Craig Engels and Sampson Laari Drop 800, Will Pursue 1500
After his performance at Bryan Clay, Engels said in an interview that he would like to pursue the 1500 at NCAA’s. While it certainly seems like the best move, it was still a bit surprising to see an established half-miler like him opt out of this event in favor of the 1500.
The same goes for Sampson Laari who expressed in an interview earlier this season that he still saw himself as an 800 runner despite becoming an All-American in the mile this past winter season. That said, Laari has only run 3:45 this season and no faster. He’s currently 29th in the region and will face a barrage of strong kickers in this field.
Henry Wynne Entered In Both 1500 and 5k
Wynne has had a very up and down outdoor season in 2017. He’s run 3:42 and 13:43 this season, but he has also had times where he didn’t seem to be 100% like at ACC’s where he lost in a kicker’s battle to a trio of Virginia Tech runners as well as Syracuse’s Adam Palamar.
Wynne being entered in the both the 1500 and 5k gives the impression that he still believes he can do some damage in the 1500 and that the 5k is a safety net if he fails to advance. What if Wynne didn’t double and went all in on the 5k? He’s one of only 18 individuals who have gone under the 14-minute barrier in the East Region (compared to 33 in the West) and he’s seeded third in that event.
Eliud Rutto Entered In Both the 800 and 1500
In one of the more surprising moves of the East Region, the MTSU 800 specialist has decided to take on double duty next weekend in both the 800 and the 1500. Rutto ran 1:45 at Mnt. SAC and followed that up with a 3:41 at the War Eagle Invite a week later.
Although his 3:41 was very impressive, I didn’t think it would be enough to sway Rutto towards the double. The decision to go double now leaves Rutto some cushion which may not be a bad idea after he failed to get out of the prelims at NCAA’s this past indoor season. Still, this is someone who will have to race four different times if he wants qualify for Nationals in both events. That’s a lot of racing for a mid-distance runner.
Alfred Chelanga Forgoes 5k, Set To Run 10k
The Alabama standout has had quite a year after becoming an All-American in the 5k during indoors and solidifying himself among the NCAA leaderboard with a 28:04 10k at the Stanford Invite. He also ran 13:53 at the War Eagle Invite earlier this season.
While Chelanaga may be better equipped for the 10k, it still begs the question of why he would scratch the 5k and stick solely to the 10k. The 10k is on day one of the East Regional schedule and the 5k is on day three. Why would you not enter the 5k just in case you don’t enter qualify for NCAA’s on day one? Last year we saw Brian Barraza (Houston) in the same scenario…he placed 13th in his regional 10k and was the first man out of NCAA’s. He decided to scratch the 5k before entering regionals.
Yes, disqualification from NCAA’s for failing to compete in a declared event is a legitimate reason for this move, but I find it hard to believe that Chelanga couldn’t just cruise his way through the preliminary round and not give an actual effort. Not only that, but if he did make an actual attempt to qualify, I truly believe that Chelanga could’ve pulled through in both events.
And this isn’t just to single out Chelanga. Teammate Antibahs Kosgei is going through the same predicament with the 10k and steeplechase. There are plenty of others I’m probably missing as well.
Keep in mind that although the qualifying lists say that there is only one sub 3:40 runner in this field (Josh Thompson), there is actually four. James Randon (Yale), Chris Hatler, (Penn), and Rob Napolitano (Columbia) each ran 3:37, 3:39, and 3:39 at the Swarthmore Last Chance meet this past Monday. The meet was past the qualifying period for regionals and those times therefore do not count as qualifying marks. Still, this Ivy League trio has been incredibly consistent all season. Don’t be surprised to see if all three of them get through to Nationals.
Team Total Entries
Here are some of the teams with the most number of (different) individuals representing them at Regionals…
Virginia Tech: 8
Mid. Tenn. St: 7
Eastern Kentucky: 6