Digits: Draft Stats for Nats (Part 1)

With the 2019 indoor season coming to a close next weekend and the NCAA Championships fast approaching, it’s time to do a review of our TSR Draft from earlier in the season. When we checked in midway through the season, Garrett was way out in front of the rest of the TSR writers. Of course, plenty has changed since then. Let’s check back and see which teams are pushing their way to the front as we head into the NCAA Championships.

As a reminder, here are the teams (women's draft review coming Monday)...

Since Garrett’s team was leading at the midway point, we will start the analysis there and move on down the mid-season rankings. To score, we will only be using the NCAA scoring metrics and the official accepted athletes, not the descending order lists.

Garrett’s Team

Amon Kemboi - Qualified in the 3K (#3) and the 5K (#2)

Jonathan Davis - Qualified in the DMR (#9)

Kyle Mau - Qualified in the Mile (#4), the 3K (#6), and the DMR (#4)

Mick Stanovsek - Qualified in the Mile (#13) and the DMR (#7)

Nahom Solomon - Did not qualify

Cole Rockhold - Did not qualify

Total Scoring Opportunities: 8

Projected Score: 23.75

Maximum Potential Score: 52

Garrett’s team shows a great deal of strength heading into the national meet thanks to high-scoring duo of Amon Kemboi (Campbell) and Kyle Mau (Indiana). Mau is attempting the mile/3K/DMR triple (we believe) and sports one of the highest point scoring potentials of any NCAA athlete behind Grant Holloway. He also shares the possibility of tripling alongside the Wisconsin duo of Hoare and McDonald. Mau will be faced with some tough decisions on whether to run the DMR based on his mile heat earlier in the day.

Amon Kemboi enters as one of the favorites in the 3K and 5K and is clearly among the best long-distance runners in the nation. Kemboi has not fared particularly well in NCAA Championships so far in his career, but was an All-American in both 2018 5K championships. Kemboi shouldn’t be expected to bring home 20 points for Campbell and Garrett, but he should be strong enough to bring home a fair number of points.

Davis and Stanovsek could also make a small impact in the DMR and even help bring an NCAA title for their respective schools, but that will only impact Garrett’s team in a small way since DMR runners only receive ¼ of the points. Stanovsek may sneak in for points in the mile if he pulls off an upset for the national title.

Nahom Solomon was a big point scorer in the mid-season draft for Garrett as he had an NCAA top five time in the 5K from the BU meet in December, but he just missed the meet after some big 5K races later in the season. Cole Rockhold of Colorado State managed some good results late in the season as he returned from injury, but it just wasn’t enough to qualify for NCAA's. It was a draft pick that was high risk, high reward.

With these performances, Garrett’s team should be considered a contender, but maybe not the favorite that he was at the halfway point.

Sean’s Team

Oliver Hoare - Qualified in the Mile (#1), the 3K (#5), and the DMR (#2)

Kasey Knevelbaard - Qualified in the Mile (#11)

Robert Heppenstall - Qualified in the 800 (#7)

James West - Qualified in the 3K (#11) and the DMR (#8)

Lawrence Kipkoech - Did not qualify

James Sugira - Qualified in the 5K (#7)

Total Scoring Opportunities: 8

Projected Score: 20

Maximum Potential Score: 60.5

Oliver Hoare is projected to score 75% of Sean’s points based on his lead in the mile and his projected 3K points. Hoare has clearly shown himself to be one of the best athletes in the NCAA and has the potential to help push Wisconsin to the top of the team standings if he and Morgan McDonald both do well. However, Hoare’s individual prowess will likely not be enough to push Sean’s team over the top in this competition. Robert Heppenstall should be a big part of Sean’s attempt at a draft win as he has never missed All-American status in the 800. James Sugira is also projected to score in the 5K, but will have to overcome a very deep field that is known for better kicks than he is.

Lawrence Kipkoech leaves Sean with a gap at the 3K and 5K after he failed to qualify for the national meet. Luckily, Oregon's James West attempting the DMR/3K could also increase Sean’s point totals. Kasey Knevelbaard will need to return to early season form to make the final and score.

