Just as the title says...let's get into it.
- Southern Utah's Kasey Knevelbaard was in last by quite a bit, but he was incredibly patient as he began to make moves in the final 800. He secured an automatic qualifying spot to the finals. Smart running by him.
- Sam Prakel and Cole Rockhold look scary good. They had such great control in that prelim. They should be great picks for the podium.
- Really unfortunate fall for Mick Stanovsek. Obviously, that has to be frustrating. He would have been on the podium (I think), but he'll come back in the spring with revenge.
- Smart call by Tobin to go hard from the gun and assert a fast(er) pace, but it nearly cost him a spot to the finals.
- Wow, Virginia Tech looks really, really good. They ran so well together. The VT trio got out of each other's way, but still put themselves at the front.
- Reed Brown is a true freshman who showed so much poise in a tactical prelim. He kicked hard to the line and finished alongside some veterans to make the final. Give this kid some props.
- It was tough to see Bartelsmeyer out of the finals after such a close finish. I thought he nipped Tobin at the line, but apparently that wasn't the case. He would have been a great guy to watch out for in the finals.
- That was a bold move by Michael Rhoads (Air Force). He took out the first 200 in 24 seconds and the 400 out in 51 seconds. He may have been a little too aggressive, but unlike the ESPN announcers, I'm willing to give him some credit. Rhoads had nothing to lose and put it all out there in an effort to separate himself from the field. He may want to be a little more conservative next time, but it's a tactic I wish we saw more often.
- Clemson's John Lewis is known for his hard from the gun racing style. The aggressive pace set by Rhoads favored Lewis and he made sure to take full advantage. Lewis led the chase pack for most of the race, but did not falter in his attempt to bring Rhoads back in. Lewis was rewarded with a 2nd place finish in his prelim and a spot to the finals. Smart running by the Clemson junior who has really come on quite strong in his past few races.
- There was so much movement happening around Isaiah Harris during his prelim...he just didn't care. He kept his composure and cruised to the line. It may not seem like a lot, but that is how a veteran runs an 800.
- Daniel Kuhn basically controlled that prelim from the gun. Mississippi State's Marco Arop briefly took over the lead, but this race was extremely well handled by Kuhn. He went to the front and determined how the prelim was going to play out on his terms.
- Dixon fell off the pace set by Kuhn relatively early. That was a bit surprising, he seemed to be a podium favorite, especially when you consider that he was racing on his home track.
- What on Earth was Michael Saruni doing? He was at the back of the pack for a good portion of the race. He did eventually move up, but he had to get in on a time qualifier instead of an automatic qualifier. It looked like his plan was to take the first two laps conservatively, but he didn't expect the pack to be so difficult to bring back in. He's still on to the finals, but that was an ugly prelim.
- Robert Heppenstall was able to navigate through that prelim like it was nothing. His positioning was excellent and his move was timed perfectly. He's an All-American machine and this season looks to be no different.
- Great finish by Abraham Alvarado. He made a huge move in the final 80 meters to get around a crowded turn and find a spot in the top three. If he can replicate that tomorrow, he could scare for a top three spot in the finals.
- They're jogging...
- They're still jogging...
- Is no one going to make this honest?
- I can appreciate the effort by Linkletter, but even he knows that his pace wasn't anything fast.
- The pace is still pretty slow...
- Much like Linkletter, Fischer made a nice move to get to the front. It didn't have a huge impact on the field, but at least he kept it honest.
- Smart surge to the front by Alabama's Vincent Kiprop. He knew he probably didn't have the speed to close with some of these other guys, so he was going to be the man to open up the field and assert a fast pace with 800(ish) to go.
- Mike Tate quietly stuck with the top pack for most of the race and he made sure he was going to be in contention on that final lap.
- The pace was slow and when that happens, it's Justyn Knight's race to lose. He was probably going to win regardless of the racing style, but after those first few laps, you couldn't help but shrug your shoulders and begin your guess as to who would place 2nd.
- It was a very tactical race, but when you look at the results, most of the guys who were at the front walked away as All-Americans. Vincent Kiprop, Mike Tate, Rory Linkletter, and Jacob Thomson showed that they weren't afraid to go to the front of the pack. The race may not have played out in their favor, but they still made the best out of what they were given.
- Oregon's Blake Haney ran a great race. He kept the Ducks near the front and contended with McGorty for a heavy portion of his leg. He is one of the key reasons why Oregon walked away with a top five finish despite not fielding their 'A' squad.
- Interesting move by the Ducks to not race Cooper Teare. I have nothing against James West. He ran a great anchor leg (split 3:57) and kept the Ducks competitive. However, West has to run the 3000 on Day 2 and Teare is a sub-4 minute miler who would have been completely fresh. Why not put him on the anchor? Tough to say, but it paid off with a 3rd place finish for the Ducks.
- That was a bold move by Ole Miss to put an inexperienced freshman on the lead-off leg. It probably cost them a podium spot. Still, it was a risk worth taking if they wanted to go all-in on another title run. If Suliman finishes near the front of the pack, the Rebels could have been fighting with Virginia Tech. If that happened, this conversation looks very different.
- Virginia Tech did not win because of Neil Gourley (although he still did pretty darn well). They won because Patrick Joseph split a 1:46.23 on the 800 to give the Hokies a 10 to 15 meter cushion on the anchor leg. Joseph's surge in the final 200 was so incredibly decisive that it set the tone for the rest of the race. That move is the reason why they are the national champions.
- Notre Dame has earned my respect. They were consistently strong across the board with solid splits at every leg. Yared Nuguse split 3:56.90 and kept the Fighting Irish in the hunt. This entire relay deserves a round of applause.
- Stanford had Sean McGorty on their lead-off and Grant Fisher on their anchor, but they couldn't place in the top three. When you look at their splits, everyone ran a great race. Still, you can't help but want a little more from this superstar lineup.
- Utah State ran incredibly well across all four legs. I'll admit, I doubted the Aggies' ability to put it together on the Big Stage. However, they proved me wrong. They fought to the front of the pack and put their anchor, Dillon Maggard, in a great position. It helps that Maggard had the best split of the entire field (3:56.53), but all of the pieces of this relay came together and put on a great performance.
- I guess Josh Kerr is human after all. That mile prelim must have taken a lot more out of him than we expected it to. Of course, all three distance legs of Virginia Tech's DMR were doubling back from the mile prelims and they seemed to do just fine...