While once only used by top athletes, indoor track and field has become a common winter sport among high schools and colleges. For those of you new to indoor track, let me first explain a few differences between indoor and outdoor track.
First, the indoor track is half the length of an outdoor track. The track is 200m which makes distance events double in number of laps. There is also a 60 meter track in the middle of oval for the sprint events (that run 60m instead of 100m). Finally, due to the sharpness of the curves, some tracks have banked turns (i.e. Virginia Tech’s Rector Fieldhouse) while others are flat tracks making times a little slower (i.e. UNC’s Eddie Smith Fieldhouse).
Last season saw Florida State win it’s 9th title in the last 12 years (not counting it’s vacated 2007 title). The Seminoles’ strength was in their jumpers as they won 3 of the 4 jumping events (high, triple, and long jumps). After only losing one of those athletes to graduation, Florida State looks like a strong contender to repeat.
Last year’s runner up may also be a strong contender. UNC came up 8 points short last year and with most of their team back, those 8 points could be made up with other team’s graduations. The Tar Heels were the runners up in the 5k and the 4×4 relay and the winners of those events have graduated.
The toughest competition may come from Notre Dame who took 3rd in the conference last year. The Irish won the 400m, 5k, and distance medley relay on their way to finishing only 5 points behind UNC. With the majority of their distance team returning, Notre Dame may find themselves in the running for their 3rd ACC title.
Prediction: Florida State
Call me crazy, but it’s hard to bet against a dynasty. Just like in football, beating FSU is no small task and it will take a special team to beat them.
Florida State also took home the womens indoor track title last year with a 13.5 point victory over Duke. This win broke Clemson’s streak of 4 straight ACC indoor championships. There’s no clear favorite this year as both FSU and Duke lost many of their key runners to graduation. Obviously, these teams are still in contention, but graduation may have opened the door for some other teams.
Miami won 4 events last year, but lacked the depth to contend for the title. The Hurricanes return all 4 of the champions from last year. If they can find a way to place higher in some other events, they have a good shot at the title. Similarly, Virginia Tech and Clemson each return two champions from last year, but like Miami, finished low in the overall standings due to lack of depth.
Notre Dame may benefit the most from graduations this season. They finished 3rd last year despite only winning the 60m hurdles. With some graduations, the Irish could bridge the 31.5 point gap from last year.
Prediction: Florida State
The Seminoles return the champions of the 1 mile and the long jump. They beat a senior heavy Duke by 13.5 and every other team by at least 30. That’s a large margin that will be tough for any team to overcome.
So I predict 2 repeats this year in indoor track. What do you think? Will there be an upset this year?