*Honorable mentions below*
25. Waleed Suliman, Sophomore, Ole Miss
Suliman has thrown down some spectacular times in his last two track seasons, but has struggled in the postseason. You could probably chalk that up to inexperience, but I expect him to break through in a big way this season (yes, more than he did last year). If he figures out championship tactics, then Suliman has the talent to be considered one of the top runners at 1500 meters.
24. Gilbert Kigen, Senior, Alabama
Kigen did not have a great showing at Indoor Nationals in the 5k, but I would be shocked if he didn’t improve outdoors. He has the potential for making Nationals in both the 5k and 10k, but should be considered a safe bet to score points in the 10k where he finished 7th last year at Nationals. His 28:20 at Stanford proves that he is ready to roll this spring.
23. Carlos Villarreal, Junior, Arizona
Villarreal put on a solid performance at the indoor national meet, finishing 4th in the mile right behind Oliver Hoare. This was a very promising result for the talented Wildcat who hadn’t been able to put together a great race at Nationals before this year. If his momentum continues into outdoors, then he will be a threat to Hoare in the 1500.
22. Yared Nuguse, Sophomore, Notre Dame
One of the most tantalizing runners this year, Nuguse ran down Grant Fisher in the DMR to give Notre Dame the win at Nationals. Unfortunately, we did not get to see what Nuguse could do in the mile on the national stage. However, we're hoping that we get to see him challenging for the 1500 meter title outdoors. His potent kick will certainly give him a chance to pair his DMR title with a 1500 title. Plus, he just showed off his wheels by running 1:48 in his outdoor opener.
21. Devin Dixon, Junior, Texas A&M
It was a disappointing result at Indoor NCAA's for Dixon, but it would be silly to count the Texas A&M ace out during outdoors. He has the fastest PR in the country, but hasn’t been able to turn that into a top three finish anytime he's been on the national stage. In a deep 800 field, Dixon still stands out as one of the favorites because of his raw talent.
20. Edwin Kurgat, Junior, Iowa State
Another top runner who had a frustrating indoor championship was Kurgat who was unable to score in the 5k. The 3rd place finisher from cross country is too talented to not bounce back in the 5k or 10k outdoors.
19. Daniel Michalski, Rs. Senior, Indiana
Michalski made quite a statement by winning the steeplechase in 8:35 at Stanford, taking down the BYU duo of Clayson Shumway and Matt Owens in the process. In a crowded steeple field, this Hoosier looks like one of the few who could stand out.
18. Conner Mantz, Rs. Sophomore, BYU
After a solid indoor championship, Mantz started his season off in a big way by earning the top 10k time in country by running 28:18 at Stanford. Even though the Cougar was able to finish 7th in the 3k indoors, he should be even better suited to score more points in the 10k. Mantz is one of many BYU Cougars who could make some noise at the Outdoor Championships.
17. Aidan Tooker, Junior, Syracuse
Tooker enters the as one of the top guys in the steeplechase in large part to his stunning performance at USA's last summer where he ran 8:30 to finish 4th. His 13:48 at Stanford shows that the fitness is there for him to replicate that performance at Nationals. Tooker, along with Affolder, have quick finishes so in a more tactical race they both could be dangerous.
16. John Dressel, Rs. Junior, Colorado
Dressel finished 11th in the 5k at Indoor Nationals which was a little disappointing for someone who has had success in championships previously. In 2017, he finished 8th in the 5k outdoors and 4th in the 5k indoors, so he clearly can compete at the highest level. If he can regain his 2017 form, then he will be a contender in a loaded 5k this spring.
15. Tyler Day, Senior, Northern Arizona
After a rough run at Indoor Nationals, Day bounced back in a big way by running 28:24 at Stanford. The 4th place finisher from last year’s 10k, the Lumberjack is one of the top returners from last year’s race. In his last dance, will Day earn his first National Championship title?
14. Amon Kemboi, Junior, Campbell
Like Day, Kemboi didn’t have the Indoor Nationals performances that many expected, but don’t let that fool you into counting out the star Campbell Camel outdoors. The 5th place finisher from last year’s 5k will be a threat in that event again especially after it seems like he is in better shape this year.
13. Robert Brandt, Junior, UCLA
Brandt had a spectacularly solid Indoor Championship finishing 8th in both the 3k and 5k. The new Bruin came on strong at the end of the season and seems to have carried that momentum into outdoors by winning the 10k at the Bob Larsen Distance Carnival in 28:55. It will be interesting to see if Brandt tries to double up in outdoors in the 5k and 10k, and if he can pull off a better version of what he did indoors.
