All of the attention was on OTC's Nigel Amos, one of the world's best 800 runners from Botswana. The elite-level pro certainly produced with a 1:44 winning time, but we still got to see some strong collegiate results behind him.
Western Oregon's David Ribich may have the most impressive range in the NCAA regardless of the division. The senior hung on for a 2nd place finish with a time of 1:48.09. That's a pretty decent performance for someone who was dropping down in distance.
The next collegiate to cross the line was Sacred Heart's Trevor Guerrera who put down a time of 1:49.48. It's nothing incredible, but it is a nice way to start the season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him run 1:47 later down the line.
After Guerrera, we saw a pack of collegians cross the line around the 1:50 mark. This group included Jordan Beutler (Utah State), Derek Morton (Chico State), Jacob Dumford (Notre Dame), Devan Kirk (Washington), and Elijah Silva (Notre Dame). All of these guys have the capability to run under 1:50 at some point later this season.
1500 (Non-Invite Sections)
With six different heats, you're bound to have a wide array of great breakout performances.
Illinois had a nice showing in section five of the 1500 as three of their athletes stormed down the final straightaway to take the top three spots of the heat. Brahm, O'Callaghan, and Lee recorded times of 3:51, 3:52, and 3:52, respectively.
In section four, we got to see even more teamwork as Washington State's Justin Janke and Paul Ryan put together a pair of nice performances. They stayed patient, made moves towards the front, and eventually caught the leader with 400(ish) to go. The Cougar duo took the top two spots and each recorded times of 3:47 with Janke getting the edge over Ryan.
As we moved into section three, Washington State continued to impress. Japan's Shoma Funatsu led the way with a 3:42, but he was able to bring Washington State's Chandler Tiegen to a HUGE four second PR of 3:43. That is a really nice breakout performance for Tiegen and it now puts among some of the better 1500/mile runners in the PAC 12. Now, we have to see how consistent he'll be throughout the rest of the season.
However, Tiegen wasn't the only one with an impressive breakout performance. After a respectable double last weekend, Illinois State's Jack Anstey ran a 3:43 to improve his personal best once again. This is the 2nd weekend in a row that Anstey has improved upon his PR. That's a great sign this early in the season, although it will be interesting to see how much more he can improve this season.
Portland's Trent Mazelli was another breakout performer. He bettered his previous PR of 3:45 by running a 3:43. The junior is beginning to find his groove this season and it helps that he has an All-American miler in Jeff Thies to train with. Watch out for this guy in the month of May.
Along with the other top finishers, we got to see a really talented group of freshmen make their way into this field. Patrick Parker (BYU), DJ Principe (Stanford), and Brandon McGorty (Stanford) all made their spring debut this past weekend with Parker claiming the most impressive performance. The BYU frosh threw down a 3:45 while the Stanford duo finished the day with times of 3:51 (Principe) and 3:52 (McGorty).
It may be important to note that Brandon McGorty was running unattached. Could he be redshirting this outdoor season?
As we move into the final non-invite section, we got see D2 Indoor Mile Champion Dustin Nading (Western Oregon) finish as the top collegiate. The junior finished the day with a time of 3:45 behind Diego Estrada's 3:43. Washington's Nathaniel Beamer and BYU's Marcus Dickson had solid performances of 3:46 and 3:47 while Sam Ritz (Columbia) rounded out the top five with a 3:48.
The Invite section of the 1500 promised to be a good one and the end results certainly did not disappoint.
Pros Peter Callahan and Drew Hunter were the top finishers with impressive times of 3:38 and 3:39, although the collegians finishing behind them were just as strong.
The Oregon trio went back to work, fresh off of their Nationals appearance during the indoor track season. Despite the hype of Sean McGorty's return to the open events, the Ducks stayed composed and took the top three spots among collegiates. Prakel was the top finisher with a 3:39 while Stanovsek was a stride behind (also with a 3:39). Freshman superstar Reed Brown continued his impressive streak of performances a time of 3:40. All three Ducks showed first-class poise throughout the race despite a 1:57 first 800 and a crazy barrage of kicks in the final 200.
