We've already seen a handful of performances on the indoor oval this season, but the bulk of the biggest and best competitors are still on the way. I took the time to look at where some of the biggest and most well-known schools will end up on their conference title leader boards come late February.
The Power Five conferences (ACC, SEC, BIG 12, BIG 10, and MPSF, a federation group including PAC-12 schools and other mountain-pacific schools) house some of the most talented athletes in Division One, and it is often times a tight race to see who takes home their respective conference crowns.
The predictions for each conference’s "Top Three Teams to Consider" (listed in no particular order) take into consideration the 2019 team results and their potential key point scorers.
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
1. Florida State Seminoles
How They Did in 2019: T-1st (117 pts.)
Last season, FSU found themselves in a tight battle with Virginia Tech, as both schools racked up 117 points at the ACC Championships. FSU was dominant over the shorter distances, accumulating 25 points in the 60 meter dash alone (taking six of the eight scoring positions) . They also went 1-2-3 in the 200 meter dash, totaling 29 points and five total scoring positions. They had victories in the 60 meter hurdles as well as the 4x400 relay, but found no significant scoring in the middle and long distance events as a whole.
Key Names to Watch
Kasaun James (60m, 200m, 4x400): James took 1st overall in the 60 meter dash and 200 meter dash at ACC’s last year and has PR’s of 6.55 and 20.49, respectively. He will hope to repeat as a senior this season and improve upon his 8th place finish in the 60 meters at the indoor national meet. James was also a member of FSU's 1st place 4x400 relay.
Kasey Knevelbaard (mile, 3000m, 5000m): Having completed his undergraduate years with Southern Utah, the newest Seminole will begin his indoor campaign with FSU. Knevelbaard has the potential to score big points across several events and could prove to be a vital piece of a DMR. Knevelbaard also owns PR’s of 3:58 (mile), 7:54 (3000), and 13:56 (5000).
Trey Cunningham (60m hurdles, 4x400): Cunningham won the 60 meter hurdles as a sophomore last winter at ACC’s and will hope to repeat as the champion this season while lowering his PR of 7.53 along with it. With teammates James and Butler, Cunningham was a member of the 1st place 4x400 and will be a top returner for that squad.
It would be hard to discount the Seminoles for the team title this winter as they have a very strong returning group of sprinters coming back to try and repeat. They lack significant depth in the distance events (although Knevelbaard helps), but they perform exceptionally well in the sprinting and short distance events, making for another exciting title run for the men in Tallahassee.
2. North Carolina State Wolfpack
How They Did in 2019: 3rd (61 pts.)
NC State finished in 3rd place for the overall scoring last season at the ACC meet. There was a sizable gap between their position and the tie between FSU and Virginia Tech for 1st place. Despite the large gap between the next team, NC State put out several key performances at ACC’s last year. They scored six points in the 60 meter dash, five points in the 200 meter, six points in the mile, six points in the 3000 meters, and 10 points in the 5000 meters. All of these are small point accumulations, but still proved to make up a large portion of the team’s respectable 3rd place finish.
Key Names to Watch
Ian Shanklin (3000m, 5000m): The then-redshirt freshman standout tore up the distance events at last year’s conference meet by winning the 5000 meters ahead of four other upperclassmen that rounded out the top five in the field. He also placed 3 in the 3000 meters, finishing only four seconds behind the winner, making for a fantastic double and an incredible first ACC Championship appearance. His 3000 meter and 5000 meters PR’s are respectable, sitting at 8:03 and 14:03. However, a breakout cross country season this past fall tells us that he can go much faster in 2020.
Cravont Charleston (60m): Charleston put out a strong 3rd place finish in the 60 meter dash last year at ACC’s as a junior. He has a PR of 6.54 seconds in the event and narrowly missed qualifying for the final at the NCAA Championships, a position he can surely improve upon in early March.
