishers in each heat and next two fastest times will advance to Friday's final. Palamar finished 8th in the Mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships, and enters this meet with the 9th-fastest time this season so the expectation is that he can advance tonight. He'll face two of the event's favorites in his heat- Henry Wynne from Virginia, and Washington's Izaic Yorks, but the goal will be to run hard enough to grab that top 5 finish and move onto the final. The 1500m field is pretty talented, so Palamar would be a long-shot to win the event, but a top 6 finish is not out of the question.
Hurdler Freddie Crittenden III is the next athlete to compete. He'll be in Heat 3 of the 110m hurdles, which gets underway at 5:32 pm. The top two finishers in each of the three heats, plus the next two fastest times advance to Friday's final. Oregon's Devon Allen is the favorite to win the title, but Crittenden enters with the 5th-fastest seed time. He appears to be ready to earn 1st-Team All-America honors this season, and will look to match his 2nd-place finish from the NCAA Indoor meet.
The Men's 10,000m final will be decided tonight at 7:08 pm and SU's Colin Bennie and Philo Germano enter with top 10 seed times (5th for Bennie and 10th for Germano). Bennie is making his 3rd straight NCAA Track Championships appearance. He was 14th in the 5000m in Eugene last year, and finished 8th in the 2015 indoor 5000m. Edward Cheserek from Oregon is a heavy favorite in this event, and with him doubling in the 5k, expect this to be a tactical race. That strategy might bode well for Bennie and Germano, who possess strong finishing speed for the distance.
The women take over the Hayward Field track tomorrow and the Orange women will compete in the 10,000m at 7:08 pm. Margo Malone and Shaylyn Tuite are looking for All-America honors to close out their seasons. Tuite enters with the 10th-fastest seed time, while Malone is 17th on the start list (she finished 7th in this event at last year's NCAA Championship). The Cuse duo will look to work together as they attempt to set Syracuse history with two top 10 finishers. Arkansas' Dominique Scott enters the race as the favorite to win.
The final Orange athlete to compete in Eugene also offers the best opportunity for a victory. Justyn Knight will take the line in the 5,000m final on Friday at 7:25 pm. He enters the race with the 3rd-fastest seed time and seems poised to improve upon last year's 6th-place finish. Knight will have one final battle with Virginia Tech's Thomas Curtin as the ACC duo is expected to contend with defending champion Cheserek, Stanford's Sean McGorty, and Villanova's Patrick Tiernan. This event sets up to one of the most interesting of the meet. Cheserek will have run the 10k two days earlier while the other athletes enter the event rested. These five runners all have strong finishing speed, and I would expect that one of them will look to make a strong move in the final 1,000 meters to attempt to take control of the race before the last lap. Cheserek is still the favorite, but he has already lost twice this season on his home track, and each of these runners is capable of beating him. A win for Knight would be the 1st NCAA title for a Syracuse distance runner and would put a bow on the best season for the program.
Good Luck to all seven athletes as they compete this week. Stay tuned to Nunes Magician for updates from the NCAA meet.