While Sean’s maximum points are a good sign, his reliance on Oliver Hoare leaves him vulnerable compared to team with more diverse talent.

Elliott’s Team

Carlos Villarreal - Qualified in the Mile (#3)

Tyler Day - Qualified in the 5K (#1)

Gilbert Kigen - Qualified in the 5K (#11)

Cooper Teare - Qualified in the 3K (#8) and the DMR (#8)

Peter Lomong - Did not qualify

Dallin Farnsworth - Did not qualify

Total Scoring Opportunities: 5

Projected Score: 17.25

Maximum Potential Score: 40.5

Carlos Villareal and Tyler Day are some of the top contenders in their events and have the benefit of being able to focus fully on those races. Day will take on a totally fresh field in the 5K on Friday night and will have to hold off the likes of Morgan McDonald, Edwin Kurgat, Joe Klecker, and a handful of others. Still, Day should be confident in his ability to come out on top.

Villarreal faces an equally difficult challenge with Oliver Hoare and Waleed Suliman in the mile. Villarreal will be the most rested of the three coming into Saturday’s final, so expect him to utilize this factor. Cooper Teare can probably pick up more points with the DMR than in the loaded 3K, but some fans may disagree with that sentiment. Alabama's Gilbert Kigen is an outside shot at adding points for Elliott’s team.

Without point potential for Lomong and Farnsworth, Elliott will need a big performance from his top two.

Michael’s Team

Joe White - Qualified in the 800 (#4) and the DMR (#10)

Alex Ostberg - Qualified in the 3K (#12) and the DMR (#12)

Vincent Kiprop - Qualified in the 5K (#16)

Blake Haney - Qualified in the Mile (#14) and the DMR (#8)

Yared Nuguse - Qualified in the DMR (#1)

Waleed Suliman - Qualified in the Mile (#2) and the DMR (#2)

Total Scoring Opportunities: 10

Projected Score: 17.75

Maximum Potential Score: 56.25

Michael’s potential points mainly come from athletes who could appear on the DMR, but may not line up (Alex Ostberg and Blake Haney) as well as from outside hopefuls for individual points (Alex Ostberg, Vincent Kiprop, and Blake Haney). While these points could easily be scored with some great races, counting on more than a couple of points out of those three is probably too hopeful. Counting on Waleed Suliman and Joe White is a much more reliable way for Michael to move up the standings as both men could come out victorious in their individual events and help push their DMR's up the results (potentially to national titles).

Yared Nuguse hurt Michael’s chances of winning the draft title by choosing to opt out of the mile after a huge ACC Championship win. That said, Nuguse being fresh leaves Notre Dame as a favorite for the hotly contested DMR title. If he had chosen to run the mile, Nuguse and Suliman would have given Michael the hottest 5th/6th round punch of the entire draft. Suliman alone might still give Michael that honor.

Michael has numerous opportunities to grab points, but the quantity of draft picks doesn't necessarily mean they all have a high probability of scoring significant points. Michael’s team is the only one to have all six athletes qualify for Nationals.

John’s Team

Morgan McDonald - Qualified in the 3K (#2), the 5K (#6), and the DMR (#2)

Cameron Griffith - Qualified in the DMR (#11)

Rory Linkletter - Did not qualify

Devin Dixon - Qualified in the 800 (#1)

Sam Worley - Qualified in the Mile (#7) and the DMR (#5)

Paul Roberts - Did not qualify

Total Scoring Opportunities: 7

Projected Score: 26

Maximum Potential Score: 46

Morgan McDonald holds the key for John’s team as McDonald should be aiming for the 3K/5K double after his XC win this past fall. McDonald is not the official favorite by seed time, but should see 20 points as a realistic goal in the Badgers’ aim for the NCAA title. John will need those points even more than Wisconsin will if he wants to win the TSR Draft title.

Devin Dixon enters the meet as the NCAA American indoor record holder after a huge effort earlier in the season which converted to below 1:45 based on Lubbock’s altitude. Dixon was almost beaten at SEC's, but is the clear favorite in this race.

