Updated: Apr 22, 2019
Men and women are split into two sections for this recap
Men: Garrett Zatlin
Women: Sam Invanecky
Fisher Leads Cardinal Classic 5k w/ 13:29
While most of the 5k attention was put on the Bryan Clay Invite, the real headlines were produced at Stanford for the Cardinal Classic where we saw Grant Fisher make his season debut. The Stanford veteran posted a monster time of 13:29 to outrun the field and continue to establish himself as one of the few legitimate threats to Morgan McDonald.
Behind him, we saw a number of fast performances. Oregon's Cooper Teare has continued to pick up where his indoor season left off, running a huge personal best of 13:32.73. However, the real story was seeing Stanford's Thomas Ratcliffe finally back to full health. The young Cardinal star posted a huge time of 13:32.81 to earn the #3 time in the country. If he can stay healthy, he will be the future of Stanford track & field when Fisher leaves...
Meanwhile, Iowa State's Edwin Kurgat and Stanford's Steven Fahy rounded out the top five positions (both at the meet and in the country) with a pair of 13:34's. Colorado's Ryan Forsyth and Furman's Aaron Templeton rounded out the last finishers under the 13:40 barrier with times of 13:38 and 13:39, respectively.
At the end of the day, the Cardinal Classic 5k gave us everything we were looking for. Fisher is still one of the best of this era, Teare is a legitimate All-American threat (again), Ratcliffe and Fahy are both healthy, Templeton's breakout cross country season wasn't a hoax, and neither was Forsyth's finish at the NCAA National Cross Country meet. If I'm a fan of distance running, I got everything I wanted out of this race.
Hoare Narrowly Edges Villarreal In Exciting 1500 Battle
Statement made. After a rough outing at Indoor Nationals, Hoare was able to bounce back this past weekend and remind everyone that he is still the man to beat at the 1500/mile distances. He posted a huge mark of 3:37 to barely hold off a hard-charging Carlos Villarreal who dived at the line, which also earned him a time of 3:37. For Hoare, this isn't much of a surprise, but it is encouraging to see him back at the top the NCAA leaderboard. As for Villarreal, this has to be a huge confidence booster as he may now feel like he can be a sleeper pick for the national title later this spring.
After those two, we saw Yared Nuguse just nip William Paulson for the 3rd spot. Both of them finished with times of 3:38 and validated their breakout winter seasons where they wrecked havoc at the mile distance.
Overlooked in 5th and 6th place were Sam Worley and Waleed Suliman who also posted times of 3:38. They aren't quite national title threats yet, but that could change within the next year or so. Just sophomores, they have become some of the most dangerous milers in the country. As they continue to grow their presence as All-American contenders, they will gain more experience and more confidence. Watch out for these two in 2020.
The NAU trio of Geordie Beamish, Luis Grijalva, and true freshman Theo Quax each finished with times of 3:39 in what was an incredible display of depth. The 3:39 performance gave Quax the New Zealand U20 1500 record while also complementing his 13:49 from the Stanford Invite a few weeks ago. Just when you thought the Lumberjacks may falter with the graduation of key veterans, their young core rallied for one of the best collective performances of the weekend.
The last few men to run under 3:40 were Arkansas' Cam Griffith and Georgetown's Spencer Brown. Each man ended the day with times of 3:39 and need to be very happy with how they performed. Brown had always been on the cusp of a performance like this, but wasn't able to put it altogether until now. As for Griffith, this has to be a comforting result for someone who barely missed the indoor national meet this past winter.
Jewett Holds Off White at Mt. SAC Relays
The 800 didn't gain as much attention as some of the other events around the country, but USC's Isaiah Jewett and Georgetown's Joe White still kept things interesting. Jewett got the best of White this past weekend, running 1:46.11 to White's 1:46.31. It's a pair of encouraging results that I think most knowledge fans expected out of these two men. For Jewett, this is a nice win over a key mid-distance veteran.
Not to be overlooked was Michael Rhoads, the Air Force Indoor All-American from this past winter who was the 3rd overall collegiate this weekend in a time of 1:47. He'll make another go at the podium later this June.
Steeplechase Continues To Gain Depth
One of the more underrated steeplechasers last year, Nathan Mylenek (Iowa), has seemingly hit a new level of fitness in 2019 after running 8:38 at Mt. SAC this past weekend. He was the top collegiate in the race and also held off Arizona veteran Bailey Roth who also ran 8:38 in what was an encouraging performance for him. Together, these two seniors may be some of the most underrated distance runners in the country. Roth has unmatched experience while Mylenek is displaying impressive consistency and improvement.
At Bryan Clay, we saw Iona veteran Johannes Motschmann make his return to the track. He took home the victory in a time of 8:44 to reassert himself as an All-American threat this spring. He is yet another older steeplechaser with key experience on a variety of big stages. He is not someone to underestimate in the postseason.