All three of these Ducks were able to take down Stanford superstar Sean McGorty who was close behind with a 3:40 of his own. Despite finishing as the 4th collegian and 6th overall, that's a really solid spring debut when you consider that he hasn't run an open event in almost a year.
Behind McGorty was Abraham Alvarado (BYU) and Jacob Dumford (Notre Dame), each with times of 3:41 and 3:42, respectively. All of the attention might be on Oregon and McGorty, but those are some really admirable results. An aggressive pace from the gun along with a crowded final straightaway did not make this an easy race for anyone.
Overall, most of the finishers in this section should walk away relatively happy with what they were able to accomplish. They stuck with a fast pace and still throw down a fast finish.
5000 (Non-Invite Sections)
Much like the 1500, there were plenty of impressive performances outside of the hot heat. Section four was respectable with a winning time of 14:13 from Isai Rodriguez of Oklahoma State. However, it wasn't until section three that we began to see some stronger overall performances.
Washington's redshirt freshman Gavin Parpart was the breakout runner (and winner) in this section with an impressive time of 14:03. That's a huge run for the young Washington native who really didn't have a lot on his resume (except for an 8:06 3k) until now.
Following Parpart was South Dakota State's Kyle Burdick who went up in distance from his usual event (the 1500) to run a great time of 14:05. Josh Hoskinson (Colorado School of Mines) rounded out the top three with a 14:05 of his own. In total, eight men ran under the 14:10 mark.
The depth of results that came from section two was extremely impressive. The field was a nice mix between younger, rising distance stars and experienced veterans.
Overall, the veterans seemed to have the better performances, but it was NAU freshman Luis Grijalva taking the win in an outstanding time of 13:49. After a huge cross country season and redshirting indoor track, Grijalva has built upon his fitness and now claims one of the top times in the nation (NCAA #5).
Syracuse's Philo Germano gave Grijalva a run for his money by finishing runner-up with a 13:50 which is actually a personal best for the senior. A few seconds behind Germano was James West who improved upon his personal best with a time of 13:52. It's the first 5k we've seen West run since joining the Oregon Ducks.
Syracuse continued their success with sophomore Aidan Tooker who ran 13:52 for 4th while Garrett Corcoran ran 13:54 for 5th. These are personal bests for both of these individuals and a great sign of strength for Corcoran who will most likely pursue a fast 1500 later this season.
Dan Curts (Iowa State) continues to show off his range, this time with a 13:56. He continues to be one of the more underrated runners in the BIG 12.
Washington's success didn't end with Gavin Parpart. Andrew Gardner and Fred Huxham finished the day with times of 13:56 and 13:57, although it should be noted that Huxham owns a PR of 13:44. Nonetheless, the Huskies are beginning to develop a good amount of depth and support behind superstar Colby Gilbert.
Clayson Shumway (BYU) was the final finisher to go under the 14 minute mark with a 13:59. He is more of a steeplechaser, but the ability to dip under such a big barrier just goes to show how versatile he is. I would be interested to see what he can do in a 10k...
In what had to be one of the greatest upsets of the weekend, we saw Tennessee's Zach Long pull away in the final straight to take the win over Northern Arizona's Tyler Day. Long's time of 13:39 is a huge personal best as well as a school record. Day was the 2nd man to finish with a time of 13:40.
Long is definitely one of the more talented distance runners in the SEC, but I'm not sure anyone expected him to throw down a 13:39. For a guy who failed to qualify for Nationals this past winter, I think it's fair to say that this time and win qualifies as a breakout performance. Now, the only question is if he can maintain these kinds of performances throughout the rest of the season and get to Nationals.
Placing 3rd was Colorado State's Cole Rockhold who gave us yet another elite-level performance. I picked against him this past indoor season when making my All-American picks and he proved me wrong. I'll make sure not to make that same mistake this spring.
Iowa State's Edwin Kurgat was the 4th collegiate to cross the line in 13:41. He has made monumental improvements since transferring to ISU and I don't expect those improvements to stop anytime soon. He should be considered as a legitimate All-American threat this spring as well as someone who could win BIG 12 titles in both the 5k and 10k (even with Hassan Abdi in the field).