Jamar Davis (Triple Jump, Long Jump): Last year's ACC runner-up finisher in both the long and triple jump proved to be one of the biggest and best point scorers for NC State last year. The catch? He was only a freshman. With Clemson's Chris McBride now out of eligibility, Davis could be the next ACC champion in the long jump this winter.
Finishing much farther back in the leader board last year, NC State has a great chance to score more points than they did at the 2020 ACC meet. There is potential for extended growth in the distance events and they are somewhat balanced in the field and sprints with a a few top scorers scattered at the top of the conference. The Wolfpack have a lot of guys knocking on the doorstep to make some noise in the ACC.
3. Virginia Tech Hokies
How They Did in 2019: T-1 (117 pts.)
Virginia Tech battled it out with the men from FSU last winter and scored the same amount of points when it was all over. They had many strong performances across the middle distance and long distance events. They racked up 15 points in the 400 meters, eight points in the mile, 10 points in the 3000 meters, and eight points in the 5000 meters. They also put out very strong performances in the field events and were able to couple that with distance success, making for a well-balanced track and field championship performance.
Key Names to Watch
Peter Seufer (3000m, 5000m): Seufer performed exceptionally well last winter and nearly swept the distance events. He won the 3000 meters and ran a sub-8:00 time in the process, giving himself a new PR for the event. He also finished 2nd in the 5000 meters and only lost the title by a second in a strong time of 14:04. He also owns a mile PR of 4:07, so do not count him out of a scoring position in the middle distance events. Oh, and he was 4th at the NCAA XC Championships this past fall.
Jacory Patterson (400m, 4x400): Last year, Patterson won the 400 meters as a freshman in a time of 46.04, nearly a second ahead of the 2nd place finisher. He was also a member of the 5th place 4x400 team that ran 3:12.77 at the meet. Patterson also boasts a 20.84 200 meter PR. He has the potential to do some serious damage across the conference (and the country) as just a sophomore.
Isaiah Rogers (Weight Throw and Shot Put): The runner-up in both of the throws events at ACC's last winter is coming into 2020 yet another high-potential scorer for the Hokies. Last year's champions are also returning in each of those respective events, but this is someone who could realistically put 16 points yet again.
The Hokies will surely go toe-to-toe with the Seminoles once again this winter, but have the chance to shine in the distance and middle distance events if their top performers improve. Jacory Patterson also has the chance to really blossom and be a favorite for the 400 meters individual title at NCAA’s. Combine that with continued field success from athletes such as Joel Benitez and Isaiah Rogers - along with heptathlete Jaelyn Demory - the Hokies may be tough to beat.
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
1. Arkansas Razorbacks
How They Did in 2019: 2nd (88 pts.)
The Razorbacks finished a bit farther back from Florida than they would have liked last winter, and that is due in part to their weaker performances in the shorter distance events. It is also due in part to the unbelievably strong hurdling performances by the Gators, especially by some guy named Grant Holloway. However, Arkansas shows signs of strength across the board in the mile, 3000m, and 5000m. They also had a 3rd place finish in the 4x400 and a second place finish in the DMR.
Key Names to Watch
Cameron Griffith (mile, 3000m, DMR): There is some incredible promise with this Razorback ace. If we are talking about filling the gaps across a number of events, Griffith is your guy to do just that. Last year at the SEC Championships, he won the 3000 meters, was the mile anchor leg of Arkansas' 2nd place DMR, and was 2nd in the mile, only losing out to Ole Miss star Waleed Suliman by a mere .03 seconds. His TFRRS page lists some incredible PR’s as well, most notably a sub-four minute mile (3:59.68).
Gilbert Boit (3000m, 5000m): Boit is another example of Arkansas’ decent distance depth. Boit raced incredibly well in the 5000 meters last year at SEC’s, taking the victory over the powerhouse Alabama distance duo of Gilbert Kigen and Vincent Kiprop. He was also a 4th place finisher in the 3000 meters, clocking in less than two seconds behind teammate Griffith. Boit also boasts an indoor 5000 meter PR of 13:42.95.
