The favorite in this one will be Virginia Tech's Patrick Joseph and it's easy to see why. So far, Joseph has run a 3:59 (converted to 3:56), 1:49 (for the win), and his DMR earned a 4th place ranking. Some may argue that he's been quiet in the 800 this season, but this was also the case last year when we he had a huge run at ACC's to win the title and finish the day with a time of 1:46.23. This weekend looks like a similar scenario...
Joseph may be the favorite, but there are other strong competitors in this field. John Lewis (Clemson) owns a personal best of 1:47 and is hungry to prove that he can qualify for Nationals. However, he has yet to break 1:49 this season despite his three attempts at this event.
In the next heat, we can't ignore Robert Heppenstall (Wake Forest) who is one of the most experienced and clutch championships runners in the NCAA (as only a junior). With a personal best of 1:46, he'll be one of the few athletes that can actually give Joseph a run for his money.
Others like Avery Bartlett (Georgia Tech), Neil Gourley (Virginia Tech), Malik Epps (Clemson), Andres Littig (Georgia Tech), and Elijah Silva (Notre Dame) have shown signs of promise this season and should be considered as threats to place in the top three, especially Bartlett and Gourley.
1. Patrick Joseph (Virginia Tech)
2. Robert Heppenstall (Wake Forest)
3. Neil Gourley (Virginia Tech)
4. John Lewis (Clemson)
5. Avery Bartlett (Georgia Tech)
6. Malik Epps (Clemson)
7. Elijah Silva (Notre Dame)
8. Andres Littig (Georgia Tech)
The mile will be one of the best events of the meet as there doesn't appear to be one lone favorite. In heat one, the Virginia Tech duo of Vincent Ciattei and Daniel Jaskowak should be able to handle things pretty easily and advance to the finals. Citattei recently ran a 3:59 (3:56 converted) at Camel City and is looking to defend his ACC title from last year after he upset rival Henry Wynne from Virginia.
In heat two, Michael Hall (Florida State) is fresh off a 3:59, the first sub-4 mile of his career. A time like that can do wonders for someone's confidence and I expect that confidence to carry him into a top 8 finish this weekend. I'll also be interested to see how Jacob Dumford (Notre Dame) performs. He's run 2:21 (1k) and split 2:53 (1200) so far this season, but we haven't really seen him do a whole lot outside of those performances.
Speaking of strong Notre Dame talent, one of the more pleasant surprises of this season has been the Fighting Irish's Yared Nuguse. The freshman has been absolutely killing it with PR's of 4:02 and 8:04 so far this season. He even split a reported 3:57 on his DMR last weekend. Could we see something similar against this field?
Heat four will provide us with a duo of impressive underclassmen. Virginia Tech's Diego Zarate is hungry to go under 4 minutes for the first time in his career after running 4:03 on a flat-track at Camel City. His converted time was 4:00.49. He'll be challenging Syracuse freshman Noah Affolder who ran 4:02 earlier this season.
1. Vincent Ciattei (Virginia Tech)
2. Yared Nuguse (Notre Dame)
3. Michael Hall (Florida State)
4. Diego Zarate (Virginia Tech)
5. Jacob Dumford (Notre Dame)
6. Daniel Jaskowak (Virginia Tech)
7. Noah Affolder (Syracuse)
8. Sebastian Fischbach (Wake Forest)
The Syracuse men will be all the talk in this one as Justyn Knight, Aidan Tooker, and Iliass Aouani are set to toe the line. If it wasn't already clear, Knight is the overwhelming favorite in this one while Aouani and Tooker should be considered as strong nominees for a top three finish.
Of course, there are plenty of other talented individuals that will give this 'Cuse trio a push throughout the race. Peter Seufer (Virginia Tech) and Nahom Solomon (Georgia Tech) have established themselves as long-distance studs within the ACC and should not be underestimated with personal bests of 8:09 and 8:02 respectively.
Yared Nuguse (Notre Dame) enters this race with one of the stronger PR's of 8:04. However, he'll be probably be running on tired legs after finishing his duties in the mile and (assumably) the DMR.
If you're looking for sleeper picks in this one, look for Nick Wolk (Pittsburgh) to have an impact in this race. He's recorded personal bests of 4:05 and 8:07 this season. He's got a lot of momentum heading into the biggest meet of his season so he could certainly be a threat for a top five finish.
1. Justyn Knight (Syracuse)
2. Aidan Tooker (Syracuse)
3. Nahom Solomon (Georgia Tech)
4. Iliass Aouani (Syracuse)
5. Nick Wolk (Pittsburgh)
6. Peter Seufer (Virginia Tech)
7. James Quattlebaum (Clemson)
8. Phillip Hall (NC State)
The 5000 will be a lot like the 3000 with a lot of similar entries. The Syracuse Orangemen will field six of their guys in the fastest heat with Justyn Knight headlining the field. Other 'Cuse members include Philo Germano, Kevin James, Iliass Aouani, Joe Dragon, and Aidan Tooker.
Just like the 3000, Peter Seufer and Nahom Solomon will be some of the top contenders to break up this Syracuse contingent. Seufer's personal best of 14:09 and experience on the national stage in this event suggests that he could place as high as 2nd.
Although the attention may be on the Syracuse guys, Virginia deserves some love after Brent Demarest and Chase Weaverling ran times of 13:56 and 14:05 (respectively) at the BU Valentine Invite. They're familiar with this field and should be ready for any race tactic that comes their way.
If you're looking for a pair of sleeper picks, Ari Klau (Virginia) and Elijah Moskowitz (NC State) are good choices. Both have put up solid performances over the past year of competition and are trending in the right direction in terms of fitness.
1. Justyn Knight (Syracuse)
2. Peter Seufer (Virginia Tech)
3. Philo Germano (Syracuse)
4. Brent Demarest (Virginia)
5. Iliass Aouani (Syracuse)
6. Elijah Moskowitz (NC State)
7. Chase Weaverling (Virginia)
8. Ari Klau (Virginia)