Villanova, a 13-time champion, and Maryland, winner the past two years, are the main contenders for the team championship in the 106th IC4A Outdoor Track and Field Championships this weekend in Princeton, N.J.
Seton Hall is capable of challenging the two favorites, but Fairleigh Dickinson, the indoor IC4A champion, has been decimated by injuries and ineligibility.
The 1,500 meters seems likely to determine the team champion. Maryland hopes to get some points from Kris Kristoffersen, the Atlantic Coast Conference champion, and is counting on Georgetown's John Gregorek and Richmond's Sosthenes Bitok to deny Villanova a possible 1-2-3 finish by Ross Donoghue, John Hunter and Marcus O'Sullivan.
Another important race for Maryland is the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, where IC4A record-holder Chris Person goes against Derrick Peynado of Seton Hall. Person also faces what could be a vital confrontation with Peynado in the concluding 1,600-meter relay.
Maryland's chances were dimmed somewhat when pole vaulter Dennis Lentz suffered a broken ankle last week in a meet at Pittsburgh.
"Losing Lentz will cost us either four or six points," said Maryland Coach Stan Pitts. "I still think we can score in the neighborhood of 80. Villanova will be tough. They have a lot of quality people that they can count on to finish first or second. But I'm optimistic. We could surprise them."
Navy's Leo Williams will defend his high jump championship as he continues his unprecedented bid to win the Heptagonals, IC4A and NCAA, indoors and out, for a second straight year.
The hammer throw, one of four finals today, opens eight hours of competition at noon. Sunday's program of 16 finals also begins at noon.
Maryland got off to a good start when Vince Reilly overcame an 18-point deficit going into the last event to win the decathalon last night with 7,207 points. Reilly, who won the decathalon last year, beat Penn's Frank Harrison by more than 10 seconds to take the 1500 meters. Harrison finished second with 7,162 points, followed by Ken Jones of Lehigh with 6,865.