The 5th collegiate finisher (10th overall) was Indiana freshman Ben Veatch who improved upon his personal best time with a 13:50. As talented as he is, I don't expect him to be a legitimate national contender until his sophomore year. Still, this guy is lighting it up in nearly every race he enters. All you can ask for is progression and he is doing just that.
The rest of the field all ended the day quality results. There was only one finisher over the 14 minute barrier in this race.
10,000 (Section 2)
The fast heat may have caught most of the attention, but heat two gave us some really solid times. The national champion from Adams State, Sydney Gidabuday, took home the win in a relatively comfortable 29:02. He was three seconds ahead of Swarnjit Boyal of Cal Poly who had a breakout performance of his own.
If you're the Stanford meet director, why do you not put a 6x D2 National Champion into the hot heat? I'm a little confused by that, but Gidabuday did what he had to. I'm hoping we'll see him again at Payton Jordan.
Rounding out the top three was Tanner Anderson (Oregon) who quietly put up yet another strong performance with a 29:07. The redshirt sophomore has consistently found himself toeing the line at Nationals the past few seasons, but has failed to walk away as an All-American. Sooner or later, his time will come and that consistency will pay off.
Arkansas' Austen Dalquist was 4th with a 29:08 which is a personal best by 1 minute and 41 seconds. Between Alex George, Jack Bruce, Cameron Griffith, Andrew Ronoh, and now Austen Dalquist, the Razorbacks are looking scary good...
Miler Haller (Boise State) rounded out the top five with a 29:08, a 46 second PR. The Bronco junior was crucial to Boise State's success during cross country when Yusuke Uchikoshi was struggling. It looks like Haller has taken full advantage of the longer distance that the spring season offers after a quiet indoor season where he only raced twice.
The Stanford Invite 10k is known for producing some of the fastest 10k times in the world that will usually stay at the top of the World Leaderboard. This year was no different, although there was some glaring absences...
Despite all of the hype surrounding Justyn Knight's entry in the 10k, he never toed the line and was listed as a DNS.
What was also interesting was seeing Mike Tate end his day as a DNF's. The 10k is not an event he runs all that often, but I thought that the longer distance would favor someone like himself. Especially when you consider his recent success in the 5000 meters.
When you watch the race video, it looks like Tate just simply had a bad day. In the span of one lap, Tate went from being one of the leaders to one of the bottom three. By the 11 minute mark, he had fallen so far behind that it was in his best interest to step off (which he did).
Outside of Knight and Tate, the race turned out to be just as exciting as everyone anticipated. We expected the Alabama men to do well and sure enough they matched our expectations (and then some). The Rolling Tide trio battled with Lopez Lomong and BYU's Clayton Young throughout the entire race. With four laps to go, the group had established themselves within the top five and continued to increase the tempo. With just 800 left, Vincent Kiprop and Lopez Lomong had made a significant gap which left them battling it out on the final lap. With 150 to go, Kiprop swung outside and charged down the straightaway to leave Lomong behind. With a winning time of 28:19 and a win over one of the top pro distance runners in the nation, the former D2 National Champion has now established himself as the favorite to win the 10k title this spring.
Behind the top two, we saw Gilbert Kigen barely edge out Clayton Young at the line, 28:27.31 to 28:27.48. Alfred Chelanga rounded out the top five a 28:32, although his previous best came from this meet last year where he was the top collegiate finisher with a 28:04.
Alabama was super impressive and it's hard to really doubt them as the spring season progresses. Not only did these guys thrive off of a fast pace, but they were the ones controlling the tempo from the very beginning. It's one thing to run fast, it's another thing to run fast on your terms. That's a scary good sign for what they could do at NCAA's.
We also have to give some love to Clayton Young who had great composure throughout the race. He never left the lead pack and consistently responded to surges.
How about Portland's Noah Schutte? The Pilot junior finished the day with a 62 second last lap to place 6th with a 28:34. We knew this guy was talented, but to throw down a 31 second PR in just the second (track) 10k of his career is wildly impressive.
Finishing 7th was Syracuse's Colin Bennie who had one of the better performances of his accomplished career with a 28:37. The 'Cuse senior has typically thrived in the 5000, but the longer distance may be his best option later this spring.
