EUGENE, Ore. — The NCAA outdoor track and field championships that begin Wednesday at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field will have a different look.
For the first time since the NCAA began conducting the women’s championships in 1982, the men and women — with the exception of contestants in the decathlon and heptathlon — won’t compete at the same time in the four-day meet.
The new schedule format was approved unanimously in February by the NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet for the 2015 and 2016 meets — in part to improve the overall experience, and for the men’s and women’s title teams to have their own moment of recognition because the two champions will be crowned on separate days.
Men’s semifinals on the track and some semifinals and finals in the field will be held Wednesday, with the rest of the finals Friday. The women will compete Thursday and Saturday.
The men’s 10-event decathlon and women’s seven-event heptathlon will be held Wednesday and Thursday because they must be contested on consecutive days.
State schools other than LSU will have 11 athletes in six events at the meet after they made it through the NCAA East preliminary rounds.
The group is led by Southeastern hammer throwers Alex Young, Jonathan Kinchen and Misha Frazier.
Among the other state entrants are Tulane’s Devon Breaux in the long jump and UL-Lafayette’s 4x100-meter relay team of Tyler Hughes, Hanoj Carter, Bismarck Ebiweh and Jeryl Brazil.
Also, Texas A&M’s Kamaria Brown, a Baton Rouge native and McKinley High grad, is in the women’s 200 meters and both relays, while Stanford’s Dylan Duvio, a John Curtis graduate, is in the men’s pole vault.
Brown, a senior, is the defending champion in the 200.
It’s no surprise to find that the Southeastern Conference has the most entrants in the national semifinals on both the men’s and women’s sides after the NCAA East and West preliminary rounds.
SEC women’s teams have combined for 116 entries, while the Pac-12 (74) and Big 12 (60) lag far behind. The SEC men have 107 entries, followed by the Pac-12 (71) and Big Ten (61).
On the tube
For the first time, all four days of the NCAA championships will be televised live on the ESPN family of networks.
A total of 12 hours of live action will be televised starting Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
The other time slots are Thursday, 6-7:30 p.m. (ESPNU) and 7:30-9:30 p.m. (ESPN); Friday, 6:30-9 p.m. (ESPN); and Saturday, 4-6:30 p.m. (ESPN2).
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.