FAYETTEVILLE -- If last week's lightning in Lawrence, Kan. doesn't strike NCAA bigwigs that it's wastefully idiotic conducting a three-day track meet with a 12th-place finish equal to a first, then nothing will.
The NCAA, despite annual objections from most power five conference men's and women's track and field coaches, continued last Thursday through Saturday with its NCAA West Preliminary and NCAA East Preliminary meets in Lawrence, Kan. and Jacksonville, Fla.
The meets winnow 48 from each event to 12 sending a combined 24 for individual event and 24 teams in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays to the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 8-11 in Eugene, Ore.
Regionals were voted in shortly after the millennium's turn by the larger bloc of midmajor schools.
NCAA Outdoor qualifiers were previously determined by best performances during the season, and it was dominated by the athletes from the SEC, Pac 12, ACC, Big Ten, and Big 12.
From the regionals' inception, arguments arose that some regionals inherent strengths and weaknesses in specific events would omit some outperforming qualifiers from other regionals.
Now with last Thursday's thunderstorms and lightning in Lawrence turning the three-day West meet into a two-day meet making every event a final, howls from the East likely ensue since the Jacksonville meet completed its three-day schedule.
"The East people are upset because they had to run an extra round and we didn't," Arkansas men's Coach Chris Bucknam said upon returning from Lawrence.
Then again, argue Bucknam and Arkansas women's Coach Lance Harter, the East teams in Jacksonville were spared hardships that those in Lawrence weathered literally.
A meet scheduled to span three afternoons and evenings got jammed into two mornings and afternoons because more thunderstorms were predicted the remaining nights.
"It was chaos," Bucknam said. "A lot of sitting around for hours Thursday before they decided to cancel the meet for the night. Then we have to get our sprinters and jumpers up at 5 in the morning because they are sprinting and jumping at 9. It was very stressful. But that's the conundrum of having the meet."
The 10,000 meters, originally exempted to a straight final to the NCAA Outdoor like the men's decathlon and women's heptathlon but recently included at regionals despite many distance coaches objections, had Dominique Scott-Efurd, Harter's senior All-American, racing while many were eating breakfast.
"We get home at 11 o'clock Thursday night and Dominique ran the 10,000 Friday at 8 a.m.," Harter said. "And then she comes back Saturday afternoon in the 5,000. Fortunately, she took care of it."
For the most part, Bucknam's No. 5-ranked men and Harter's No. 2-ranked women rose to the occasion and then some.
Harter will take 21 UA women to Eugene; Bucknam will have 20 UA men.
"There are murmurs that's it an extraordinary amount of time, effort and money," Bucknam said of the Prelim meets. "But it is what it is, and you can't waste emotion on that. We just have to be happy we are going to Eugene."
Sports on 05/30/2016
Print Headline: NCAA Preliminary track meets waste time, money