Amon Kemboi (3000m, 5000m): The former Campbell athlete announced his transfer to Arkansas earlier this month, so he has not competed in an SEC Championship meet just yet. However, Kemboi boasts impressive PR’s of 7:44 for 3000 meters and 13:33 for 5000 meters. With Campbell last winter, Kemboi was an All-American in the 5k at last winter’s NCAA Championships where he finished 6th overall.
The Razorbacks have the potential to possibly take the title this season. Their big distance heavyweights can improve upon their already strong performances from last year and battle it out with the top individuals in the conference. With improvements from Woodhall and other short distance athletes, they can also prove to make some noise across all events.
2. Florida Gators
How They Did in 2019: 1st (103 pts.)
Florida took the overall team title last season because of their strong performances in the shorter distance events. They corralled 25 points in just the 60 meter finals, landing four guys in the top six. They also scored 12 points in the 400 meter final and had several strong field performances. They will most definitely take a huge hit from Holloway’s departure to go pro for Adidas, but it is hard to keep them out of the running.
Key Names to Watch
Clayton Brown (Triple Jump): Brown was the runner-up in the triple jump at last winter’s SEC Championships. His final (and best) mark on the day was 16.26 meters, just shy of his current best of 16.58 meters. Defending SEC champion Triki Tahar is no longer on the Texas A&M roster, so Brown may have a great chance to take the title in February. Brown just recently jumped a solid 16.46 meters on January 11, 2020.
Raymond Ekevwo (60m): Ekevwo may have been seen as under the radar at the last SEC Championships, but he was a key member of the Florida 60 meter crew last year, finishing in 6th place at SEC's. Despite the non-glamorous position, Ekevwo was only .02 seconds out of 3rd place, with two of the top three finishers having graduated or gone pro.
Chantz Sawyers (200m, 400m): Sawyers failed to qualify for the 200 meter final last year, but finished in a respectable 5th place in the 400 meter final, just 0.10 seconds out of 3rd place. Sawyers owns PR’s of 21.39 and 46.45 in the 200 and 400, respectively.
Florida, no doubt, looks much weaker than last year with the losses of Holloway and Ryan Clark. However, they may have some potential improvements in the 200 meters and 400 meters, as well as maybe one or two better distance performances. The young distance runner Trevor Foley could prove to have a breakout year in the 3000 meters and 5000 meters, but it will be a little tougher for the Gators to defend their title this winter.
3. Texas A&M Aggies
How They Did in 2019: 5th (72 pts.)
Texas A&M narrowly missed a 4th place finish behind Alabama last season, but were able to find strong success in the middle distance events. They grabbed nine quick points in the 400 meters with finishes of 3rd place and 6th place. They then tallied 16 points in the 800 meters with finishes of 1st and 3rd place. Devin Dixon showed his prowess and speed taking the title and will surely be back this season to defend. Texas A&M also took the 4x400 relay title and finished with a strong 4th place result in the DMR.
Key Names to Watch
Devin Dixon (800m, 4x400): Dixon is easily one of the top 800 meter returners across the entire NCAA. He won the SEC 800 meter title last year and will look to defend it (he should have no problem doing so with Arop gone). Dixon was also the anchor leg in the 1st place finishing 4x400 that ran 3:03.61. Dixon’s indoor middle distance PR’s are some of the tops in the country, sitting at 45.68 (400), 1:45.27 (800), and 2:24.82 (1000).
Bryce Deadmon (400m, 4x400): Deadmon proves again how Texas A&M seems to always bring in some top middle distance talent on a continuous basis. Deadmon finished 3rd in the 400 meter final at SEC's last year in a time of 46.55 and was a member of the same winning 4x400 squad with teammate Dixon. He owns an indoor 400 PR of 45.82, making him and Dixon a dangerous middle distance duo.