Speaking of veterans, we should also note that UMKC's Bryce Miller also made his return to the track with a 4th place finish in a time of 8:57. After being absent for the entirety of 2018, the steeplechase ace is back on the outdoor oval. Let's not forget that he owns a personal best of 8:34 in this event and could be a major name to consider later this season if he's able to regain enough fitness.
Iowa's Matt Manternach Continues Hot Streak
Nathan Mylenek may be capturing most of the attention for Iowa after his huge steeplechase performance, but teammate Matt Manternach needs some serious props. Just this season, the Iowa junior went from 1:48, to 1:47, to now 1:46 while winning the Bryan Clay 800. He currently ranks #4 in the NCAA and is showing tremendous improvement every time he steps on the track. He is a big name on my radar and someone who I absolutely believe could podium in the half-mile. Don't sleep...
Robert Brandt Runs 13:36
We likely aren't talking about Brandt's 13:36 because he was lost among the pro finishers at Mt. SAC. The UCLA superstar was the 6th overall finisher behind a slew of foreign athletes who controlled the race upfront. Regardless, it's yet another solid time for Brandt who has yet to really have a poor race this year.
Cole Rockhold Is BACK
The Bryan Clay 5000 was filled with plenty of fast times. However, none were more meaningful than Rockhold's. In our Bryan Clay Preview, I told readers that I was looking at Cole Rockhold to make a statement this weekend a long process of returning from injury this past fall. Sure enough, he wowed me. Rockhold threw down a blistering time of 13:35 to secure the CSU school record and finish as the 2nd best collegiate over a handful of elite names. The performance sent a message to the rest of the NCAA that Rockhold's recovery process was over. He has regained serious fitness and is back to being an elite All-American threat.
Duke Invite 5k
After a quiet indoor season, Campbell's Lawrence Kipkoech returned to prominence by finishing as the top collegiate in a time of 13:42. Former EMU star Willy Fink was the winner in a time of 13:38. The Fink-Kipkoech duo was able to outrun Minnesota's Obsa Ali who finished 3rd overall in a time of 13:48. Virginia Tech's Peter Seufer was 4th in 13:51.
Cade Bethmann Validates Last Week's Breakout 1500
Sticking with the 800, we saw Ole Miss sophomore Cade Bethmann continue to capitalize on his breakout season. After running 3:41 for 1500 meters last week, the Ole Miss Rebel was able to turn around and post a mark of 1:47 at Bryan Clay. Bethmann will now have the luxury of choosing between the 800 and 1500 at regionals where he'll be considered as a candidate to qualify for Nationals in both events.
Cardinal Classic Steeplechase
The Cardinal Classic quietly produced six sub-9:00 marks this past weekend. Gonzaga redshirt senior Andrew Gardner, who transferred from Washington to complete his eligibility with the Zags, sent a message to his old team with a winning time of 8:46. That was enough to fend off a strong run from Purdue's Brody Smith who ran 8:47 for 2nd. Keep an eye on Smith as he'll be a key name to watch during next cross country season.
Behind those two, we saw a trio of Husky runners cross the line. Washington's Julius Diehr, Alex Slenning, and Nicholas Laccinole each ran times of 8:52, 8:53, and 8:55, respectively. Although they were trounced by their former teammate, you have to be impressed by the steeplechase depth the Huskies showed. Powell wasn't typically known for his ability to coach steeplechasers, so to see these performances has to exciting for Washington fans.
Wilson-Perteete Tops the Leaderboard
A new NCAA leading time in the 800 was set at the Bryan Clay Invitational this weekend when Avi’ Tal Wilson-Perteete of UNLV finished runner-up to Adidas professional Nikki Hiltz in a time of 2:02.41. That performance narrowly edged out the previous leading-time of 2:02.49 set by Lauren Ellsworth of BYU back on April 5th.
Wilson-Perteete’s time was just short of her personal best of 2:01.14, but was a big step in the right direction after struggling this past indoor season. The UNLV sophomore finished 9th in the prelims at the Outdoor National Championships in 2018, but missed qualifying for indoors this past winter. Her 2019 indoor mark of 2:08.05 was well off her indoor personal best of 2:04.71, so this weekend’s showing appears to indicate that she is on the rise this spring.
With just under a month until NCAA regionals, it would be surprising if Wilson-Perteete is not running in Texas come June.
Hurta Remains Unattached…But For How Long?
Sage Hurta of Colorado had one of the best collegiate performances this weekend when she ran 4:09.48 to finish runner-up in the Invitational 1500. She also ran a blistering 2:03 at Mt. SAC to win the 800. Her 1500 performance would currently be an NCAA leading time by almost four seconds, except that Hurta was competing unattached (in both events). After redshirting this past indoor season will we finally see Hurta don the Colorado uniform again?
