2018 NCAA Predictions: Garrett Zatlin


Our predictions are here! We have made our All-American selections and have posted them below. You can also view all of our All-American picks on the PREDICTIONS page in the menu bar above. If you haven't already, be sure to read Michael Weidenbruch's picks and see how his picks stack up.


You can view all of the entries and results by clicking the link here.


800

1. Michael Saruni (UTEP)

2. Isaiah Harris (Penn State)

3. Avery Bartlett (Georgia Tech)

4. Robert Heppenstall (Wake Forest)

5. Devin Dixon (Texas A&M)

6. Marco Arop (Mississippi State)

7. Cooper Williams (Indiana)

8. John Lewis (Clemson)


It's one thing to run an NCAA record. It's another thing to back it up by consistently winning. After winning the indoor national title, it's hard to pick against the UTEP superstar. However, if anyone is going to challenge Saruni, it's going to be Harris who is looking incredibly strong in the final few races of the season. His 1:45 at BIG 10 to defeat the Indiana duo of Cooper Williams and Daniel Kuhn was a huge win and not given enough recognition. Maybe we're just getting numb to his outstanding performances?


Avery Bartlett and Robert Heppenstall showed off his great their closing speed at the East Regional Championships. Not only that, but they've been consistent all year with strong performances in both the 800 and 1500. For Bartlett, I would consider this his breakout season. He upset Isaiah Harris at the Florida Relays, ran 1:47 and 3:43, won an ACC title, and snagged a spot to Nationals. He'll be the name that everyone is Googling at the end of the weekend.


Devin Dixon is a huge talent who ran 1:45 earlier in the season. He's been to multiple national championships and is familiar with a lot of this competition. The Aggie 800 star is super talented, but he doesn't always perform up to his potential in the NCAA final. I imagine he'll be a bit more competitive in this one as he now has a few more reps under his belt.


Cooper Williams is a name that I really like this weekend. Admittedly, I questioned whether or not his breakout 1:46 performance at BIG 10's was just a fluke. However, he ran with such poise and control throughout his rounds during East Regionals. He's backed up his performances, been consistent, and fought with the best. For that, I have him as an All-American.


For guys like Arop and Lewis, I think they're front-running tactics will help them get out of the NCAA prelims and into the final. I think Lewis will hit the time qualifier from his heat while the Arop will be one of the three men to make it out his prelim thanks to his aggressive racing style.


1500

1. Josh Kerr (New Mexico)

2. Sam Prakel (Oregon)

3. Robert Domanic (Ole Miss)

4. Vincent Ciattei (Virginia Tech)

5. Justine Kiprotich (Michigan State)

6. Mick Stanovsek (Oregon)

7. Ben Malone (Villanova)

8. Ian Crowe-Wright (New Mexico)


Much like Saruni, it's hard to argue for an upset of the NCAA record holder. It's also doesn't hurt that Kerr has three NCAA titles. I imagine he'll get his 4th if he stays composed like he usually does. As for Prakel, I like to think he's one of the few men in this field that can contend with Kerr. He has the fitness, experience, closing speed, and tactical understanding in order to make this a competitive race. Prakel finished 3rd at indoor NCAA's this past winter after battling up front for most of the race. I see a similar scenario taking place with the end result being one spot better.


At the beginning of the season, Domanic just seemed like a "time trialer" to me. He seemed like someone who could only perform well in fast races while struggling in slower, tactical affairs. However, those concerns were erased throughout the season after Domanic secured the SEC title as well as a national qualifying spot. Both of those performances were much slower and displayed Domanic's improvements in strategic racing. I think that trend will continue at Nationals.


I don't think anyone was shocked to see Ciattei as the runner-up finish during the indoor NCAA meet. He was having a great season in the mile and rarely gave you a poor performance. I imagine he'll have another great outing this weekend, but I think a few of his competitors will make the necessary adjustments to get the edge on him.


For Justine Kiprotich, he hasn't looked 2017 version of himself this season, but his emergence in the final few meets of the season has been very telling. This guy is incredibly clutch, knows how to race against elite-level competition, and has done it before. I'm not sure I see him taking silver again, but he'll find a way to stay competitive.


Mick Stanovsek is on a revenge tour after taking a fall during the indoor national meet. Much like his teammate Sam Prakel, Stanovsek hasn't given me a reason to doubt him. He's such a strong runner and knows how to position himself throughout the race. I think he's still a year out from a top three finish, but he'll find himself an All-American honor this weekend.


As for Ben Malone, he has the best the kick in the field. It is absolutely lethal. I think his range is too good to ignore and that a tactical race will favor him. Similarly, Ian Crowe-Wright has quietly put together a series of strong performances. He's a great, patient tactician who will find ways to stay competitive and put himself in content with the top group. In a race with so much back-and-forth, Crowe-Wright will thrive in a field like this.


3000 Steeple

1. Brian Barraza (Houston)

2. Emmanuel Rotich (Tulane)

3. Obsa Ali (Minnesota)

4. Matt Owens (BYU)

5. Jamaine Coleman (Eastern Kentucky)

6. Clayson Shumway (BYU)

7. Noah Affolder (Syracuse)

8. Aidan Tooker (Syracuse)


This race is wide-open. At least we had an idea of who the favorite is after the 2017 Regional Championships. This year? Not so much...