Carlton Orange (800m): Orange was roughly a second behind teammate Dixon in the SEC 800 meter final last winter, taking 3rd in a time of 1:48.76. Orange has strong PR’s in the 800 and 1000 meters, sitting at 1:47.05 and 2:24.96 (run on Dec. 7, 2019), respectively. He also has NCAA Championship experience between both the winter and spring seasons.
Texas A&M seems to be in a strong position going into this indoor season. They have a ton of returning middle distance runners across the 400, 800, and 1000 meters. The Aggies that can gather points in these middle distance events can also double back and dominate the 4x400 and DMR relays. They have a huge opportunity to accumulate points here and add some more points across the short sprints and the field events. The Aggies will look to improve greatly upon their 5th place finish from last year and surely have the chance to do so.
1. Texas Tech Red Raiders
How They Did in 2019: 1st (179 pts.)
The Red Raiders smashed the BIG 12 last season, besting 2nd place by 70 points. They gathered 23 points in the 60 meters, 23 more in the 200 meters, six and eight points in the 800 meters and 1000 meters respectively, and six points in the DMR. Divine Oduduru was the winner of both the 60 meter dash and 200 meter dash while Jonah Koech brought home the ‘W’ in the 1000 meters while also anchoring home the DMR. Texas Tech also dominated the field events such as the long and triple jump while having two scoring freshmen in the heptathlon, including the winner.
Key Names to Watch
Derrius Rodgers (60m, 200m): Rodgers may have been swept under the radar at last year’s BIG 12 Championships because of teammates Oduduru and Andrew Hudson, but he was able to manage a 4th place finish in both the 60 meter and 200 meter dashes. He boasts PR’s in these events that sit at 6.60 and 21.00, respectively.
Sven Cepus (800m, DMR): Cepus proved his middle distance prowess when he took 3rd in the 800 meters as a freshman last season only to BIG 12 stars Bryce Hoppel and Festus Lagat. Cepus was also a member of the DMR team that ran 9:58.59 to take 3rd at the BIG 12 Championships. He boasts a solid and respectable 800 PR of 1:49.00 as only a freshman.
Takieddine Hedeilli (800m, 1000m, mile, DMR): Who? Truthfully, we were familiar with Hedeilli either until a reader pointed us in his direction. The Algerian grad student has run in six World Championships. His personal bests? Elite. Hedeilli has run 1:49 (800), 2:23 (1000), and 3:37 (1500) since 2014, making him (in theory) potentially one of the best distance runners in the NCAA this winter. That is, of course, if he translate his success to the indoor oval.
It will surely be tough for Texas Tech to replicate the destruction they put upon the rest of the BIG 12 last winter. However, they will surely continue to go in as favorites this year because of their incredibly strong field performers and young success that they have already had the chance to see in action. Derrius Rodgers will finally want to get into the limelight and look to win both the 60 meters and 200 meters while freshman Sven Cepus tries to do the same in the 800 meters. The Red Raiders once again look like the team to beat.
2. Iowa State Cyclones
How They Did in 2019: 2nd (109 pts.)
Iowa State finished in a respectable 2nd place last season with 109 points. It just looked like much more of a beating because of how many points Texas Tech managed to score. The Cyclones were led by distance superstar Edwin Kurgat who swept the 3000 meters and 5000 meters, taking the win in both events. They also took four of the scoring positions in the 5k and five of the top eight positions in the 3k. They also had a 4th place finish in the mile and a 2nd place finish in the 800 meters.
Key Names to Watch
Edwin Kurgat (3000m, 5000m): There is not much to say about Kurgat as the results and PR’s speak for themselves. We could talk about him being the defending BIG 12 champion in the 3000 meters and 5000 meters, owning a 3k PR of 7:56.40, winning the national title in cross country this past fall, or his 13:24 5000 meters PR that he ran just about a month ago in Boston. We could talk about all of those accolades, but that would just take up more time than we have.
