Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Future of Summit League Track and Field

I did a lot of thinking both during and after last weekend's Summit League Indoor Conference Track meet.  A lot of the thinking dealt with the loss of Southern Utah to the Big Sky Conference and Oral Roberts to the Southland Conference.  Southern Utah has long been a deep distance running based team with other stellar athletes spread through the other events.  The same pattern has developed at Oral Roberts except their base is in the long sprints, especially the 400 meters.  The result of losing these teams is going to have a negative effect on the Summit League.  The addition of USD this year is a positive one and IUPUI is adding track and field starting this outdoor season but these schools simply are not as good as SUU or ORU.  Nebraska-Omaha is also joining the Summit League- without men's track.  It is hard to visit IPFW's new facility without wondering if they plan to add a men's team soon.  However, I would hold IPFW's school records in the 800, 1500, Mile, 3000, 5000, 10,000 and 3000 Steeplechase without approaching SDSU's Top-10 lists in any of those events.  It is safe to say that IPFW won't be a major factor in the near-future of Summit League Track.

Here are the team scores from the past weekend if you take out SUU and ORU.
1. NDSU 226
2. USD 146
3. SDSU 94
4. UMKC 92
5. WIU 70
6. OU 16
7. IPFW 9

1. NDSU 169
2. USD 148
3. SDSU 134
4. UMKC 120
5. WIU 58
6. OU 21

On both sides it is a Dakota battle with UMKC on the outside, looking it.  Nebraska-Omaha's women will probably be about as good as Western Illinois.  They have some great athletes that will score some points but lack depth.  IUPUI will add more distance runners to the mix but will have little to no effect on the team scoring.  I think the Summit League should look for another school to join and hopefully that school is good at track.  The Summit League track landscape is going to be much different in some events- the men's 400 or 5000 for example.  Those events lose 5 and 6 scorers respectively just to teams leaving the conference.

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