Preview | Sophomore Finn Walsh travels to Austin, Texas to represent Pitt at NCAA Track and Field Championships


Image via Pitt Athletics

First year Devin Nugent at a practice on May 31 ahead of the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Texas.

By Brian Sherry, Sports Editor

With the summer quickly approaching, the NCAA 2022-2023 season is coming to an end. This week, track and field is front and center, as 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships are set to kick off on Wednesday and run until Saturday.

Pitt track and field is sending one athlete — sophomore Finn Walsh — to Austin, Texas to compete for a national crown. 

Walsh, who also runs cross country with the Panthers, is set to race in the men’s 1500 meter run, where he will compete against the nation’s top collegiate distance athletes. 

But Walsh will have a difficult road ahead of him if he wants to claim the national title. The Pitt sophomore will first race in the semifinal prelim on Wednesday at 6:46 p.m. and must place top five in his heat to qualify for the final.

Walsh qualified for the national championship by posting an impressive performance at the NCAA East First Round Qualifier in Jacksonville, Florida last month. The sophomore held his own against some of the nation’s best, finishing eighth overall with a time of 3:45.15. 

Now, he will face off against some of the nation’s fastest 1500-meter runners. With a seed time of 3:42.56, Walsh comes to Austin with the 106th fastest time in the NCAA. All in all, Walsh will have his work cut out for him, as his seed time is the second slowest in the competition. 

The clear favorite to win the event is sophomore Fouad Messaoudi of Oklahoma State. Messaoudi enters the competition with a seed time of 3:35.16, which is the fastest time in the NCAA. 

Behind Messaoudi, Washington junior Joe Waskom is another favorite to win the event. Waskom enters the competition with a seed time of 3:35.86, which is second in the NCAA behind Messaoudi’s time. 

While Walsh’s chances of capturing the 1500 meter crown are slim, the Panthers odds of winning a team title are even slimmer. With just one athlete competing in Austin, Pitt track and field has virtually no chance of winning a team title. 

Nonetheless, this weekend’s competition will feature fierce battles for both the men’s and women’s team titles. On the men’s side, Florida is the clear favorite to capture the title. Led by legendary head coach Mike Holloway, the Gators are the defending champions and will look to defend their throne. However, teams such as Texas, LSU and Oregon will look to dethrone the Gators. 

On the women’s side, Florida is again the favorites, as the women’s team also won the championship last year. But USC and Texas are both capable of winning the title also. 

The NCAA Championship is set to kick off on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. CT. Coverage will air all weekend on ESPN 2.