Festus Lagat (800m, 1000m, mile, DMR): Lagat was the runner-up in the BIG 12 800 last year and will look to try and claim the title in 2020. Lagat was also the anchor leg on the 2nd place finishing DMR team. The middle distance specialist is easily one of the better 800 meters runners in the nation this year after running 1:45 last spring. With PR's of 2:20 in the 1000 meters and 4:00 in the mile, it's safe to say that Lagat can be utilized in multiple middle distance events.
Roshon Roomes (600yd, 800m, 1000m, DMR, 4x400): Roomes can do it all. He was the 600 yard champion (yes, that's the actual distance) at last year's BIG 12 meet while also being a part of Iowa State's runner-up DMR. However, some would argue that he's even better in the 800 meters or 1000 meters. Throw in his value for the relays, and Roomes may end up being the best scorer for the Cyclones this winter.
Iowa State proves again that they are going to be an issue in the middle and long distance events in 2020. With their national caliber superstar Edwin Kurgat and a slew of other sub-14:50 and sub-8:30 guys, the Cyclones are in a good position to improve upon their point total from 2019. Kurgat has the potential to lead these distance guys to take up a large portion of the scoring positions in both the 3000 meters and 5000 meters, and has a great chance to compete for a national title in both events. With the trio of Lagat, Roomes, and Nixon, you might see Iowa State winning the BIG 12 title this year.
3. Oklahoma State Cowboys
How They Did in 2019: 4th (72.5 pts.)
Oklahoma State finished in a solid 4th place last season in the BIG 12 just 15.5 points behind 3rd place finisher Kansas. They garnered 10 points in the 400 meters and another five points in the 800 meter final. Adding to this, they had 11 points in the 3000 meters and 14 points in the 5000 meters, with freshman Isai Rodriguez finishing as the runner-up in both the 3000 meters and 5000 meters. The Cowboys were also able to field a DMR team that finished in a solid 5th place to grab four more points.
Key Names to Watch
Isai Rodriguez (3000m, 5000m): As just a freshman, Rodrigiez was able to capture the runner-up position in both the 3000 and 5000 meters, losing only to Iowa State star Edwin Kurgat. He had a very impressive opening year in Stillwater and his current resume includes a 7:54 3000 meter mark. He'll be able to keep things competitive with the Iowa State contingent in the distance events
Ryan Smeeton (mile, 3000m): Smeeton was a key point scorer for the Cowboys last season and proved he has solid middle-to-long distance range, finishing 3rd in the mile and 6th in the 3000 meters. He also has some respectable PR’s, including his mile time of 4:07.55 and 3000 meter PR of 8:09. After a breakout spring season where he dominated the steeplechase, Smeeton could be in store for some big new personal bests this winter.
Ashton Hicks (400m, 4x400): Hicks was a key short distance athlete for the Oklahoma State men last winter as he was able to grab a 2nd place result in the 400 meters with a time of 45.60, his current indoor PR. He will surely look to contend for the title this season, especially with the loss of Baylor’s 1st place finisher Wil London via graduation. Hicks also qualified for the indoor national meet last winter and will hope to improve upon his 19th place finish in the 400 meter preliminary at the Outdoor National Championships last year.
The Cowboys did not finish particularly high up last year and will definitely look to improve upon that with their many young pieces. In 2019, they were able to gather small amounts of points across the track and were able to get involved in many events. With improvement in each of these areas, the Cowboys could make a run and end up as high as 2nd place in 2020. They have a budding star in Isai Rodriguez and will look to make him a standout distance runner as his collegiate career begins to take off, specifically on the track.
1. Wisconsin Badgers
How They Did in 2019: 3rd (71 pts.)
