Posted on May 13, 2021
The 2021 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships kick off today at the Katherine B. Loker Track Stadium on the USC campus.
Formerly a two-day meet, the championships have been expanded to three days this year, with the multi-events included rather than taking place the weekend before as they have in the past.
The Oregon men bring a streak of 13 consecutive Pac-12 titles to the meet, and are strong favorites to extend that streak to 14.
The USC women ended the Oregon women’s dominance of the Pac-12s in 2018, snapping the Ducks’ streak at nine, and are on a mission to solidify their position at the top of the conference with their third straight title.
It doesn’t look to me like either team race will come down to the 4 x 400 relay. My formchart has the Trojans taking the women’s title by 47 points over the Ducks, and the Duck men running away with the trophy by 45 points over projected runner-up USC.
Here’s how I project the top five teams.
1. Oregon, 173
2. USC, 128
3. UW, 98
4. WSU, 96
5. Arizona, 88
*The Ducks scored 175 points in 2017, 174 in 2018, 173 in 2019. Talk about consistency!
1. USC, 179
2. Oregon, 132
3. ASU, 85
4. UW, 67
5. Arizona, 65
*In 2019 the Trojans scored all of their 154 points on the meet’s final day.
Most of the Duck’s strong group of male distance runners will double at the meet, and I have them scoring 62 points in four events: 1500, 800, 5000 and Steeplechase.
The Ducks should score another 39 in the 100 and 200, and are predicted to score points in all but five events. By contrast, USC will have as many as nine events where they are shut out.
The USC women are totally dominant in my formchart, scoring an amazing 114 points in the sprints and hurdles, including 34 in the 400, where they place seven runners in the top eight, and 23 in the short hurdle race.
They also figure to score in all but two field events. Oregon makes up some of that gap in the distance races, but not nearly enough to make it a close team race.
Don’t get the impression that the meet won’t be worth watching because the team races won’t be tight. This will be an exciting look at some of the top track and field athletes in the world, some of whom are going to contend for Olympic berths this year.
Here are the events that I think will be the most high-octane competitions by race and event at Loker Stadium this weekend:
The Pac-12 is known for its great distance runners, and this year is no exception. Twelve runners come into this race with a season’s best under 3:45, which is equivalent to a 4:02 mile, and five have a time under 3:40 (3:57 mile).
Oregon’s Cooper Teare, the NCAA record holder in the indoor mile, will likely not let this turn into a tactical race won by the best kick over the last 200 meters. Teare is not afraid to take the lead and push the pace. This one should be a barn burner!
The conference’s best two women sprinters on the best two teams go head to head in the 100 meters. Oregon junior Kemba Nelson and Southern Cal senior TeeTee Terry have identical season bests of 11.08.
They last faced off at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, when Nelson upset Terry and the field in the 60 meters, setting a collegiate record of 7.05 in the process. Terry will undoubtedly be looking for revenge on her home track.
This should be a great race and I won’t be surprised if English Gardner’s meet record of 11.03 falls.
More mid-distance madness here.
USC’s Isaiah Jewett is the national leader with a mark of 1:45.80 and is the defending Pac-12 champ.
But here he is up against UO’s fabulous freshman Cole Hocker, who won the NCAA Indoors mile and 3000 in the space of an hour back in March. Also in the field is Oregon’s Charlie Hunter who won the indoor 800 title.
Will it be a tactical sit and kick race, or will Jewett take it out fast?
Can’t wait to watch this one.
Scheduled for today at 12:30, this will be the first women’s final of the meet. 2019 NCAA champion and 2021 national leader Camryn Rogers of California is the heavy favorite.
How dominant is Rogers? Her personal best of 239-9 is number two on the all-time Pac-12 list and Rogers has been very consistent in her performances.
Yet she will be tested here by the number two thrower nationally, Alyssa Wilson of UCLA, who has thrown 229-6. Look for Rogers to send one out past 240 feet!
Women’s 4 x 400 Relay
With USC’s incredible sprint and 400 depth, it is hard to believe that anyone could challenge them in the 4 x 4, which will conclude the meet.
But UCLA did just that at the USC-UCLA dual meet two weekends ago. USC won in 3:29.72, just ahead of UCLA’s 3:30.16.
Bruin junior Shae Anderson nearly upset Trojan senior Kaelin Roberts in the 400 in the same meet, just losing a photo finish by .02 seconds.
I’m hoping that this race becomes a grudge match that is decided at the finish line.
One surprising late development: Turner Washington’s name is not listed in the heat sheets released Thursday. The outstanding Arizona State thrower is leading the nation in both the shot and the discus, but will evidently not compete this weekend.
—Recent Steve Ritchie Stories—
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- Greatest Pac-12 Track & Field Athletes of All Time: Part 4
- Greatest Pac-12 Track & Field Athletes of All Time: Part 3
- Greatest Pac-12 Track & Field Athletes of All Time: Part 2
- Greatest Pac-12 Track & Field Athletes of All Time: Part I
- Pac-12 Men’s 2020 Olympic Trials Outlook
NCAA 10k Title Sweet Redemption for Oregon’s BaezThe Duck senior vindicates her 2019 second-place finish, thrilling her home-track crowd - June 11, 2021
Women’s Pac-12 Track Teams Take Center Stage at NCAAsPredictions for all 21 winners in the women's competition from our senior track & field writer - June 9, 2021
Men’s Pac-12 Track Teams Look to Make a Splash at NCAAsPredictions for all 21 winners in the men's competition from our senior track & field writer - June 8, 2021