Coffee Talk (Part One)

Updated: Feb 10

Garrett: Alright, I’ll kick this off by talking about the Millrose Games. What was your biggest takeaway from the meet at the Armory?

Maura: The men’s mile at NCAA’s is going to be loaded up front. Oliver Hoare, Carlos Villarreal, and Geordie Beamish all running 3:56 points towards an exciting race come March. Plus, with the men coming from behind, it seems like anyone can vie for the title.

Ben: It was absolutely a thrilling race, and it also showed the strengths and weaknesses of each of these runners. We saw how well Hoare can run when the pace is quick, but his inability to kick with O’Hare leads me to worry about how he will do in a tactical race. Villarreal’s ability to hang with the pace and still kick makes me believe that he can be a threat to win at NCAA's while Beamish performed about as I expected.

Garrett: The race was absolutely exciting and produced some big times, but truthfully, I don’t think these results were anything too shocking. If you would have told me that all three of those guys were going to run 3:56, I probably wouldn’t have argued with you.

Maura: Side note, this was Beamish’s first sub-4:00 without an altitude conversion.

Garrett: I think that’s definitely important, but more so for the fact that people can recognize that his national title last year wasn’t a fluke.

Ben: Do we still think Hoare is the clear national title favorite for the mile?

Maura: It’s a no from me.

Garrett: Clear favorite? No. But if Nuguse doesn’t run the mile, then I’d say he probably is, but only by a little bit.

Ben: I agree. While the times were about what we expected, I think that this race showed that Hoare could be a vulnerable in a tactical race if someone can throw down a massive kick like Beamish did last year.

Garrett: Personally, I think the biggest takeaway from Millrose was seeing Dani Jones run 4:27 for the mile. I think that time solidifies the idea that she’ll run the mile at NCAA’s.

Maura: I agree with you there. In my opinion, the mile seems a bit more open at NCAA’s over the 3k/5k and I’ve always thought of Jones as more of a middle distance runner. Running 4:27, which was a pretty big PR, proves she is in a good place.

Ben: I agree. I think what Jones has done this year so far leads me to believe that she will run the mile at NCAA's. She secured the 800 meter school record (which is a nice display of speed) and now owns a 4:27 PR. She can win a national title in this event come March.

Garrett: I won’t extend this conversation on Jones too much, but what does this mean for Rivers who just ran a 4:32 mile at Millrose? Does she still pursue the 800 meters or was this a good enough time for her to move up in distance on the national stage?

Ben: It is hard to tell because the 800 meter field hasn’t looked too strong while the mile field, especially with Jones, is looking a lot better than we expected. I would stick with the 800 as she is the defending champion, but I don’t think it would be a surprise to see her move up.

Maura: If I were Rivers, I’d move up to the mile. A 4:32 mile keeps her in the conversation to make some serious noise at Nationals, even though she might have to compete against Jones and Whittni Orton. The 800 meters on the other hand, could be a deeper field when you think about women like Carley Thomas, Nia Akins, Martha Bissah, possibly Susan Ejore, and many others. With a mix of speed and endurance, the mile would suit Rivers well.

Garrett: I’m with Ben here. I think the 800 meters is showing some vulnerability (although it's still plenty deep like Maura pointed out) and I’m not sure moving up to the mile for a race that will be held at altitude is the right experimental move for Rivers this season.

Ben: It is so hard to say who the 800 meter national title favorite is at the moment because the woman with the top time in the country right now is a freshman.

Garrett: Do we want to talk about the 3000 meters? Honestly, I’m not sure where to begin...

Maura: Well, I sure do wish Taylor Werner was competing attached for Arkansas. She was the top collegiate athlete by two seconds and she is on a new level.

Ben: I would second that. Werner would make this season so much more interesting. On the men’s side though, I think we need to talk about how well both Klecker and Kurgat ran. Both threw down huge personal bests and I think they continue to assert themselves as the favorites in the 3000 and 5000, respectively.

Garrett: Alright, I’ll say it. I thought the men’s 3000 meters was kinda unexciting as far as finishing times were concerned. I thought Klecker was going to run faster and Kurgat’s 7:49 seems appropriate for this field.

As for the women, none of those times really shock me, but it does validate the idea that Taylor Werner can eventually win a national title one day (but I guess just not this season).

Ben: I think the race as a whole was a bit slower on the men’s side with Justyn Knight taking home the win in 7:46. Could the times have been closer to what McDonald and Fisher ran last year? Absolutely, but they competed well in a tough field to finish 2nd and 5th.

Maura: Both Klecker and Kurgat running PR’s is something to make note of. Klecker’s previous PR came from 2017 (although he ran a converted 7:48 last winter) and Kurgat’s was from 2018. These men are heading in the right direction, but I have to ask...could Klecker or Kurgat sweep the 3k/5k titles this season?

Ben: I don’t think either of them will sweep. While Klecker beat Kurgat this weekend, I think Kurgat’s performance was more important as he proved that he has enough speed to win the 5000.

Garrett: I think they could, but I think it's more likely that Klecker wins the 3000 meters and either Day or Kurgat win the 5000 meters.

Maura: Speaking of enough speed, what about Weini Kelati in the 3k? She has a set of wheels, but has been predominantly a longer distance runner.

Ben: I think her race was similar to Kurgat's. She proved that she should have enough speed to win the 5k, but she should not be the favorite in the 3k.

Garrett: Agreed with Ben. This is right on par with her PR of 8:53.98, so while I do think it helps her chances in the 5k, I’m not sure I learned anything new from her race.

Maura: Kelati and Alicia Monson ran similar to Klecker and Kurgat. Monson didn’t run anything other-worldly either, considering she was eight seconds off of her PR.

Ben: Agreed, there are a lot of similarities there. Should we transition out of the Millrose Games and talk about Yared Nuguse’s stunning performance in the 3k at the Meyo Invitational?

Garrett: It would be criminal if we didn’t...that 7:46 is electric. I wasn’t sure if he was even going to be running this season, so to have him come out of nowhere and throw down a time like that is jaw-dropping. It suddenly makes me wonder what he’ll run at Nationals because you could argue that the mile and 3k fields are equally deep this year.

Ben: I think that is the question. What event does he do? I think after this race he is set up to do the DMR and 3k. He has always prioritized the DMR over the mile, and I think the DMR/3k double gives him the opportunity to take home an individual title and a team title.

Maura: Agreed. Team-wise, Notre Dame will be looking to repeat as DMR champions. Individually, Nuguse has the ability to out-kick multiple men in the 3k. The mile is the premier event indoors, but who says the 3k can’t be this year?

Garrett: I guess I just struggle to see him not running in an event that he has thrived in.

Ben: But that is what he did last year!

Garrett: Well yes, but the DMR was his sole focus and only focus last year. With a national title already secured, I thought he would pursue the open mile title this year (and he may still do that). I just think his individual national title chances are better in the mile than the 3000 meters...but he could win either.

Ben: That is a good point. We should wait to see what he runs in the mile, but I think Garrett is right. Nuguse might be the favorite in the mile if he runs it, but I don’t think he would be in the 3k.

Maura: Notre Dame has the Iowa State Classic and Music City Classic next on their schedule. The Iowa State Classic would be a great opportunity for Nuguse to race the mile in a historically fast race and then maybe he reevaluates his options.