Wisconsin showed strong distance depth last season with the likes of Oliver Hoare and Aussie standout Morgan McDonald. They just barely beat out Iowa and Purdue who tied for 4th with 70 points, which made for a tight finish to the championships. The Badgers had winners in the mile with Hoare and in the 5000m with McDonald. They also had some support in the 3000m and 5000m that allowed them to accumulate some more points. They were also winners of the DMR clocking in at 9:44.62.
Key Names to Watch
Oliver Hoare (mile, 3000m, DMR): Hoare took the conference title in the mile last year and will hope to repeat this winter as well. He will have to fight off the likes of Kyle Mau of Indiana, however, and race tactically to the finish. Hoare also has wicked PR’s of 3:37 in the 1500 meters, 3:54 in the mile, and 7:48 in the 3000 meters, making him a valuable piece of a DMR moving forward.
Tucker Wedig (Weight Throw): Wedig was able to nab 3rd in the weight throw last season at the B10 meet. His throw of 21.23 meters (69 feet, 8 inches) was thrown on his last attempt of the competition. The two athletes who finished ahead of him last winter were both seniors, making for a great opportunity for victory for Wedig come February.
Rashid Coulibaly (Pole Vault): The current senior was able to finish in 2nd place at the BIG 10 Championships last winter in the pole vault, just 0.1 meters behind winner Coulon (Indiana). He vaulted 5.34 meters (17 feet, 6.25 inches) and owns a best of 5.35 meters, but can look to increase his height this season. The close margin of victory that Coulon had over him leaves us to believe that the BIG 10 title could be his in 2020.
The Badgers are in for a tougher title run this season with the loss of McDonald. However, the Badgers will return Oliver Hoare who will look to defend the mile title and perhaps double in the 3000 meters. A few other distance runners and top-tier field event talents will keep Wisconsin in the upper tier of the BIG 10 standings.
2. Indiana Hoosiers
How They Did in 2019: 2nd (91 pts.)
The Hoosiers performed very well in the long distance events at last year’s BIG 10 Championships. They snagged nine points in the mile, 18 points in the 3000 meters (by going 1-2), and another eight points in the 5000 meters. Guys like Ben Veatch and Kyle Mau made huge splashes for Indiana and they will be back this season to try and make that same impact. They also put out some top field performances which gathered a huge crux of their point total as well.
Key Names to Watch
Kyle Mau (mile, 3000m, 500m, DMR): Mau is one of the favorites for a couple of NCAA events this season and is becoming a household NCAA name. Mau was the runner-up in the BIG 10 mile this past winter only to Badger superstar Oliver Hoare. He will look to battle it out again this season and perhaps take the title for himself. Mau also finished runner-up to teammate Ben Veatch in the 3000 meters in a seemingly tactical race. He owns PR’s of 3:57.61 for the mile and 7:50.17 for the 3000 meters, putting him up with the NCAA elites.
Ben Veatch (3000m, 5000m): With Mau, Veatch has established himself as another budding NCAA distance star. As a sophomore, Veatch was able to snag the 3000 meter title at BIG 10's and finish as the runner-up in the 5000 meters, losing only to global track star Morgan McDonald. He owns a sub-8:00 3000 meter PR and a sub-14 5000 meter PR, both marks that can contend for All-American spots in March.
Adam Coulon (Pole Vault): Coulon is the defending BIG 10 champion in the event and was able to win the title last year with a jump of 5.44 meters (17 feet, 10.25 inches). He owns a personal best vault of 5.55 meters (18 feet, 2.5 inches) that he just got on January 11, 2020. Coulon has consistently put out jumps of at least 5.50 meters in past competitions. That's a good sign for him considering Wisconsin's Rashid Coulibaly was only 0.1 meters off of him at last year's BIG 10 Championship.
The Hoosiers are a powerhouse distance program who are also looking better and better in the shorter distances. We didn't even mention Rikkoi Brathwaite or Cooper Williams, guys who could realistically win BIG 10 titles this winter. If Indiana can find the same amount of success in the field events and also improve upon their shorter distance performances, the Hoosiers can contend for the team title this winter.
