Athletes in NCAA Division II and Division III are competing in national championships starting today, while NCAA Division I athletes commence action in one of two "Preliminary" events which lead up to the D1 national championships in Des Moines, Iowa in two weeks.
Here's our quick preview of the NCAA goings-on ...
NCAA Division II ... In D2 action, which gets underway today at California State University - Stanislaus, Minnesota State, Mankato pole vaulter Lauren Stelten and Winona State's Mary Theisen are the Minnesota headliners.
Stelten is the reigning D2 indoor champion in the pole vault, where she cleared 13-6 1/2 for the win. At the outdoor meet, the Chaska alumnus is seeded #2 in the event. Stelten was runner-up at last year's NCAA D2 outdoor meet.
Theisen enters the meet as the #1 seed in the discus. An eighth-place finisher in the event last year, Theisen enters the meet having thrown 176-3 in 2011. Indoors this year, Theisen finished sixth in both the shot put and weight throw.
Live results from the meet will be posted HERE.
NCAA Division III ... Leading the Minnesota contingent at D3 nationals in Delaware, Ohio are a pair of #3 seeds: Carleton javelin thrower Kelly Lovett and Gustavus Adolphus heptathlete Janey Helland.
Lovett, who placed fourth in the meet last year with a mark of 144-11, enters the meet with a 149-5 mark this year. Lovett competes after an upset defeat at the MIAC meet, where Concordia Moorhead's Katherine Brott, who did not qualify for nationals, edged her by a lone inch with a 131-1 throw.
Helland, the MIAC heptathlon champion this year, was the D3 pentathlon runner-up indoors, just nine points shy of the victor. Helland was a fourth-place finisher in the multi at outdoor championships last year.
Division I Preliminaries ... Preliminary action in D1 will take place in Bloomington, Indiana and Eugene, Oregon this weekend.
Each preliminary meet gathers, the top 48 individual qualifiers for each event, save for the decathlon and heptathlon. The top 24 relays squads also qualify. To advance to the NCAA Championships, athletes and relays must finish in the top 12 of the respective preliminary meets.
Twenty-four University of Minnesota men will compete at the West Prelim in Eugene. The Gopher women's team is sending 16 athletes to the meet in "Tracktown, USA." The top-ranked Gopher man in the meet is pole vaulter Ben Peterson at #6. Fellow pole vaulter Samatha Sonnenberg leads the Gopher women as the #4 seed.
Winona native Elliott Heath of Stanford is the #1 seed in the 5000-meters in the meet; Justin Tyner, the Brainerd High School alumnus who attends the Air Force Academy, is the #2-seed the steeplechase.