DES MOINES, Iowa--The best collegiate track and field athletes are coming back to Des Moines. Drake University hosts the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships beginning Wednesday, June 6 and running through Saturday, June 9, 2012, at Drake Stadium.
This year marks the fourth time the NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held in Des Moines (1970, 2008, '11).
Below is a breakdown of the pertinent information for fans and for coverage of the 2012 Championships, including tickets, television coverage and events to watch.
TICKETS: All-session passes and single-day tickets are still available by calling (515) 271-DOGS or visiting www.NCAA.com/tickets.
TELEVISION: ESPNU will provide television coverage of Saturday's action from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (CDT).
ONLINE/WEBSTREAM: The entire event will be streamed live. Wednesday's events will be available via NCAA.com, and Thursday through Saturday action on ESPN3.com. Fans and media can find all the information they desire throughout the NCAA Championships on the official Drake Athletics website, www.GoDrakeBulldogs.com. Look for the Championships Central page, which will feature updated information throughout the meet.
Wednesday, June 6-Decathlon, Noon; Field events 2:30 p.m.; Running events, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 7-Decathlon/heptathlon, 11:30 a.m./1 p.m.; Field events, 2:30 p.m.; Running events, 5:30 p.m.
Friday, June 8-Field events, 2 p.m.; Heptathlon, 3 p.m.; Running events, 5:35 p.m.
Saturday, June 9-Field events, 10 a.m.; Running events, 11:03 a.m.
Click here to download a full schedule in PDF format.
THE COMPETITION: A total of 23 men's and women's winners from the University Division of the 2012 Drake Relays return to the Blue Oval seeking NCAA glory just six weeks after their Relays triumphs. In addition, 13 individual champions from the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships at Drake return in 2012.
Texas A&M has won the last three team championships on both the men's and women's sides. The Aggie men enter the meet ranked No. 1 by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, while the women rank fourth. LSU has the No. 1-ranked women's team.
Florida State senior Maurice Mitchell returns to defend his 200-meter title, won at Drake one year ago. He was the No. 1 qualifier in the NCAA Preliminary Rounds, and has also qualified in the 100 meters while also running on the Seminoles' No. 1-qualifying 4x100 relay team.
Arizona State junior Jordan Clarke returns to defend his national championship in the shot put, and also is the reigning NCAA Indoor champion for 2012. LSU senior Barrett Nugent is back to defend his title in the 110-meter hurdles, while also running on the Tigers' 4x100 quartet.
Iowa junior Ethan Holmes, from Clinton, Iowa, has qualified for the NCAA Championships in both the 110 hurdles and 400 hurdles for the second year in a row. He was the only competitor to do both in 2011, and is one of just two this year, joined by Arkansas junior Caleb Cross.
On the women's side, LSU junior Kimberlyn Duncan is the defending outdoor and indoor champion in the 200 meters, and set a 2012 world-leading mark of 22.22 at the NCAA East Prelims. She is also slated to run on the Tigers' 4x100 squad and compete in the 100 meters, in which she finished second in 2011 by .01 seconds and holds the fifth-best time in the world in 2012 (10.96).
Arizona junior Brigetta Barrett is the defending outdoor and indoor champion in the high jump, and has the fifth-best jump in the world in 2012, at 6-4.75 (1.95m). Defending javelin national outdoor champion Brittany Borman of Oklahoma also was the 2012 Drake Relays winner in that event.
OTHER EVENTS TO WATCH:
Men's 200-In addition to Mitchell, the field also includes Auburn junior Harry Adams, who has posted the No. 5 time in the world this outdoor season, of 20.10.
Men's 400-Oregon sophomore Mike Berry comes into the meet with the world's fourth-best recorded time of 2012, of 44.86.
Men's 4x100-Joining Florida State, which posted the top overall time at last week's Preliminary Rounds is Auburn, which holds the world's No. 2 outdoor time for 2012 (38.30).
Men's Long Jump-Arkansas sophomore Raymond Higgs has posted the No. 1 outdoor jump in the world for 2012, soaring 27-5.25 (8.36m).
Men's High Jump-Defending champion Erik Kynard, a junior from Kansas State, returns to defend his title.
Men's Hammer Throw-Virginia Tech junior Alexander Ziegler is the defending champion, and returns.
Men's Javelin-Illinois State junior Tim Glover looks for a repeat title after winning at Drake in 2011.
Women's 800-Oregon junior Anne Kesselring returns to defend her title.
Women's 5000-2011 double-winner Sheila Reid (also won the 1500), is back to seek a repeat title.
Women's 10000-Junior Juliet Bottorf of Duke is the defending champion, returning to Drake.
Women's Heptathlon-Kansas State senior Ryann Krais seeks a repeat after claiming the 2011 title.
LOCAL FLAVOR: Several notable former Iowa prep standouts are scheduled to compete in the NCAA Championships, including former Tipton, Iowa, native and multiple-time Drake Relays and state champion Ashley Miller, now with Nebraska. Miller will compete in the 1500, as will former West Des Moines Dowling Catholic star Katie Flood, also a multiple-time Drake Relays and state champion, now with Washington.
Other former Iowa prep stars competing in the 2012 NCAA Championships include Iowa's Matt Banse (Stamont) in the Hammer; Iowa State's Danielle Frere (Muscatine) in the shot put and Meaghan Nelson (Cedar Rapids Xavier) in the 10,000-meters; UNI's Jordan Williams (Monticello) in the discus and Justin Romero (Cedar Falls) in the shot put and Notre Dame's Brendan Dougherty (Sioux City Bishop Heelan) in the 4x400.
FAN ZONE: The popular Track Central USA Fan Zone, presented by the Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, returns for the NCAA Championships, featuring a variety of food options, interactive kiosks, track & field exhibits and other activities for fans of all ages. It is open throughout the meet, located in the parking lot bordering the west side of Drake Stadium. Admission is free.