Arizona senior Lawi Lalang hopes to add to his already impressive list of accomplishments at this week’s NCAA track and field championships.
He’s got seven NCAA titles to go with six Pac-12 championships heading into the meet that starts Wednesday at Oregon’s Hayward Field.
Lalang, the defending national champion in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, will be the only athlete to double up in the 1,500 and 5,000 this season.
”I’m really confident. I’m going to go there and do my best, I know I’m in great shape,” he said following the NCAA West Regional in Arkansas.
Lalang will once again battle Oregon freshman Edward Cheserek, this time in the 5,000. The two have developed quite a rivalry this season.
At the Pac-12 championships, Lalang defeated Cheserek in 3 minutes, 36.34 seconds in the 1,500 meters, breaking his conference record in the event with the fastest time in the country this season. Cheserek finished in a personal-best 3:36.5 seconds, the fourth-fastest in Oregon history.
Lalang also took first place in the 5,000 final at the Pac-12 championships with a finish of 13:41.44, the best time this season.
But Cheserek bested Lalang at the NCAA indoor championships earlier this season.
The two will compete against Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka, setting up one of the most anticipated races of the meet.
Cheserek will double up in the 10,000, in a field dominated by Ducks with seniors Trevor Dunbar and Parker Stinson.
The Ducks head into the meet ranked No. 1 in the nation by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Oregon has won eight straight Pac-12 titles and claimed the NCAA indoor championship, but the team hasn’t won an outdoor title since 1984.
Second-ranked Florida and third-ranked Texas A&M were the co-champions last year, when the outdoor championships were also held at Hayward Field.
On the women’s side, Texas is ranked No. 1 by the USTFCCCA, followed by Texas A&M. The third-ranked Ducks, coming off their sixth straight Pac-12 title, have not won an outdoor team title since 1985. Kansas is the defending women’s team champion.
Florida State senior Dentarius Locke has the nation’s fastest time in the 100 meters going into the NCAA championships. He hopes to get even for a loss to TCU’s Charles Silmon last year.
”One misstep or thinking about another runner and the race can be lost,” said Locke, who has broken the 10-second barrier with a personal-best 9.96 seconds. ”If I focus on my race and my lane and the finish line, everything will end up the way it’s supposed to.”
One the women’s side, Dartmouth senior Abbey D’Agostino looks to defend her 5,000-meter title. D’Agostino’s stellar career includes back-to-back outdoor and indoor titles in the 5K and two indoor 3,000-meter championships.
Last year, D’Agostino pulled away from Oregon senior Jordan Hasay in the final 300 meters. This year she’ll be challenged by talented Michigan freshman Erin Finn, who is doubling up with the 10,000.
Oregon’s Laura Roesler is the favorite on her home track in the women’s 800 meters. She’s got a 2:00.23 personal best, 2 seconds faster than any other runner in the field.
Kentucky junior Kendra Harrison will run both the 100 and 400 hurdles after becoming the first to win both events at the SEC championships since South Carolina’s Ellakisha Williamson in 1999.