12. Rory Linkletter, Rs. Senior, BYU
As mentioned here, Linkletter earned the opportunity to represent Canada at the World Cross Country championship. After just missing out on Indoor Championships, it was a great chance for him to race against some of the best in the world. How he comes back after racing the brutal course in Denmark will be something to monitor. Assuming he recovers well and comes back strong, the Cougar will be a threat in the 5k or 10k with his vintage finishing kick at distances that favor him more than what he was able to run during the winter.
11. Sam Worley, Sophomore, Texas
Worley finished a solid 6th place indoors in the mile, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t finish higher outdoors. He certainly has opened the season well by winning the mile at the Texas Relays and helping Texas win the sprint medley relay. I said it indoors, but I think this is the season Worley breaks out and finishes top three at Nationals.
10. Connor McMillan, Rs. Senior, BYU
Like teammate Clayton Young, McMillan had a very nice indoor championship that saw him finish 4th in the 5k. Opening in 13:50 at Stanford is a solid start for the Cougar who will be a threat in both the 5k and 10k.
9. Kyle Mau, Junior, Indiana
Kyle Mau has continued his breakout year by winning the Stanford Invite 5k in 13:44. The Hoosier has been a work horse for Indiana all year, and it looks like he has no plans of stopping in outdoors. Whether he runs the 1500 or 5k at Nationals, I expect him to contend for a top three spot.
8. Marco Arop, Sophomore, Mississippi State
Finally done with 200 meter tracks, Arop is about to run some quick times. The tall Canadian has the second best PR in the NCAA behind Dixon, but has performed much better than Dixon in championship races. If he can gap the field by a few more meters than he did indoors, then this might be the year Arop earns his first national title.
7. Clayton Young, Senior, BYU
Clayton Young has had one of the best stretches of distance running in the last few weeks. After finishing 3rd and 6th in the 5000 and 3000 respectively, he ran 28:18 at Stanford to finish close behind teammate Conner Mantz. Look for him to pack up with his fellow Cougars to score at least eights points at Outdoor Nationals.
6. Obsa Ali, Senior, Minnesota
The steeple champion from last year had a solid season indoors qualifying for Nationals in the 5k. After a wild steeple final last year, Ali is the favorite to repeat, but not by much. He will have plenty of competition from Tooker, Michalski, Affolder, Shumway, Owens, and Fahy (to name just a few).
5. Bryce Hoppel, Junior, Kansas
The reigning indoor 800 meter indoor champion started out this outdoor season by winning the Texas Relays and running 1:48. The Jayhawk ace hasn’t lost this year in the 800, but he will have to continue to contend with a deep 800 field to continue his streak. Still, he should be seen as the favorite as the outdoor season begins.
4. Joe Klecker, Rs. Junior, Colorado
Klecker put together a fantastic performance at the Indoor National Championships, finishing 3rd and 2nd in the 3k and 5k respectively. In the 5k, Klecker will be one of the favorites. It will be interesting to see if Klecker decides to run the 10k for the first time on the track this year because he certainly would be one of the favorites in that event too.
3. Oliver Hoare, Junior, Wisconsin
Despite his stunning loss in the mile to Geordie Beamish, Hoare enters the season as the favorite in the 1500. With a 3:37 PR, Hoare will be able to win any type of race. The reigning 1500 meter champion tried to run too many events indoors, but won’t face this problem outdoors as he will focus on just the 1500.
2. Grant Fisher, Senior, Stanford
After two heartbreaking finishes at indoors, Fisher will look to bounce back and avenge his loses. It will be interesting to see if he focuses on the 5k at Nationals like he has done in the past or if he will run another event. It would be really fascinating to see how low Fisher could go in the 1500 if he gets into a fast race
1. Morgan McDonald, Rs. Senior, Wisconsin
The king of cross country and indoor starts the year as the number one runner on our outdoor power rankings. What is there left to be said about McDonald? He has been utterly dominant all year, and we shouldn’t expect anything less outdoors. The real question is whether we will see him in both the 5k and the 10k at Nationals.
Honorable Mentions (no order)
Jonathan Davis (Illinois)
Geordie Beamish (Northern Arizona)
Clayson Shumway (BYU)
Matt Owens (BYU)
Aaron Templeton (Furman)
Alex Ostberg (Stanford)
Joe White (Georgetown)
Cooper Williams (Indiana)
Ben Veatch (Indiana)
Cooper Teare (Oregon)
Casey Comber (Villanova)