The BIG 10 hasn't always been known for it's 800 talent, but the conference has found a multitude mid-distance stars that can now compete on the biggest stage. One of those stars is Penn State's Isaiah Harris who should be favored to win this event. After being upset by Avery Bartlett at Florida Relays, Harris was able to rebound and take the win at the Virginia Challenge. He'll look to continue that momentum this weekend.
Of course, that upset showed us that Harris is human and vulnerable to upsets. Indoor All-American Daniel Kuhn (Indiana) is someone that could definitely threaten Harris for the conference title when looking at his 1:46 PR.
Also in this race are Kuhn's teammates Cooper Williams and Jordan Huntoon. Both have had very strong track season, indoors and out. Williams' personal best of 1:48 and Huntoon's personal best of 1:49 makes Indiana the powerhouse team for the 800 this weekend.
Ohio State freshman Alex Lomong is another name to watch in this field. The OSU rookie has produced consistent results as well as personal bests of 1:48 and 3:48 this season. I usually don't choose freshmen to do well in championship meets, but with Lomong I might make an exception.
One of the four Minnesota men expected to toe the line this weekend will be another stand-out freshman: Dawson LaRance. The Golden Gopher ran 1:49 earlier this season and should be able to mix it up in a field like this.
Other names to watch include Jordan Makins (Penn State), Tysen VanDraska (Iowa), and the Nebraska duo of Ty Moss and Moujtaba Mohammad.
1. Isaiah Harris (Penn State)
2. Daniel Kuhn (Indiana)
3. Cooper Williams (Indiana)
4. Alex Lomong (Ohio State)
5. Jordan Huntoon (Indiana)
6. Dawson LaRance (Minnesota)
7. Ty Moss (Nebraska)
8. Jordan Makins (Penn State)
The BIG 10 1500 is filled with a lot of top-tier names and underrated talent. This one wont be easy to predict, but it will be entertaining.
The leader and favorite for this will be Oliver Hoare who not only ran 3:37 at Bryan Clay, but also split 3:54 on Wisconsin's DMR during the indoor track season. Hoare brings a lot of firepower to the table and will be hard to beat.
Despite Hoare's elite-level status, Michigan State's Justine Kiprotich could play spoiler this weekend. The NCAA silver medalist and defending BIG 10 champion from last spring hasn't exactly been at his best in 2018, but he is an extremely clutch runner in the postseason.
Michigan's Chase Barnett is an interesting name that could also provide a surprise performance. His PR of 4:02 makes him a legit contender, but his 1500 this season is "only" 3:50.
I really like the Penn State guys in this race, especially when you look at how deep that roster is. Owen Wing has been quietly developing and improving over this spring season with a 3:47 PR and a win at LSU. However, teammate Colin Abert (who ran a 3:59 mile this past winter) looks like someone that will lead the Nittany Lions in this event.
Of course, let's not ignore what Indiana did this past indoor season. They had a perfect 1-2-3 sweep in the mile during the winter, but are now opting to field only two of those runners for this meet (by leaving out Kyle Mau). That shouldn't be an issue considering Murphy's new PR of 3:42 along with Browning's 3:44. If the race becomes tactical, these guys have enough speed and strength to sweep this event for the 2nd straight season.
Other names to watch include...
- The Illinois trio of Brahm, O'Callaghan, and Lee
- The Ohio State trio of Bete, Landis, and Blank
- The Minnesota duo of Streich and Wiebke
- Iowa's Michael Melchert
1. Oliver Hoare (Wisconsin)
2. Joseph Murphy (Indiana)
3. Teddy Browning (Indiana)
4. Justine Kiprotich (Michigan State)
5. Chase Barnett (Michigan)
6. Colin Abert (Penn State)
7. Michael Melchert (Iowa)
8. Owen Wing (Penn State)
There are so many big-name talents that standout in this field, but it may be best to address the one glaring entry: Morgan McDonald. After staying absent for the entirety of the 2017-2018 academic year, McDonald is entered to run the 5000 this weekend. However, he was also entered in the 5000 at the Stanford Invite and then never toed the line. Still, if McDonald somehow does run, then he'll be the (very) heavy favorite...even over his own teammates Oliver Hoare and Joe Hardy.
Outside of the Wisconsin contingent, we still have a deep performance list that we could talk about for days. Indiana's young distance studs Ben Veatch and Bryce Millar are entered to run. Each of these guys could easily mix it up for a top five spot.
Michigan is preparing an all-out assault on this event with aces Aaron Baumgarten and Connor Mora headlining their four entries. Minnesota is in a similar situation with Obsa Ali set to compete this weekend. Ali ran 13:43 at the Cardinal Classic which just goes to show that he can stick to fast pace if needed.