The 7th and 8th collegiates to cross the line were Colorado State's Jerrell Mock and Grant Fischer who recorded times of 28:46 and 28:54. I thought they would finish a little higher/faster, but this pair of performances is still top-notch. They'll be All-American contenders in June.
Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse (Portland) and Andrew Johnston (Air Force) recorded sub 29 minute performances of 28:55 and 28:56, respectively.
Arguably the most impressive performance of the day goes to the final man to run under the 29 minute mark. BYU freshman Connor Mantz ran 28:57 in his first 10k ever. Why is this the most impressive result? In case you forgot, Mantz went on a mission trip for two years which hampered his opportunities to train. After returning to the BYU program last summer, Mantz has almost immediately turned his fitness around in just nine months. With Casey Clinger now gone for his mission trip, Mantz looks like the perfect guy to fill his shoes.
3000 Steeple (Non-Invite Sections)
Last year, the steeplechase lacked depth and the times just weren't as strong at the top of the NCAA leaderboards. However, in 2018, the steeplechase fields couldn't be any more different, especially after the results we got this weekend.
In section three, we got to see plenty of breakout performances. Senior Andrew Milliron (Air Force) ran a lifetime best by four seconds to take the win in his heat. Following in 2nd place was Arkansas freshman Carter Persyn who was a second behind in 8:55. Rounding out the top three was Gonzaga sophomore Sammy Traux who also ran a time of 8:55.
Alex Howard (San Francisco) and Alex Hedquist (BYU) rounded out the top five times with results of 8:56 and 8:59, respectively.
In section two, we got to see Portland's Dutch transfer Simon Grannetia attack the steeplechase for the 2nd time this season. Once again, he walked away with the win as well as a phenomenal time of 8:42. He was able to best D2 steeplechase star Gatien Airiau (Academy of the Arts) who ran almost an 8 second PR for a final time of 8:49.
Junior Kellen Manley is yet another talented steeplechaser to come out of Gonzaga after finishing 3rd with a time of 8:51. If you include Troy Fraley, that is the 4th steeplechaser under 9 minutes that is Gonzaga's roster. Whatever development program those steeplechasers are going through, it's clearly working.
The last notable result of section two was Portland freshman Riley Osen. He finished 4th in his heat with an 8:52. He is the third Portland steeplechaser to run under 9 minutes this season.
Between BYU, Portland, and Gonzaga, the West Coast Conference has to have, by far, the best steeplechasers in the country.
3000 Steeple (Invite)
This heat held some of the most talented steeplechasers in the nation and, from my perspective, the results were stronger than expected.
Boise State's Yusuke Uchikoshi has had a couple of respectable performances, but I'm not sure too many expected him to run 8:38 and walk away with the win. After struggling during the cross country season and racing at just the Mountain West Championships this past winter, this is a huge comeback performance for the Boise State senior. Could he be a legitimate title contender in June?
One of the other breakout performers earned runner-up honors. BYU freshman Matt Owens came out of nowhere to run 8:39 in his first ever attempt at the steeplechase. Rounding out the top three was another BYU Cougar, Daniel Carney, who finished the day with a time of 8:42. Teammate Jacob Heslington was 5th in his heat with an 8:43.
Much like Gonzaga, BYU continues to pump out some of the best steeplechasers in the nation. Not only that, but their current steeplechasers are super young and will most likely be around for quite some time.
Eastern Kentucky's Jamaine Coleman started where he left off from last year with a 4th place finish in 8:42. Much like last year, he'll be in the All-American conversation this spring.
Kyle Medina (Chico State) was the 6th collegiate to cross the line in 8:44. It will be interesting to see how Medina and Airiau match up at D2 Nationals later this spring. Could we see them push each other to sub 8:40? It's definitely possible...
Dylan Hodgson (Kansas) and Nathan Mylenek (Iowa) were the final collegiates under 8:50 with times of 8:47 and 8:48, respectively.
Interesting to note that Arizona steeplechase star Bailey Roth struggled in his spring debut with an 8:56. By no means is that a bad time, but he can do a lot better and I'm sure that those who follow the steeplechase know that.