Paladino advances to final despite tough fall
The first prelim of the women's mile was going just about how you would expect it to go...until the final lap. As the top pack entered the back straightaway, Oregon's Susan Ejore was spiked from the runner in front of her, causing her to lose her balance and bring down Paladino who was right behind her. There was nothing either of the women could do except to pick themselves back up and sprint back across the line. Paladino still posted a respectable 4:40 mark, but she ended up as the first woman out of the final.
Luckily for Paladino, the NCAA officials accepted her protest and advanced her to the finals. It would have been a massive loss for invested distance running fans around the country who expected the Providence veteran to be a top contender. She is a heavy favorite to earn a spot on the podium.
Stanovsek, Knevelbaard fail to make mile finals
There are always a few surprises misses when it comes to top names who fail to make the final. After following Coach Powell from Oregon to Washington, Stanovsek was likely hoping that his second go at the indoor national meet would yield a different result. Although he didn't fall this time, his race tactics were still not enough to put him in the final on day two.
As for Knevelbaard, he was on our radar for a heavy portion of the season. His mix of speed and endurance, along with his experience, made him an appealing contender for this year's national meet. Unfortunately for him, it just wasn't his day. He lacked the proper positioning to make effective moves at the right time, forcing him to race from the back of the pack.
The Oregon men also surprised me as neither Reed Brown nor Blake Haney (both previously All-Americans) made the finals. Instead, it was the least experienced Duck (Charlie Hunter) making it to day two.
Kelati avoids DQ despite blatant false start
New Mexico's Weini Kelati posted a strong 2nd place finish in the women's 5000 meters, but what was arguably just as interesting was that she nearly got disqualified. The sophomore blatantly false started before the gun went off, but was only shown a yellow card (a warning) by the officials.
While I am certainly glad that she got to race, you can't help but wonder why she wasn't DQ'd. In nearly all sprint events, the guilty party would have been asked to step off the track and subsequently disqualified. The inconsistent consequences between events has me scratching my head.
Heppenstall earns seventh consecutive All-American honor; Perretta wins appeal to advance to the final
The Wake Forest star was at the very back of the pack with a lap to go. Yet, slowly but surely, he crept his way up to the front and finished with a guaranteed qualifying spot to the finals. As a result, he will earn his seventh straight All-American finish on Saturday as long as he doesn't finish last (since it will be a nine man final).
Regardless, the master tactician continues to impress, especially when he was still out of position with 70 meters to go in an extremely stacked preliminary heat.
As for Domenic Perretta, his All-American hopes stayed alive after he was tripped up on the final curve of his preliminary heat. It's difficult to say whether or not Perretta would have been able to do enough in that final 100 meters to earn a spot on the line for day two. Nonetheless, his prayers were answered and he will survive to race another day.
Quick thoughts on the men's DMR...
- It was no fluke. The Fighting Irish and Yared Nuguse are the real deal after winning the national title. True freshman Dylan Jacobs held his own as well.
- Stanford potentially wins the DMR title if Fisher waits to kick...but others will disagree.
- Georgetown gets 3rd thanks to a heroic 3:57 anchor leg from Nicholas Wareham. It may be the most underrated performance of day one.
- Indiana (4th), Iowa State (5th), and Arkansas (6th) showed that having a well-rounded squad will at least put you on the podium. However, despite the great opening leg from Festus Lagat, Iowa State should have switched him and Curts on the anchor (but that's an argument for another day).
- Teams who had athletes doubling or used relay substitutes struggled. Wisconsin, Ole Miss, Oregon, Washington, and Texas took spots 7th through 11th.
- Illinois' ran well enough to get into the national meet, but they needed the right pieces to put Davis in a good position and unfortunately that just didn't happen for them.
Quick thoughts on the women's DMR...
- Susan Ejore avenges her fall in the mile prelims on the 800 leg which effectively sealed the deal once Jessica Hull got the baton.
- BYU, Oklahoma State, and Villanova all thrived due to solid performances from each of their four legs. Their anchors held their own and kept things competitive.
- Arkansas (5th) was saved by a huge 4:30 split from a fresh Taylor Werner.
- No one on Michigan ran incredibly well, but they still pulled out a 6th place finish which just goes to show how crucial it is to have depth across all four legs.
- Washington's 7th place finish is relatively strong considering that they didn't have Katie Rainsberger on their relay.
- Indiana did enough to sneak into the final All-American spot, but they clearly didn't have enough mid-distance star power to elevate them to a better finish.
- Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Kansas, and Boise State called in their "B" lineups which explains why they failed to get on the podium.