I really like Purdue's Jaret Carpenter. Over the past two years, the sophomore has developed incredibly well and become one of the bigger BIG 10 stars. With a 13:44 PR this past season, Carpenter could be one of the few competitors capable of upsetting the Wisconsin men.
Other names to watch include Tim McGowan (Penn State), Luke Landis (Ohio State), and Nathan Mylenek (Iowa).
1. Morgan McDonald (Wisconsin)
2. Oliver Hoare (Wisconsin)
3. Jaret Carpenter (Purdue)
4. Joe Hardy (Wisconsin)
5. Ben Veatch (Indiana)
6. Obsa Ali (Minnesota)
7. Aaron Baumgarten (Michigan)
8. Tim McGowan (Penn State)
With so many top-tier distance athletes stacked in the 1500 and 5000 meters, the 10k appears to be a bit lighter. This will be a great chance for a lot of teams to display their depth. However, don't mistaken depth for lack of fitness. The 10k field is full of established veterans and rising distance stars.
Michigan State stands out as a team that should do well. Clark Ruiz has found great success in the 10k throughout his career and is familiar with a lot of this competition. He'll be flanked by sophomore teammate Jesse Hersha who has shown flashes of promise throughout his first two years with the Spartans.
Speaking of experienced veterans, Ben Flanagan (Michigan) is a key entry to watch. His 29:33 at the Cardinal Classic was solid, but he has a lot more to give and should be mentioned in the title conversation for the 10k this weekend.
In addition to the 5000, Indiana's Ben Veatch will be doubling in the 10k as well. It's an interesting choice by the Hoosier coaching staff. Veatch has never run a 10k on the track before, is still very young, and would be running on tired legs for the 5000 (an event that gives him the most upside). I'm interested to see how Veatch will handle the big stage and a new event.
Much like Veatch, Jaret Carpenter will also be attempting the 5k/10k double. Although I am more confident in Carpenter's ability to run the 5k, I still see him as someone who can fight Flanagan and Ruiz for the title (if the race becomes tactical).
Yet, out of all of these names, we haven't mentioned Wisconsin's Zack Snider. The Badger sophomore has been outstanding this spring season after redshirting throughout the winter. He's only run twice this spring, but he was able to earn PR's of 13:54 and 29:15 during those outings. If the pace is honest, he'll be a dangerous competitor for anyone trying to hang on.
Other names to watch include Tim McGowan (Penn State), Connor Olson (Minnesota), and Bryce Millar (Indiana).
1. Ben Flanagan (Michigan)
2. Zack Snider (Wisconsin)
3. Clark Ruiz (Michigan State)
4. Tim McGowan (Penn State)
5. Jaret Carpenter (Purdue)
6. Bryce Millar (Indiana)
7. Ben Veatch (Indiana)
8. Connor Olsen (Minnesota)
I'll admit, the BIG 10 steeplechase doesn't have quite the same amount of depth that you would find in conferences like the Mountain West. Still, there are a handful of talented individuals that will keep this race fast and exciting.
Headlining the field will be Indiana's Joseph Murphy who is the lone Hoosier entered in this race. His personal best of 8:47 from last year makes him a threat to win the title, but he's only run the steeplechase once this season. The result was rather ugly as he ran 9:19 to place 13th at the Stanford Invite. Still, bad races are allowed to happen. I imagine that he'll be looking for a different result this weekend.
One of Murphy's biggest competitors in the field will be Minnesota junior Obsa Ali. He ran 8:51 at the National Relay Championships along with teammate Alec Basten who ran 8:57. Together, these two could keep things competitive.
Michigan's Connor Mora is also entered in this field with a season best of 8:59, but much like Murphy, his personal best of 8:45 makes him a big-name to watch. However, unlike Murphy (who has to run the 1500 prelims on Friday), Mora will be completely fresh for this race.
We keep talking about all of the great personal bests that some of these guys have, but no one is entering this meet with a better seasonal best than Iowa's Nathan Mylenek who ran 8:48 at the Stanford Invite. Mylenek was a consistent force during the indoor season who put up solid results across most events. However, it appears that the steeplechase could help establish the Iowa Hawkeye as a legitimate BIG 10 distance contender.
Austin Benoit (Michigan) and Max Benoit (Michigan State) may not be brothers, but they are similar in the fact that they produce strong results in the steeplechase. Austin Benoit has a personal best of 8:57 while Max Benoit owns a PR of 8:53. Both of these men should be able to finish among the top eight.