3. Iowa Hawkeyes
How They Did in 2019: T-4 (70 pts.)
Iowa tied with Purdue and only finished a point behind Wisconsin in a tight race at last year’s BIG 10 Championships. They nabbed 13 points in the 200 meters, 15 points in the 400 meters, 21 points in the 60 meters hurdles, and 10 points in the 4x400. They showed their strengths in the short sprints and 400 meters, but lacked a bit of power in the middle and long distance events. Their strong performances in the relays also proved that they have strong pieces that can be interchangable and used for individual events as well.
Key Names to Watch
Karayme Bartley (200m, 400m): Bartley was a vital piece of the Hawkeye sprint contingent last year. He was 2nd in the 200 meters and 2nd in the 400 meters at their conference championships, so he will look to contend for both titles this winter. Bartley's indoor PR’s sit at 20.67 (200) and 46.25 (400) and was an All-American in both the 4x400 and the 200 meters at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships.
Antonio Woodard (200m, 4x400): Woodard finished just behind his Hawkeye teammate Bartley last season in the 200 meters. He ran 20.98 to place 4th and will surely look to contend with his teammate this winter. He was also a member of the gold medal winning 4x400 relay at BIG 10's and was an All-American member of the 4x400 that finished 4th at the outdoor national meet last spring (3:00.14).
Jaylan McConico (60mH): McConico is the defending 60 meter hurdles champion from last year’s BIG 10 Championships and will look to defend that title in February. He failed to make the final for the event at last winter’s NCAA Championships, but was able to gain some valuable experience. He has also PR’d this season, already running a time of 7.66, the current US #1 collegiate time.
The Hawkeyes most definitely lack depth in the distance events and, barring any major breakouts from young runners, will have to rely heavily on their short sprinters and hurdlers for most of their point accumulation. McConico and Bartley are guys that can surely earn 10 points in their respective events, and with strong performances in the 4x400 and improvement upon their DMR finish from 2019, they can earn valuable points in the relays.
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF)
1. Oregon Ducks
How They Did in 2019: T-3 (63 pts.)
The Ducks were a part of a hard fought battle between several teams for the 3rd place position in the MPSF Championships last season. They showed up, especially in the middle distance event, to score 11 points in the 800 meters (taking up three scoring positions) and 11 points in the 3000 meters. They also had 16 points in the 60 meters and took up three of the scoring positions. They did not seem to run any relays, so they lost point opportunities there, but they definitely have the pieces to make a solid DMR this season.
Key Names to Watch
Cooper Teare (3000m, mile): Teare finished 4th in the 3000 meters at the MPSF Championships last year in a fast time of 7:51, only 1.2 seconds behind the winner of the race. He did not compete in the mile at last year’s MPSF meet, but definitely has the ability to do so (or be a valuable piece of a DMR). He owns blistering PR’s of 3:59.21 (mile) and 7:50.66 (3000m), both before his junior year commenced. Oh, and in case you forgot, he was 6th at the NCAA XC Championships meet this past fall. Don't count out his 5000 meter potential either.
Charlie Hunter (800m, mile): Hunter is another one of the Ducks who has a mile PR under four minutes (3:57.74). As a sophomore, Hunter finished 4th in the 800 meters, running his current indoor PR (1:49.85). He also has a sub-eight 3000 meters PR, so he has some respectable range up from the middle distances. Look for Hunter to work a double in the 800 meters and the mile (as well as possibly a DMR leg).
Rieker Daniel (200m, 60m): Daniel showed some strong performances in the shorter distance events last year at the MPSF meet. Although he failed to make the final of the 60 meters, he still holds a PR of 6.78 in the event. He found great success in the 200 meter final where he placed 2nd in a time of 21.21, so look for Daniel to contend for that title as a junior this season.