Hurta normally specializes in the steeplechase where she owns a personal best of 9:57.28. She narrowly missed qualifying for NCAA's in 2018 and has been an All-American in cross country three different times. While Hurta could certainly come back to run the steeple this season, it seems much more likely that she would shoot for the 1500 if she does pull her redshirt.
Right now, the favorite in the 1500 would be Hurta’s teammate Dani Jones but thus far, Jones has remained absent from the NCAA track scene. If her absence continues, Hurta would vault into the favorites for the title if she opts to race for Colorado this season.
*Earlier, we incorrectly stated that Hurta had two XC All-American finishes when she actually had three. Thank you to a reader for the correction*
Milers Make Themselves Known
Four of the top five 1500 times in the country were set this past weekend when four different women ran 4:13.xx. The fastest of the four was Jessica Harris of Notre Dame who posted an NCAA-leading mark of 4:13.04 at the Virginia Challenge. Sinclaire Johnson (OK State), Sarah Feeny (Utah) and Josette Norris (Georgetown) were the other three women to break the 4:14 mark.
The emergence of these women adds extra intrigue as championship season approaches. No one runner has asserted themselves as the favorite this season and the notable absence of Dani Jones could set up a very interesting NCAA final. Although reigning champion Jessica Hull has raced this season, she has yet to run a 1500 meter race yet. Danae Rivers was the fastest miler this indoor season, but she currently sits at #13 in the NCAA after running 4:15.17 this past weekend.
With no clear favorite, the women’s 1500 stands to be one of the most interesting events come June. Will Jones return? Will Rivers regain her indoor form? What event will Hull run? We have plenty of questions that will hopefully be answered in the coming weeks.
Kelati & Cohen Crush the 5000
The other distance event that saw a new NCAA-leading mark was the 5000 after Weini Kelati and Adva Cohen of New Mexico ran 15:23 and 15:31, respectively. Both times eclipsed the previous NCAA-lead of 15:34 by Jessica Hull which was run at Stanford back in March. This race was Cohen’s first outdoor 5k for New Mexico, smashing her previous outdoor best of 16:07 which she ran last season as a member of Iowa Central.
Kelati narrowly missed her outdoor best of 15:22 which she set at Payton Jordan in 2018. It should be noted her fastest mark for 5000 meters was set this past December when she ran 15:15 during indoors at Boston University. With this performance, Kelati has asserted herself as the (arguable) favorite to win the 5000 meter title at NCAA's. With Alicia Monson having only raced the 10k and Jessica Hull’s final racing plan unknown, Kelati may be the fastest woman in this event by the time June rolls around. She also has quite a bit of experience at national meets which could give her an edge in a strategic setting.
Cardinal Classic Women’s Steeplechase
This race did not generate much buzz on a national scene as the NCAA-leading marks were left unchallenged. That said, six of the top 13 fastest times in the country came from this race, including two sub-10 performances by Furman teammates Gabrielle Jennings and Kristlin Gear.
Gregory Goes Up
In her 5000 collegiate debut, Lauren Gregory of Arkansas ran an outstanding time of 15:42 to finish 3rd at Bryan Clay. The mark may have gotten lost in the excitement of the performances by Kelati and Cohen, but this time could very well put Gregory in the mix come NCAA's. While she is more known as a miler, 15:42 will easily get her into the regional meet and her speed should benefit her in more tactile race settings. Keep an eye on her as regionals approach.
What Event Will Hull Run?
Jessica Hull is one of the most dynamic racers in the NCAA right now and could be considered the favorite in either the 1500 or the 5000. Now that Weini Kelati has posted a new lead in the 5000, will Hull be inclined to lean one way or another? On one hand, she is the reigning NCAA champion in the 1500 and the absence of Dani Jones could certainly make that the more intriguing option. On the other hand, NCAA's are in Texas this year which means the distance races should be slower with a faster finish (due to the heat) which favors Hull over anyone else in the field. Running both is an option, although it would be a bit surprising.
Allie Ostrander and Adva Cohen should be considered the two biggest favorites for the women’s steeplechase title. Charlotte Prouse is certainly a contender, but she never beat Ostrander last season and Cohen has run substantially faster than either woman. As the end of April approaches, none of the three have raced a steeple this season. Certainly they will need to post a mark to make the regional meet and the likely venue for that race is the Payton Jordan Invitational.
The meet attracts some of the best professionals from across the country and it would be shocking to see the NCAA's best three steeplechasers pass on a chance to run a fast time. Running a fast mark this season may hold extra incentive for the three as they also have a chance to qualify for the World Championships in Doha if they were to focus on such.