I think, realistically, there are five men who could battle for the title. If I had to choose one, I'm going with Brian Barraza. He's run at (indoor) Nationals before, became an All-American, ran 8:32 while redshirting last year, and has been putting up some phenomenal times this season (i.e. 13:38 at Mt. SAC). I'm not convinced he'll win it, but it would definitely be a feel-good story if he did.


When I think about Emmanuel Rotich, I'm not sure we've seen the full potential from him. He's brings so much to the table in terms of his resume, but I want to see what else he has in the bag. I think he'll bring something fast and push Barraza to the line.


Obsa Ali has yet to lost a steeplechase race this season and is only getting better with each and every race. The Minnesota senior ran 8:36 at the West Regional Championships two weeks ago and looks primed to continue his streak of excellence. He's convinced me he'll be an All-American.


The BYU duo of Matt Owens and Clayson Shumway are fearless competitors who aren't afraid to run with the best. Owens is a bit more patient than Shumway when it comes to pacing, but attacking the barriers will be necessary in a stacked field such as this. They can not sit back and let the race come to them.


As much as I've liked the BYU duo, the Syracuse duo has been a really fun storyline. The Affolder/Tooker pairing has been a beneficial one for the Orangemen. They went 1-2 at ACC's and did the same thing in their quarterfinal at East Regionals. I think they're still one year out from contending for the title, but they are SUPER talented and not a running tandem that I would want to fight for an All-American spot.


5000

1. Justyn Knight (Syracuse)

2. Andy Trouard (NAU)

3. Amon Kemboi (Campbell)

4. Grant Fisher (Stanford)

5. Vincent Kiprop (Alabama)

6. Zach Long (Tennessee)

7. Cole Rockhold (Colorado State)

8. Edwin Kurgat (Iowa State)


The 5000 may be the most exciting event of the year. Knight will battle the two men who have defeated him in championship races during his prime. That has to call for a bit of drama. Yet, when I look at the body of work, I see Knight having the edge. He's simply done too much this season at both 1500 and 5000 meters. I think Trouard is one of the few men capable of beating him, but I believe Knight will have learned from his upset this past indoor season.


I mentioned this in our Going For Gold series, but Amon Kemboi has been a beast on the track this spring. After hitting personal bests of 3:39, 13:37, and 28:55, I don't see why he can't be in the mix for the top three. He has the fitness to keep up the elites in a fast race and has the speed to handle an all-out finish. I like what he can do here.


As much as I like Grant Fisher, I'm not sure if he has the same edge as last season. The Stanford superstar is still uber talented, but I'm unsure if he'll be able to match the same level of finishing speed that some of these other guys might have.


Speaking of finishing speed, that is precisely why I have Kiprop placing 5th. Whether the race is fast or slow, Kiprop has some underrated turnover that can keep him in contention at the end. I loved what I saw from him at the SEC Championships (where he won double gold) and I think he'll step into an All-American spot.


Zach Long's Stanford Invite race was definitely something special, but I don't think it was a fluke either. His focus on the 1500 this season emphasized the importance of speed development. I think that will play a role in this race and will help Long earn the first All-American honor of his career.


When thinking about Rockhold, I just see too much talent to leave him off the podium. He's competed with some of the best that the nation has to offer and his 3:40 1500 speed can make him a huge threat to anyone else battling to finish within the top eight.


Kurgat's conservative racing style makes him a safe pick in my mind. He's incredibly patient, knows when to move up, and is simply a talented runner. Not only that, but he hasn't had a single "poor" performance all season. That tells me he should be primed for a solid run at NCAA's.


10,000

1. Vincent Kiprop (Alabama)

2. Tyler Day (NAU)

3. Matthew Baxter (NAU)

4. Rory Linkletter (BYU)

5. Jonathan Green (Georgetown)

6. Clayton Young (BYU)

7. Ben Flanagan (Michigan)

8. Gilbert Kigen (Alabama)


For five straight years now, the runner with the fastest 10k time in the NCAA has never won the 10k title. 2012 was the last year that the fastest 10k runner in the NCAA (Cam Levins) would emerge victorious.


Stats like that leave me concerned. Otherwise, I would choose Day. In the mean time, it's hard to choose against Kiprop who out-kicked an Olympian at the Stanford Invite. I think the race will be fast which should benefit him and a handful of athletes in this field.


Day and Baxter are still some of the best distance runners in this field. They will be contenders no matter how the race plays out. If the race is an all-out fitness test, Day and Baxter could emerge at the top.


I've already mentioned Linkletter in the 5k portion, but he just always seems to be in the mix when it comes to these kind of races. He brings a lot to the table I struggle to see him not on the podium.


Guys like Jonathan Green and Ben Flanagan are veterans who know how to masterfully navigate through top-level talent like this. I like their experience and their recent performances have left me confident that they'll handle the big stage with some ease.


The final two men, Clayton Young and Gilbert Kigen, are hard names to leave off the podium. Neither athlete has given me a reason to doubt them this season and if the race is as fast as I think it will be, these two should be able to prosper.