The Ducks have the potential to make a big jump in the standings this season. They have one of the best miler contingents in the country and add in some solid athletes who can compete in the longer distance events. They also have the ability to compete in the shorter distances led by Daniel, and if they choose to have a presence in the relays this season, they will surely be the favorite to take the DMR title.
2. UCLA Bruins
How They Did in 2019: 2nd (76 pts.)
The Bruins found much of their success in the middle and longer distances, especially with distance standout Robert Brandt, who won the MPSF's 3000 meter and 5000 meter titles last year. The Bruins also nabbed another scoring position in the 3000 meters and picked up some other small point accumulations across some of the short distance events. Senior Leon Powell was also able to score in the 60 meters and 200 meters, but he will unfortunately be lost to graduation.
Key Names to Watch
Robert Brandt (3000m, 5000m): Brandt has the potential to defend his 3000 and 5000 meters titles this winter as long as injury concerns don't hinder his performance. Brandt did not run in the West XC Regional Championships this past fall, so it is unclear if he is 100% to go for this winter. If he is healthy, and in good form by February however, Brandt will be a force in this conference. His current indoor personal bests are 7:50.27 for the 3000 meters and 13:40.82 in the 5000 meters.
Sondre Guttormsen (Pole Vault): Last year's MPSF title winner in the pole vault is coming back in 2020 for his sophomore season. The youngster stood tall among the veterans last year with a winning mark of 5.37 meters. With a personal best of 5.73 meters and a few near All-American finishes, Guttormsen will be the favorite to win the MPSF title yet again.
Sean Lee (High Jump): Lee finished 3rd at last year's MPSF Championships, but his performance at the Outdoor National Championships was far more impressive (where he placed 6th). If he can replicate his breakout spring season this winter, he'll be in contention to win the federation title.
UCLA has the potential to be a very strong distance performing team this winter with Brandt leading the way and the field events clearly have great point scorers. That said, we still do not know 100% if Brandt will be fully healthy or if he will race as much as originally planned, but there is still a good chance he will be ready enough to contend for his titles once again. The Bruins will still need some help from the shorter distance events and relays if they want to make a run at the title.
3. BYU Cougars
How They Did in 2019: 1st (93 pts.)
BYU took the overall title last season due mainly in part to their strong middle and long distance athletes. They gathered 8 points in the 200m and had the winner of the 400m (Michael Bluth). They then grabbed 10 points in the mile, nine in the 3000m, and 10 more in the 5000m. They also performed well in the relays taking 4th in the 4x400 and 2nd in the DMR.
Key Names to Watch
Michael Bluth (400m, 4x400, DMR): Bluth will be a key returner for the Cougars as they look to reclaim their MPSF title. Bluth was the individual champion in the 400 meters last winter, running 46.58 and was also a member of both the 4x400 relay and DMR at last year’s MPSF Championships. Bluth’s current indoor 400 meter PR is 46.01 and he will look to dip under that this winter.
Jacob Heslington (5000m): Heslington was the runner-up in the MPSF 5000 meter last season, only taking the loss to UCLA standout Robert Brandt. He was a part of a deep 5000 meter field from last season’s race and ran 13:58 while all top eight scorers dipped under 14:05. A respectable 8:06 3k PR is on Heslington’s resume, and he was also the 21st place finisher at this past fall’s NCAA XC Championships.
Brian Matthews (Heptathlon): The 2nd place finisher from last year's MPSF Championships is set to make his return for his senior season in 2020. He was an 11th place finisher at the National Championships last spring in the decathlon, so he's at least capable of challenging California's Tyler Brendel for the federation title come late February.
BYU looks slightly weaker this season with some senior losses and also Conner Mantz’s redshirt season. However, they still have many weapons in the long distance events such as Heslington and Shumway. Bluth also gives the Cougars a great chance to score points in the relays because of his ability to double and triple up events. Add in Matthews' and a few others, and you have a well-rounded roster.