Sam Worley is an interesting figure to watch in the DMR and mile. He is expected to make a big difference in both races, but is not among the top three favorites in either race. If he can make the jump into the highest tier, John’s team becomes the certain favorite instead of just barely sitting ahead of Garrett’s team.

Cameron Griffith does hold a small bit of potential with his DMR leg for Arkansas, but even a win is only worth ¼ points, so his ability plays more into the DMR race potential and less into this draft analysis. Regardless, John has two huge powerhouses who could lead him to a fantasy team championship win.

Ben’s Team

Grant Fisher - Qualified in the 3K (#1) and the DMR (#12)

Marco Arop - Qualified in the 800 (#2)

Edwin Kurgat - Qualified in the 5K (#4), and the DMR (#6)

Reed Brown - Qualified in the Mile (#10) and the DMR (#8)

Isai Rodriguez - Did not qualify

Cooper Williams - Qualified in the 800 (#11) and the DMR (#4)

Total Scoring Opportunities: 9

Projected Score: 24.25

Maximum Potential Score: 55.25

*Kurgat is unlikely to appear on the DMR so his DMR points are currently not calculated

Grant Fisher sits atop the 3K rankings and should be one of the fresher main contenders since he will only be coming off the DMR the night before and not the 5K like McDonald and Kemboi. This bodes well for Fisher in regards to him taking the NCAA title, but he still has not returned to the top step of the podium since 2017.

Marco Arop will also be looking to move to the top of the podium after a gutsy effort in the 800 at SEC's where he nearly upset Devin Dixon. Arop is probably the only athlete who can challenge Devin Dixon should the final have any real pace from the gun. Edwin Kurgat will also be going hard from the gun in the 5K in his only race as he is not expected to appear on the Iowa State DMR (but could if truly needed).

Reed Brown and Cooper Williams are the most interesting athletes for Ben’s team because they definitely have point scoring potential in the DMR as well as their individual events. However, they could also run hard prelims and then not perform as well as they hoped in their DMR legs. This could be especially troublesome for Indiana who will also have Kyle Mau on the double for the DMR. Reed Brown may get left off the DMR team altogether as Oregon has three athletes in the mile who could all join the 3K duo of James West and Cooper Teare on the relay. They could also upset their respective fields to pull out individual points.

Like Michael, Ben has more opportunities than John and should hope that he can cut away at the firepower of John’s team with his high number of national qualifiers.

Sam’s Team

Joe Klecker - Qualified in the 3K (#4) and the 5K (#5)

Bryce Hoppel - Qualified in the 800 (#3)

Jonah Koech - Qualified in the 800 (#9)

John Dressel - Qualified in the 5K (#15)

Myles Marshall - Did not qualify

Aaron Templeton - Did not qualify

Total Scoring Opportunities: 5

Projected Score: 15

Maximum Potential Score: 46

Sadly for Sam, his team remains at the bottom of the standings as there are just not many opportunities for his team to score at NCAA's. Sam’s best hope is with the Colorado Buffaloes who could bring him 28 points if Klecker and Dressel race out of their minds in the distance races which is certainly not outside the realm of possibility. It’s not the most likely thing to happen either though, and earning a combined 10 points from those two would be a respectable result.

Bryce Hoppel enters the 800 trying to upset Arop and Dixon and could make that a reality if they push each other too hard in the first 600. Hoppel has the #3 fastest time in the NCAA right now should pull a few points, but no result is certain in the four lap affair.

Jonah Koech will have to see how his 800 prelim plays out, but is a contender in a tight race to pick up a few points as well. Still, the chances for Sam look slim.

In total, here's a brief recap of what the men's fantasy draft looks like...

Overall, the teams evened out a lot more than one may have expected after Garrett led everyone by so many points at the halfway mark. Every team is still with 11 points of each other by the projected score and anyone could emerge as the TSR Draft winner. Watch out for Women’s Draft NCAA preview with a special twist in the coming days!