After the NCAA Indoor National Track and Field Championships were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, the event made its comeback over the weekend, and the races for the individual and team national titles were on in Fayetteville, Ark. The Oregon men crushed the rest of the field, winning with 79 points (the second-most in championship history), and the Arkansas women won their second straight title, defending their win from 2019.
Congrats to the 2021 Men's and Women's DI Indoor Track and Field National Champions! 🎉
— NCAA Track & Field (@NCAATrackField) March 14, 2021
A dominant win
The Oregon men finished well ahead of the second-place squad from LSU, which scored 56 points — 23 fewer than Oregon. Of the 17 events contested, Oregon won six. Sophomore Cole Hocker won the men’s mile in 3:53.71, and just an hour later, he hit the track again to take the win in the 3,000m. Hocker won the 3K in a PB of 7:46.15, finishing just ahead of Oregon teammate Cooper Teare, who finished in second place in 7:46.23.
Charlie Hunter added to Oregon’s medal haul, winning the 800m in 1:45.91, crossing the line 0.01 seconds in front of second-place Finley McLear of Miami University. Hunter and Teare also raced the distance medley relay (DMR), helping Oregon to the win in this race, too. The DMR is 4,000m, and in order, it sees teams run 1,200m, 400m, 800m and 1,600m legs.
Oregon won the DMR in 9:19.98, finishing half a second off the team’s own collegiate record of 9:19.42, which the men ran earlier in 2021.
— oregontf (@OregonTF) March 14, 2021
A team effort
While the Oregon men dominated, winning multiple events, the Arkansas women didn’t win any. They did run consistently, though, and they scored points in 10 of the 17 events, which boosted them to 68 points and a win over the Texas A&M women (who finished in second with 57 points).
Arkansas saw podium performances in multiple races, including the 800m (third place), mile (second and third) and 3,000m (second). The women’s team also posted podium runs in the two relays, running to a third-place finish in the 4 x 400m and second in the DMR. They weren’t unstoppable in individual races like the Oregon men, but as a whole, the Arkansas women got the job done and took home their second consecutive national title.
Athing Mu’s first championships
Going into the championships, all eyes were on Texas A&M freshman Athing Mu, who has had an amazing start to her collegiate career. She ran 400m, 600m, 800m and 4 x 400m races in the build-up to the NCAA Indoors, and she didn’t lose a single one. She set records at multiple meets (including a U20 world record in the 800m), and she arrived in Arkansas as the favourite to win the 400m, which was the only individual event she entered.
On Saturday, though, Mu was not the first woman across the line in the 400m, and USC senior Kaelin Roberts ran to the win instead, posting a PB of 50.84. Mu finished in second place in 51.03. Roberts’s PB couldn’t have come at a better time, while Mu’s first loss of 2021 couldn’t have been timed any worse.
Mu didn’t leave without a national title, though, as just an hour after her defeat in the 400m, she returned to the track for the 4 x 400m. Refusing to record the second loss of her season, Mu not only helped the Texas A&M women to the win in 3:26.68, but she also posted the fastest indoor 400m split in history, running an incredible 49.54.
Boling’s first win
Like Mu, this was the first NCAA Championship event of Matthew Boling‘s career. Competing in the 200m, 4 x 400m and long jump, Boling helped his Georgia teammates secure third place in the men’s team standings. While he finished off the podium in the long jump and relay (placing seventh and fourth, respectively), Boling won the 200m. He posted a PB of 20.19 seconds, which gave him the win and the world lead for the indoor 200m so far in 2021.
For full results from the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, click here.